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3 Facebook Marketing Myths

Alison Zarrella rocked my world. Until today, one of the certainties of life has been the knowledge that if I asked a social marketer to name the biggest Facebook marketing myth, the instant response would be, "The biggest myth of Facebook marketing is that you don't need to do it." But Alison is definitely a social media consultant and, with husband Dan, coauthor of The Facebook Marketing Book (O'Reilly, 2011). And I asked her the question. And she didn't give the stock answer. Instead, she named these as the biggest Facebook marketing myths:

Myth 1: You can create a Page, post once a week and it will magically help you with sales or leads.

Reality: It takes work, like anything else, and probably more than in other places. People come to Facebook to interact with friends, so if you want them to take time out for a brand, you've got to make it good.

Myth 2: Facebook can or should be a duplicate of your website.

Reality: Your sales copy might work on a site or brochure where people sought you out, but it won't fly on Facebook. You've got to come up with a content strategy that works in social media and speaks to what people are interested in. If they're on Facebook, they don't want a bunch of "buy this!" messaging. Think about the benefits of your product or the problem it solves, and talk about that. You can lead them to the conclusion that they should buy from you, but don't force it down their throats. There is a difference between saying, "We've got scarves on sale. Buy now!" and saying, "Brrr, it's cold in the Northeast! Stay stylish with a cute scarf to ward away the wind chill."

Myth 3: You need to build an app, buy advertising, hire a full-time developer, etc.

Reality: You can absolutely go low-budget with Facebook -- if you have time to spend on setting things up properly and creating really great content. The reality is that the big brands will always be able to outspend you. So you have to outsmart them. Work the local angle and create content that really speaks to your customers. You can talk to them in a way that a national chain would never be able to pull off. You can also offer more personalized customer service, something that becomes harder to manage on a larger scale.

I also asked Allison to name a couple of small businesses that have done Facebook marketing right. Here are her candidates and comments:

Kickass Cupcakes This bakery in Somerville, Mass., has amassed nearly 4,000 likes through a fun brand voice, engaging posts and effective use of media in status updates. They capitalize on timely and local events, really playing up the fact that they are a single shop that's part of the community, not a chain. They link to brand accolades and press mentions, but without seeming too self-promotional. They also use Facebook Events effectively.

Joe's Real BBQ This barbecue joint in Gilbert, Ariz., has integrated Facebook Places with their Page, allowing patrons to check in when they stop by for ribs. They've got over 3,000 likes and almost 300 check-ins -- not bad for a small shop. They took a few months off from posting but seem to be getting back into the swing of things, posting hours, menu information and timely updates for game day. Their October "Brisket Quest" is an amusing hook to get people following along and engaging with the owners.

Allison can be found on Twitter @Alison, or on her blog AlisonZarrella.com. If you ask her a question, let me know what she says.

Mark Henricks has reported on business, technology and other topics for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, and other leading publications long enough to lay somewhat legitimate claim to being The Article Authority. Follow him on Twitter @bizmyths.

Image courtesy of Flickr user _Max-B, CC2.0