10 Mistakes Brands make on Facebook in the Middle East

Brands are increasingly present on Facebook today, but a lot of them are getting it all wrong. It's no surprise that there is only one real brand page in the current Facebook top pages across the world. Coca Cola at No 16 is the only Facebook brand page in the Top 20. Unless you count Eminem (No 3), Rihanna (No 5), Cristiano Ronaldo (No 12) and Lady Gaga (No 6) as brands – which they are, but not in a way we know brands.
Disney, Starbucks, Red Bull, FC Barcelona, Oreo and FC Madrid are the only other brands in the Top 50! Today, brands need to understand how to get their Facebook engagement right. At Innovations_Digital we work closely with our client's brands to help them with their Facebook presence. Here's our take on what to avoid as a brand on Facebook...

1. Not responding.
Facebook is a social engagement channel, not a broadcast medium. It's about a conversation not a one way communication. If someone says "hello" or "that's good", the least you can do is respond. Facebook is all about connecting and engaging in a dialog with your fans, your consumers, your followers.
2. Respond, don't fight.
Responding is important, but a tactful response goes a long way in building a brand's social reputation. There's absolutely no point in arguing with an irate customer or a disgruntled fan. Brands should have a pre-set policy on how (and who) to handle negative remarks posted on Facebook.
3. Deleting negative comments
This is actually worse that getting into a FB fight! Deleting a negative comment does not make it go away, it only escalates the matter. Perhaps a direct message to the person posting a negative comment is better. Nestle Kitkat got into a meltdown over deleting negative comments – which became a social PR disaster. Again, having a plan helps. Rather than deleting or arguing and trying to prove a point, have a brand policy. After all, it's about Customer Service.
4. Posting too much.
Brands that are new to Facebook often feel they have to post every day – ten times a day! Wrong. Brands that post too many times a day will get 'unliked' before they know it. People do not want their pages inundated with a brand's posts.
Let's not forget that posting too many times is like sending through too many text messages to your fans on their phones. It's spamming! The average number of posts for a brand should be once a day. Once. If there's a special promotion or limited engagement offer etc, a brand could get away with 2 - 3 posts a day. Anything more, and we have overload.
5. Posting too often, too close
Another big mistake. Social media is media after all, and you can ruin it by posting too many times, and close to each other. Even if you are posting two or three posts, posting them together within minutes of each other is called "clumping" and that's a #fail. Social engagement  is about ongoing – meaning nicely spread across, not all in one go.
6. Repeating and re-using published content.
Been there, done that! Reposting the same content is a no-no. Unless you have a new spin on it, or have a new reason to repeat a post,  don't repeat content. Here in the Middle East, we have seen brands use the same lame lines week in, week out – asking about weekends, activity plans and more of the same boring by-the-book repeats. Brands need to avoid making this mistake over and over again. That's a repeat offense!
7. Responding too slowly.
While a slow response is better than none at all, brands need to remember that their Facebook presence is in may ways all about Customer Service. And when you set up a Customer Care hotline, it's a hotline, not a slowline. Brands need to respond as soon as possible. The recommended average response rate should be 6 hours or less. A lot of brands get paranoid and have a "respond-within-minutes" policy, but one needs to remember, that yes, while the facebook fan or customer expects a response, and does so as soon as possible, about a 6-hour window is ok. Becuase people have lives outside facebook as well.
8. No descriptions, no signposts
Brands often post their tv spots, photos of events, their print ads without even a hint of what the post is about in the status update. That post is meaningless to anyone else, because unlike the brand's social managers or brand managers, no one really knows what that photo, that link, that video is all about. Always post a description.
9. Repeating everything in English and Arabic. A Middle East problem
Here in the Middle East brands are very conscious of the need to be "socially, politically and linguistically correct". They take this further by making sure every outbound post is there both in English and Arabic. They even go so far as to translate responses into both languages and ensure that everything exists on their page in both languages. That's overkill, that's boring, That's a turn off. Fans posting in Arabic may expect a response in Arabic, but it's not that they can't read English. And unless an Arabic query and response thread makes  a huge amount of sense for the brand, there's no real point in translating it and re-posting it. Or vice versa.
10. One way Facebook. No Fan posts allowed.
Here in the Middle East, brands often feel the need for 'moderated content' and their way of 'moderating' is shutting down the fan's ability to post on the Wall. That's removing the half of a dialog, canceling the engagement, the very reason for being on Facebook. Some brands feel that negative PR on their page will damage their reputation, so they shut down the channel. That's totally counter productive to the principles of social marketing.
Ultimately it's about creating an engagement platform that's interesting and friendly. It's about having a regular, conversation with your friends. Brands need to understand the difference between conversations (social media engagement) and communications (advertising and marketing). It's about building a community.
At Innovatoins_Digital, a digital agency in Dubai, we help brands innovate, inspire and energize their experiences and engagements across online, mobile, outdoor, search and social mediums. And, yes, we do get people to "Like" brands on Facebook. By doing it right.
First posted on the Innovations_Digital blog page on the website.

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