Larry Brauner
Connecting on social networking sites with family and friends requires little forethought or planning. The most popular social networks are easy enough to figure out, even without instruction manuals.

Most of us would agree that social networking sites are easy to use for casual networking.

On the other hand, reaching out to your target audience on social networking sites requires both planning and an appreciation of the fine points of each site. Social networking sites are not easy to use when it comes to marketing.

Facebook in particular is one social networking site that even experienced marketers struggle with, especially using profiles, pages, groups and apps in an appropriate and effective manner.

She Purged All of Her Friends on Facebook

Recently, I was contacted by a Facebook connection who happens to be some kind of celebrity. She was migrating her thousands of friends from her profile to her fan page, so that she could remove them from her profile.

At first glance, this is the Facebook equivalent of unfollowing all your friends on Twitter. However, you realize that it’s even more extreme once you think about it.

Removing her friends on Facebook, she gave up her access to their profile information and status updates. Either she was desperate for privacy :-P or hadn’t adequately considered the consequences or didn’t care much about connecting with the fans who were following her.

Separating Business from Personal on Facebook

Yesterday, a marketing friend informed me that he was trying to separate “business from personal” on Facebook. He had set up a fan page and asked me to send people there rather than to his profile.

He also informed me that he was “trying to get to 100 members, so I could get a vanity URL” and asked if I had any suggestions.

This same friend is working on attracting his target audience to his Ning social networking site which may partially justify his separating business from personal on Facebook. Nevertheless, connecting as Facebook friends offers so many excellent networking opportunities that one can’t fully justify passing it up.

Furthermore, his difficulty reaching 100 fans for his page is a sign to me that perhaps he’d be better off starting by building a base of Facebook friends from which he could later draw members for his page.

In Conclusion

A feature on one of the social networking sites may attract you, such as the ability to have an unlimited number of fan page members on Facebook, but it’s critical to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each strategy and tactic.

With Facebook groups for example, you can only have 5,000 members, but you can send group messages directly to the inboxes of all those members. That capability may be more useful to you that having unlimited members.

A modest investment of time speaking with an online social networking or social  marketing expert could dramatically increase the value of the subsequent time you spend marketing on social networking sites. ;-)

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14 Responses to “Why Aren’t Social Networking Sites Easy to Use?”

  1. Roschelle on October 22nd, 2009 12:09 am

    It’s such a fine line between being sociable and offering a pitch of your latest product - whether that’s tangible merchandise, website subscription, etc. It definitely can be a tricky course to navigate.

  2. I.C. Jackson on October 22nd, 2009 5:02 am

    Over the years I have experienced both the fascination and frustration of trying to market using online social networking sites, and I came to one conclusion: they are difficult to use because they are supposed to be. With Facebook as a particular example, most online social networking sites discourage marketing efforts that do not put money in their pockets, so they try to make it as hard as possible for users to do so. Furthermore, it rarely works out for users who are non-marketers because only the very best of the best are even able to flirt with marketing on these sites without looking like total spammers.

    With that said, I agree that if successful online social networking is one’s goal, consultation with an expert is well worth the time and cost. You can spin your wheels for a long time in terms of effectiveness if you try to go it alone.

    Thanks for another great article, Larry :-)

  3. John on October 22nd, 2009 7:44 am

    This is an excellent post and addresses a real dilemma faced by business owners trying to harness the power of social networks. I think it’s important to separate your personal and business worlds and a standalone business page in Facebook is the safest way to go.

    - John

  4. Larry Brauner on October 22nd, 2009 8:05 am

    Thank you John.

    You apparently take the same approach as my friend who was trying to separate “business from personal” on Facebook.

    If you feel strongly about using this approach, you must have an alternate strategy for networking with your followers, since Facebook pages don’t offer that opportunity.

    You must also have both social capital and a website on which you can place your Facebook page widget.

    Most marketers will find it necessary to build a targeted roster of Facebook friends, which is easy to do if you know how, and then to introduce those friends to their fan pages.

    I myself have chosen not to promote my fan page right now, although I could. Instead I’m promoting my Facebook NetworkedBlogs page.

    I have social capital, a blog that gets tons of traffic, and a fairly targeted set of Facebook friends, and therefore my NetworkedBlogs follower count is mounting very rapidly.

    The choice for me between promoting NetworkedBlogs and promoting my fan page is the kind of critical decision that I’m referring to in my article.

    I weighed many factors and went in a direction that has been very satisfying.

  5. Charlene on October 22nd, 2009 8:30 am

    Larry - great thoughts on this post. I started on Facebook well before I started my business, so I was already entrenched in the personal, social aspect of sharing information. Including a business fan page that attaches to my profile (or not) was difficult to maintain because my mindset was already focused on using Facebook for personal reasons.

    Right after our telephone conversation earlier this year (thank you very much), I realized that I was not approaching social networking for business in the right manner. So, I developed a strategy with other social networking sites where my focus is business/brand building/developing name recognition and encouraging conversations with people that could develop into business opportunities. This approach is working much better for me.

  6. Larry Brauner on October 22nd, 2009 9:04 am

    Thank you very much Charlene. I’m very happy that you were able to benefit from our talk.

    Perhaps you’ll be able to build a fan page at a later date when you have enough social capital to do so. For now, you should consider adding your blog to NetworkedBlogs, in case you haven’t already done so.

    It would be awesome if Facebook would introduce features that support a greater dichotomy between business and personal.

    Facebook lists help with this to some extent, but they don’t adequately address the problem.

  7. Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD on October 22nd, 2009 10:32 am

    HI Larry: Great article. Thanks. I need to study it to make sure I am fully maximizing my efforts on social networking sites.

    Have a great day.

    Dorothy

  8. Debbie Morgan on October 22nd, 2009 10:53 am

    Hi Larry,

    Thanks for the tips. I must agree, it can be a bit hard to figure out what’s the best strategy to use for maximizing one’s presence on any given social network. That’s why networking with other professionals is so valuable. You’re the best!

    Deb

  9. Jake Jacob on October 22nd, 2009 3:28 pm

    Using Facebook, Twitter, Ning and other services in my opinion should be very much like Perry Belcher teaches. That is: view it as going to a party. Especially in the case of social networking. Nobody goes to a party with a bucket of pickles and starts shouting “pickles for sale” in people’s faces and, yet daily this seems modus operandi with folks.

    So much of networking online is just using common sense and operating online like you would offline. And that’s the bottom line - lol.

    When I was young and dumb in the “biz” I got the boot enough times to realize that it was all “you” and not “me”. If you think you may have something that may interest a person that you have taken the time to read about and interact with it’s then that you have earned the “social credit” to suggest you may have have something that would be helpful to them. Notice the use of the word “may”. It’s intentional because you really can’t be too polite online.

    Facebook has become a great friend of mine, but if you look at my PROFILE it’s simple, clear, and in the box just below the picture of my lovely you will see the shortened links (so I can track things) to my page and group. I use Google Alerts to feed pertinent information into my page about once a week. And then I inform my group that I have updated my page with the latest news in ONE SHORT SENTENCE. I only do this about once every 10 days or so and slowly but surely I am developing some great relationships, which is what life is all about.

    Jake Jacob

  10. Deborah Tutnauer, LCSW on October 23rd, 2009 12:21 am

    I agree that it is a challenge initially. As a professional network marketer, I loved twitter for a long time before I could wrap my mind around Facebook. But now, I find Facebook to be a wonderful place to focus on meeting other like-minded people, offering value and developing a following.

    Social media and social media marketing is an art as well as a science. I recently started using a tool that takes over some of the heavy time investment, to free me up for doing more content intensive marketing. Others may find this useful as well…it’s saving hours per day.

    Good thoughts in this post..thank you for sharing them.

    Peace and Abundance,
    Deborah Tutnauer

  11. Steve on October 23rd, 2009 10:14 am

    Larry,

    Looks like you got a great response on this article! I have enjoyed learning from @Shama on this one. She has written a great article on this topic, and models what she speaks about. She has stated it is very difficult to keep business and personal separate, and has blended them together. Having said that, she also stated that you have to keep business in mind, not saying or doing anything on Facebook that would take away from your personal/professional brand.

    I’m interested in finding out how you have been using Networked Blogs to promote your blog. I am a member also, but am not sure I have been promoting it effectively.

  12. Larry Brauner on October 23rd, 2009 12:39 pm

    I heard Sharma Kabani speak one time, and I liked her.

    As far as your question is concerned, I could and probably will write an entire article in answer to it.

    However, it’s largely a matter of developing social capital and search engine traffic, and finding ways to leverage them.

    There’s no one trick or even one strategy that will lead to hundreds of followers. It really is an ongoing growth process. In the old days they called it pulling yourself up by your boot straps.

    Why not work on increasing your traffic through a combination of social media exposure and search engine optimization?

  13. John on November 10th, 2009 7:57 pm

    Larry,

    Thank you for the information on NetworkedBlogs… I just set it up!

    Best Regards,

    - John

  14. Why Blogs Make More Sense on January 5th, 2010 7:17 am

    […] (equipped for lead capture) coupled with a Facebook Page or perhaps my own Ning (or SocialGO) social networking sites might be workable, […]

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