The dark side of Facebook fan pages

Picture this: I’m working away in a cramped London hotel room. I’m there for SES London, along with many other of my geeky SEO friends.

Suddenly, I get a Facebook fan page request from a person who shall remain nameless.

And then I got another. And another. All from the same person.

At the end of the deluge, this person had sent out about eight “become a fan” requests (it could have been more, actually,) all within five minutes.

A few minutes later, I head downstairs for dinner. One person checks his iPhone and groans about all the “become a fan” requests. Another person checks his email and makes the same comment. We compare notes and realize, yup, these requests were:

  1. All from the same person, who was…
  2. In our industry, so he was probably…
  3. Setting up Facebook fan pages for his clients (most of which were local to this man, and therefore, we had never even heard of the companies)  and…
  4. Sending out bulk “become a fan” email requests to everyone in his Facebook network on behalf of his clients. You know, the companies that none of his Facebook friends had ever heard of.

Within five minutes, this person was “unfriended” by five people. Probably more – I’m sure we weren’t the only folks in his network to feel this way.

Folks, I am all for Facebook fan pages.  I think they offer businesses a fantastic way to reach customers and engage in a two-way dialogue. Heck, even I have a SEO copywriting Facebook page.

But when it comes to promoting your fan page (or your client’s), please, please use some common sense. Sending out client fan requests to everyone on your friend network is just plain irritating. How could I have any kind of “connection” to a company that’s across the U.S. from me? How is that targeted? It reflects poorly upon the marketer and poorly upon the company.

If you’re cringing a bit because you’ve done the same thing, I know you meant well. You really did.  Heck, I’m sure the guy who sent out all the Facebook notifications meant well.  I’m sure he wanted to build up his client’s fan network and show some initial success.  The thought was nice. But there are other ways to reach that goal.

So, before you send out “bulk-fan” notifications, ask yourself:

1. Does my friend have any connection to the company that I’m promoting? If you’re promoting your own company, it may be appropriate to email more folks within your network (although Kenny Hyder says no in this funny and spot-on post.) But if you know that your friend lives in California, and you’re asking them to become a fan of a small, local Vermont-based business, you probably aren’t going to get much play.

2. Do I have a page that’s worthy of fandom? If it’s a brand-new fan page without much interaction, consider bulking up your content before trolling for fans. Otherwise, you’re asking folks to fan (otherwise known as “recommend”) a page that’s not even ready for prime-time.

3. How would I feel if I received this fan request? Just because people can easily ignore a request doesn’t mean that you should make them spend the time to do so. If you’re on the fence, don’t send it.

Friends don’t let friends send spammy Facebook spam requests, m-kay? Think about it.