Facebook used to be just a place where mothers would write about their kids, brides would talk to girlfriends about their upcoming wedding and friends would share photos of their latest trip or party.
Then businesses got wind of the 750 million people on Facebook and decided to chime in, with business pages that tout specials, deals and other business-related promotions.
But there's an art to communicating in an atmosphere that's supposed to be about sharing, not selling.
Matthew Funk, a social-media expert with TK Carsites, offers tips that apply to car dealerships -- and, really, any business wanting a Facebook presence.
Here are highlights:
1. Use Facebook to make friends, not customers.
"People develop positive feelings with a person, not for a page," he says.
Write about your local community and events, and try to post items of interest that go beyond your business. A good viral video "doesn't make you think, 'I want to buy a car from the dealership,' but it does keep you in the news feed and reinforces the name."
2. Post three times a day, no more.
"Don't overwhelm people," he says. "That's a turnoff."
Funk says the best times to post are 7 a.m., 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., "the peak high-traffic times for Facebook."
3. Don't post silliness just to add another item.
Surveys of favorite ice cream flavors are a waste of time that will just annoy people, he says. "It has very little real worth. Share stuff that has a reason for sharing."
4. Provide incentives; don't be pushy.
"People come to your social media to find perks, but they don't want sales forced on them," Funk says. Offer the deals just once a week, not every day, he recommends.
5. Be exciting.
"Whenever possible, post the kind of content you'd want to share with your friends," he says.
"Facebook marketing isn't about selling as much as it is about sharing."
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