Who is your ideal Facebook follower?

A few weeks back, I was perusing Facebook and came across an auto dealer who had posted a picture of a puppy.  A truly adorable, American-favorite golden retriever.  I stopped and looked, and that fuzzy golden had resulted in 15,000 likes…truly amazing, right?

But I click away, and find myself thinking, “what does this pooch have to do with selling cars?”  Absolutely nothing.  And it’s a tactic being employed by all kinds of businesses to lure prospects into liking them.  Puppies, kittens, babies – businesses of all specialties and sizes are using them to gather fast followers into their virtual showrooms.

Much like some people believe that any PR is good PR, many businesses believe that any follower is a good follower, that all likes are equal, quantity over quality.

I can’t say I agree.  Companies go online to build their reputation and brand, awareness, search ranking and most of all, an impression for potential customers.  If your strategy is to leverage social media to help prospects and customers find your business, and entice them into doing business with you, your social media posts have to be relevant.  Google isn’t weighting your posts on cuteness; it’s looking for content that is timely and relevant to the target audience.  Facebook is far more than a forum from which to push out your sales message, it’s a place to engage, listen to and educate your audience.

Similarly, Facebook assigns an EdgeRank to every post based on the page’s relationship with the reader and their subsequent actions.  A spate of likes interacting a single time actually hurts your page’s likelihood of showing up in news feeds.  It compromises long-term potential for a short-term hit.  The person who likes your golden retriever photo doesn’t intend to buy from you, and likely doesn’t fit the demographic of your buyer.  They’re actually doing harm to your page and your brand.  The picture of the adorable pup isn’t relevant to your audience who want to know about new models, oil changes, winterizing their cars and the like.  Such content that is tied to seasons, model years, maintenance and your community will engage your best prospects, and keep them coming back for the long-term rather being one-hit wonders on your page.

Our recommendation: Leverage photos, they drive significant engagement on Facebook.  But, steer away from the puppies and kittens, and focus on highlighting your business in the community, employee pictures, customer pictures and merchandise you have for sale.  If you feel you need to use the adorable pooch to help attract prospects, tie it to some good you’re doing in the community such as supporting pet adoption or other local animal-related causes.

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