4 Do’s and 4 Don’ts of Using Facebook as a PR Tactic 

With more than 800 million users worldwide, Facebook has evolved into a powerful platform from a communicator’s perspective. With most digital PR campaigns now featuring Facebook components, best practices have emerged for increasing likes, engaging communities and managing customer service needs. Following are some do's and don'ts to help you make the most of Facebook for all of your communications initiatives.

4 Facebook Do's:

1. Offer incentives as a fan acquisition strategy. "Unless you have a major worldwide brand, you can't assume that people will find and like your page on their own," says Jason Winocour, social & digital media practice leader/agency partner for Hunter Public Relations. To promote Virgin Airlines' new service out of Chicago's O'Hare Airport, the company created a "like-gated" (users must like the page to participate) photo and video contest for fans to win free airfare and help donate money to cancer research. Providing a valuable incentive with airfare and a cause-related action helped Virgin earn 114,000 likes and more than 100 user-submitted videos.

2. Show fans you appreciate them: Frito-Lay set a Guinness World Record on Facebook in 2011 by gaining 1.6 million new likes in a 24-hour period by offering a coupon for a free bag of chips as a virtual loyalty program. While not every company can give away a million bags of chips, consider what you can offer your fans that they'll appreciate, however small it is. 

3. Provide value for your community by offering content that is useful, entertaining and engaging: "Rosetta Stone provides an engaging and entertaining editorial calendar on their Facebook wall with facts, questions, games deals and trivia," says Winocour. Tuesday Tips, Fan Feedback Fridays, questions about cultures and language translation, timely seasonal tie-ins, free language webinars and deals keep users highly involved with the page. "Offer some sort of useful, fun and new beneficial elements for fans," says Winocour. Content should tie in with a product's value proposition, and the page should speak in the language of the brand's target market. NM Incite VP of client development Idil Cakim recommends stimulating your Facebook audience through organic conversations full of tips and questions. "Authentic conversations drive engagement," says Cakim. "Consumers are more likely to respond to everyday posts rather than heavily branded product messages."

4. Leverage consumer insights to craft your Facebook strategy: "Know the insights behind your core audience and craft your approach accordingly," says Winocour. Kraft Mac and Cheese, a client that Winocour and his Hunter PR team has worked with, used Facebook as a community hub for news, activity and engagement that resonated with the target audience of moms. To reach this base, Winocour and his team leveraged consumer insights that showed moms had a nostalgic attitude toward the brand, creating a program and editorial calendar that would tug at those feelings of memory and family. Cakim says that relevant content and local promotions encourage participation and drive fan acquisition.

4 Facebook Don'ts:

1. Don't be overly promotional: "Facebook is an opt-in platform," says Winocour. If you're a marketer and using it as a platform to extend your advertising vehicles, you won't have any success unless your ads are fun, quirky and iconic.

2. Don't jump into a program without first looking at the market objective: Facebook isn't right for every company, especially in B2B, says Winocour. Avoid the temptation to jump on the bandwagon simply because everyone else has.

3. Don't over-post with too much information or neglect to post consistently. "Once you turn on the spigot of fan engagement through content, you can't turn it off," says Winocour.

4. Don't ignore what your audience is saying and, don't ignore the types of content they engage with most.