Looking Out for Your Own Best Interests: Facebook’s Interests Lists

Did you know you had an interests lists option on Facebook? And do you even know what they are? Well, I’m about to tell you, but if you read nothing further, know this: They’re pretty terrible for businesses, and they can be great for individuals. Yes, Facebook actually does help you protect your own best interests (via lists).

InterestsLists650Did you know you had an interests lists option on Facebook? And do you even know what they are? Well, I’m about to tell you, but if you read nothing further, know this: They’re pretty terrible for businesses, and they can be great for individuals. Yes, Facebook actually does help you protect your own best interests (via lists).

Facebook introduced interests lists in March 2012. Basically, the idea is to allow users to filter their Facebook News Feeds by customizing content to suit their unique personal tastes. It’s like cutting out and reading only the sections of the newspaper or magazine that interest you, but once you select your interests from a range of options, Facebook edits the feed for you.

If you’re a business promoting a product directly to targeted demographics, even if they’re designating themselves, this may not be a reliable tool (despite the suggestion of many social media managers).

On face value, having your customer add your brand’s page to their interests lists seems to be a sensible, cost-effective work-around to paid promotional posts, since theoretically, this means that they will automatically see more of your business’ news in their personalized News Feeds. And voila! Increased visibility — for free. Right?

Wrong!

The problem lies not with the destination, but with the map. You’re asking the active or potential customer to work way too hard to first find and then keep you on their radar.

Finding and creating one’s interests lists requires a series of relatively complicated steps, which can be tricky for the casual user. First, you have to navigate the left side of your Timeline, find your bookmarks (assuming you’ve made some!), and then under that, you’ll see “Interests.” From there, you have the option of creating a “list.” Once you click on that button, a (possibly mind-numbing) selection based on your existing interests will drop down in a menu.

And even if someone adds a business to their interests lists and remembers to CHECK their interests lists (and no one does unless they have a really good reason to), they may miss crucial posts in their regular News Feed unless they take the trouble of going to that business’ main page and selecting the “Post by Page” option, since otherwise only popular “Highlights” will show up in the daily stream.

Sounds a bit much, right? When reaching out via any social channel, you need to keep it easy and simple. The less people have to work, the more they’re likely to play. Interests lists fit neither criteria.

But when it comes to individuals, THAT is a different story:

Besides providing users a handy way to cut through the clutter, interests lists can be a fun way to follow pages devoted to your particular tastes. It also spares you the trouble of liking pages and exposing your guilty pleasures, since that action is always announced in the public News Feed, like incriminating headlines on a Times Square rolling marquee. (Yes, horrified reader, we see all those nasty sites and pics you like on Facebook.)

And it spares you the possible humiliation of rejection, since you don’t have to send a friend or group request to follow someone’s public page. You’re gaining access to their inner sanctum without actually joining their ranks, like crashing a dinner party rather than asking them out to a private dinner date. AND they can be great for tracking competitors. The trick is remembering to check them.

As with most social media features, interests lists can either be a fun networking device or a useless distraction, depending on your agenda.

Readers: What about you? Are you using interests lists now, or will you start using them to hide your weird obsessions?