6 Surefire Ways To Piss Off Facebook Fans

People can "unlike" you as easily as they liked you in the first place, so you can't take them for granted. With that in mind, here are six surefire ways to piss off fans.

Be good to your Facebook fans, who can click “unlike” almost as easily as they liked you in the first place. It’s harder work to keep them happy than you might think at first — that’s why large brands and big celebrities often have more than one administrator moderating wall posts.

No matter what size you are, there are universal no-nos to avoid if you want to keep your community happy. Here’s six surefire ways to piss people off on Facebook:

Carelessly sell your fan list to third parties

Companies have been selling their customer lists to marketers for almost as long as they’ve been able to gather those lists, but the online version of this has more potential for controversy. Like the flak the Phoenix Suns basketball team is getting for selling its list of more than 225,000 Facebook fans for a mere $7,000 per buyer. Teams have done this sort of thing offline for years without anyone batting an eyelash, and it was harder for people to find out about these dealings. Online, either ask your fans if it’s okay to share their data with relevant partners or find other ways to monetize that customer list.

Allow posters on your wall to moderate each other

You take your customers for granted when you presume they will only post nice things about you, and that good samaritans will rebut any negative comments. There are always jokers who want to test whatever rules of conduct govern any online environment, and that’s why so companies hire community managers and the like. A bad thread that spins out of control can wreak damage well beyond the scope of a Facebook wall. We’ve seen stock prices fall during the 48 hours surrounding a bad wall incident. That cost justifies the salary(ies) of whoever you need to hire to not only watch your wall around the clock but also to create and enforce policies on when to intervene in conversations.

Use malware or let others post it on your wall

What you think of as customer profiling software might be perceived as malware by your customers. If any of the code on your page forces a download onto your fans’ computers or gathers data about their online doings without them knowing, stop right there. Eventually the security vendors that have swooped on to Facebook will catch up with you and flag your page as being buggy. The bad vibes a security alert will sow among your fans far outweighs any benefits you might reap from secretly gathering their data with the bot du jour.

Don’t disclose what you use customer data for, and don’t let them opt out

There’s nothing wrong with gathering customer data as long as you tell them you’re doing that and explain what the information will be used for. Your fans will appreciate your candor and integrity if you are upfront about things — act like a friend who wants to get to know them better in an honest way, and give them the option of saying “no” to your requests.

Don’t apologize for mistakes, and tell lies to explain errors

We all make mistakes, but admitting to them is hard to do, especially when it’s in a public arena. However, you’ll look better if you honestly acknowledge your error wherever you made it. Apologies work best if you back them up with a sincere effort to make things good. If you apologize and then offer a lie to explain what happened, that will backfire. Facebook fans have an uncanny ability to find out the truth and then broadcast it to all to of their friends, and that will make you look much worse than the original error.

Don’t use audience measurement tools

Sure, fans can’t tell whether you’re using audience measurement tools so the cause-and-effect is more subtle, spread out over a longer time horizon than the other things we’ve listed so far. Without this genre of software, it’s harder to tell how your posts are received by people looking at your page. And there’s really no such thing as being too small of an administatror to afford these applications: the vendors have tiered pricing that usually includes a free starter version, so you can start with that and upgrade when you get bigger.

Of course, this list only scratches the surface. Readers, do you have any additional words of wisdom for page administrators? What are some of the most flagrant examples of fan “unlikes” that you’ve seen on Facebook?