(DISCLAIMER: Constant Contact is not responsible for any nightmares or loss of sleep that may result from reading this post.)

It’s that time of year again — time to come face-to-face with the things you fear most.

Maybe it’s the ghost in your attic, the monster in your closet, or the witch living next door…

Or, maybe it’s something much, much scarier, like — Facebook!

For most small businesses, their worst Facebook nightmare is losing the fans they’ve worked so hard to reach. You put in countless amounts of time and resources to turn customers into fans and fans into customers — it’s terrifying to think one mistake could send people running and hiding.

Here are 13 terrifying, horrifying, nightmarish mistakes that can scare away fans on Facebook:

1. Looking like a stranger

Just because people welcome strangers to their front doors on Halloween, doesn’t mean they’re going to welcome strangers into their newsfeed.

The number one cause of looking like a stranger on Facebook is irrelevant content. When a brand shares content that doesn’t resonate with their fanbase or that their fans just don’t care about—they look out of touch and foreign to the people who they are trying their hardest to reach.

Don’t look like a stranger. Pay attention to the type of content your customers are engaging with. Is it posts from your company blog? Photos from your store? Or helpful articles from your industry? Sometimes all it takes is to listen to your fans to become more trustworthy and less scary to your audience.

2. Posting too much or posting too little

Imagine if every trick-or-treater tried knocking on your door six times throughout the night. Even if they showed up wearing a different costume each time, eventually you’d cut them off. And if you’re bombarding your fans with too much information, they’re going to cut you off, too.

On the flip side, if you’re never showing up in their newsfeed then chances are those same fans are going to forget about you—completely. Even worse, if you’re not posting regularly you’re running the risk of getting alienated by Facebook, which uses its Edgerank Algorithm to filter the content its users are shown based on the type of content they engage with.

Don’t want to scare away fans or disappear completely? We recommend posting at least once a day. It doesn’t need to take up more than 15 minutes of your time.

3. Selling too much

Some people are afraid of ghosts, other people are afraid of spiders, and most people are afraid of being sold to.

Well, maybe not afraid, but they definitely don’t like it—especially on Facebook. Nobody logs onto Facebook and says, “I wonder what type of product somebody’s going to try and sell me today!” It just doesn’t happen.

If you want to scare your fans (and quite possibly your customers) then sell, sell, sell. But if you want to turn new fans into new customers and longtime fans into loyal advocates for your brand, offer something more than just a sales pitch.

4. Sounding like that cranky neighbor

Negativity is rarely a good strategy for success in anything you do — especially on Facebook.

People (or at least most people) don’t log on to Facebook to get bummed out or bombarded with negativity. Believe it or not — Facebook is supposed to be fun.

We all had that cranky neighbor whose house we skipped on Halloween. Here are three mistakes that may make fans skip your Page.

  • Trash talking competitors: People want to know what you do, not what your competitors don’t do. Keep it civil and focused on your organization.
  • Complaining about anything: Avoid complaining whenever you can. It won’t attract anything other than negative feedback (and it certainly won’t generate more “likes” or shares).
  • Lashing out at negative feedback: Nobody likes negative feedback, but when you get it, you need to make sure you’re handling it the right way. When you lash out at a customer, the rest of your fans will notice, which won’t make a good impression on anyone.

5. Posting anything offensive

It may seem obvious, but please don’t offend your Facebook fans.

More often than not, posts that offend members of your fanbase aren’t created intentionally to cause controversy, but usually happen when people lose sight of the fact that different people have different levels of sensibility.

It also happens when brands try to inject themselves into a popular news story by making a joke or sharing their commentary. What may seem like a lighthearted joke to you could be something that completely turns off your fanbase. So, think before you post.

6. Same stuff, different day

Want to really scare your fans? Try boring them to death.

To avoid putting your fans to sleep, try adding some variety to the type of content you share. Blog posts, news articles, photos, and videos all make for engaging posts, but if you’re churning out the same stuff every day, your fans may start to lose interest.

Instead, come up with a calendar to help you plan your content, and remember the tools you already have available to help create fresh content.

7. Posting anything political, ever

Unless your business is politics — avoid political discourse.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a democrat, republican, independent, or none of the above—if you’re bringing your political opinions to your Page, you’re risking alienating a huge group of your fanbase.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share a photo, if your city’s mayor stops in for a visit or a local politician dines in your restaurant, but remember, there will always be some fans who won’t share your excitement.

8. Not engaging after your promotion ends

One of the biggest mistakes you can make on Facebook is only engaging when you have something to promote.

This is a failed strategy for a number of reasons, but most importantly because it fails to address the most important element of social media marketing—relationship building.

When running a social campaign on Facebook, you’re going to have a lot of people who take a leap of faith and become a fan of your business. Don’t make them regret that decision by not engaging with them until you’re looking to push another campaign out to them.

9. Getting too personal

Don’t mistake having personality on Facebook with having Facebook become a place where you share your personal life.

Customers do want to learn more about who you are, what you stand for, and why you started your business in the first place, but they don’t necessarily want to see personal details or worse, personal problems show up in their newsfeed.

One way to separate the personal from the professional is making sure you’re using a Facebook Page, not a Facebook Profile. The other is to make sure your Page isn’t becoming a hangout for friends and family.

10. Grossing out your fanbase

A lot of the work you do might not necessarily be pretty.

That means you probably don’t want to share EVERYTHING with your fanbase.

A business like Appalachian Landscape & Lawn Care, Inc. deals with some stuff that would make even their most loyal fans squirm. But instead of posting pictures of grubs and roaches, they share pictures of pristine lawns and links to helpful lawn care articles.

Remember: “Shock and awe” doesn’t work on Facebook. It just makes people want to look away.

11. Making people read

If you want to really scare your fans, make them read. (Yes, I said it — READ!)

Text-heavy posts are the antiques of Facebook. Nowadays its photos, videos, and links that drive the biggest engagement, and get the most exposure in the Timeline.

If you have something important to say, consider linking to an outside resource like a blog post or newsletter article, or think about combining text with other forms of rich media like photos and videos.

12. Not responding to feedback

Are you listening to your Facebook fans? If you want to keep them as members of your Facebook community — you should be.

Many customers are much more likely to post a comment, question, or concern on your Facebook Page than they are to pick up the phone and call your place of business. If you’re not paying attention to that feedback, you’re putting yourself in a position to leave a potential issue unresolved.

What’s even scarier, are businesses that don’t allow fans to post on their Page at all. What type of message are you sending there? Don’t hide from negative feedback; just make sure you’re prepared to handle it.

13. Offering a poor experience offline

Nothing will scare away fans faster online than offering a poor experience offline.

Having an effective Facebook strategy — planning ahead, posting engaging content, and listening to your fans — is important but won’t make a difference if you’re not “wowing” customers when they walk through your door.

The moral of the story … put your business first and success on Facebook will follow.

For more Facebook marketing advice, visit our Facebook 101 Page.