Larry BraunerAs an entrepreneur or small business owner promoting your business on Facebook, you face a number of difficult challenges and tough marketing decisions.

Here are seven key issues to consider when networking and marketing your business on Facebook:

  1. Facebook profile pages are intended for networking with family and friends and not for business networking, and you can’t separate your personal and business networking on Facebook. Your family and personal friends are being irritated by business posts showing up in their News Feeds, while at the same time business connections are eavesdropping on your personal conversations.
  2. By connecting directly with business associates and total strangers on Facebook, you compromise the privacy of your family and friends, which is already much too limited. Your loved ones become “friends of friends” with your business connections and consequently more exposed to their scrutiny. If you’ll decline the invitations of family and personal friends to connect in order to protect them, you’ll surely have an enormous amount of explaining to do.
  3. You can’t legitimately set up a profile for personal use and one for business. Having multiple Facebook profiles is against Facebook’s Terms of Service. I haven’t done so, and I do not recommend that you do so either, unless you’re ready to risk deletion of both your Facebook profiles.
  4. Lack of privacy extends far beyond family and personal friends. Each of your business connections become “friends of friends” with all your other Facebook business connections and therefore more exposed and at-risk — something most Facebook users do not realize. This explains why Facebook business networking is suspect, and why Facebook demands that you connect only with people you know.
  5. If you aggressively grow your business network on Facebook, you risk having your Facebook account suspended. Proceed carefully.
  6. Facebook fan pages are more useful for marketing large businesses than small ones, since they won’t help to build your web presence unless, to some degree, you already have a web presence. Haven’t you noticed how many Facebook business pages barely have the 25 fans needed to claim their Facebook name? Business networking on Facebook is a way to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” but it’s also problematic and at best a slow process. A big businesses also has the marketing budget to create compelling Facebook applications.
  7. Twitter, Ning networks and search engine optimized blog sites are better for building your web presence than Facebook. Once you have a web presence, you can easily grow your Facebook page fan base with well-placed Facebook widgets and links. The main point is that you’ll need to reach far beyond Facebook to develop a following for your business, the kind of following that big brands already have.

FacebookIn the future, I’ll continue to explore ways in which businesses can build their web presences on and off Facebook, but for now, keep in mind that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Or in a week or in a month.

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28 Responses to “7 Issues to Consider About Doing Business on Facebook”

  1. MKWeb on October 31st, 2010 11:55 pm

    Hi Larry, great tips, and I especially like #7 which is one of the ways 2GSM.Biz is helping people build their own businesses.

    Although one question.. Why does FB give you an option when building your ‘Fan Pages’ of a group or business? Along with the opportunity to build multiple pages?

  2. Larry Brauner on November 1st, 2010 12:06 am

    I believe the option is community page or business page. Community pages are subject-oriented rather than business-oriented.

    Multiple pages could be multiple brands, or could be someone like me creating pages for multiple clients.

  3. Coach Mi on November 1st, 2010 4:54 am

    I agree with you that FB isn’t great for business networking. However there is an option for those who have business contacts and want to hide their more private posts.

    Firstly, create a specific “Friends List” for business contacts. Then customize privacy settings and set it so that posts go only to family and friends. This can be set as the default setting for updates which can be easily changed to “everyone” when an update is posted.

  4. Bruce Symons on November 1st, 2010 7:47 am

    Thanks again Larry. You put everything in perspective. Small start ups do have a tough time with Facebook pages and should build elsewhere first.

    Thanks
    Bruce

  5. facebook dater on November 1st, 2010 8:54 am

    Hi Larry, good points. As a small business owner I think it’s very important to interlink your Facebook fan page and your website/blog. Not only because of “likes”, but because you are closer to your audience. People often leave Facebook online in another browser window and your updates will get you one step closer to repeat visitors.

  6. Larry Brauner on November 1st, 2010 9:20 am

    @Coach Mi The current privacy setting aren’t linked to lists as were the previous ones, although it is possible to include or exclude people from seeing posts by naming them individually.

    @Bruce @Facebook Dater Thanks for your input.

  7. Jamie Gorman on November 1st, 2010 9:43 am

    Boy Larry, you nailed it. One of the most difficult situations I face with my social media students and clients is how to balance work clients and friends. This is especially difficult for folks like accountants, insurance agents, etc… who really count on those personal relationships to grow business!

    Using Facebook for business certainly requires some choices for those whose business and personal lives are integrated!

    Thanks,
    Jamie

  8. Larry Brauner on November 1st, 2010 9:46 am

    Thank you Jamie.. and even more choices for those whose business and personal lives aren’t integrated.

  9. Alicia Carstens on November 1st, 2010 9:49 am

    Thanks again, Larry. I will be taking a look at your online resources regarding blogging this evening. It has been something that I’ve known I needed to do but have been a bit unsure where to start. I see that now is the time to make a plan and get on the blogging band wagon.

    Alicia

  10. juliet on November 1st, 2010 2:14 pm

    This may be off-topic but I just like to say Many Thanks for your EC drops for the month of October. You made it on the top ten!

    All Things Juliet

    My Weekend Journal

  11. Coach Mi on November 1st, 2010 6:14 pm

    re: FB privacy settings

    Larry, you might need to check on that one because that is exactly how I screen my posts from people I don’t know well i.e. by using lists and selecting the following visibility on my posts “Friends only, except ‘List’”

    So this method should be workable unless FB has started phasing in another version which hasn’t got round to me yet!

    Happy to send you a screen dump if you’re interested.

  12. Larry Brauner on November 1st, 2010 6:53 pm

    Granted, you can with some effort target your posts and protectyour content.

    How do you protect the privacy of your friends who give permissions to friends of friends?

  13. Coach Mi on November 1st, 2010 9:21 pm

    Re: FB privacy settings

    Naturally, you can’t protect the privacy of your friends if they haven’t taken the step to protect their privacy.

    Whose responsibility would that be, yours or theirs?

  14. Larry Brauner on November 1st, 2010 9:58 pm

    That’s an ethical issue for each of us to decide. Thank you very much for your input.

  15. Canadian free Stuff on November 1st, 2010 11:46 pm

    I disagree on the Facebook issue, it works better for small business. I mean “REAL” business. My one niece has over 500 friends for her photography fan page, all locals, and she advertises by showing off a few pics now again, and her own kids. It may not work for a Blogger that is just starting out, and that’s their hobby business, but for the “REAL business world in the traditional sense” I think fan pages are where it’s at!

    Let’s think about it - How much is an ad in the paper? Minimum $50 or $200 per week? How many eyeballs see it? Facebook fan pages? Cost is 0. How much does radio ads cost? Minimum $300 or more per week. If you have an actual store front, your stupid not to use Facebook fan pages! You can promote your sales for FREE!!! There is No need for Gadgets. Upload a pic of the newest dress you just got in to the store! Add a price - Upload- Easy- OH and FREE!!!!

  16. Larry Brauner on November 2nd, 2010 12:27 am

    I agree wholeheartedly that Facebook pages are valuable, but I don’t agree that Facebook pages are free. All social media has a time cost, and time is valuable.

    As far as building a page, I maintain that larger companies do have an advantage. 500 fans is a very small number for a large company. Such companies often attract more than 10,000 Facebook fans.

    However, this is a minor issue. Each business will accomplish what they’re capable of accomplishing given their budget of time and money.

    The issues surrounding Facebook profiles are more important. I myself have managed to navigate these issues reasonably well, but I personally know people who find them perplexing.

    This article and ensuing discussion has been intended to help them with their Facebook business decisions.

  17. Mitch on November 4th, 2010 6:09 pm

    I use Facebook for both pleasure and business. I love that I’ve connected with so many people, and get to talk to them often enough, including my family. And, since Facebook started calling them business pages instead of fan pages, I love that I have more than 100 people connected with me on that page, although at least 100 of them are also friends of some type. Still, I think it’s important to do because whatever you put on your business page shows up on all those other pages, and you just might attract new people to your business.

    By the way, I just thanked you on my blog for being one of my first 10 commenters way back in the day. :-)

  18. tipster on November 7th, 2010 10:33 am

    This is a very good point - a lot of people start mixing up “business and pleasure” on Facebook. Some think it’s annoying and others will surely think it’s highly unprofessional. Worst part? I don’t think you will ever know which of your “friends” think it’s either annoying or unprofessional. You will just not see them - or their business.

  19. Eden on November 8th, 2010 2:58 am

    Hi Larry,

    I don’t totally agree with you on item #6, if you are only looking at B2B situations than maybe but as a local small business who’s focus is B2C and we can only provide a our product to those who visit our town or live here locally I feel that FB is a very valuable tool!! I can communicate ’specials’, ‘deals’ and ‘contests’ to locals quickly and for FREE and it is not problematic or slow.

    I can’t do that with print media or radio and not on the fly either.

    I have admin’d several other local small business pages to get them started and all of them had over 25 fans within a matter of hours. For a FREE source of advertising and engaging people…focusing on relationships Facebook is an invaluable tool for us.

    I don’t consider Twitter a very engaging social media tool for small business at all, how can you create a relationship based in 140 words and it really wasn’t created for conversations just ‘blurbs’.

    I have even created a group on FB called Facebook 101 for small business to share tips and tricks to help small biz’s utilize FB.

  20. Larry Brauner on November 8th, 2010 9:33 am

    My main point in #6 Eden, is that the Facebook business page will not grow itself.

    The local business has influence and will have to use that influence, that relationship with its customers, to get customers to “like” and engage with the page.

  21. Rachel Baker on November 11th, 2010 10:10 am

    What about Facebook lists?

    As a solopreneur, I think it is easier to engage with my customers using a profile page - instead of a Fan page.
    I do realize that doesn’t work for all businesses.

  22. Larry Brauner on November 11th, 2010 11:21 am

    Using Facebook lists in conjunction with your Facebook profile is an option, Rachel.

    You lose the benefits of fan pages, such as custom tabs and viral growth.

    Furthermore, there are people who won’t friend you, because they don’t use Facebook for business, but they would fan you.

    Probably, the best way to go is to use both, as I do, and I’m a solopreneur. However, it’s your choice.

    More than half of my fans are not friends. That justifies the fan page for me.

  23. Joe on November 15th, 2010 4:45 pm

    Thank you for helping me better identify the parmeters of Facebook limits and the other resources as a better method, Larry. I have enjoyed opening themed groups in Facebook and maintained both friends and family quite well without appearing too commercial. By staying with a common theme, paying respects to my circle, etc. does offer a soft traffic flow I look for and then rely on a “penny doubled” effect for future invites. Oh well it does look good on paper…lol!

  24. John McDonnell on November 26th, 2010 7:36 pm

    These are all good points. It’s easy to get business contacts, friends & family all mixed up on Facebook. It’s one of the most frustrating things for me. I haven’t tried the Facebook fan pages because I’m a writer and I don’t have enough published material available yet. I have built a good following for my blogs through Twitter, which has really worked for me. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to use Facebook, and it can be a frustrating process.

  25. rokko on December 1st, 2010 2:17 pm

    I should send this to half the people I know… Seems they can’t tell the difference between Facebook friends and real life friends. I do find that the same people mess up the whole LinkedIn idea as well. Social media separation is key!

  26. Randy Brickhouse Sr. on February 6th, 2011 12:22 am

    I read your article about having one Facebook business page before reading this one. Man, oh man! I sure didn’t do my homework. I’ve mixed business with family.

    What can I do to rectify this? I have a lot of linked content on Facebook.

    Thanks and God bless.

  27. Larry Brauner on February 6th, 2011 12:33 am

    Hi Randy,

    I looked at your Facebook personal profile. Don’t worry about the content or your friends.

    If you want a Facebook business page, start one. However, you’re going to need a strategy for building it.

    I’ve written articles about growing your Facebook page on this blog that may help.

  28. OMG! I Can't Use My Facebook Personal Profile for Business? | Online Social Networking on February 6th, 2011 9:56 pm

    […] my 7 Issues to Consider About Doing Business on Facebook and ONE Facebook Business Page, No More, No Fewer, I strongly advised not to use your Facebook […]

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