Can and should small business owners keep their professional and personal life separate on Facebook? This is the question I address in this post about social media and small business owners.
Here’s a situation I’ve encountered more than once on Facebook. A former apartment neighbor of mine and I are personal Facebook friends. I like her a lot. She’s a vibrant personality and married to an IT geek (so am I). She’s a mom of two teenage daughters and posts images like this:
She’s the kind of mom I hope to be someday.
Yet, she’s also a new (small) business owner and uses her personal profile to promote her company. The small picture on her profile is of her and her husband. Yet, the larger background image states her company’s name.
Her posts randomly go back and forth between telling us what they’re having for dinner and wanting people to have a party so she can show how great her products are.
I’m conflicted by this. I’ve seen it before and don’t care for it. I’ll be honest. I like her as a person but don’t care for her company’s products. I also feel “trapped” by her solicits for help to get her to “the next level” in her company because I’m her Facebook friend.
I don’t say anything. Yet, she has addressed this potential issue in a recent post.
“To all my friends and family: I share my business on Facebook not to recruit people or make sales or annoy anyone. I share it because I believe with every fiber of my being that this company can change your life!”
I wondered many times whether or not she was violating some kind of Facebook policy. During my research, I found this:
Under Facebook’s terms and agreement, under “safety” this is number three:
“You will not engage in unlawful multi-level marketing, such as a pyramid scheme, on Facebook.”
Also, she’s violating Facebook’s policies under “Registration and Account Security.”
#4: ”You will not use your personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes.”
You can view this agreement here:
Let’s take a look at this situation because you can have a separate personal and business presence on Facebook.
When you sign up for Facebook, you’re signing up for a personal presence. You’re creating what’s called a Facebook Profile (now known as Timeline). This is where you can search for old acquaintances, friends or other people you know. The wonderful thing about this is that you can ask to be “Facebook Friends” with someone and they can either accept or reject your request.
Beyond that, if you have a new (small) business, you can then create what’s called a Facebook Page. The key is that you have to create the Profile first in order to create the Page. I recently learned that this is the same for LinkedIn as well. A Facebook Page looks very similar to a Facebook Profile. The main difference? You can’t ask for “Facebook Friends” on it. The only way people can follow the Facebook Page and receive its content is by “liking” it. You can ask people on your personal profile to “like” your business but you can’t get them as your friend and automatically provide information about your company on it.
You can learn all about Facebook Business Pages here:
I have another friend who happens to be a career coach. We’re Facebook Friends personally. She has a Facebook Page for her business as well. I “like” it and receive occasional updates on what she’s doing. She doesn’t mix the two. She doesn’t like the idea of inundating her friends with business updates. I respect her for this. She also said that her best friend, another business owner, does use her personal Facebook Page to promote her business as well. I suspect it’s more common than we realize.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on this. I’m just bringing the situation to light.
What are your thoughts and experiences with this? I look forward to your comments.