Facebook Faux Pas: Using Your Personal Profile for Commercial Gain


Long ago, when Facebook started, it was targeting college campuses. There was no business activity on it. As demand started to spike, Facebook opened their world to the rest of us who were not in college. Many of us had businesses we wanted to promote. We knew our friends were reading our status updates, and we wanted to let them know about our business dealings. Some of us even made our Facebook profile photo our logo.

*** Screech! ***

According to Facebook's Terms of Use in section 4, #4: "You will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain (such as selling your status update to an advertiser)."

Bingo. Enter your problem of how to market your business to your friends. Not to mention if any of you out there are in fact selling your Facebook status updates to advertisers, but that's another blog post. If you have a business, you should primarily promote that business on Facebook's business page for a number of effective reasons. You should also mention business things on your personal profile space, and can include links to what you are promoting, but don't pass up the business page approach as your primary means.

A huge benefit of Facebook is its running "Newsfeed", where your activity that you post is displayed to your friends like a mini ad. Facebook recognized that millions of its users wanted to reach their friends and networking contacts to promote their businesses. Therefore, in 2009, Facebook created the Facebook Business Page. You could create a profile business page on Facebook dedicated only to your business. Facebook expanded on how that business page worked, and made it work, pretty much, just like a personal profile account. All updates from a business could show up in a person's coveted Newsfeed. This included photos posted, store hours changed, videos added, links shared, and the simple status update.

Tapping in even more, Facebook customized their base businesses page functionality to the type of business, and gave that page type...special powers. If your business is a store, you could post store hours in a designated place. If you are in a band, you could create an event/gig in a few easy clicks and invite all of your friends. If you are a politian, you have options as well.

The business page gives you all of the advantages of the personal page, but gives you even more advantages. You could brand your page to look like a website home page! Yet, people who have been using the personal profile as their promotional tool are reluctant to make the switch. Pretty normal, actually - resistant to change. Some resistance sounds like:

"All of my friends already know me, and I know them, and they are familiar with what I am doing."

Great. So you're alienating all of your future customers and clients. The problem with this approach is that your personal profile is private only to those people. New people searching for you on the web won't be able to see all of your great news and offerings, unless maybe they reach out and friend you, which they probably won't because they don't know you.

"I let all of the people I meet at markets and networking events "friend" me. It makes them feel special, and I communicate with them on a personal level."

Or so you think. It's a Newsfeed status update that your friends are reading. Depending on how you're wording it, your business page updates can be quite personal. People are inspired by our Facebook page at Tin Shingle on a daily basis. We even help people get to sleep. The problem with this argument is that you are still limiting yourself. Check out how many people musician Joshua Radin has on his business page: a lot. And he gets to brand his page and make it pretty, and look like a real website! Yes, we will tell you how you can do this, and we actually have a discounted package you can plug into right now.

"I can quickly tell all of my friends about upcoming gigs I have coming up."

Great. So all of the rest of your fans who have not hunted you down in Facebook and "requested friendship" won't know when or where you are playing. They can't find your business page on their mobile phones while dancing, and "like" you. You can't really link to this from your MySpace or website page because your personal profile is private. A business page lets you create an official "Event" that lets anyone RSVP if they are coming, and, you get the viral effect their friends seeing if they are attending your gig or event. You can bulk email everyone about a change in the gig or exciting news about it. Sigh. What else you got?


Wrong. And what are you doing thinking that way? You're supposed to be promoting your business to as many people as you can! I have a confession. I'm a blogger, and I created a local blog inspired by my town. I manage a lot of Facebook pages, including carefully balancing my own promotion in my personal profile, so I wasn't eager to create an official Facebook business page for my new blog. Then I was talking to my neighbor in front of her house. She is dedicated reader of my little blog. I had implemented the Blogger "Follow" feature, so people with Blogger accounts could follow it that way. I thought that was enough. She asked me: "Why can't I find you in Facebook?"

"What do you mean," I thought? "Are we not friends there?"

"I don't know! I see all of these other blog posts come up in my Facebook, and I don't see yours. Why not?"

Ok. She's a Facebook newbie and doesn't even have her personal picture on her account. And she's not yet one of my 650 "friends". Yet she expects to see my blog posts in her Newsfeed. So I created a business page for it, and put the widget on my blog to make it easy for people to join, and see who of their friends also likes it. Yup, people are "liking" it on at a faster rate than just the Blogger Follow.

Did I convince you yet? No? You still have one more argument to cling to?


This is a question loaded with a lot of effort. You will need to get creative, because you can't bring your friends over with one simple click. You'll need to start promoting your business page. Yes, it's another thing to promote. Yes, we'll blog about strategies on how you can do this, but for now, just get started. You have a new, ongoing todo list item that is worth it to maintain.