Facebook for Business?

Using LinkedIn as a venue for professional networking is a given. But what about Facebook? Can small business owners use Facebook for business promotion? And more importantly should they?

When I first joined Facebook it was my “water cooler” experience, a way to connect with friends and past co-workers from my isolated home office. Frequently I find myself using Facebook to showcase what is happening in my professional life. Is this shameless self-promotion? Am I betraying my largely social network by spamming or boring them with my professional activities? Or am I just excited about the work I do??

IMHO networking online is no different from networking in person: play nice, be sincere, and put the needs of others first. Ask yourself this: “Is what I’m about to say or do in the best interest of all involved?” If the answer is yes, then go forth and post!

Here are several appropriate uses for promoting your business/service on Facebook:

  • Status updates: Tell your network where you are going and what you are doing. Your true friends are interested in what you are up to, and want to support your career. Especially if you are “in transition.”
  • Events: If you are hosting an event that is open to the public let your network know about it. You have gifts to share with everyone, including past co-workers and long lost high-school friends.
  • BLOG: If you maintain a professional blog, go ahead and link it to your Facebook profile. Again, your friends are interested in your career and want to hear what you have to say.
  • “Like” Page: Formally called a fan page. Your “tribe” can opt in to show their loyalty and get status updates on your business. Here is one of my favorites: TED Fan Page

Here are several inappropriate uses for promoting your business/service on Facebook:

  • Faux Status Updates: Status updates that are actually ploys to elicit inquiries to your MLM opportunity, product or service. This can and will irrevocably ruin your social capital.
  • Befriending strangers: Sending invites to gazillions of strangers in order to expose them to your MLM opportunity, product or service deludes your network and is a largely effective. A fake friendship is just that – fake and worthless.
  • Flaming: Using Facebook to platform your grievances (both personal and professional) is a reputation killer. Doing so can and will jeopardize your reputation.

Bottom line: While Facebook is largely social and is LinkedIn is largely professional, you can co-mingle your two worlds on Facebook as long as you are adding value!