If you aren’t following Facebook’s terms of service to the letter, you’re risking big consequences. Imagine spending tons of time building up a long friends list only to have it all disappear because you failed to follow the rules!
That’s what is happening to a growing number of small local businesses who have used their business name to set up a personal profile. If you go to Facebook’s Help Center to the page, “What names are allowed on Facebook?” you’ll see that they only want personal profiles used by people not businesses. You are told that the name you use should be the same one that is on your credit cards and your student ID.
They allow nicknames in place of first or middle names and permit maiden names for women. But Facebook stresses that each personal profile should be set up by one real person.
Don’t get me wrong. As many of you have read recently, I think your personal profile is a great place to socialize with your customer friends. If you missed the post it’s “Why Small Local Businesses Are Better At Facebook Than Big Business”
But you don’t interact as your business, you interact as yourself. You, personally Jane Doe Smith. The reason this works so well is that you ARE in many cases your small local business. Your customers associate you with your business.
You don’t need to break Facebook’s terms of service to do this. You follow their terms to the letter, and “friend” your customer friends, socializing with them person to person, which strengthens your relationship which increases their loyalty to you/your business. Those customer friends might not want to read what you ate for breakfast (come to think of it, nobody does!!). But they will love to hear the things about your life that relate to your business.
For most small local business owners, the only time you’re not thinking about your business is when you’re sleeping. And then you’re dreaming about it!
What to do if you have already blown it.
You can change your name, and you should, right now. Go to your account settings by clicking on the little arrow in the upper right corner of your timeline or your newsfeed page. You’ll see your general settings, with your current name right at the top.
Click the “edit” link to the right of your name. Replace your business name with your personal name. You’ll see the announcement that the change will probably take 24 hours while your name is confirmed.
Next, go to your profile page and post an update to your friends that you’re changing your business name to your personal name. Reassure them that since you ARE your business they won’t see much change. Still fun, still informative, still no blatant advertising.
If you have both a personal profile AND a business name in a personal profile, follow Facebook’s instructions for converting your business profile to a business page.
This is vital. You’ve worked so hard to build up your friends, and all your hard work could be lost if you fail to follow Facebook’s rules. You’ll still have two Facebook accounts to keep updated, but they’ll both be sanctioned by Facebook.
Why do I suggest that small local business owners interact with business friends through their personal profiles rather than a business page?
1. It’s easy. You can talk about all the things you do and love on your profile, and since you are your business, they often deal with business related things.
You just have to be very committed to NOT do any blatant advertising. Social media is about being social and building relationships. Never forget that.
2. It’s fast. You’ll only have to maintain one Facebook profile rather than two – a personal profile and a business page.
3. You don’t have to wait to be liked. You can “friend” your customers and build relationships that will enhance their loyalty to your business.
4. It’s more natural for small business owners. Have you ever been at a social event where you and your friends all agreed to not talk about business? Remember how quiet things got?
When you are your business, it’s so much a part of what gets you excited that it’s natural to talk about your latest adventure, thing you bought for your business, recipes your testing, funny things that happened at work and more. It’s what you do everyday anyway, using Facebook instead of face to face interaction.
But… Don’t ever break Facebook’s rules. It’s their platform and they get to decide what happens to rulebreakers. And it’s not pretty.
Here are several past posts about Facebook:
If you have Facebook business page, read this one: