How to Follow Business Etiquette on Facebook
While Facebook grows, so do the surprising number of faux pas committed by individuals and companies alike. You can and must protect your business’s reputation on Facebook, as well as maintain the utmost respect for the Facebook community:
Don’t forget birthday greetings. With the power of Facebook, you can never forget a birthday of any of your friends. Then why not make it a point each day to see whether fans of your Page are having a birthday? Just visit a fan’s profile and leave a birthday greeting on his Wall or send a Facebook e-mail to her Inbox. And if that isn’t enough, perhaps you want to offer him something unique that only you can provide for their birthday. For example, fans might be open to getting a happy birthday greeting from a local restaurant with an offer to come in that week for a free dessert or free drink.
Don’t drink and Facebook. This should go without saying, but sometimes (at least) our ability to communicate is impaired by drinking. Drinking and e-mailing (or social networking) just don’t go together. You’re better off not logging in.
Keep it clean and civilized. Here’s another no-no: sending threatening, harassing, or sexually explicit messages to Facebook members. Also, unsolicited messages to members’ Inboxes aren’t tolerated. Your account could be warned, banned, and eventually disabled. What’s worse, Facebook won’t provide you with a description or copy of the content that was found to be offensive. Err on the side of caution if you think there is a question.
Avoid overdoing it. You can overindulge in Facebook in several ways, so watch out for these traps because they’re very easy to fall into. First, don’t randomly add people to your profile in the hopes of converting them to fans of your Page. Befriending random people is considered poor form and may make you look like a stalker. Also, avoid poking, which is an impersonal form of communication. Poking a friend can be fun, but poking a stranger is poor form.
Dress up your page with applications. Independent developers have written an endless sea of applications for Facebook. One or more of those could make a great fit for your business, so find an application or two (but no more) that you can use to make your Page more engaging.
Respect the Wall. Your Wall is where your fans can leave messages and start a discussion on a topic. All messages on your Wall are visible to everyone who’s a fan of your business or anyone who visits your Page. Think of your Wall as a place of public record, so avoid editing comments that you don’t like and make sure you’re professional and courteous to anyone posting. Thank fans for posting and make it fun for them and others.
Be careful when talking to strangers. Sometimes written communication can seem flat and impersonal, so choose your words carefully — and be sure to reread your responses before you post them, especially if the situation is or was getting heated. Better yet, if you think the conversation is getting too heated, feel free to take it off Facebook and address the person via e-mail.
Don't be afraid to ignore a fan. Always welcome new fans and respond to comments and posts on your Wall within 24 hours, but try to know when to respond and when to let the conversation rest. If a fan is irate, that’s another thing; ignoring the fan can often work against you.
Deal with your irate fans. Irate fans pose one of the biggest challenges that this new medium has to offer. You have several ways to deal with an irate fan:
Honestly consider his point and try to find something (anything) to agree with. Finding and establishing common ground is a great way to get the conversation back on track.
Correct factual inaccuracies in a very tactful and pleasant way. The fan may not have all the data, which could be causing her to be irate.
If you don’t know the solution to a particular situation, don’t bluff your way out of it — be honest, commit to finding out more, and give the fan a date when you’ll get back to him.
Don’t forget that you can always take your conversation offline.
Maintain your privacy. For some business owners, privacy is of paramount concern. Make sure that your profile settings are set to Private (which is no longer the default) rather than Public, which makes your personal information — including your home address — available to Internet search engines for all prying eyes to see.