Friends or Fans on Facebook?


How do you prefer to connect on Facebook? Do you like to keep your personal profile just for good friends and family or do you open it up for the world to see? Do you let complete strangers friend you on Facebook? How well does someone have to know you to be allowed in to the inner circle of your personal Facebook profile?

Say you meet someone at an in person business networking meeting, they then send you a Facebook friend request, what do you do? Do you accept, ignore or invite them to be a fan of your business fan page instead of being a friend on Facebook? If someone does this to you, how does it make you feel?

I’d like to start a discussion about this. I don’t think there is a right answer and I’m still deciding how I feel about it. I want to hear how you feel about it and what you think is the best practice for business owners.

I personally am pretty open with who I let in to my inner circle on my personal Facebook profile. At first it was weird for me when my clients and neighbors started friending me. I felt exposed, but then I thought about it and decided I don’t do anything I’m ashamed of so why not let my clients and neighbors be my friends on Facebook?

I know some people who only friend their very close friends and family and ask clients and others to connect via their fan page.

What do you think? I understand why someone wants to keep business and personal separate but when I’m the one who has been denied a friend request I have to admit I feel a little bit excluded. 🙁

In this day and age of social networking and being authentic is keeping business and personal separate really the best thing to do? Is anything really private anymore?

I figure if my clients don’t like my political views, the amount of time I spend on Facebook, the pictures of me from when I was 12 or hearing about the random things I do everyday… they either don’t have to work with me or don’t need to be my friend on Facebook, but if they want to be my friend and are interested in what I’m cooking for dinner then… why not let them be a part of my community?

Neighbors… well they are a whole other story… LOL if you are going to talk about a party or going out to dinner on Facebook make sure to invite ALL of your neighbors or expect messages saying things like: “thanks a lot for inviting me!”

If you are a business owner with a Facebook fan page, what do you do?

If you are someone that wants to connect with a business owner and they deny the friend request and ask you to be their fan instead, how does this make you feel? Do you want to be their fan still or does it kind of feel like “Let’s just be friends?” when someone says “Let’s just be fans”?

Please leave a comment and share your thoughts on this topic.



11 thoughts on “Friends or Fans on Facebook?

  1. Candy Beauchamp

    I find the business pages to be more boring. Honestly, I care more about what you made for dinner or other daily life stuff than I do about whatever you’re probably going to say on a business fan page. I accept those invitations, but otherwise ignore them. I also am more apt to pay attention to you if you pay attention to me. LOL. (and OF COURSE I pay attention to everything you do, Sally!) 😉

  2. Karla Bryant

    It’s an ever evolving situation, but for now, I think the best plan is to keep one page for friends and a fan page for business. Some people will have access to both. But, it prevents business associates from viewing one as “unprofessional” and doesn’t give your friends too much work enough that they may not be connected with.

    Of course, that’s what I’m thinking today…maybe I’ll check in again next week with a different answer!

  3. Dusty

    I wasn’t sure if wanted to keep my personal page for family and close friends only, but since I usually call or send my family emails, I welcome anyone to my personal page. If someone would like to get to know me on a personal level only then my personal page is the best place, because I like to keep my personal page and fan page separate. I just can’t see posting about washing my car, for example, and then talk about a product in the next post.

    I don’t like asking someone to become a fan instead of adding them as a friend. If someone takes the time to connect with me, I’ll gladly accept their preference, whether it’s my personal page or fan page.

  4. Terry Green

    I’m a bit more partial to friending than fanning. My Facebook page is a real mix and match with friends, clients, associates … you name it. I’m loose (no cracks here please) about who I accept as friends too. If I know you or you are friends with a lot of my friends, I’ll probably “accept” if you friend me. If I get a friend request from someone I don’t know at all and isn’t connected to anyone I know – I’ll usually ignore them. There has to be at least something there to make me want to connect with someone. I don’t ever say anything to my friends that I wouldn’t want my clients or someone I may do business with in the future to read, so I don’t worry about mixing personal with business. I figure it’s a personal Facebook account, so I really don’t care … and if my clients or prospects are offended by the way I am in person, then I don’t know that we are really a good fit, because the personal me is not different from the business me.

    I’m not sure how I feel about other people’s fan pages either. I think I’m with Candy on this one … most of them are boring. I’ve tried forever to get one up for my business, but truthfully… haven’t really taken the time to do anything with it to make it very effective – so it’s really, really boring. And truthfully, while I’ve become a fan of lots of other fan pages, I don’t really ever spend any time visiting any of them. I’m more interested in the conversations that go back and forth between friends.

  5. Sally Post author

    Wow thanks for all the comments!

    I do agree it is important to have both if you are a business owner because like Dusty said I can’t see talking about washing my car in one update and then the next showing of my product or service.

    I also agree most fan pages are BORING however I find some of them useful because I find out about events or the business owner posts cool links that I find interesting and useful.

    Like Terry I am the same person business and personal wise. Does that mean I don’t have a professional side? No, it just means I’m human, I’m real and I’m okay with my business associates and clients knowing this. It’s actually brought me clients letting people in to my personal profile… like people I met briefly at a party, friends of friends, etc that had no idea what I did until they had the opportunity to learn more about me on my personal page!

  6. Patty

    I only have a personal page, so my Facebook is filled with personal and professional, but I feel that my professional are also my friends. I want people to know me. I don’t have a Fanpage because I just don’t see why I would and I really don’t have the time. I do fan a lot of pages and visit, but I’d rather get to know people since I feel I’m a people-person.

    I really like what Terry said here and agree, so I’m going to quote her: “I don’t ever say anything to my friends that I wouldn’t want my clients or someone I may do business with in the future to read, so I don’t worry about mixing personal with business. I figure it’s a personal Facebook account, so I really don’t care … and if my clients or prospects are offended by the way I am in person, then I don’t know that we are really a good fit, because the personal me is not different from the business me.”

    I’m actually starting to get on Facebook a little more. It’s taking time to get into a routine, but I think I’m starting to get there a bit.

  7. Justin

    I think some of my position has developed from being involved with Linux Journal. I get friend requests from friends, from business contacts, but also from readers, who are much harder to put into a friend-or-fan. They aren’t really business contacts – most couldn’t care less about my non-LJ work – but they also aren’t really “friends” either. I accept their friend requests because it’s part of being out there, and so I accept business friend requests too.

    I guess for me, it’s not so much about friend vs. fan, or even business vs. personal, but public vs. private. There is very much a “public” me reflected in my Facebook profile, Twitter account, blog postings, etc, and that’s open to everybody, business personal, reader, Martian invader, whoever. If I was going to be keeping profiles sealed off, I’d have one for the “private” me, and only make it known to people who I wanted to know about it.

  8. Tawnya Sutherland

    Well, when I joined facebook, I accepted anyone who was a friend of my friends and so on and so on. Until one day I just stopped using Facebook because it was too diluted with news of people I didn’t even know. I would have to scroll through hundreds of posts to find the friends and family I was interested in listening to. So, one day I went in and deleted anyone I had not communicated with on a personal level in the last month or two and kept just those close ones. I went from almost 1,000 friends to under 100 friends. For me, I am going to leave my Facebook as my personal area for closer friends and family to keep me up to date with what is going on in their lives. For those who want to befriend me, that I don’t feel is someone I communicate with on a regular basis, I just refer them to my fanpage. This is what works for me.

  9. Mary H Ruth

    Cool discussion. There’s so much murkiness about Facebook (even though I love it!). As far as I can figure, the Fan Page tries to attract votes of confidence from people. If you Fan a Page, you’re saying this Page is good people. Then the Page owner can send you messages. So it’s really like an opt-in, in a way.
    I’ve had an issue with people I don’t really know asking to Friend me, and after resisting for some time, I’ve decided to go ahead and accept their invites. Because updates can be assigned to certain groups, it’s really not heard to keep track of your contacts and keep them reading the appropriate posts.
    It’s a very interesting question. Let’s be real: Fan Pages are weird and need serious clarification.

  10. Lori Isachsen

    This is a great post, since I am new to facebook. I signed up, mainly for my business and to learn more about how I can help my clients, real estate professionals. For the first few weeks I received a lot from friends who found me just because I finally signed up. Fantastic to reconnect with everyone! What I find interesting, is because of my market niche, they don’t want their personal life to be mixed in with their real estate business life. I think that it is much more about public versus private and controlling who is post on your wall.
    This post is exactly the question that clients ask me and I have since joined the Social Media Marketing Camp, which trains on this and other social media aspects, within my niche.
    For now, I’m continuing to learn and glad to know that there are others, that just aren’t sure how to manage their facebook, without a ton of work.

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