A Guide to Using Facebook Lists for Your Business

Facebook Lists are an excellent way to organize your friends on Facebook.  This highly useful tool allows you to send status updates and invitations to specific groups of people all at once, and also allows you to limit the updates you see to a specific list of people.  I use Facebook Lists all the time to communicate with both my business contacts, as well as my personal friends.

Recently, however, Facebook has made some changes to lists, which has resulted in confusion.  Here’s what you need to know about Facebook Lists.

Creating a Friend List

Let’s start with creating a Friend List.

  1. To set up a Friend List, go to Account/Edit Friends/Create a List.
  2. Then, type a name for your list, click the pictures of the friends that you want included in your list, and click the Create List button.

You now have a Friend List.  It’s that easy.  I suggest you set up lists for both your business, as well as your personal life.  Some list suggestions include:

  • Family
  • Personal Friends
  • Local
  • School
  • Customers
  • Prospects
  • My Team

You may have more or fewer lists that you want to set up.  These take a while to set up, especially if you have a lot of friends, but the good news is that you set them up ONCE, they are private (no one knows what list they are on), and they can save you a ton of time in the future.

Featured Friends

Now note, Facebook has recently added a new feature with the new Profile layout called “Featured Friends.”  When you click the “Edit Profile” link at the top of the new profile (at the end of your personal information listed at the top), you’ll see a menu option on the left called “Featured People.”  These are friends who will always be displayed when people view your profile.

You have the option to select your spouse and other family members, and you can also create or select a friend list to be displayed from the “Featured Friends” list at the bottom.  IT IS HIGHLY IMPORTANT THAT YOU REALIZE THAT ONCE YOU SELECT A LIST TO BE FEATURED, EVERY MEMBER OF THAT LIST IS NOTIFIED BY FACEBOOK THAT THEY ARE ON THAT LIST.  This means that you do NOT want to select a list as a “Featured Friends” list if you intend for that list to be private.  And as you can see from the example below, you don’t HAVE to create or select a Featured Friends list.  By default, all your friends are displayed.  This is what I have done on my personal Profile.

Using Friend Lists

OK, so you’ve set up your friend lists.  Now let’s talk about how to use these effectively.

There are several ways you may want to use your Friend lists.  Let’s take a look at some of these specific uses.

Viewing the Statuses of only a Specific Group of People

When you log on to Facebook with the intention of networking for your business, you may not wish to see posts from everyone, which can be distracting.  You may only wish to see posts from specific people, such as customers, hostesses, or prospects.  To view posts from a specific list, follow these steps:

  1. From your Facebook Home Page, click “Most Recent” at the top right corner of the News Feed.
  2. You’ll notice a small blue arrow appears next to the words Most Recent.  When you click this, you will get a drop-down menu.  The second section of the drop-down menu (under Pages) is where you’ll find your lists.  If the list you want isn’t the first that appears, simply click “Choose another…” to find the list you want to view.
  3. Once you click the list, the only status updates you’ll see in the news feed are updates from that specific list of people.
  4. To view status updates from everyone again, simply click “News Feed” under your picture on the left side of the screen, in the main Facebook menu.

Sending Status Updates that Only Apply to a Certain Group of People

Sometimes you may want to send a status update that only applies to a certain group of people.  For example, you may want to let your local friends know about a blood drive going on in your town.  To send a status update to just a specific group, follow these steps:

  1. Type your status update as usual, BUT, before you click the Share button, click the little lock icon that appears right beside it.
  2. Select “Customize” from the drop-down menu, and the Custom Privacy box appears.
  3. From the “Make this visible to…” section of this box, click the drop-down menu next to “These people:” and select “Specific People…”
  4. Begin typing the name of the list that you want to see the post.  Facebook will display lists that begin with the characters you’re typing, and you can select the full name of that list.  Then click the “Save Setting” button.
  5. Click the “Share” button as usual to post your status update.  What you’ll notice is that the update appears with a Lock icon underneath it.   Only the friends on the list you specified will be able to see the post.

Sending Event Invites to Local People

I love Friend Lists for Events.  It means that you can invite an entire group of people to an event without selecting them one by one, or sending invites to people for whom the event does not apply.

To invite people from a list, first you’ll need to set up your Event in Facebook.  When you get to the “Select Guests” part, click the “Filter Friends” link, and choose the appropriate list.  You’ll only see the people on that list, and you can limit your invites to them.  If you want to invite everyone on a specific list, simply click the “Select All” link on the right, after selecting your list.

Suggesting a Page

You can also use the “Filter Friends” method to suggest a Facebook Page to a group of people, such as your customers or team members.  Simply click the “Suggest to Friends” link under the main Page image, and the “Suggest Page to Friends” box appears (it looks just like the “Select Guests” box above.)  Click “Filter Friends,” select your list, and then click “Select All.”  Type a personal message and then click the “Send Invitations” button.

Facebook Chat and Lists

Lists are also helpful for Facebook Chat.  If you’re completely open to receiving a chat message from a customer, but are trying to avoid time-wasting chats with old college buddies, friend lists can be exceptionally helpful.  When you click the Chat icon on the lower-right of your screen, you’ll see a button at the top that says Friend Lists.  From here, you can select which lists you want available for chat.

To un-select a list, simply click on it and the check next to that list will disappear.  That list will not appear in your chat menu either.

You can also make yourself available to specific lists on chat at specific times.

Do you see near the top there are those grey and green things that look like slider bars?  The grey ones mean your offline to the folks on those lists.  The green ones mean you’re visible, and can see that list.  To go online (or offline), simply click that slider bar and you’ll be able to change to offline (or online).  Once you go online, you’ll be able to see who is available for chatting in that list (the people with the green dots next to their names.)

As you can see, Facebook Friend Lists can be highly useful tools for managing your Facebook experience, helping you to communicate more effectively, and manage your time wisely.

How do you use Facebook Lists?  Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

10 Responses to A Guide to Using Facebook Lists for Your Business
  1. Clarissa
    August 24, 2011 | 11:02 am

    Hi Jennifer, I have recently joined a direct sales company in financial debt free services, I would like to know if you know of any you tube videos or how I could start to use my fan page to interact with prospects on a daily basis.Off line I will have to call my prospects over the phone.Is there a way that the online social media method can help lead prospects into the other. Your list building has great value as I didn’t know before that you could seperate business prospects from my personal friends and I also love the chat on and off icons that you have shown in oder to choose when and with who we can interact with people, thanks in advance and I look forward to more useful tips.

  2. James Watson
    January 8, 2011 | 6:01 am

    An excellent tutorial article Jennifer.

    How disruptive is it when Facebook makes changes to using lists? I’ve heard from some people that some updates can cause you to ‘reset’ your lists, requiring them to be ‘rebuilt’.

    Have you had any such issues?


    • Jennifer Fong
      January 9, 2011 | 1:23 pm

      I haven’t experienced a problem with Facebook making changes to my existing lists. I’ve actually had more problems with Twitter and lists. It would certainly be a problem if Facebook messed them up, however, and given the nature of Facebook, it certainly could happen. That’s why it’s always good to keep contacts in multiple places. The best opportunity is to get them on your mailing list, so you can contact folks when you need to.

  3. Melody
    January 7, 2011 | 11:52 am

    What a wonderful in depth explanation of how to set up and use lists. I’ve been trying to put friends in lists since I began using facebook but I haven’t been using them to their full advantage.

    One of my favorite ways to use lists is to read the news feed from specific lists of people. This allows me to read more posts from people I care about that don’t show up on my recent or top news.

    I set up a local event for our spca and was able to use my local list for the invites.

    Thanks again for posting such helpful information Jennifer!

    • Jennifer Fong
      January 9, 2011 | 1:23 pm

      Great use of lists Melody! Thanks for commenting.

  4. Ellen Brown
    January 7, 2011 | 10:19 am

    I hid a friends posts and now I want to see them again. How do I “un-hide them”?

    • Jennifer Fong
      January 7, 2011 | 10:26 am

      When you click that arrow next to Most Recent, choose Edit Options. From there you can un-hide friends by clicking the “x” next to their names in the “Hide” list.

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