Can My Customers See What My Friends Post on Facebook?

This past weekend I had the experience of someone trying to advertise their direct selling business on my Facebook Profile wall.  While I had heard of this sort of thing before, I had never actually experienced it, and really had never expected such a blatant misuse of Facebook.  Essentially this person had tried to hijack all of my contacts, reaching them with her message.  She even stated in the message that she was trying to reach my contacts, and that if people weren’t happy with the income they were making, they should contact her.

In truth, the fact that someone would violate my Facebook wall this way made me really angry.  I work with consultants in a lot of direct sales and network marketing companies, and would NEVER violate the trust of any of these people through recruiting bids.  In fact, one of the key tenets of my Facebook group is that no cross-recruiting is permitted.  So the fact that someone would come into my space and try to reach my people in a way that I so clearly would not approve of was completely appalling to me.  I of course immediately deleted the post, and posted that I was shocked anyone would do such a thing on my wall.

But what I didn’t anticipate was the private messages I received from people asking if it had been THEM that made the offending post. (It wasn’t.)  And this made me realize that there is still confusion about what posts show up where on Facebook.  So I decided to address that today.

Let’s start with the post that started all of this. In order for the person to advertise on my wall, they navigated to my profile first at http://facebook.com/jenniferfong, and then they used the publisher box to post something that all the people who navigate to my profile would see.  I also received a notification from Facebook that someone had posted something to my wall.

Now when you post things for the rest of your friends to read, such as your status update, you can do so from the publisher box on your own wall (what is shown above is my wall, so if I typed something here myself, it would show up as my status update).  You can also type a status update or link from the news feed (Facebook Home Page) as shown below.

One of the biggest sources of confusion I’ve seen when working with direct sellers is, “Who sees what I post?” I’ve seen direct sellers that avoid connecting with customers through Facebook because they’re afraid that their customers will see posts from that consultant’s friends or family.  So let me explain how this works.

  • Each person’s news feed (Facebook home page) is an aggregation of the posts from people they are personally connected to.  I see the posts of my friends.  You see the posts of your friends.  Even if we are friends of each other, I won’t see the posts of your friends unless I am friends with them too.
  • The only time I will see anything your friends write (unless I am friends with them too) is when they comment on things that you have posted.  So if you post a link to a great website, and your friend talks about how much she likes the link, I will see her comment, because I am friends with you, the one that originally posted the link.

I, of course, could always go through your list of friends and see if there is anyone I want to connect with.  But honestly, it’s unlikely that your customers would go to this effort to connect with people they don’t know.  Most people on Facebook limit themselves to connecting with people they’ve met in person.

So the moral of this story is that no one inadvertently posted a recruiting ad on my Facebook wall.  It was done deliberately, and I have since unfriended the offender.  To avoid making this egregious error yourself, simply refrain from posting anything about your business in the publisher box on the profile walls of your friends.

I hope this clears up any confusion.  Now go post and be merry! 🙂

20 Responses to Can My Customers See What My Friends Post on Facebook?
  1. Rheda Wilson-Duff
    May 17, 2011 | 4:00 pm

    This is such a great article I think I’ll pimp it out. Best time to do this? Prime time! And yes, I do see the dates on the comments are from a while ago but perfectly relevant still today. So why are some DS consultants SO cut throat competitive? ~ Another article for another day, eh? Thanks for all you do Jennifer! I love your content.

  2. Michelle
    July 16, 2010 | 9:40 am

    I just want to point out that if you comment on something on one of your friends walls and THEIR privacy is open (ie friends of friends or everyone) then YOUR comment and THEIR status WILL appear in YOUR friends news feed – even if they are not friends with that person. My husband has a fb and I was able to see conversations on a friend of mine’s wall (but not a friend of his) between me and my friend (it was on MY friends wall, not mine) I thought I was having a fun conversation with a friend that I had no other friends in common with and after looking at it via my husbands page I realised all of my friends could see it. It wasn’t a drama but made me go hmmmm…. And I did point out to that friend that having such an open profile was risky.

  3. Michelle Smith Rapoza
    February 15, 2010 | 8:52 pm

    Hi Jennifer,
    Thank you for pointing this out. I still have many posts from friends that I do not see or post on my page that my friends do not see unless they specifically go to my page. For example, someone posts that they are engaged and they are a friend of mine, I may not see this unless I go to their page. Is there a reason for this? I have been asked why I didn’t comment on something and I realized I never saw the post?

    • Jennifer
      February 15, 2010 | 9:30 pm

      Michelle,
      Unless you see it go by in the news feed, you may miss individual posts. That’s why it’s good to spend time taking a look at the profiles of those that are important to you. The top news feed (as opposed to Most Recent) can help with this. I spend time daily taking tine to view those posts others have commented on in the Top News feed in Facebook.

      Hope that helps!
      Jennifer

  4. Scentsy
    February 15, 2010 | 4:52 pm

    This has been a concern of mine. I have often wondered if and how this could happen and how anyone could be so presumptuous. I love facebook and use it frequently but do my best to keep it safe. Thanks for sharing your story.

  5. Lori Sauerwein
    February 15, 2010 | 4:16 pm

    I’ve gotten lots of questions about seperating work and personal life on Facebook, and who sees what is the central concern. Isn’t it true that people can see what your friends post if they go to your profile to write something directly on your wall?

    My understanding is that this is where the privacy settings come into play. Is there a better way to keep biz and pers seperate beyond locking one out completely?

    Thanks, Jen. Another excellent post as always!

    • Jennifer
      February 15, 2010 | 4:30 pm

      It’s a good question Lori. My advice has always been to not rely on privacy settings…we can’t be 100% certain we got them right, and sites are notorious for changing things. Yes, you’re right, if someone posts something directly on your wall, your friends can see it (as was the case this weekend that I spoke about in this post.) However you can be notified when such things occur, and check them. One more reason to keep track of what’s happening on your Facebook profile. I would hope that ads by “friends” would be the exception, rather than the rule, as it really is very bad manners.

      The best way to keep business and private separate (I stress the difference between personal and private) is to not post anything you wouldn’t want the whole world to know. If it’s private, then it doesn’t belong on the internet, period. But PERSONAL information can be used to build better business relationships, because people need to know, like, and trust us before they choose to do business with us. That’s the difference.

      Thanks for your comments Lori!

      Jennifer

  6. Jacquie McConnell
    February 15, 2010 | 4:16 pm

    Great blog Jennifer. I really appreciate the clarity of your explanation. I have never been perfectly clear on who can see what on Facebook. I am going to share this information on my page because I feel it is really important!

    • Jennifer
      February 15, 2010 | 4:30 pm

      Thanks Jacquie!!!

  7. Amanda Lee
    February 15, 2010 | 11:53 am

    Jen,

    I was wondering (concerning your latest blog about posting business related things on customers’ walls) what you thought about birthday wishes.

    The only time I usually post anything on customer’s walls that’s even remotely business related is when I see that it’s their birthday.
    I go to their wall and say something like “HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Contact me for 10% off :)” with a link to my website. Do you thing people find this offensive, or a nice gesture (which it is intended to be)?

    I really enjoy all your tips and tricks to help me use social media to my advantage and in a way that allows me to build better relationships with my customers. Would love to hear your feedback on this subject.

    • Jennifer
      February 15, 2010 | 11:55 am

      Amanda,
      Great question! I personally would NOT post the link on their wall. I personally would not appreciate it. I would leave it to a happy birthday message, and if you want to provide a discount, do it in private. Otherwise you’re using their network as your advertising, and that’s just not cool.

      Hope that helps.

      Jennifer

  8. Heather Wolgamott
    February 15, 2010 | 11:49 am

    Would it also show up on your wall if she created a note and “tagged” you in it?

    • Jennifer
      February 15, 2010 | 11:53 am

      Yes. That’s another way to put content on someone’s wall. And a whole other post about etiquette! 🙂

  9. Cindy Taylor
    February 15, 2010 | 10:13 am

    Pretty bold for sure. I saw a very uncharacteristic status update by a friend on the weekend too…something about “making lots of money” by going to this site…and wondered if she had been hacked…can this happen?

    • Jennifer
      February 15, 2010 | 10:44 am

      I suppose it could. However I was able to see that this same person hit many direct selling sites with the same ad she put on my wall. Looked more deliberate than the random work of a spammer.

      • Cindy Taylor
        February 15, 2010 | 1:47 pm

        Looks like we should always be looking for what is on our Profile page as it really reflects us…so watching for spam (intentional or not) is important! Thanks for the reminder!

        • Jennifer
          February 15, 2010 | 3:09 pm

          Very good point Cindy! Thank goodness Facebook alerts us when people post things to our wall by default.

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