How You’re Hurting Your Business with Facebook Game/Cause Invites

Recently, it feels like I’ve seen an uptick in the number of game and cause invites I receive on Facebook.  Sometimes someone needs something to complete a game, and sometimes it’s a cause that typically seems like a good one, but no one who sends them ever takes the time to get to know if I would even be interested before sending them to me.

The thing about all these invites is that they typically come from people I know only distantly, if at all, and they are always slightly jarring…as in, why on earth would this person think I would be interested in this?  I know that the games encourage you to try to get fresh blood into the game (that’s how they make money) but as a business person, what makes you think sending this sort of thing to a business contact would be a good idea?

Um, are you kidding me?

If you are using your Facebook account for business, you really must think before participating in the more social aspects of the site.  I’ve already written about turning off game notifications, so they don’t automatically post to your wall.  This just clutters your wall and your friends’ newsfeeds, and could discourage someone from doing business with you.  But when you intentionally select people to send game and cause invites without knowing whether the people you’re sending them to have an interest (particularly business contacts) that is just a big mistake.  It wastes people’s time, and will likely result in people ignoring you when you have a message about your business that they might actually want.

In fact, each game and cause invite comes with the ability (on the notifications screen) to ignore all invites from this friend.  I use this button liberally, and I would suspect that many others do too.  After all, if you don’t care enough to confirm that I’m interested in receiving something from you before you hit the send button, I don’t care to receive any invitations from you at all.  And that has the potential to harm your business.

What it comes down to is this: If you are using your Facebook account to promote your business, you must THINK before you send out anything.  Your customers and prospects only care about the social aspects that benefit them, not you.  While they may enjoy the occasional picture of your children or your pet, because it helps them feel more connected to you (it’s all about them, remember), they will NOT appreciate invasive invitations that require their time to get rid of.  You MUST ensure that people have an interest in what you’re sending to them.  Otherwise you’re damaging your business reputation, as well as the reputation of your company.

Here’s a list of things to avoid in Facebook, when using it for business:

  • Game and cause email notifications
  • Game wall postings
  • “Join my Team” and “Buy my Stuff” status updates
  • Inappropriate pictures and language
  • Strong opinions on politics and religion

What would you add to this list?  What are your thoughts on game and cause invitations?  Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

Update: Someone asked how to keep applications from posting on your wall. Here it is:

  1. Choose Account/Application Settings
  2. Find the application in the list that has been posting to your wall.  Click the “Edit Settings” link.
  3. Click the “Additional Permissions” tab
  4. Uncheck “Publish content to my Wall”
  5. Click Okay.

Update 2: Here’s a link to an article about how to stop certain applications from posting updates in your news feed.

12 Responses to How You’re Hurting Your Business with Facebook Game/Cause Invites
  1. Roxana Nunez
    June 21, 2010 | 10:06 pm

    Thank you for this article. I would like to add emphasis on bad pictures and bad language. It’s ok if you have a picture of you and your friends at a get together. It is not Ok if said get together was at a strip club.

    Think if you would like to receive a similar image from people you do business with. If it would make you think twice before doing business with them, what makes you think they would feel any different?

    The cursing is very annoying, to the point where I have people blocked because of their use of profanity.

    I am following Julie Anne’s lead and posting this on my wall. I am sure my prospects would not find this offensive.

  2. Dhea
    June 21, 2010 | 7:18 pm

    Hi jennifer I totally agree

    What happens when it is your clients who send these games and applications and love hearts… I feel if I don’t accept their gifts etc that I am rejecting them… I am starting to not accept causes as like you not comfortable with who is accessing my information.

    but again I struggle if they come from clients!
    would love your thoughts
    thanks again

  3. Annie
    June 21, 2010 | 5:08 pm

    I totally agree. Unfortunately, I have found that the FB users who are sending out these annoying invites are not the savvy type who read informative and useful blogs (such as this one) to gain a better understanding of what not to do on social media. Wouldn’t it be awesome if a course on Facebook etiquette was a required part of the sign-up process?

    • Jennifer Fong
      June 21, 2010 | 5:10 pm

      LOL! Why yes it would. 🙂 But hopefully folks also share posts like this one. Every little bit helps!

  4. Diane Aksten
    June 21, 2010 | 3:57 pm

    Jennifer: This is a timely post as I’ve noticed an increased proliferation of these requests, too…I just automatically ignore but thanks for letting me know I can take care of this problem with a modification to my settings.

  5. Cheryl
    June 21, 2010 | 12:00 pm

    Thank you! This is so important and as you mentioned is very annoying when it happens to you. It is easier to click on send to all than it is to select which people might be interested.

    Is there a way if you join a group or “like” a fan page that it doesn’t show up on your home page. There are some groups or fan pages I would like to join but don’t necessarily want them to appear to my friends that I joined that group.

    • Jennifer Fong
      June 21, 2010 | 12:05 pm

      I think there’s a privacy setting for that. Otherwise, just delete it from your wall as soon as you join.


  6. Amy
    June 21, 2010 | 11:53 am

    I use my FB personal page/wall for my friends and then added a Page for my business. Sill building the fan base there. I just want to be sure that my personal page stays my personal/social page and my Business page is where I post to my customers/fans business only information. So there is no crossover right? If I post on my personal wall/status then the business page remains unaffected and those contacts are not botherd with my personal posts, games etc. Am I right in this thinking??


  7. Julie Ann Jones
    June 21, 2010 | 10:30 am

    Two words, Jen. THANK YOU! I get so tired of being invited, not just once, but almost daily to someone’s “cause” group or asked to help them out in their latest attempt to slay some rival mobster or increase their crops or grow their zoo. It’s truly annoying and it does hurt their reputation (at least with me).

    I use the basic rules you taught me about posting last year every day and I’m grateful to have learned them early. Thanks again for all you do.

    Julie Anne

  8. Laurie Ryan
    June 21, 2010 | 8:51 am

    Jen –

    I totally agree! I avoid all facebook games for a few reasons – one of which is that I think I might like them too much, and spend too much time playing them! I hide all requests for games (is there a way to disable their appearance at all?), but it seems there are new games all the time – Farmville, Farmtown, Mafia Wars, Pet Zoo, and on and on and on.

    I also don’t join any causes. One of my primary reasons for this is that I have heard that most, if not all, are from sources outside of facebook, and can open you up to all kinds of damaging things, including viruses.

    To your point, though: I agree that a primarily business-focused facebook page should remain just that. I struggle with this on its own, without adding the games and causes to the mix!

    Thanks so much for your continued insight!

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