5 Ways Authors Abuse Their Facebook Profile Privileges

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Today, the fantabulous WANA International Instructor, Lisa Hall-Wilson is here to share to sage advice about Facebook. She knows ALL things about Facebook, which is why she not only teaches for WANA, but she manages our WANA International fan page. We don’t need to pay to promote and Lisa gets MAD traction on our fan page, so she is THE GAL to listen to in these matters.

Also, I have been a victim of many of these “marketing strategies” and they make me see RED. We know you guys are trying hard to be responsible professionals and there is a LOT of bad advice floating around out there. We have all oopsed, so don’t worry. But Lisa is here to set you straight and tell you the WANA Way…which works, btw ;).

Take it away, Lisa!

Lisa Hall-Wilson

Lisa Hall-Wilson

I feel a bit like the soup nazi with this post – no Facebook for you! But some people seriously need a time out. It’s promote promote promote all the time in a one-channel informercial. Hands up – have you been a victim of these people?

I wrote this post for Jane Friedman on 5 reasons why you should use your Facebook Profile (not a Page) to build platform. What I need to make clear is that with freedom comes responsibility. There are key rules about Facebook etiquette that many are either unaware of or ignore.


Using your Profile instead of a Page to build platform gives you the ability to spam people in a way Pages cannot. Pages cannot join groups or group conversations. Pages can’t comment on or post a Profile, they can’t send private messages to Profiles. Pages can’t force-add people to events. The list goes on. Just because you can, because Facebook doesn’t explicitly say it’s against the rules – doesn’t mean it’s not icky, annoying and spam

1. Do not post your own content on another’s Profile wall (timeline).

This is a pretty personal one cause this recently happened to me. First, if you goof on this one, apologize, remove the post and consider it a lesson learned. Don’t argue. This is considered personal space. Anything posted on my timeline is seen as endorsed by me. It’s akin to going to a friend’s jewelry party and bringing along samples to your own soap business and handing them out uninvited.

Great way to never get asked back.

If people are posting their content on your wall often, you can decide who can post on your timeline if necessary. I know some Indie authors who have been forced to do this because the spam is so bad.

2. Do Not Tag People in Unrelated Status Updates or Photos

What do I mean by unrelated? If I quote another blogger or author in a blog post, I might tag them. If they inspired that blog post, I might tag them. But I might not. And I’m not going to do it more than once or twice a year. If you’re just doing it to get noticed it’s considered spam.

For the love of cookie sprinkles….STOP.

I strongly recommend you turn on approvals for all tags. People can tag you in a photo or status update, this requires you to approve those before they show up on your timeline – because people use this to spam your friends but your friends might not realize you were spammed, which makes life seriously awk-ward.

3. Do not bomb conversations with blog links.

I see this all the time. Do not find a lively conversation thread and drop a link to your blog there. That hit and run tactic is super annoying and is spam. If you are an active participant in the conversation and you have a blog post that directly relates to the topic at hand, go ahead and share that link in the spirit of no-reciprocation-expected.

You’re sharing this because it adds value – no strings attached. Dropping a link into the conversation you’re not a part of is spam regardless of whether the post could remotely be relevant.

4. Do not create a group and force-add 2000 people.

Facebook will let you invite a ridiculous amount of people to an event or group. I get event invites all the time. Those can be annoying, but what’s worse is being force-added to a group that’s a 24/7 spam channel! You can go ahead and create a group where two or three people post links to their blogs and courses if you want to – but let people opt into that. I had to remove myself twice from the same group and finally clicked the box that says do not allow myself to be added again.

5.  Any story can be seen by friends and seen as an endorsement.

When you click like, comment or share something, you create a ‘story’ within the Facebook environment. When you share an update or link, it’s seen as an endorsement unless you add an editorial comment stating otherwise. However, what many people using their Profiles to build platform don’t realize is that your likes and comments can be shown to friends, and friends of friends depending. You can’t filter that.

You’re following an erotica author friend because you wanted to support her, even though you write children’s fiction. She posts an alluring pic of a near-naked man and you liked the pic – for whatever reason. You might not have liked the pic or the man, but wanted to support the author say.

Doesn’t matter.

At best Facebook could show that story (that you liked that content) to friends FB believes have similar interests. You have no control whether that shows up in someone’s news feed or their ticker or at all.

Something else to consider is that you can’t opt out of sponsored stories. Sometimes Facebook will recommend Pages to users and they will use your name and profile pic (all public content) by way of public endorsement to your friends. Someone can purchase a sponsored story ad and your face and name could be used to promote that Page.

We can complain all we want, that’s the price of admission. If you are using your Profile to build platform keep this in mind! I can’t stress this enough. Every action you take can spread a lot further than you intend. If you wouldn’t say it to your mother in her living room, don’t say it (or like it) on Facebook.

In the spirit of helping others share my Facebook happy, I started a group for writers who want to learn how to use Facebook the WANA way, not spam people, and build a healthy community or tribe. It’s a closed group so there’s a measure of privacy, but it means you’ll have to request to join. *psst – I’ll approve you.** I’ll post about updates and changes, and answer questions (within reason), but I really want this to be a safe place to ask questions and share experiences as well. Abusers will be removed!! 😀

What annoying Facebook marketing tactics have you been the victim of? Share in the spirit of helping not shaming.

On Saturday, November 23, I’m teaching a webinar on Using A Facebook Profile To Build Platform. The cost is only $45, and we’ll look at how to set your privacy settings, friend lists, target posts, create a content strategy, how to brand yourself visually, best posting practices, and more. If you can’t make it sign up anyway. The webinar will be recorded and sent to all registrants.

I’m also offering this class as part of a very special WANA 2Fer. Marcy Kennedy is running her A Crash Course to Using Google+ to Build Your Author Platform the same day and we’re offering a discounted rate of $20 off for people who sign up for both. Click here to register for the 2Fer!

About Lisa Hall-Wilson

Lisa has been using Facebook since 2007, and has been a paid administrator, content creator, and consultant for more than three years. She manages Pages for non-profits and small businesses in Canada and the United States (including the MYWANA Facebook Page). She’s an award-winning freelance journalist, syndicated columnist, and fantasy author. You can find her hanging out on her Facebook profile.


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  1. Reblogged this on The BiaLog.

  2. I’ve had ALL these happen to me. There are very few folks that I “allow” to post on my timeline, and for very specific circumstances. I used to delete and then PM to explain why, but stopped when a couple of new authors became rude and told me I was the bad guy…so now I just delete. And if it happens more than once, I un-friend them. I’ve also been force-added to groups, but not so much lately so maybe they’re learning. I’ve joined your FB group about FB (how many more times can I type FB, LOL!), and I know the Webinars will be awesome!

  3. I really learned some things from this post but I do have a question. Are blog article announcements, book review announcements, and updates or marketing on your own book that come down other peoples Facebook newfeeds considered spam?

    1. Hi Deb- Not sure what you mean. Is it OK to post that stuff yourself to your own page or profile? Sure. (Keeping in mind that you don’t want to self-promote all the time – always provide value.) If people share your content that’s bonus. Soak it up.

  4. LOL! Love the soup/Facebook nazi! I’ve been pretty lucky with my Facebook profile. I get tagged in church events on my timeline, but that only happens twice a year, so it’s not that annoying. What drives me crazy are the groups. I love them for the interaction with other authors, but get really annoyed when people post their blogs or promos, especially if it’s not what the group is about. UGH!

  5. This is helpful because our journal has recently created a facebook page and is still trying to work out the kinks of posting and promoting it. Glad to know that we went the right route in choosing a page instead of an individual profile! Do you have any more advice on ways businesses using pages might be able to promote themselves without being too forceful or buying up ads?

    1. Businesses are prohibited from using a Profile, they must have a Page. So, that was definitely the right decision. With a Page, if you don’t want to run ads, you have to drive traffic to the Page from other locations (website, email, etc.) and offer unique value on the Page to keep them engaged. Good luck.

  6. All great points – I am new to social media (fighting it all the way even though I need to learn how to use it). I try to comment and share with the best of intentions, and hope that if I am doing something unacceptable, that I will be politely told what I did, so I can learn not to do it again. Thanks for this post.

  7. I’ve been force-added and tagged. I felt so violated. 😀 Now when I’m force-added by someone, I remove them from my friends list and I don’t get tagged anymore.

    1. It does feel icky. I agree.

  8. Terrific advice … the one that gets me most annoyed right now is several groups that are growing exponentially. When they were new and small, there was valuable interaction among the members, but now nobody (including me) comments on anything anymore. What a waste of a good resource!

  9. All of these have happened to me, but there’s another one that’s within the same vein that is not just annoying, but a bit scary.

    I write under a pen name and I keep my RL identity very separate. For one thing, some of my writing is very steamy. My kids are ‘friends’ on my RL Facebook, and their friends can consequently access some of my content. As well (bizarrely), I have a fan club at my son’s high school. It’s run by a teacher and they have no clue who I am. So, the last thing I want is to be ‘outed’. I can’t imagine having kids show up at my door.

    So, I have a few trusted writer friends who have access to my RL Facebook, with the understanding that I don’t want any info posted that’s supposed to be directed at *pen name*. Recently, a girl who’s quite dear to me self-pubbed a book, which I promoted. To thank me, she wrote a lovely post BUT instead of tagging *pen name*, she tagged me. We have a lot of common acquaintances because we’re part of a writing community, and my picture was on both profiles. She tagged piles of people with the post.

    I did manage to get her to remove the post, but because it was a ‘thank-you’ to me for my help, it was very awkward for both of us. Well, no serious consequences occurred, so I can thank my stars for that. But between that and being spammed so often, I really dislike tags.

    1. Keeping pen names secret is very difficult in this information age.

    • lornafaith on November 21, 2013 at 1:17 pm
    • Reply

    Lisa, …such great reminders for using FB. I’ve been tagged alot, so sometimes that feels a little ‘sketchy’ ;( Most of it is good…but there’s the odd times when it’s a tag from an organization I don’t want to be associated with. Anyway, thanks so much for the FB help!

  10. Good points. I guess I have not had too many issues with FB being used inappropriately, and I do so little tagging that I don’t think I have crossed etiquette lines. At least I hope not.

  11. There is much to know and a lot of quicksand out there. Thanks for the advice.

  12. Reblogged this on Blog of a College Writer.

  13. I’m guilty of a couple of those, but I don’t think my husband minds if I post on his wall. 🙂 Also, I bombed a conversation once, as a joke. I broke up an argument. 🙂 OK. I will stop rambling. 🙂

  14. Thank you for this – great information 🙂

  15. Actually it’s Twitter where I’m having problems with people using my name in unrelated to me promo of their own. I don’t understand it.

    1. I don’t really ‘get’ Twitter either. lol Marcy Kennedy teaches a class on how to build platform on Twitter.

      1. I get twitter and I think it really works for me. I just don’t get why other people mention me in THEIR own promo with these newsletters I had NOTHING to do with. But I figure it probably doesn’t actually hurt me so I ignore it.

  16. I actually posted on FB not to post links to own sites without asking permission. I was told off by six authors who said I was rude and they would boycott anything of mine. Who is being rude here?

    1. Some people just don’t understand. They read FBs TOS literally and forget there are real people on the other end of the screen. It’s very off-putting and never leaves a good impression. Social media has made us more accessible, but it can be a double-edged sword for sure.

  17. Great advice. I think I may have done one or two or these things in the past. Here’s a question though. If you’ve joined a “page” like say “Vintage Americana” and I post a link to one of my vintage posts, or say it’s a page about “Western Swing” and I have a blog about that and share it. Is it bad etiquette? Thanks. I still get confused about some of this.

    1. Sharing posts on a Page is a little different because it just doesn’t get the same exposure. Admins can make those posts nearly invisible so that only your friends see that post if they visit the Page (and 80% of people interact with Pages from their news feed). That said, I would err on the side of caution and send the link in a private message. If the Admin decides to share the link you’ll get way more exposure and foster good will at the same time. That’s my .02

  18. Thanks for the info Lisa. I am a fairly new blogger and I’m trying to build my platform in the most ethical, least annoying way, but what bugs me is Facebook seems to be sending my weekly blog post link and other stuff like family photos I think are important to share and losing it somewhere way down the news feed. Ads for wrinkle cream and weight loss seem to take precedence over stuff I post. Is there a simple solution? Your course looks great, but can’t do this Saturday.

    1. Edge rank is a tricky thing. Just remember that because it doesn’t rank high on your news feed doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t appear at the top for someone else. The ads are tightly targeted (the successful ones, anyway) and can be placed in various places so may not reflect the popularity of your content.

      1. Thanks for your reply Lisa, I’m still trying to figure it all out!

  19. Amen, all over the place! I love the way you think, write and teach, Lisa. The blog and WANA worlds are lucky to have you.

    1. Thanks, August! Back at you. Looking forward to your twitter chat on Monday! 😀

      1. Yay! Me too. 🙂

  20. Thanks for the tips. There’s a balance between promoting and courtesy.

  21. I promote using a facebook page to connect with readers or share cool stuff (fan art, funny memes, free ebooks, etc.) In my mind, presentation is everything. I’m not going to promote my books by using a personal facebook profile. You don’t see Chase bank, Fox news or other established companies/businesses using facebook profiles to represent them. So as an author, I’m going to present myself as an established entity, not a friendie-friend you can “Add.”

    Since bloggers do a lot of events and book promoting, they might have more luck using the facebook profile model so they can invite people to their events, but as an author, that is not for me!

    One of my biggest pet peeves is when random people stop by my page and request that I like their page. They’ll leave a comment like “I liked your page, please return the favor!” Why? Chances are they don’t give a damn about my content or books and their one little “like” isn’t doing anything for my business. So there you have it, my #1 pet peeve!

    Sometimes fellow authors and blogger friends will post their promotions on my facebook page, but I don’t mind that. We usually have a mutual “share/promote” sort of relationship. If it was a complete stranger who I didn’t know, I would delete the post, but that hasn’t happened to me yet.

    • Sara on November 22, 2013 at 4:12 am
    • Reply

    Will there be a class on how to use facebook as a page? (Which as far as I understand it is the only legit way if you’re using a pen name, since facebook terms require you to use your real name for profiles.)

    1. Hi Sara. I do have a class for Pages. I don’t have one up yet, but I will run it again in the new year. 😀

  22. I have a question. I’m sorry to be slow, but I’m confused. Are you saying it’s better to use your personal profile, not an author page for your writing business stuff?

    1. Yes. With your personal page you can initiate interaction much easier than with a page. I have both and the response I get from my personal page is twenty times greater because I can comment on their profiles and develop a real relationship with readers. Something a page doesn’t do. Or at least I don’t know how to with it.

    2. You can build a community with a Page, but if you don’t have an established audience (like a business or established author would have) and aren’t willing to run ads it’s very slow. You can’t comment on Profiles, join groups or comment on group threads. Very quickly it can feel impossible to get your content in front of people.
      Profiles allow you build an audience organically faster. The follow option was created with writers and celebrities in mind – people who aren’t using FB to sell anything (authors would rather sell through Amazon or another online retailer for the sales rankings and reviews) but to build community.
      It’s not so much a question of how professional you look – browse through the Facebook profiles of Pete Cashmore for instance. He has hundreds of thousands of followers, and is the face of Mashable. He gets as much traction as the Mashable Page on Facebook does.
      If you click through to the post I wrote for Jane Friedman I outline a few of the benefits of using a Profile.

    • Sue on November 22, 2013 at 12:13 pm
    • Reply

    Just starting out in the whole social media and being a writer gig – so this is great info. Signed up for the webinar – not sure I will be able to attend but thankful I can get the recording anyway! Thanks!!

    1. Looking forward to it!

  23. I recently had an annoying thing happen. Another writer “liked” my page and informed me that it was polite to like someone back. I don’t know this person and didn’t ask that she “like” my page. I’m all in favor of supporting other authors, but refuse to be forced into it. I just ignored her. What do you think I should have done?

    1. I think ignoring is the right thing to do. An author recently messaged me and offered to like my page if I liked his. I did it, but that’s not the same. He gave me a chance to say no.

    2. All those reciprocal like parties tank your edge rank. Those likes actually count against you. So, let them worry about the numbers, focus on engagement. 100 dedicated fans is more valuable than a 1000 who don’t care.

  24. I get spammed through email and other ways on Facebook, luckily not TOO too much, but it definitely gets old. Despite what it is, there are definitely ‘etiquette’ rules to obey on Facebook. This was awesome, Lisa. Thanks!

  25. Great post! I see similar issues on Twitter. Lately my blog comments have been invaded with complaints and links, but that’s robo spam I guess.

    I’ve been force added to spam groups a couple times. It’s really irritating. The first time was really bad because I had never done anything with groups and had no idea how to get out for while.

    Other than that I haven’t seen much of these issues, but then my FB following is 90% friends and family and the few authors I’ve befriended are as reclusive as me.

    Thanks for the heads up on others viewing my “activity feed” in a round about way, I suspected that. Luckily my target audience is not children, but I usually avoid liking or commenting on anything with cussing or sexual content. I can’t say it’s because it’s nothing I wouldn’t say in front of my mother though. She taught me how to cuss and sex is not a taboo subject in my family. In fact no detail is considered crossing the line in a family chat. Unfortunately. Still burying those conversations. I just try to be somewhat respectful to the Christians (or otherwise moral and proper folks) that are my close friends. They know I’m a loose cannon in person but that I try not to offend if I know it will be taken negatively.

    1. That others see your actions on FB isn’t a problem, so long as you’re aware of it. If you don’t care, if your audience won’t care — then it doesn’t matter. But I’ve gotten way too many messages from people frustrated that people are unfriending them over this stuff. Just know how the system works.

  26. Excellent share

  27. Well, glad I found time to read this, Lisa. I have a personal FB Profile I guess and an Author Page. I just renamed the author page from a Fan Page a fan set up for me. Everything I’ve heard is how important it is to have an Author Page. I’ve resisted because of the time involved.
    Apparently when I’ve refrained from commenting on someone’s political post to stay out of politics as Kristen has directed, I’ve still messed up by clicking the Like button. Humm. That’s the pits.
    I share of lot of FB posts and if I like a someone’s blog, I almost always FB and Tweet it. Are you saying I shouldn’t be doing either?
    Also, “tagging” is when you put their name there and it lights up, right? I was told it was a good thing to do that when you commented about someone’s FB post. Then the person knows you’re being supportive. Is that frowned on?

  28. This piece makes the whole facebook thing seem filled with traps. I see not a thing wrong with advertising my own books or anyone else’s on my timeline. It would not be right to post it on someone else’s timeline.

    I do consider it reasonable to make a comment in ongoing conversations, even when they do originate on someone else’s timeline. It’s a conversation, isn’t it?

    I do not like anyone at all ‘tagging’ me in their photos as I value my privacy too much. That last could be seen as ‘abusing facebook privileges’ I suppose, but it’s never been done to me in a malicious way.

    The first two of these things are just using facebook. One can get too touchy.

  29. I was “tagged” in a photo by my high school boyfriend. It wasn’t a photo of me, it was an ad for his business. I was pretty ticked off.

    I also made the mistake of posting a picture that my son had copied from a photographer friend of mine’s website. I felt horrible, and apologized for not purchasing the photo first. At least it had his watermark on the picture and since I know him in “real life,” I was able to apologize in person, too.

    I just try to be authentic, and only post things related to my book because I’m excited about it and want to share.

  30. Reblogged this on Atty's Attic.

  31. These are all true statements that happened probably to all of us. Sometimes finding yourself tagged in a picture with total strangers might funny. Yes, it happened to me. Once I was tagged in the picture with some people and the place where the picture was taken was Spain. I´ve never been to Spain. If we want to admit it or not Facebook became a part of our lives and things like that might happen.

  32. Thanks so much for sharing the FB Do’s and Don’ts! I think most of it I did correct just out of politeness and manners. Some other things were new to me. I really appreciate all this information. There’s so much to learn.

  33. Reblogged this on Becki's Book Blog and commented:
    “5 Ways Authors Abuse Their Facebook Profile Privileges” was originally posted on Kristen Lamb’s WP Blog, written by Lisa Hall-Wilson, and reblogged by Atty Eve – which is where I discovered it & am reblogging it from.
    It is a great piece, and you’ll find yourself starting to think twice before hitting that ‘submit’ button 😉

  34. OK… I’m confused because you say Yes, use your page… Not profile to build platform. Then you flip it.

    Which is it?

    1. My advice is to start with the personal profile page and then once that is maxed, direct traffic to the fan page. Fan pages are hard to build if you have no book for sale and they lack interactivity that helps build momentum.

  1. […] 5 Ways Authors Abuse Their Facebook Profile Privileges | Kristen Lamb’s Blog. […]

  2. […] 5 Ways Authors Abuse Their Facebook Profile Privileges via Kristen Lamb’s Blog — Authors need to spend a lot of time promoting their writing on social media. However, committing social media faux pas can undo all your hard work. Follow Lisa Hall-Wilson’s advice about using Facebook for your book promotion. […]

  3. […] Kristen Lamb: 5 Ways Authors Abuse Their Facebook Profile Privileges […]

  4. […] Hall-Wilson has a guest post over at Kristen Lamb’s blog on “5 Ways Authors Abuse Their Facebook Profile Privileges” and primarily addresses the differences between a Facebook Profile and a Facebook Page. […]

  5. […] is the one I check the most, and the one have the most difficulty with. I subscribe to the WANA way of using Facebook, which is making it personal, not using a Facebook page but using a personal account. I am […]

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