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Social Media – Facebook Friend Tagging Etiquette

facebook social media May 28, 2014

As a business owner, we are all looking to maximize our social media reach.  After all, this is one of the least expensive ways for us to get the word out about our business.  The problem is, some people abuse their friend list to promote for their own personal gain.  Let me start off by saying that this is NOT the way to help your business reputation online.

Facebook Tagging Defined

Tagging is a way of bookmarking or including another person or entity in a social media post.  Usually, the person will receive a notification that they are tagged in the post.

What You Can Tag

Fan Pages you have liked
Community Pages you have liked
Groups you have created or joined
Place Pages you have liked
Events for which you have RSVP’d
App Pages you have liked
Personal Tagging Etiquette

While social media is fun, one should keep in mind the social, career, and potential financial repercussions of tagging friends in posts.  What I mean by this is that if you value your friends, do not tag them in any pictures that could potentially cause them negative social repercussions, hurt their career, job seeking ability and therefore their income potential.  All of this should go without saying, but I have seen some crazy posts tagging people in potentially damaging circumstances.  Keep in mind, if you would not want this post about you, don’t post it and tag someone else.

Before tagging a friend in a post ask yourself 3 questions:  Would it embarrass them (or you, if they posted this and tagged you)?  Could this post be misunderstood by others or does the post imply something it is not?  Could the post be viewed by a prospective employer in a negative way and potentially prevent your friend from acquiring employment?  If you answer yes to any of those questions. do not post and tag your friend.  While social media is fun, we need to value our friendships over the potential likes, comments and instant popularity over controversial posts.

Business Tagging Etiquette

When tagging for business, there are certain things that should be taken into consideration.  Since Facebook Business Page reach has declined, many online marketers are seeking other ways to get the word out about their products and services.  Many of them are inappropriately taking advantage of their friend list.  I have put together some basic guidelines to follow when tagging to help you keep your friends without upsetting them, take advantage of the basic social media opportunities, and do so professionally.

Promoting Your Own Product, Service, or Business

One thing to keep in mind when promoting your own product, service, or business is that it is yours.  You care about your product, service, and business like no one else does.  This is not to say your friends don’t care and want to see you do well.  More than likely, THEY DO!  However, tagging friends on promotional posts for your product, service, or business is totally inappropriate unless you have talked to them and they have agreed that it is okay to do so.

Think of it this way, if you have your own business you are trying to promote in a specific way.  You have spent valuable time, money and energy to develop your marketing efforts to suit your own business needs.   Your posts are timed to maximize your results.  Then along comes a friend who tags you in their own promotional post 15 minutes after your perfectly timed post hits.  This dilutes your message and causes YOUR friends to look at the new information someone ELSE posted to your page by tagging you, thereby causing your post to be less effective, or maybe even ineffective.  How devastating this could be to small business owners who have limited resources to get their messages out.

This is a personal pet peeve of mine, and my suggestion is never to tag people for your own self-serving purposes.

Promoting Your Own Events

Again, it is best to tag with caution.  If you are hosting an event with others, by all means, tag THEM when you are posting about the event.  Do not, however, tag everyone you know just to gain exposure for your event.  This is purely self-serving and is not professional or in good taste.  If you have created an online event, invited people to the event, and have done due diligence to follow-up to make sure they are aware of the event, there is absolutely no reason to tag them in your promotional posts for your event.  If, however, you thought someone would be attending the event but may have forgotten, it is okay to tag them ONCE as a reminder.

Promoting Other People’s Events

Promoting other people’s events is a little softer approach when it comes to tagging.  There are many events on Facebook and sometimes people are not aware of them or may not be friends with the person hosting the event.  If you see an event that would be great for a certain group of friends, it is okay to tag them to call attention to the event.  They will thank you if it is something they would be interested in.  Use professional discretion when you do this and keep in mind who the person is you are tagging and what they would really want to know about.  This will help the reach for the event because it will be seen by the tagged person’s friends.  If they are interested in the event, chances are some of their friends may be, also.


A certain amount of social responsibility comes with being a business owner.  Use it wisely, and don’t be rude and invasive to others.  As a business owner, you want to be seen as a leader and respected for your professionalism, not seen as someone who uses those around them for personal gain.  Respect your friend list and they will give you respect back.  If you don’t you will lose their respect and possibly their online friendship, thereby losing some of your reach.  Above all, every time you post, be the professional you would want to connect with online!