Ethical use of Facebook

Now that I have an Elegant Insects jewelry page on Facebook, I am
wondering if it is ethical, good practice,or just plain obnoxious to
use my long list of buyers as contacts on Facebook and notify them
of my pages. These go back several years, and I have never contacted
them after a sale wascompleted. Is there a respect for privacy issue
here? I know that whenever I make any kind of purchase online, I am
besieged by ads and notices afterward, but I don’t recall being
contacted by artisans who have small businesses and make their own

Sandra Buchholz


You should contact your customers and, like all things, there are
ways to do it properly. Just because someone bought something off
you doesn’t imply they want to be on your list of Facebook contacts.
Simply you must, must, MUST respect their privacy. So how do you
find out if they do or don’t want to be apart of your Facebook
world? Basically its called getting your customer’s permission.
While I would love to say that I came up with all this wisdom on my
own, well, I didn’t. I’ve found a great resource to guide me with
this and its courtesy of an email marketing company called Mail

Just a note to all you out there in Orchid Land who don’t know about
Mail Chimp, go check it out NOW! Its really, really good. It’s super
customizable, dead easy to use with a great interface, and has lots
of great resources and support to help you out with your marketing
needs. Oh, and wait for it… best yet, ITS FREE. Seriously, it is
free. And I know there are a lot of these firms out there - trust
me, I’ve researched a bunch of them, joined a few, test drove them.
you get my point. This one is the hands down winner.

Now, back to Sandra’s issue. So, to find out about all this great
resource stuff I’m talking about just goggle Mail Chimp, go to their
Resources page and go to their getting started videos. What’s easier
than watching a short video right? There you’ll find information
about list etiquette, how to contact previous customers and politely
and professionally ask them if they would like to hear from you
again, and ways to build a great permission based email marketing
lists. It also has about using Social Media and getting
the most out of it. For my next hint of the day, in their search bar
type in the word ‘permission’ and you’ll find a great article titled
’How to Grow Your Permission Email List’. It has a section that
deals with your situation about wanting to re-establish contact with
previous customers.

In summary, spend a little time doing some research re. best
practices about marketing in this new online and overly social world
and then apply what you’ve learnt to the way your deal with
promoting your new Facebook page. Think this way…

  • design a great email acknowledging that this person has bought
    something off your previously and you have their details (thank them
    again for their purchase)

  • in this great email tell them you would like to send them
    from time to time about your fabulous new products,
    great deals, etc. you get my drift…

  • ask their permission to do this (see Mail Chimp’s resources for
    some great ways to do this, link to embed to do this, all that great

  • also mention the fact you have a great new Facebook site and
    include the link - if they’re interested they’ll go there, take a
    look and hopefully they’ll fan you. You could incentivize this if
    its really important to you, like ‘become a fan, get 10% off your
    next purchase’. Again you get my drift.

Oh, finally, if you don’t have their email addresses don’t sweat it.
Contact them with a postcard or something similar they can check a
box and return to you if they don’t want to hear from you again.
Same principles, its just that email is soooo much easier isn’t it?

OK, now I’ve finished my cup of tea and hopefully helped you and
maybe some others out there on this great forum of ours I’d better
go make some jewelry :slight_smile: Seriously, I really do hope that some of
this makes sense and that it helps you work out the best way forward
on this issue for you and your business

Nicole Taylor, who’s website is coming soon - and no prizes for guessing
one of the ways she’ll be marketing it :slight_smile:

I am wondering if it is ethical, good practice, or just plain
obnoxious to use my long list of buyers as contacts on Facebook and
notify them of my pages. 

Are you saying that you will post the names of private consumers
who’ve purchased from you – ie, not suppliers or middlemen who might
expect publicity or some business exposure – on a public Facebook

If so, I think you’re inviting a lawsuit.


I am wondering if it is ethical, good practice,or just plain
obnoxious to use my long list of buyers as contacts on Facebook
and notify them of my pages. 

This excerpt from today’s sitepoint tribune newsletter may help

"A client with quite a substantial client list thought it would
be great to connect with all those customers on Facebook. Mostof
his customers wouldn't have known his real name, but since
Facebook doesn't allow businesses to have profiles (only pages),
he imported his business address book into Facebook and followed
a few thousand customers using his personal profile. 

So, what was the result? A large number of annoyed customers
thought that the business from which they'd purchased products in
the past had some kind of social media stalker on staff, and were
worried that his business had shared their data. 

Both of these examples [the other example isn't relevant to
Sandra's question] are natural responses to possessing a
collection of client data; the use of data in both scenarios
wasn't intended to encroach on the customers' privacy, and it's
easy to see how it was never expected to be taken that way. The
issue here is that we need to always be mindful of how people
could react to the end result, and to shy away from the
situations that could potentially be misunderstood." 

In a somewhat similar situation, an artist I know sent unsolicited
emails with about her website to buyers of her art. One
or more buyers complained to her webhost. Her webhost told her that
if she did not stop the practice, which they considered to be
sending spam emails, they would cancel her account.

Daniel Kamman

No! I was thinking of sending e-mails and inviting them to look at my
business page. I believe I could keep the e-mails private. That said,
I raised the question because I am basically uncomfortable with it,
and haven’t thought it through all the way and wondered whether I was
being too fussy about it. I would like to be able to contact my
previous customers, but at the same time would not want to compromise
their privacy, or do anything of questionable ethics. I think the
previous description of the negative results of a similar effort
might be a real deterrent.The various responses are very helpful.

Sandra Buchholz
Elegant Insects jewelry

So when you collected the e-mail addresses, what did you tell them
you were going to do with them? I tell my customers that if they
want to be on my e-mail list, give me your e-mail address. I will
e-mail you to let you know about shows that I am going to be in, and
on my jewelry, that I will not send out more than one
e-mail a month, and I will never, ever, share the list with anyone
for any reason. Then if they want they give me the address, if they
don’t they don’t. So if I wanted to e-mail them to let them know I
could do that within the parameters I set when they signed up.

Beth Wicker

No! I was thinking of sending e-mails and inviting them to look at
my business page. 

Yes, that would be the appropriate way to handle it.


I wonder when everyone will finally figure out that you need to Bcc
your emails if you don’t want your customer/contacts list to be
grabbed and used without permission. That has been a no-no for decades
but people still can’t learn.

Email address listsIf you explicitly told your customers that you
were collecting their emails for email marketing purposes, then you
should be fine to use the list. If you were to send out an email and
then your host provider received complaints, you can challenge the
complaints saying that you have a relationship with the individuals
and that they knew they were providing you with their email address
for the purpose of receiving email marketing (even better yet if you
get it from them in writing). If you just collected the email
addresses and didn’t say “we’re collecting these so that we can send
you emails with specials, updates, etc.” then you probably shouldn’t
use the list because you weren’t up front with them in the
beginning. Although I usually figure someone is asking for my email
address to email me, you can’t assume that about everyone…
Preventing your email from being deemed “SPAM”

Your header must accurately identify you or your
business as the sender of the message. The “from”, “to,” and
"reply-to" must be accurate and not misleading.

Your subject line must accurately reflect the contents of your

Your message must include your address. It can be your physical
address, a post office box, or a private mail service box.

Your message recipients must be given the option to opt-out of
receiving future emails. This can be a reply-to email address or an
easy internet-based option. The opt-out feature must be clear and

You must honor opt-out requests promptly (the law says 10 days).
Also, unless you’re only going to send one email a year, I wouldn’t
recommend emailing the list from your own email address. Instead, I
would recommend an email marketing service like MailChimp or Constant
Contact (or others). They both offer free/cheap service depending on
the size of your mailing list and the number of emails that you send
in a month. One key thing they offer is opt-out service, where your
customers can tell them that they don’t want to be on the mailing
list and they are removed automatically. Say you’re running the email
through your own email server (or host’s server) and someone replies
back that they want to be removed from the list and you miss the
email. A month later you send out another email and they receive it
because they haven’t been removed, well then they have a real
complaint against you. The email marketing services can also help you
manage bounce backs (emails that “bounce back” because the email
address doesn’t exist) which can be a real negative hit to your spam
rating as well. They also offer codesnippets that you (or the person
who manages your website) can add to your website to collect
additional email addresses that you can use in future mailings. So, I
guess this kind of turned into an email market ing post… Although
our inboxes ARE inundated with email marketing, it’s still an easy
and cheap means to communicate with our customers. I find that when
people have a real interest in what you are doing, they will still
see your email in the big list, open it, read it…and hopefully act
on it!

Michelle Walbeck

I am wondering if it is ethical, good practice, or just plain
obnoxious to use my long list of buyers as contacts on Facebook
and notify them of my pages. 

One easy solution… Create an email “newsletter”. Send it out, Blind
Carbon Copy please, to your client list. In your Newsletter, explain
that is a one time mailing to everyone informing them that you now
have a presence on Facebook and they are more than welcome to check
it out as a way of keeping in touch. Tell them you are also starting
a Monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly or whatever Newsletter or just
setting up a mailing list for future news about your work, sales,
shows, etc. If they would like to continue to receive it, they can
opt-in by simply “replying to this email with a YES.” If not, they
will be removed from the list. Problem solved, you haven’t invaded
their privacy or anything and you’ll get people who want to remain on
your mailing list.

Just my opinion. :slight_smile: