Small “See All” Change Could Spell Big Trouble for Marketers On Facebook

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Facebook made some changes recently. Facebook Pages for business and the home page layout have both undergone major overhauls, but there are also a lot of other little changes sprinkled throughout the site.

One of the seemingly insignificant ones that could get a lot of people (and by people I mean marketing and/or advertising professionals) in trouble is a small tweak to the “See All” feature for members of Groups and fans of Pages.

It used to be that when you searched for a group or page, usually by an interest keyword such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or whatever else you’re into, you would be shown a list of search results for People, Pages, Groups, Events, Applications and Web mentions of your search phrase. Then you could refine your search by selecting a tab of what you were interested in, like becoming a fan of the Buffy Page.

All this is still true. You click on the Page name from the list of other Buffy Pages and are taken to the actual Page, where you can learn about Buffy, write on the wall or meet other fans of the dorkily delightful and now defunct TV series.

Using “See All” to Meet Fellow Fans and Members with Similar Interests

If you want to friend other fans, simply click “See All” to view a list of all the fans of that Page. Here’s where the new and old Facebook differ, in a very subtle way that barely impacts an average user but could be devastating to a Facebook marketer if he or she isn’t careful.

Old Facebook used to bring you to a new page when you clicked “See All.” This page would have the full list of all members or fans, whether a Group had 12 members or a Page had 200,000 fans. This list was split into 10 people per page, making it easy to add them without red flagging your account for suspicious or spammy behavior.

Using “See All” to Add Friends for Marketing Purposes

You see, if you’re marketing a product or brand on Facebook, you’re probably going to need to add a lot of friends unless you’re somebody like Nike. So what many enterprising young Facebook marketers do is search for Groups and Pages their target audiences are likely to frequent and add them en masse. A little spammy, and not super accurate, but a fairly quick and easy strategy.

However, adding a lot of friends in a short period of time alerts Facebook that you may be doing, well, exactly what you are doing: abusing the TOS and using the site to promote a product or business under the guise of a personal Profile.

The trick is to figure out how many friends you can add in a day without sending the site a warning. That number can vary depending on how long your account has been active, many friends you already have and how often you engage with Facebook and with other users. I’ve found that once you reach a low level of steady use, you’re safe at about 50 friend requests a day.

How One Little “See All” Update Could Get Your Account Banned

Back to the “See All” changes in the new Facebook. Where you used to have pages and pages of 10 people to a page, now you have a cute little pop-up box that allows you to scroll through a long list of fans or members. Helpful in that you don’t have to leave the page you’re viewing or open a new window or tab to view a profile, but a possible trap if you’re using this method of building up a brand: now you have to keep track of how many friends you’ve requested without a handy page number to mark your progress.

All in all, this change is really minor and may be a simple attempt to streamline the user experience and make the site look and function better overall. Or, it could be yet another way Facebook is surreptitiously cracking down on marketing people using Facebook to promote a business.


  • I received some feedback via Facebook that 50 is NOT always a safe number of friend requests a day, so I’d like to clarify:

    I’ve had success adding that many in one day, but not EVERY day. There are a lot of factors here, and I have had accounts suspended or banned for this activity. Fortunately, I was able to argue my case and learn from the process.

    That said, the most important thing is to look like a human and not a computer when you add people. The exact same number, day in and day out, looks like a script. If you never use the account for anything except friending, it will seem suspicious. If you try to push and think you can get to 75 “just today,” you will likely be suspended.

    Sometimes Facebook will send warnings that say you appear to be abusing the site, but not always. The best advice I can use for this method of Facebook marketing, and in general, is moderation. In this particular case, these people have not opted to receive communications from you, so be sensitive to the fact that you are essentially cold Facebooking them.

    Use a variety of tactics, on and off Facebook, and have respect for the medium.

    Comment by Alison — April 6, 2009 @ 8:56 am
  • thanx for this post. It’s good to know. My company is on facebook with an official page, but I have not had to much time to really get after it (I used to spend a lot more time on it). You made this blog post sound like you have to be faking to be a company, but facebook officially allows and invites companies. Would a private person and a company get in trouble if you invited to many friends on a single day? As far as I remember I would add tons of people per day privately in the beginning, but then that was also many moons ago.

    Comment by Hans — April 7, 2009 @ 7:10 pm

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