One of the most enticing possibilities for Facebook is helping businesses identify, cultivate and leverage customer advocates among its billion users. Facebook’s current challenges with Sponsored Stories are significant, of course. Identifying users who “like” an advertisement as advocates, without clear and explicit permission, violates the basic trust that real advocacy requires.

As Influitive CEO Mark Organ put it, “It would be like the phone company recording snippets of conversations about some product, and broadcasting that information, without context, to other people loosely affiliated with the people being recorded.”

But such missteps need not, and should not, be anything more than a stumble. The potential is too great for customer advocacy on Facebook. In addition to having a billion users, Facebook is establishing a distinctive identity, and carving out an especially valuable and timely niche, in the minds of corporate users: it’s where companies can become human in the minds of customers and prospects, where they can show their personality, where actual people (employees) can engage naturally in authentic conversations with customers and prospects that help build relationships – which are key to successful customer advocacy.