The Facebook Page vs. Profile for Businesses
We recently did a Social Media seminar at Wichita State's Center for Entrepreneurship. It's a tricky topic because some businesses already know a lot about social media, some know the basic of how to setup a profile but not a lot about how it can be used as a marketing tool, some don't even know how type in the url to get to a social site. Really.
Here's an interesting little tidbit about Facebook that surprised a few people at the Wichita State seminar… There is indeed a difference between creating a Facebook "page" for your business and creating a personal "profile" for your business.
It's a common mistake for a business. You might think, just go fill out the new profile on their homepage. That works, but there are some benefits to creating a business page vs. a profile. Here's why you should go with a "page”:
- It's what Facebook asks. Does that mean one day they will shut down your "profile" if it's a business? Who knows, but generally it's best to follow the rules. Even if you never get booted, there's a good chance features being added to the site will be different for people vs. businesses and one day you might want to take advantage of those.
- With a page you can have multiple administrators. This allows you to assign other Facebook users, presumably your employees, to edit the page without sharing a login. If an employee leaves your company, you remove them as an admin, no need to change your own password.
- Pages are always viewable to the public. This means you have content on the web, and get some search engine benefit because people don't have to login to see your page. With a personal profile users must be logged in to see the content. In other words, if you tell someone without a Facebook account to visit you on Facebook, they won't be able to.
- This one really has a pro and a con... Friends vs. Fan. With personal profiles you make "friends". You can ask anyone to be your friend and they can accept or ignore the friendship. Accepting is what makes your content visible and vice versa. The pro is, you can ask anyone to be your friend. It's an easy way to build an audience. The more people you ask, the more friends you'll get. With a business "page", there are no friends. People "like" your page if they choose. You can't ask anyone to "like" your page directly. So it's much harder to build an audience. But, a pro for the page is, you don't have to approve or make friend requests, they happen instantly whenever the "like" button is clicked. So less personal attention is required.
- With a page you'll have access to special widgets and like buttons to use on your web site. This will help you build an audience. Also, if you ever plan deeper integration between your site and Facebook, for example adding "recommend" buttons on specific products in your shopping cart, or using some of Facebook's more advance tools like the API or Facebook Connect, you'll run into lots of problems if you don't have a page.
- Pages have stats. Facebook "Insights" show businesses how many times their page was viewed (a ton of fans/friends doesn’t mean people actually look at your page), the demographics of the people who like the page (age, male/female, location etc.). This is an important one if you're using Facebook to promote your business. How will you know if you're making good posts, if people are visiting and returning, if your time investment is paying off? Insights (stats) can help you craft your posts to be more attractive to the social audience. Lastly, with a page you can do some things fun things with Google Analytics to track traffic from your Facebook page that you can’t do with a personal profile.
If you've already setup a prolife (not a page) for your business, unfortunately all of the research we did says there's no way to convert your "friends" to "likes"... unless you're related to Zuckerbeg anyway. So if you make a switch, all you can do is suggest those fans like your page. You’ll probably lose a few, but really, how good of friends could they have been if they won’t follow you to a page? Jerks.
For the Wichita State crowd, and for most of our clients we would typically say social media is mainstream communication tool at this point. So there’s a good chance your business needs to be involved with it in some form. Remember though, it's one piece of the advertising/marketing puzzle, not a golden ticket.