I know from my workshops and coaching that many of you are still quite innocently getting this profile/page thing wrong. Hard-working, time-strapped, resource-poor business owners with great products and services; charities and social enterprises who do fantastic work; talented artists and musicians and promoters who are just trying to get their work out there. Some of you have set up profiles in a rush; others have co-opted someone inexperienced to do it for you (or worse, paid a ‘professional’ who’s done it wrong), and are unaware that anything’s amiss. Some of you know you should be making the switch, but haven’t got around to it, and don’t quite understand why it’s so important. I believe Facebook is a fantastic tool for spreading the word about what you do and engaging the people who’ll support you – and I want to help you succeed with it! (This doesn’t apply of course to out-and-out shysters – but the transparency of this social media age will out them anyway.)
Passionate as I am about ethical business and music and worthwhile charities and so on, I’m also passionate about marketing not being too in-your-face. And Facebook is a social network, not a business forum. Let people engage with your business or organisation on their own terms; it’ll pay off.
1. Your profile could be deleted at any time, and you could be banned
Using a personal profile (which has ‘friends’) for an organisation, instead of a page (which has ‘likes’), is a breach of Facebook rules, and therefore Facebook can pull down your profile at any time. In some cases, they’ve banned users for repeat offenses. This is because personal profiles are supposed to be one-per-actual-human-being, to keep things as transparent as possible (yes, I know) and to keep Facebook social rather than commercial, for the average user. Pages are add-ons, not the core service, and whilst Facebook allows you to pay for placed ads, they don’t want users to be so bombarded with marketing that they get fed up and leave.
Don’t throw good time after bad by continuing to update a profile that could get pulled at any time. Make a wee bit of time now to set up a legitimate page – or use the automatic conversion process (link and read-this-first info here) for switching a profile into a page. It’s quick and simple, but if you’ve got yourself into a real tangle here’s a post to help you sort it out.
2. Using a profile instead of a page makes your organisation look – at best – incompetent…
Pages have been around for a long time now. If you’re using a profile for business use, you can look like you don’t have a clue about social media – especially bad for people working in online tech, PR, marketing, etc. (I have seen it; instant credibility dive in those cases.) Whatever your industry, it looks like you’ve either not bothered to read any guidelines, or tried to and couldn’t figure it out. There is lots that is complicated about ever-changing Facebook, but this bit’s simple: One profile per human being, multiple possible pages for anything else.
3. …And at worst, shady
Some people will see a friend request from ‘Bloggs Business’ and just assume that you KNOW that you shouldn’t be adding them as friends, but are slyly or pushily trying to insinuate yourself and your products/services into their personal lives anyway. This is why some people won’t accept your ‘friend’ requests – and some even go so far as to report your profile. Maybe they’ll accept your ‘friend’ request but immediately hide your updates, or move you into a ‘limited’ list, rather than hurt your feelings by declining your request. (People really do this!)
At the least, you may be unwittingly leaving a sour taste in people’s mouths.
Think of it this way: at a social gathering, whilst you’d expect some people would be talking a bit about about their work and how it’s going, you’d probably not appreciate hearing too much business chat around you, while you’re more interested in who’s secretly snogging who, the latest <insert favourite band here> album, or where the host’s hidden the good whisky, etc. Maybe a few business people have gathered together in one room, and are excitedly wittering away about the subject – attracting some interested parties, and repelling others towards the dancefloor. Facebook is like such a party, where the host has kindly allowed you to set up shop in side rooms (pages), where you can talk plenty about your work to people who wander in to find out more. They’ve even let you pay to put up posters around the dancefloor (ads – am I stretching this too far?) – but you’re not supposed to butt in on their social chat uninvited.
Now, in the case of charities, bands, small, local businesses etc., the effect may not be quite as strong – because there can be a lot more goodwill towards you and people can be more forgiving. But people who don’t yet know you/what you do might still be put off. (From the charity point of view, think of the goodwill towards certain charities being eroded by pushy collection box rattlers on the high street – however good the work being done is, people want to get involved on their own terms and not feel harassed into it.) Regardless, if people don’t mind your profile so much as other organisations’, there are 9 other reasons here to switch!
4. You open the floodgates for unwanted ‘friend’ requests
People who do accept your friend request can suddenly find themselves swamped with requests from ‘sticker collector’ types (i.e. people who seem to collect ‘friends’ with no intention of building any kind of relationship – or maybe the wrong kind). In the past, I’d get lots of friend requests from strangers and notice that the only ‘friends’ in common were business profiles. Again, this nuisance factor harms your brand, and can annoy even your most loyal customers/fans or your friends and family.
5. Profiles have a 5,000 friend limit, pages have no ‘like’ limits.
If you’re a small, local business, this may not bother you – although if you have plans for growth or even high awareness of your brand, it probably should. Many organisations finally make the switch to a page when they stop being able to add/accept new ‘friends’ and become aware that they should have been on a page all along.
6. Pages have a whole host of ‘plug-ins’ to link your Facebook page to your website, blog etc.
Without needing to know how to code, you can add fancy ‘like’ boxes, with or without faces, or a newsfeed, to your website or blog. You can also now add a ‘subscribe’ button, if you’ve enabled that on your personal profile, but for pages, there are lots more goodies.
7. Pages have analytics, profiles don’t
If you’ve not yet used a page at all, you’re probably unaware that you can track all sorts of data on a page with Facebook insights – showing you at a glance the kinds of people (gender, age range, location) who are engaging with your page and how much they’re engaging with which posts – helping you tweak your efforts to engage them better. This is fantastically useful for monitoring and adjusting your marketing/funding efforts, your communications strategy, your sales/donations planning – and it’s all free! For pages. Not profiles.
8. New ‘timeline’ for pages allows people to message you directly
This is a biggie. I know from experience that some people who haven’t yet let go of a profile for their business – even after setting up a page – are holding on to it because they like being able to message people. With the new changes, people can now message your page. Note that you can’t message people first – you can only reply to them; but this is as it should be! Your loyal customers, family, friends and some super-nonchalant types might not mind getting messages from a business profile, but many other people do – why alienate so many potential customers? Letting people message you, however, is a great move for Facebook pages – some people wouldn’t ever write on your business page’s wall, but might feel comfortable privately sending you an enquiry.
9. Pages can write on other page’s walls, but not on profiles
So you won’t be able to write on people’s walls any more, as your business/organisation. This is as it should be. You will be able to write on the pages of related organisations – collaborators in projects maybe, or industry peers, or festivals, events organisations, funding organisations, etc.
They’ll be able to write on yours – which they aren’t currently able to do if you’re still using a profile. You want other organisations to be able to publicly praise/thank you for your work, or other bands to talk about how much they enjoyed playing with you at a gig, or other charities to signpost people to your organisation – this can all be done through pages. (If you’re thinking ‘I don’t want other pages posting on my page, then a) be aware you can adjust your settings so that they can’t, b) you may be missing the point of the many-to-many nature of social media tho’, and c) you obviously do understand the ‘nuisance’ factor and can now empathise with those people that didn’t accept your business as a ‘friend’!)
10. Your profile could be deleted at any time, and you could be banned
I had you at Number 1, didn’t I?
So, Facebook really can be a brilliant tool to help you increase engagement with customers, funders, press and peers. The new business pages are, I think, an improved way of doing so (blog post about that to follow). So go reap the rewards! Don’t put it off the switch any longer; as Stiller-as-Starsky says – do it.
Are you a long-time business page user, or someone who used a profile first and then switched? Are you seeing great benefits? How useful do you find the analytics? Please share your experience in the comments below in case it helps another reader!