Facebook Profiles Vs. Pages: advice for Businesses

The question: “Can I use a profile for my business in facebook or should I consider using a page instead?” seems to be coming up a lot at the moment, so here’s a few key issues you might want to consider.

Just as facebook has improved peoples’ profiles (the walls, pictures and info belonging to individuals) to be more interactive, enjoyable and captivating (so much so that it now commands the largest attention of any website on the internet), so too has it improved business ‘pages’, allowing owners or administrators to interact with their customers in more innovative ways while INSIDE facebook. It’s obvious that facebook has more improvements up its sleeve here too, as commercial interest in social networking continues to boom.

Recently, and crucially, facebook’s own search facility now not only searches people or pages within facebook but also delivers external search results from websites (anything on the world wide web) through Bing, within facebook, without even so much as the need to open a new tab. So the trend is now for users to search within the Facebook blue bar, for EVERYTHING.

In fact there are some industry bods who even question the need for an external business website, since the pull to stay within our logged in, blue walled, socially connected environment, is so great. Personally I think that’s pushing it a bit far, since some people (unbelievably) are still not on Facebook 😉 and, there’s still a lot to be said for the freedom outside of Facebook’s terms and conditions. Indeed, if you are a business, using a profile, (not a page) then you are technically in violation of those terms and conditions (the one’s that no one ever reads www.facebook.com/terms.php?ref=pf ) which may not seem important, until you realize that facebook could, if they chose to, close your profile down, and, if they do, you could lose all those ‘friends’ you’ve acquired who could have become fans of your business page instead.

More obvious differences, as businesses turn to facebook for promotion, are the ‘profile vs. pages’ options. Firstly, business page benefit is in the ‘fans’ not ‘friends’ area. A fan (someone who likes your business) doesn’t need to be approved in the same way that a friend request has to be accepted. Having fans thus lowers the constant administrational chore of accepting friend requests and instead creates an instant connection between fan and business.

Secondly, there’s an upper limit to the number of facebook friends a profile (person) can have, whereas there is no such upper limit for fans of businesses. Thirdly, there are one or two restrictions to be aware of; such as the essential first name and last name fields of a personal profile, which won’t suit a business with greater or fewer words in its name, plus profile vs. page information, such as ‘relationship status’ and ‘date of birth’ vs. ‘opening hours’ and ‘year founded’ are also going to affect your professional appearance.

Lastly, but by no means least, is the option for businesses to have a custom facebook page (www.pagemodo.com) a powerful and flexible promotional tool that businesses can now take advantage of, to display custom graphics and interactive elements is again, not an option for personal profiles. Big brands are making obvious leans towards the use of these tools.

Notably, Ford recently launched their new model, the ‘Explorer’ via Facebook: ‘Ford ambitiously decided to forgo the auto show and carried out its ‘2011 Ford Explorer’ launch on the web, with facebook as the centrepiece of the company’s online reveal strategy. The campaign proved to be more successful than anticipated. On reveal day, Ford produced the number one trending topic on Twitter in the U.S.; the Explorer was the number two most searched for term on Google; Ford’s YouTube reveal video garnered 11,000 views; more than 50,000 Ford Explorer Facebook ‘Likes’ flooded in; and, perhaps best of all, 25,000 potential car buyers built and priced new Explorers on the company’s website’ (source – http://mashable.com/2010/09/28/brand-trends-on-facebook )

So, it’s worth being careful in your business management of profiles and pages, the decisions you make now on your set up in the social media could be the difference between creating profitable popularity or becoming a company cast-out. If your business is already set up as a profile then get yourself a page now, and start migrating, and if you haven’t started yet, remember this, profiles are for people, and pages are for business. If you’re in need of help, Lingo has social media experts ready for your email. Drop us a line at [email protected] to get started.

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