Facebook for Brands: Pages, Not Profiles

There is one area of confusion that affects users of Facebook more than they think, namely, the difference between profiles and pages. It’s a distinction that has important ramifications for business users.

What’s the basic difference between a profile and a page?

A profile is for a person (a human individual), and a page is for a brand, company, or organization. This is stated plainly in the terms of service (ToS). If you’re using a profile for a brand or an organization, you are in violation of those terms, and your profile can be summarily deleted with no recourse. That alone makes it vital to know the difference.

I’ve unfortunately seen many instances of businesses basing their Facebook presence on a profile. I’ve also seen many of them get caught by Facebook and have it all suddenly disappear without warning. It’s a harsh lesson that I would like to help others to avoid.

Administration and analytics

If you’re using Facebook for your business, it is certain that you want to be able to see reporting on “Likes” and other interactions so you can adjust your marketing mix. While a profile cannot supply this ability, it is baked right in with pages.

You will see a button named Admin Panel to the right of your cover image. Pressing it will take you to your Insights (basic analytics for the page), Notifications (“Likes,” comments, etc.), and Messages from readers. In this respect, the new Timeline is much more user-friendly than the prior incarnation of Facebook.

Profiles limit your followers

One thing most people don’t realize is that you can only have 5,000 friends on Facebook. Since pages have “Likes” rather than friends, they are also not subject to that limit. While 5,000 may seem like many, it really isn’t. The Netflix page currently boasts 1,900,000 “Likes.”

Why limit the potential for growth by using the wrong tool?

Changing a profile to a page can cost you

The process of changing over from a profile to a page is not an easy one. Setting up a page is easy, but getting the people who have friended the profile to “Like” the page is harder.

Since you cannot automatically add someone to a page, they have to “Like” it themselves. All you can really do is encourage them by posting about the change in your feed. Since only about 16% of your friends see any given post, getting their attention might take a while. Then, if you do get their attention, it requires much more to make the average person go to another page and click the “Like” button.

Understandably, this can make transitioning friends to “Likes” a slow process. It is also one that is nearly guaranteed to lose some, if not most, of those people.

It would probably be wise to get used to this terminology, as it no longer just applies to Facebook. Google+ has rolled out Pages for brands and businesses and has adopted many of the same terms and strictures.

George Williams is a professional journalist for firstSTREET, a leading provider of innovative tech gifts for seniors and beyond.

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