I wrote this post for my blog and thought I would post it here for the forum. Hope it is useful! - Kirk
Facebook Profile or Page?
Should your business use a Facebook profile
or a Facebook page? One of my clients asked this question and I thought it would make a good post. The right answer, as always, depends on the business and the owner.
First, it is important to understand that you need to have a Facebook profile
from which you can create a page. Even if you don’t want to actively use it, I recommend creating a page using your business name as the URL for the page just in case you want it later. It would be a shame a couple years down the road to want to have www.facebook.com/yourbusiness
and have it be gone. At the moment if your business page doesn’t have 1000 fans you can’t specify the username yet but that criteria is purported to be released soon so be ready to check it. For other social media sites to secure your username on, check out my previous post Protect Your Business Name on 5 Social Media Sites
There are a few key differences between a page and a profile.
First, a profile is limited to a maximum of 5000 friends whereas a page can have an unlimited number of fans. If you reasonably expect to have more than 5000 fans/friends then the decision is made for you. Get a page. If not, keep reading.
Another difference is in the assumed public nature of a page.
Facebook assumes that it is a public space and exposes it by default for search engines and the like. A profile has an assumption of relative “private-ness” which you can turn off but need to take steps to do. It isn’t a big deal but make sure to review your privacy settings if you stick with a profile. This difference in assumed privacy preference points to an underlying difference between a page and a profile. Facebook assumes that a profile is a single, specific person and a page represents a public entity of some kind other than a person. Even in the case of a celebrity, their page is not the person but the brand as a whole from Facebook’s point of view.
How does your business interact with it’s customers?
My recommendation is that if you are a charismatic face for your business and deal with the majority of clients personally, go with a profile and use its personal nature to let clients be closer to you as a person. Share pictures of your family, updates of your thoughts on a wide range of topics and in general use your Facebook profile to promote your business by the quality of your personal relationships and integrity. This can be a very powerful approach and is in general great for lawyers, real estate agents, CPA’s, and other professionals/consultants. If your business is YOU and support around YOU then go with a profile.
If your business is based on a systemized interaction with your customers
in which there isn’t a persistent personal connection between a given employee and client, or you have many such relationships, then go with a page instead. Save your profile for your own personal connections and friends. You can still connect with customers on a personal level through the profile if you wish. The page will serve as a more natural hub for your business with its own identity. This is a weaker connection in most cases but if it is the most appropriate then that is correct.
And now a note on the future…
Nobody can predict with 100% accuracy what Facebook will do but it makes sense to assume that their internal perception of the uses of profiles vs. pages will continue and result in features and benefits that strengthen each of those types of identities. New features for pages are likely to be “broadcast” types of things while features for profiles are likely to be designed to strengthen the bonds between individuals. I hope that this information is helpful in choosing the correct path for your business. Good luck!