This is an interesting topic because I see not a few small business owners using their personal profile to promote their business. This is a huge mistake. But before we talk about the pros and cons, let's define what each is.
When people first start a Facebook account, they are typically creating a personal account which has a Profile. Normally, they use it for personal reasons like keeping connected to Friends and family. They must make "friend requests" with other people who also have personal accounts on Facebook, and they have to wait till the other person approves their friend request. In addition, they themselves must respond to friend requests.
Anyone who has a personal account or Profile can create a separate Page (also called a Fan Page) that is related to their profile. This is not a separate account ... you use your regular login to access any Page you create. You can create as many Pages as you wish. And those pages could be for anything in which you feel you have an interest or would enjoy promoting; such as your business.
So what are the Top 10 key differences between a Profile and a Page especially as it relates to your business or cause? Here is the list:
- A Page doesn't require you to keep approving friend requests. People simply "Like" your page and they are automatically "Fans". You don't have to spend a lot of time administering an approval process. With a Profile, you have to keep approving people who ask to be friends. Simply put, Profiles have friends and Pages have fans.
- Pages and Profiles allow you to keep your business and personal matters separate; and you get to control how much and what elements of your personal affairs you want to interject into your business affairs. For example, maybe you want to show a picture of you and your kids on your business page so that your customers can better relate to you as a person.
- You can only add certain applications ("apps") to Pages. Many business users aren't aware of the powerful business apps that are available for Pages because they have only a personal page on which such apps cannot be installed. It is these amazing applications available from both Facebook and from independent app developers that allow you to unleash the marketing power of Facebook.
- There are no Insights available for your Profile, only for your Pages. Insights are a series of extremely useful statistics that allow you to understand who is using your Page, what on your Page they are reacting to, and how far and wide they and their friends are sharing what you've posted on your Wall or other strategic places. In short, a Page allows you to see how and why you are getting attention.
- A Profile has a maximum limit of 5,000 friends. You would not know this until you bump into the limit! I have several clients who learned the hard way when they hit 5,000 friends and wondered why they the friend requests had suddenly stopped. There is a way to convert a personal Profile to a business Page and your friends all become fans ... but you lose the "personal friendships" in the process.
- You cannot get an Administrator to help you with a Profile ... only with a Page! For example, let us say that you simply don't have the time or inclination to add more content for others to see or comment on ... well, you can make a capable person an "administrator" of your Page and they can do some or all of that work for you.
- If you use other Social Media - let's say you're blogging or you're tweeting - there is no way to integrate that with a Profile, except through a laborious process of cutting and pasting links onto your Wall. But with a Page, you simply install the right apps to immediately and automatically push your other content through your page.
- If you use other Social Media - like a blog or even your website - you CAN install Facebook's social plugins (such as "Like" us on Facebook) on your blog or website, but social plugins do not allow fans to like your personal Profile.
- You cannot use certain Facebook services like Ads, Sponsored Pages or Check-in Deals on your Profile. These services allow you to reach a Facebook audience that is well beyond your circle of friends (or fans for that matter).
- It is actually not that easy for people outside your circle to find your personal Profile on Facebook ... that's because, if you use your own name, there could be hundreds of people with the same name or close. Which one of them is really you? If you don't believe me, just type your name into Facebook's search box. But businesses tend to have more unique names, and there are fewer business pages than personal profiles on Facebook so your Page may be easier to find if someone were doing a random search. Don't get me wrong - a Facebook search ain't a Google search, and you need to give your business every advantage possible.
Take it from me - you're much better off creating a Page for your business or cause.
I'd love to know your opinion on the matter. Do you have other arguments for or against Profiles or Pages? Please use the comment section below. And don't forget to visit us on Facebook (for-profits click here) and (non-profits click here).