As a social media consultant I spend a lot of time on facebook and I’m frequently amazed by how people will use a profile or group when they should be using a page and vice versa.
So what is the difference between a profile and a page, which should you be using and where do groups fit in to your Facebook marketing?
Profiles are supposed to be for people, they should only have personal names and details on them and because they are for people you can make friends through them.
Business owners can have personal profiles but they must be just that, personal. That’s not to suggest that they can’t become friends with other business people or post about their business or industry through them, they not only can, but in my opinion should!
Most human beings have more than 1 facet to their personality and Facebook profiles are set up for you to express that easily. If you want to keep you work and home life a little bit separate you can control who sees what simply by using lists and choosing which lists see which updates by customising your privacy setting whenever you hit publish.
Pages are for public figures, businesses or other organisations such as charities. If you want market your business on Facebook in any way it is part of Facebook’s terms and conditions that you MUST do it through a page not a profile. If they find your business impersonating a person they can shut down that profile and all your hard work vanishes!
There are reasons for this, Facebook does want business to be there and profit from the site but they don’t want their personal users to be spammed by them. Therefore pages are much more ‘opt-in’ than profiles. A profile can friend request anyone but a page can’t, it has to be liked, and it can only get in front of people to be liked through Facebook itself if it is engaging, if there is a direct connection with either the business owner or someone willing to share information about the page or if they purchase Facebook ads. (For suggestions on getting more likes on your Facebook page click here)
Facebook pages now allow private messages which improves communication even more! However to stop pages sending out spammy messages to their likers these messages can only be initiated by the liker, the page can of course respond.
Facebook pages also offer lots of data and analytics of your likers, known as ‘insights’ this data shows you basic demographics and gives you feedback on how much impact each of your posts has – helping you to post more effectively more often!
A group is an entirely different entity again, and although they can be used to promote your business they should not be created (or joined!) with that sole purpose in mind.
Groups should be created when you want to gather people with a common interest together, if your business serves people that have that common interest it will help you find people that may be interested in your service. HOWEVER, the group should always come above your need to promote, it needs to encourage interaction between the members and allow others to post promotional items that they feel might be of service. To prevent businesses spamming groups, pages are not allowed to post directly to them. You can share page posts from your profile into a group, again Facebook are happy for you to promote things, just not to spam!
I know a few people who have set up groups about their small business and happily added all their friends to it without their permission. The way the notification system works on Facebook that is the same as spamming them!
To help illustrate this let me tell you the story of 2 different groups that have recently been set up.
The first was set up by a lady who has never taken social media advice from me but was obviously trying to promote her small guest house, close to where I live in Suffolk. She added me to the group and at that point in time she had added around 25 people.
Whenever I am added to a group I ask myself 2 questions.
1, Can I be useful to the group?
2, Will the group be useful/interesting for me?
As I could see no way that a group of people could really spend a lot of time chatting about a small guesthouse in Rendlesham, or how I could add anything of value to such a conversation I left the group straight away. As did the majority of people that were added to it.
This means that my poor friend probably ended up doing herself more harm than good! (I did message her to give her a little free advice on this but there really is only so much free advice I can give!)
The second group was set up by a client of mine, the group is called Mac Lovers and it’s a place for devotees of Apple to swap stories and advice etc.
It’s growing steadily as the members are finding it useful and inviting people they know to join. My client sells refurbished Macs but they are committed to contributing useful tips, fun bits of trivia and supplying advice.
They have made it clear that the group is not there for themselves or anyone else to post frequent sales promotions.
They will encourage people over to their page from the group occasionally and when it is appropriate offer group members their services but they already clearly very happy to let the group members take centre stage.
It’s early days yet but I’m sure that the second group will lead to more business for them and to more likes on their Facebook page. But more importantly it helps them understand their customers wants and frustrations better, which means they’ll always be able to serve them well.
Over to you, are you using a profile when you should have a page? Or have you set up a group and got sales from it? Let me know by leaving a comment!