A recent study by Business.com said that 83% of respondents said that Facebook is their favorite social media tool for reaching customers and no wonder — when Facebook recently passed 350 million members after gaining 250 million members since August 2008 [yes, that's right -- the Facebook 'nation' is larger than the United States and growing at an incredible rate] it became clear that if someone was online, you’d probably find them in Facebook…
Yet, as a social media consultant I see so much confusion around the topic of personal profiles, groups, and [fan]pages that I thought it might be time to share THE single best post I’ve found on the topic and share some of the practical experience I’ve gained over the past year working extensively with people and brands in Facebook. I agree with internet marketing expert Dan Zarella when he says “If I could give you only one piece of Facebook marketing advice, it would be: People have profiles. Brands have pages.” He goes on to say…
Social networking profiles represent people. From your Facebook profile, you declare personal relationships, grow your network by manually accepting friend requests, and discover other people in your network to add as friends. Your Facebook profile includes facts about you including your favorite movies, what schools you went to, and your favorite quotes.
Your brand isn’t a person. It doesn’t have a favorite quote or book. You can’t friend a brand, and it certainly can’t friend you back. Brands don’t have friends. Brands have fans. Fans have discussions about your brands, share news about them, and share information about your brands with others.” Source: On Facebook, People Have Profiles, Brands Have Pages.
Here’s the part where it really gets good…
“Profiles are for People. At this point in Facebook’s community’s development, you do not want to keep a profile if you are a brand. Keeping a brand profile is a surefire way to come across as totally out-of-touch. And worse, even if you were to pull off a successful corporate profile, Facebook has been known to suspend profiles for “too much marketing activity.”
Groups are for People. Groups really aren’t suitable for a serious marketing effort. They originally were created as a place for like-minded people to communicate outside of their immediate network and never were intended for brand use. There is very little time and energy required to make one and consequently, users do not value them as much as pages. How many I-lost-my-cellphone-so-I-need-all-your-numbers-again groups have you been invited to?
Pages are for Brands. After setting up a page for your brand on Facebook, use applications to pull in content from your blog and Twitter account (you do have those too right?) to keep your page full of fresh, frequently updated information. Resist the urge to turn your page into a watered-down version of your website. Include some offers, media or conversation on Facebook that does not appear anywhere else. Retail brands like Victoria’s Secret are especially talented at this. I recommend viewing their Victoria’s Secret Pink Facebook page and see how their brand interacts with fans.” Source: On Facebook, People Have Profiles, Brands Have Pages.
Hopefully, that clears everything up from a strategy perspective. Now, a few of my favorite tactics for those who have read this far…
The phrase ‘fan page’ is a misnomer and needs to be addressed. Facebook calls them PAGES, plain and simple, but people refer to them as ‘fan pages’ because they have to ‘become a fan’ to interact with the brand — the correct terminology, however, is ‘page‘. Frequently, when working with someone who wants to become a thought leader, I’ll get a statement like “Well, I’m just a _______ [business owner, politician, teacher, etc. - insert thought leadership role here] — I don’t have any fans. My advice to you? Get over it! Why? Because if you are attempting to create any kind of thought leadership position that evokes a response from people, you have become a brand and brands have fans. When Facebook gives you the ability to build a page [which is really a free mini-website] in the middle of the biggest social media group in the universe, they’re doing you a huge favor!
I recently spoke to a LinkedIn group in Green Bay on the topic of “Facebook for Fun and Profit”. At the time, I advocated using a Facebook primarily as an outpost for your website in order to draw people in. Good strategy, yes, but here’s the part I missed: a Facebook page may be all the website an entrepreneur or organization needs in the beginning! Why? Try these reasons…
- Facebook pages are indexed by Google so the content is searchable; group pages are also searchable, but many Facebook application such as Social RSS only work with Pages, not groups — groups are not good tools for BRANDS
- Facebook pages are visible to non-Facebook members [they just can't become fans or interact with the brand or other fans if they are not a member]
- You can assign your own url to a Facebook page; see http://e1evation.org
- Facebook page urls can be modified to something more manageable and referenceable to the outside world; see http://facebook.com/skittles. You cannot do this with groups.
- Facebook pages are highly customizable; see http://facebook.com/victoriassecret. You cannot do this with groups.
As I read back over the five bullet points, it occurs to me that the primary value of groups is for INTERNAL communications within an organization while pages are EXTERNAL. I think that about sums it up but if you’re still confused, leave a comment or contact me and we’ll get you straightened out!