If you’re a marketer who’s starting to venture into the world of Facebook marketing, you might have asked, “Should I create a Facebook page or a Facebook profile to grow my fan base?” I get this question all the time from U Stand Out readers. And I’m surprised how often I see this question, and it’s such a missed opportunity when people choose the wrong option.
The correct answer: create a Facebook page.
If you are promoting your blog, a company, or a brand, create a Facebook page. NOT a Facebook profile. Here are the core differences between Facebook pages and Facebook profiles.
What is a Facebook Page?
Facebook pages are for organizations, businesses, celebrities, bands, etc. to broadcast information to fans in an official and public manner. They can be enhanced with applications that help the brand communicate with and engage their fans, and capture new audiences virally through their fans’ engagement. Fans of a Facebook page will see that page’s updates on their newsfeeds. Best of all, your fans’ friends will also see those update if the fans like, comment on, or share the content.
What is a Facebook Profile?
Facebook profiles are for individuals to connect with their friends and share daily updates about their lives. Facebook profiles are specifically for personal use, and if Facebook discovers that your profile is not of a real person, they will terminate the profile. Creating a Facebook profile for anything other than a human being (though they do let pets slide) violates Facebook’s terms of service, and you’d risk all of your hard work being for nothing.
What is the difference between a Facebook page and a Facebook profile?
1. Business vs. Personal
Pages can only be created to represent a real organization, business, celebrity, etc. by an official representative of that brand. Pages, however, are for personal use.
2. Public vs. Private
Your updates on your Facebook profile are typically private, especially if you’re taking advantage of Facebook’s privacy settings. Facebook pages are open to the entire public. Pages are even visible to people who are logged out of Facebook or not registered at all.
If you’re still not convinced that a page is the way to go, if you choose to use a profile instead and switch your privacy settings for each update, you risk accidentally posting a personal update that’s visible to your fans vs. your friends.
3. Customization and Applications
Pages can install applications, such as the Static HTML application, which allows advances customizations such as a like-gated tab. A like-gate shows exclusive content only to users who have “liked” your page. This incentivizes your visitors to like your page. Other applications, such as polls, can be installed to increase fan participation. Profiles do not have these advanced customization options as they are meant for personal use only.
4. Indexed by Search Engines
Many articles out there claim that pages are indexed by search engines, whereas profiles are not because of their private nature. Please note that this is NOT the case if you don’t have privacy settings enabled for your personal profile. Both pages and profiles can be indexed by the search engines. Pages just have more opportunities to be search engine optimized, since they can be customized with tabs and landing pages.
5. Engagement Metrics
If you create a personal profile for your company instead of a page, you won’t be able to take advantage of Facebook page insights, a free analytics tool that comes with your page.
Facebook pages allow admins to track engagement. This feature provides admins with demographic breakdowns, page views, engagement stats (comments, likes, etc.), video views, photo views, etc. This information is extremely valuable when measuring social media ROI. Profiles do not provide this information, so you won’t be able to track your engagement or fan growth over time, or for each individual update, like you can on a Facebook page.
6. Promotional Widgets
Facebook pages have promotional widgets you can used to attract more fans to the page. Adding a Facebook Like Box to your website will allow site visitors to become fans of your Facebook page without ever leaving your site.
7. Facebook Advertising Platform
If you create a Facebook page, you have the opportunity to expand your reach via Facebook’s advertising platform, which lets you create highly targeted ads based on demographic data, interest, employment, and more. If you create a profile instead, the only ad you’ll have access to create is one that promotes your content only to your existing friends. So you won’t be able to reach a new audience through their ad platform.
Examples of What Should be a Facebook Page or a Profile
Ok, so let’s review. Now that you know the differences between pages and profiles, you may still be confused about which to choose for your brand. So to be crystal clear, here are some example entities, and where they would best fit:
- Brands or products (Coca-Cola, Harley-Davidson, Verizon)
- Blogs or websites (U Stand Out, Mashable, The Oatmeal)
- Stores or venues (Best Buy, H&M, Banana Republic)
- Celebrities and public figures (Barack Obama, Johnny Depp, Lance Armstrong)
- Bands and singers (Linkin Park, Taylor Swift, Coldplay)
- Sports teams (New York Mets, Boston Red Sox)
- Other organizations (charities, universities)
- Your mom
- Your best friend
- Your boss
- Your cat sitter
- Your cat (this even sort of violates Facebook’s ToS)