If, like me, you started using Facebook many years ago as a way to keep in touch with your friends, you have been part of its evolution into the biggest online community in the world. As Facebook has changed, so has the way we use it and it’s now a valuable business tool. There are essentially three different Facebook accounts you can have:
- A Personal Profile is for an individual. It allows you to keep in touch with your personal friends and business contacts.
- A Group is where people can meet and discuss a common interest.
- A Page is where brands, public figures and businesses connect with their customers, supporters and fans.
First of all, a word about using a personal profile for your business … If you’re using a Profile Page for your business, you are in violation of Facebook’s Terms and, if the Facebook police find out, you run the risk of being deleted. Not only that, restrictions on a Personal Profile mean that:
- You can only message up to 20 people at once
- You can only have a maximum of 5000 friends
- Pages are visible to everyone
- Pages can have an unlimited number of fans
- Anyone can connect to a Page
- You can use your Facebook Page as a Persona – Facebook allows you to ‘Comment’ and ‘Like’ other posts using your Page name (in my case, ‘Scubadviser’) instead of your personal profile (in my case, ‘Jackie Hutchings’) which means that, when you leave a Comment or Like a post, you direct people to your Page rather than your personal profile – a great way to get more traffic to your page.
- You can add Apps – there are some very clever Apps which you can add to your Page. For example, you can link your blog to your Fanpage using Networkedblogs. You can even add an ecommerce facility if you have products to sell (tee-shirts etc)
- You can target your Posts based on your fans’ language and country. So, you may well have a local fan base who would be interested in joining you tomorrow for a boat dive which isn’t at all relevant to customers from overseas.
- You can promote your Page with an Advert. And Facebook makes this really easy for you but, and here is the good bit, you can ask for your Ad to only be shown on pages of people who meet your criteria. So, if you just want your Ad to be seen by scuba divers in the UK , then you can do exactly that and you can set a daily budget to keep track of your spending. Read more about Facebook Ads
- Promotional Widgets – you can promote your Page on your website/blog with Plugins.
- Insights – Facebook’s analytics measures engagement on your page. It tracks, for example, your daily ‘Likes’, which posts are the most engaging and reports on an ongoing basis so you can see what posts are getting the most interaction.
- People have to opt in and ’Like’ you. This means that, unlike a Group which allows you to add people to your Group, people have to actively click the ‘Like’ button to become a fan (although you can send a message to your friends asking them to ‘Like’ your Page)
- Wall updates don’t always reach your fans’ walls. Facebook introduced this nifty algorithm called ‘EdgeRank’ which, without going into details, makes a decision based on how relevant your post is to your fans. Posts with a high EdgeRank will show up in your fans’ top stories, those with a low EdgeRank will not. If you’d like to read more about how this works, here are 6 Tips to increase your EdgeRank
- Whilst you can create an Event, you cannot send an inbox messages to your fans. Instead, users are sent Page updates which they may not see.
- People have to opt out. This means that you can add as many friends as you like to your Group and they will see all your updates unless they actively decided to leave the Group.
- By default, all members receive notifications when any member posts in the group (Facebook’s EdgeRank doesn’t apply to postings in Groups).
- You can directly mass message your group members (although this is restricted once your group has more than 5000 members)
- No engagement statistics
- No Apps
- No promotion/widgets (although you can just add a ‘Join our Facebook Group’ button, with a link to your Group, to your website.
- No targeted posts
If you’ve found this article useful, please share it with your friends and please give us some feedback. If you have a Group or a Page, what have you found to be the most useful feature?