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March 29, 2010

Facebook Pages vs. Profiles: Don’t Make the Wrong Choice

Credit: Matt Harnack / Facebook
Credit: Matt Harnack / Facebook

If there’s one thing we hate, it’s to be the bearer of bad news. Okay, we know, who actually likes to be the bearer of bad news, aside from your gossipy Aunt Edna? But we digress.

We’ve had more than a few businesses and organizations reach out to connect with us on Facebook recently who have set their business/organization up as a personal account, known in Facebook parlance as a “Profile.” These are well-meaning folks who have amassed hundreds of connections – “Friends” – and we’re just going to be blatant and capitalize the terminology for ultimate clarity.

These businesses/organizations are at risk to lose all the equity they’ve built on Facebook. Immediately, suddenly, and without prejudice.

You see, Facebook’s rules say “Profiles represent individuals and must be held under an individual name, while (Fan) Pages allow an organization, business, celebrity, or band to maintain a professional presence on Facebook.”

So if you’re using a Profile to represent a business or organization on Facebook, you’re violating their Terms of Use, and you could have your Profile – including all Friends, content, and customization – deleted without warning.

Now, what are the chances you’ll get found out in the sea of 400,000,000 users? Maybe not huge. But for what it’s worth, we know firsthand that it’s not an urban legend. It happened to a client of ours, on a product line in which we’re not involved. Once we got wind of what was going on, we warned them of the risk. They didn’t take heed, and their account got found and axed within the same week.

Thankfully, they hadn’t gone too far down the Facebook road on that account – they lost a couple of months of activity and about 200 Friends. But ones who have reached out to us in recent months have many more Friends, and years of content that could literally disappear overnight.

If you use a Profile to represent yourself as a professional associated with a business or organization, you’ve got no worries. (Unless you maintain a second Facebook Profile for your personal life – that’s against Facebook’s rules, too.)

If you ARE using a Facebook Profile against their Terms of Use, however, here’s what you should do:

1. Create a Fan Page for your business or organization.

Also referred to simply as a “Page,” that’s the functionality Facebook created just for folks like you.

2. Send a message to all your Friends.

Tell them you’re converting your Profile over to represent you as a person by a certain date, and refer them to your newly created Page to continue to interact with your business/organization. In fact, give yourself time so you can send 2-3 messages. When’s the first time you remember taking immediate action on something yourself?

3. Follow through.

Even if you think you have no use for a personal Profile on Facebook (you do, but let’s not get into that right now), don’t waste the equity you’ve already built up. You’ve done your due diligence by letting your Friends know multiple times about the change. So make the change, and let your Friends do what they will in response. It’s an opt-in/opt-out society.

Good luck with the conversion, and if you have any in-the-trenches stories about this issue, or other related tips ‘n tricks to share, by all means post ’em on our “Epiphanies, Inc. – Social Marketing & Success Strategies” Fan Page on Facebook.

And if you’re not on Facebook at all yet, do what you can to get past your hesitations and get on board. 400,000,000+ humans can’t be wrong … can they?


As Certified Social Media Strategists and Certified Inbound Marketing Professionals, Lani and Allen Voivod of Epiphanies, Inc., train teams, craft strategies, and serve as long-term success partners for a handful of global brands, industries, and mission-driven organizations. Find out how they can help your business boost visibility, community, competitive edge, memberships, and profits at http://facebook.com/AhaYourself!

4 Responses to “Facebook Pages vs. Profiles: Don’t Make the Wrong Choice

    I hope I’ve done it correctly because it’s been a big investment of time working with the Fan Page and wanting to avoid posts on my Profile page…but it seems to be cross-linked. Yikes!

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