I got the following message from a friend on Facebook last week:
I have a friend who just set up his business as a Facebook Person as opposed to setting it up as a Fan Page. Is there any reason I should tell him it’s better to go it as a Fan Page? I’m racking my brain and can’t really think of any reason why it would make a difference, but the profile looks a little goofy for a business.
The Social Web has embraced Netiquette just as Emily Post would clutch her pearls and Thank You Notes. I’m on facebook, and I’ve established a page for my blogging. There are a number of reasons that your business shouldn’t pose as a person on Facebook. Let’s look at a few of them.
It is Against The Rules: Yes, really. I pay a lot of attention to rules (terms of service TOS). It’s not because I’m such a fan of rules, it’s because it’s absolutely critical to operate within the rules on a site you don’t own. If you don’t like the rules, buy the site or make your own. Here’s a screen grab of Facebook’s tutorial for reporting accounts.
It will not build community: If your business is thinking of a Facebook presence I’m assuming that it’s because you would like to either build community to build search. Facebook is used by groups of people to talk about themselves. Occasionally folks talk about what they buy, but rest assured Facebook exists for people to talk primarily about themselves. Your brand can be part of the story, and the best way to be part of the story is to have a brand page (fan page) that shares content people care about. What you care about (as a business) is not what other people care about.
Although it’s nice to share coupon codes and whatnot, it’s much nicer to ask people to talk about themselves. Are you selling chairs? What about a gallery of people sitting in your chairs? Do you teach drums? Think about a gallery of videos of your students performing.
Building community means talking about other people.
It won’t sell product:People will feel a little put out if you’ve created a personal page for your business (as opposed to a business page), and in addition to them not buying from you here, you run the very real risk of losing the goodwill you’d previously built up.
I see a number of businesses hopping onto Facebook (and other social media sites) very enthusiastically. Which is great. But sometimes not so great. Ideally brands come to places like Facebook to listen and respond first to their community, and secondly to message them.
If every post is “Enter coupon code WETALKTOOMUCH to get 10% off today only!” There isn’t any real value for you to be there. However, if you were to notice that your customer Jill Jones has a red sofa, and she’s on Facebook, you could point folks to it, and ask them if they are bold enough to have a red sofa. A longstanding coupon code for all facebook fans that doesn’t expire is likely worth more than the daily 10%ers that I see dotting the web.
If you’re in the social web (and not using Groupon) you’re probably looking for loyalty and not coupon clippers.
You Could Lose Everyone: Let’s say that you have created a fake person on facebook, and that you’ve maxed out at 5,000 friends (there is no maximum number of fans). Let’s pretend that you’ve built meaningful relationships with a few of those 5,000 friends, and that your message and image is being posted to their walls.
Now imagine that a few folks get grumpy and report you for being an impostor. *Poof* Gone. All that work, all those relationships will be gone instantaneously, and there’s no way to rebuild a list like that.
There’s a lot of value in building these things right the first time.
At some later date I’ll talk about why you need a Facebook Page, and the very real possibility that you don’t.