Yesterday my writer friend Andi Cumbo posted that she was considering getting rid of her Andilit business page on Facebook, while inviting her fans to connect with her over on her personal page. The impetus was an article by Lisa Hall-Wilson called, 5 Reasons to Use a Facebook Profile (Not a Page) to Build Platform.
I was drawn into the ensuing conversation by another writer friend, and rather than weigh in fully there, I figured this was worth a post. So here I am.
Now, before I go any further, let me state that I’m fully aware of Facebook’s Terms of Service, and that it is a violation for a business to set up shop on a personal profile. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about independent business people who operate as themselves. They have no business name. They are writers, musicians, artists, freelancers, and the like. People who might already have a profile and a page, but under the same name: the one they were given at birth.
Heck, I’ve even thought about dropping the Inkling Media name and just going under my own name as an independent consultant, after all, that’s what I am.
In her post, Hall-Wilson makes some valid points. She understands why people want to connect with writers, and what writers (and others like them) are looking to get out of the deal. But I still fall in the camp that perhaps it is best to have both, and use them in tandem. Perhaps the best way to address this is to comment on her specific reasons, and then offer some of my own.
Here are her reasons for preferring a profile over a page, with my comments:
1. It’s more personable
Perhaps. In general it can be, but you can be just as personable on a page. It all depends on how you use them.
2. Your Posts are more visible
This is debatable. This gets in to the whole issue of Facebook’s algorithm. I think there are still a lot of unknowns as to how this works and whether or not pages or profiles get seen by more people. On her post she states that your personal interaction will get a bump when it’s seen by more people, but there is no indication that the Facebook algorithm works the same way for personal posts as it does for business.
3. It’s simpler
True. As she points out, if you’re duplicating content on both the page and the profile, managing just one can certainly cut the workload down. Then again, if you are going to create lists to filter your more personal and private content to true friends, and other general content to others, it can still create work.
4. You can have unlimited followers, while keeping aspects of your profile private
Again true. While you can only have 5,000 friends, you can urge people to hit the follow button. They will only see those things that you post publicly, while your friends can be targeted with more personal things. I happen to think this is pretty easy to do, but it requires you to be more alert and it opens you up for mistakes.
5. You can publicize and embed your public profile content on a website or blog
Yes, Facebook now allows you to embed posts on blogs, which can be done from either a profile or a page, so while it’s not an advantage of one over the other, it does allow for flexibility.
OK, so those are the points she made, with a few of my comments as to why I agree or disagree. But before anyone jettisons their business page, or decides not to create such a page, let me offer a few other insights.
1. Profiles offer no analytics
You might think you’re getting greater reach on your profile, but you have no way of knowing. There are no analytics or insights, as Facebook calls them, for your personal profile. All you have is anecdotal evidence. I happen to think analytics are important to know what types of posts are performing well, and how far they are reaching.
2. No advertising and limited promotion of posts
Hall-Wilson mentions this, but if you really want to get the word out about something, you can’t run Facebook ads off of your personal profile. Additionally, while you can promote your posts from a profile, they are extremely limited in scope and targeting. You can’t get the paid reach you can get from a page, and certainly can’t target it well.
3. Friend limits
Hall-Wilson also mentions the fact that you are limited to 5,000 friends, and indicates that you can get around this by letting new people follow you. While this is fine for some, many people might consider themselves friends and not appreciate being relegated to follower. Remember, social media already gives us a false sense of intimacy, and that is magnified when we connect with individuals in the arts. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, you have to manage how you post based on privacy gating and lists, either public or friends only (or some other configuration). I don’t see this as a real problem, but it does add a level of minor complication that can open you up to error, if you accidentally post something to the wrong list. You are less prone to that sort of accident with a page and a profile. Which leads us to…
4. Confusing your friends
Let’s say you have a profile. Only your friends see your really personal stuff, while your friends and all of your followers see all the other stuff. Your friends might not realize that there is a distinction, and they might take something that you’ve set privately and talk about it in the comments of a public post. Sure, this could happen now, and it’s a long shot, but it is something to consider.
5. Affecting your relationships
I’m not sure if this would happen, but opening up your Facebook profile to everyone could affect how you relate to your friends. You have to be ever mindful of the distinctions and how you are dealing with which group of people. Again, not a major concern in my mind, but something to think about.
6. Search Engines
A big part of your online presence is to get found by the people who are looking for you. Business pages are great for this because they are indexed by Google and the other search engines. You can optimize your page in the same way you optimize a website, with relevant keywords, etc. Your personal profile doesn’t work the same way, and you lose the SEO benefits of a page.
7. Unique features
Hall-Wilson notes that,
People are not going to Facebook to buy or find books.
This may be the experience of many, but I’m not convinced this won’t change. The page setups for writers and musicians include features for selling, as well as other options, that aren’t available on profiles. I would bet that as Facebook matures and builds strategic relationships, there will be other great ways to both make money and build an audience that won’t be available on your profiles. Don’t just think about the here and now; think toward…
8. The future
Perhaps right now you’re OK with just a profile, but what about when your career takes off and you get famous. That is the goal, right? Whether you are a writer or a musician or whatever, we all hope to reach a wider audience. There might be a time down the line when having that separation between a page and a profile might be more attractive. If that’s the case, keeping the page you already have, or starting a page, might be smart.
9. The unknown Facebook factor
Facebook isn’t known for being predictable. You never know when they are going to change something. Right now it is a violation for a business to set up shop on a personal profile. But there’s nothing wrong with you being your solopreneur and artistic self on a profile. But…that could change. I have no idea what will happen, but if Facebook suddenly decides it’s not OK to hawk your wares on your own profile. I don’t think it will, but I’m not about to predict anything about Facebook’s erratic behavior.
As you look at my list, you’ll probably agree that most of them aren’t a big deal; and for some of you, it might not be compelling enough to maintain a page separate from your profile. But I did want to lay them out there to give you something to think about.
Now, what are your thoughts on this? Page or profile, or both?