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Facebook: Do You Need a Page or a Profile?

Ian Blair

So, you’ve decided to get your business on Facebook. The process from here is pretty simple – you go to Facebook.com, you sign up – all pretty straight-forward and easy. But not all Facebook profiles are created equal. An element that still causes some angst among those starting out on Facebook is whether they should use a Facebook profile or a Facebook business page. This is particularly relevant to those starting out, many of whom don’t have a personal Facebook page to begin with, and maybe don’t have any interest in starting one. Even if you’re only opening a Facebook account for business purposes, it’s best to know why you should choose a business page over a personal profile – and how to create a business page once you’re there.

Here are a few reasons why having a business page is preferred over a personal profile:

1.       Using a personal profile for commercial purposes violates Facebook’s terms and conditions

This is probably the most important reason for businesses to create a business page over using a personal profile. As noted in Facebook’s guidelines:

“It’s against the Facebook Terms to use your personal account to represent something other than yourself (e.g. your business). If you’re using your account to represent something other than yourself, you could permanently lose access to your account if you don’t convert it to a Page.”

That’s pretty clear-cut – if you’re using your personal profile to promote your business, you run the risk of being shut down by Facebook. Now, that still hasn’t stopped a heap of people from doing it for various misguided reasons, but the fact is if you’re using Facebook to promote a business, the only legitimate way to do so is via a business page. Many people have made the mistake of setting up a business page as a personal profile, and Facebook has made it easy for those businesses to transition their profiles to pages with the ‘Profile to Page Migration’ tool, in order to avoid being punished. But really, this is the key reason why all businesses should use a business page. There’s no point creating a great profile and building an audience on the platform only to risk losing it all by not playing by the rules.

2.       A business using a personal profile looks unprofessional

There’s a few reasons for this – firstly, Facebook business pages are designed to promote your business – this includes people who are not active on, or even logged into Facebook. When potential customers do a search for your business or related types of businesses in the local area, there’s a good chance they’ll come across your Facebook profile providing you’ve set your profile up as a business. Even to a non-Facebook user, it’ll show up like this:

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Looks pretty good. Business details, address on a map and opening hours – there’s a heap of helpful information there, all of which is highly beneficial to people searching for your business.

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As you can see, to someone who’s not connected with the business via Facebook, or not logged-in, the information presented relates to a human entity – their favourite movies and music, etc. There’s no opening hours, no detail on how to contact them so to anyone who’s not logged-in, this is pretty much useless. And even to those who are logged in, the information you share on your personal page is generally only shared amongst your friends – so if someone isn’t a ‘friend’ of your business, as a personal profile, they’ll never be able to find all that business-relevant information that’s highlighted on a business page.

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1.       Personal profiles have no access to Facebook Insights

Facebook Insights is the analytics and data section of a business page that allows you to monitor the performance and user interaction with your page. You can see who’s interacting with your content and what demographic of people you’re reaching.

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This information is invaluable – knowing who you’re connecting with, who’s responding to your content, this data can shape your future marketing efforts and enable you to maximise reach – it could even change your perspective on who your target audience actually is. Information like this and with this level of depth has traditionally been difficult, and expensive to obtain, but via Facebook Insights it’s all right there, ready for you to analyse and interpret. This is only available to businesses who’ve set up a Facebook business page – without it, you have no way of measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns and your posts.

Facebook expert Jon Loomer made a good point – some people have suggested that using a personal profile instead of a business page ensures your posts reach a wider audience organically, as Facebook has restricted the reach of business posts in order (according to some) to get people to utilise Facebook advertising . This isn’t correct – the organic reach of business and personal profiles hasn’t been impacted, your friends aren’t necessarily seeing any more of your content than fans of a business page. And as Jon noted:

“Do you think your posts are reaching more than 16% of your “friends” with your personal profile? Prove it. Oh, wait. You don’t have Facebook Insights.”

Insights is a required element for any brand serious about Facebook marketing – without it, you’re flying blind.

1.       Personal profiles have no access to Facebook advertising

You may or may not want to utilise Facebook advertising – maybe you’re a small business on a very minimal budget and advertising is simply not an option. But Facebook ads can be extremely effective, and they’re effective for one major reason – targeting.

Recently, a team of researchers from Stanford and Cambridge conducted a study where they matched people’s psychological profiles with their Facebook likes. What they found was that a person’s Facebook likes can be an accurate indicator of their personality and behavioural leanings – more accurate than their work colleagues, their families, even their partners. The amount of data people have entered on Facebook is truly amazing, and studies like this underline just how effective and powerful that information can be. If Facebook ‘like’ data can accurately predict that a person is going to be more prone to anxiety or less likely to be interested in outdoor activities, imagine what it can also tell you about your target audience?

There’s a heap of very specific targeting options available via Facebook ads. One of the best examples is ‘lookalike audiences’ – you can create a list of e-mails of your previous customers, enter the list into Facebook and it will turn that list into an audience, a group which you can target your ads at. But better than that, utilising the same like-profiling as the researchers did in the Cambridge study, Facebook can create a lookalike audience with people who match the exact same characteristics and profile as the people who’ve already purchased from you – that group of people will very likely be interested in what you have to offer.

Maybe Facebook ads aren’t for you, but there are some great options and features worth considering. If you don’t have a business page, it’s not an option at all.

These are just some of the many reasons why Facebook Business Pages are the best way to go for any business. There’s really no reason not to use them, you’re only restricting yourself and your options to help promote and maximise your offerings.

So, how do you set up a business page?

It’s really easy. First, you need a personal profile – if you don’t have one you just go to www.facebook.com, follow the instructions and set one up. Once you have a personal profile, you’ll see in the listing on the left-hand side of the screen, an option to ‘Create a Page’:

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Click on that, and you’ll be taken to the page set-up process:

FB5Select the option most relevant to your business, fill out the details as required (ensure you fill out all the fields to maximise your exposure and opportunities to highlight what you do) and that’s it. You’ll be given a ‘Get Started’ option to walk you through all the details and ensure you’ve entered all the required elements.

Given that, and the reasons listed above, there’s really no reason for brands these days to be using personal profiles as business pages. If you’re serious about utilising Facebook and maximising your opportunities on the platform, Business Pages are the way to go.

Ian Blair

BuildFire Co-Founder. I'm a digital marketer by trade and an entrepreneur at heart. I'm here to help businesses go mobile and build apps more efficiently than before.

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