Facebook launched Fan Pages way back in 2007.
Since then, there's been a lot of confusion about whether businesses should use:
- a Fan Page or
- a Profile
to promote themselves on Facebook.
Unfortunately, a lot of businesses have chosen #2 -- a Profile.
In fact, I'm betting you -- yes, you -- have at least 5 to 10 Facebook "friends" who are actually businesses, not people.
I know I do.
So let's take a step back and try to figure this out.
If I'm a business owner, which should I use -- a Profile or a Page?
Hopefully the answer to this question will be clear after I discuss the following:
- the differences between Profiles and Pages
- the Pros and Cons of using each for business
- whether you should convert your Profile to a Page
- how to actually covert it
- how other Facebook users can report your Profile -- if it's being used primarily for business
So let's begin.
Profile or Fan Page: What's the Difference?
Each person on Facebook -- each living, breathing human being -- is allowed to have ONE Profile.
- can be accessed via an account with login information
- has a single "personal Timeline"
- can be used to manage multiple Pages, Apps, Ad accounts etc. inside of Facebook
Your Profile is a kind of web passport, Social Security Number (sorry non-Americans) and personal identity all wrapped into one.
It's is who you are online... according to Facebook, at least.
And it's for this reason that Facebook allows you to only have one.
Here's how Facebook describes the different functions of Profiles and Pages (paraphrased for clarity):
- for individual, non-commercial use
- represents an individual person and must be held under an individual name
- can be friended
- can be followed -- to see public updates in News Feed
- look similar to Profiles, but offer unique tools for connecting people to topics they care about, like a business, brand, organization or celebrity
- managed by admins who have Profiles -- Pages are not separate Facebook accounts and don't have separate login information from a Profile
- provide insights to help admins understand how people are interacting with the Page
- can be Liked -- to see updates in News Feed
So what are the Pros and Cons of each?
- Profiles are optimized for individual people to connect and interact with friends and followers
- Pages are optimized for artists, businesses and brands to showcase their work and interact with fans
- Profiles can have a max of 5000 friends and an unlimited number of followers
- Pages can have an unlimited number of fans
- Profiles can send unlimited private messages to "friends"
- Pages can send private messages to fans -- but only after the fan has sent the first message
- Profiles are limited to one per person
- Pages are unlimited -- you can admin as many pages as you want
- Profiles cannot have biz and marketing apps installed on them
- Pages come pre-installed with custom functionality designed for their category -- developers also build a huge array of 3rd-party apps for admins to add to their Pages
- Profiles don't allow apps for lead capture
- Pages allow you to create custom apps to gather email leads for marketing outside of Facebook
- Profiles can be tagged (by friends) but not checked in to
- Pages can be checked in to (if a local business) -- alerting friends of the person checking in that they're at your business
- Profiles cannot be called from Facebook mobile app
- Pages can be called directly from the Facebook mobile app -- when a fan visits your page
- Profiles can only "boost" a post for $6.99 -- and that's it (no targeting)
- Pages can run hyper-targeted ads to get traffic, emails, Likes, etc.
- Profiles cannot schedule future posts (unless you're using a 3rd party app like Post Planner, of course)
- Pages can schedule future posts
- Profiles do not have access to stats on posts, friends and friend demographics, etc.
- Pages can access a huge array of stats on posts, fans and fan demographics, etc.
So all in all, Pages have a lot more commercial functionality than Profiles. Which makes sense, since Facebook explicitly states Profiles are not to be used "primarily" for commercial purposes:
From their Terms of Service:
You will not use your personal timeline [Profile] primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes.
Then again... if you're an artist, photographer, entertainer, etc., then maybe your Profile is meeting your commercial needs just fine.
In that case, is it a mistake to continue using your profile solely for commercial purposes?
In a word, yes!
It's a mistake because you're violating Facebook's Terms of Service -- and eventually, sooner or later, you WILL be shut down.
And that's why you may want to convert your Profile to a Fan Page.
Why should I convert my Profile to a Page?
Here's Facebook's answer:
Facebook Pages offer different features for organizations, businesses, public figures, brands and organizations. It's also a violation of our terms to use a personal account to represent something other than yourself (ex: your business).
If you're a public figure, you can continue posting to your audience from your personal account by allowing followers. When people follow your personal account, they'll be able to get your updates in News Feed without being friends with you. You should only add someone as a friend when you know them personally.
If you're not a public figure and you're using your account to represent something other than yourself, you could risk permanently losing access to your account and all of its content if you don't convert it to a Page.
How do I convert my Profile to a Page?
Again Facebook's words:
When you convert your personal account to a Facebook Page, a business account will be created to manage your Page.
We'll (Facebook) transfer your current profile picture and add all your friends and followers as people who like your Page.
Your account's username will become the username for your Page, and the name associated with your personal account will become your Page's name. If you want your Page to have a different name, consider creating a new one.
No other content will be carried over to your new Page, so be sure to save any important content before beginning the conversion:
- Download your timeline information. You can download a file that contains all of your sent and received messages and all of the photos and videos you’ve uploaded to Facebook.
- Appoint a new group admin to any groups you manage. You'll be unable to manage groups once the conversion begins.
For full access to Pages features, manage your new Page from a personal account or add admins to your Page.
When you're ready, start converting your personal account to a Facebook Page.
Will all my Profile's content be transferred when I convert it to a Page?
When you convert your personal account to a Page, some things will be automatically transferred for you:
- All your confirmed friends and followers will be converted to people who like your new Page.
- Your current profile picture will become your Page's picture.
- Your username will become your Page's username.
- You'll remain the admin of any Facebook Pages you managed.
You won't remain the admin of any groups or apps you managed from your personal account so be sure to add new admins before converting.
Also, content on your timeline (ex. photo albums, profile information, etc.) won't be transferred to your Page. Make sure you download any important content before you begin converting.
What will happen if I ignore this and just keep doing what I'm doing?
Honestly, probably nothing -- for the time being.
But one thing you should know is that Facebook is making it easier and easier for users to report your Profile -- if you're using it primarily for commercial purposes
How users can report your Profile:
Step 1: They go to your profile
Step 2: They click on the drowdown arrow on the right side of your cover photo:
Step 3: They click "Report/Block":
Step 4: They choose "Submit a Report"
Step 5: They select "Report XYZ's account"
Step 6: They select "This profile represents a business or organization."
Step 7: They submit a Report
Facebook then prompts them to send a message asking you to change your account to a page.
Step 8: They Confirm Report
Facebook wants them to be certain they want to submit the report:
They see this box after clicking "Confirm":
Your profile has just been officially reported to Facebook.
What happens next?
Honestly, I have no idea. But do you really want to wait and see?... while an hugely important part of your business's online marketing hangs in the balance?
I assume Facebook will review the report, contact you and give you a chance to convert.
Or maybe they'll just shut your profile down.
Or maybe they'll do nothing.
In any case, once a person reports you, that person can't do it again -- they can only block you.
Our Advice: Convert
If you're using a Profile in the name of a business and as a business... please... STOP right now and convert your Profile to a Page!
If you don't, you could lose your profile and all the connections you've worked so hard to make over the years.
Plus, by converting to a Page, you will gain a ton of features that will help take your business to another level on Facebook.
But what if my Brand is Me? What if I have tons of Followers?
If your brand is you -- ie. if you are a "Public Figure" (an artist, actor, politician, consultant, "guru", lawyer, massage therapist, etc. etc.)-- then I have a different recommendation:
Use both your Profile and a Fan Page!
I'll be writing a follow-up post to this one on exactly the best way to do this -- ie. how to configure each one, how to manage your posting to both, etc.
In the meantime, please let me hear from you:
- Are you using a profile for mainly commercial purposes?
- Do you have qualms about converting to a Page?
- Have you actually converted a Profile to a Page?
I'd love to know your experience, so please sound off in the comments below.