“When do I create a Facebook fan page vs. group vs. profile?”
This evening I went up to the Wachusett Mountain Ski Resort Web site to purchase a ski pass. As I was browsing their site, I saw that they have links to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, as well as a blog. Cool! They get high marks for social media integration. But when I clicked on the Facebook link, it took me to a “personal” profile for the ski resort… Ooops Wachusett. Wrong!
I get this question all the time during my Facebook for Business seminars:
“When do I create a Facebook ‘fan’ page, ‘group’ page or personal profile?”
I’m glad you asked. Let’s go through the three types of pages.
1) Personal Profile
This is used for a human being, NOT a company, organization, non-profit, etc. When Facebook began, it was designed for college students to create profiles. So for companies, the only alternative was to create a personal profile for their organization. However in the past few years, Facebook has grown and now provides two options for non-human entities to exist on the network and make connections. Those are “fan” pages and “group” pages.
So why can’t you just ignore this rule and keep your company’s personal profile? Facebook has been cracking down on misuse, deleting profiles which are set up for entities instead of people. So if you’re going to put the time into Facebook, to build an audience and interact with them, you want to make sure your page isn’t going to be deleted one day for not following Facebook’s rules. Also, profiles are not ideal for companies for a few more reasons: you have to manually approve of everyone who wants to connect with you and you don’t get the benefit of Facebook’s business applications and “Insights” analytics software.
2) Group Page
Group pages have been around for a while and pre-date the implementation of “fan” pages, which we will discuss in a moment. Groups are ideal for some non-profit organizations, social groups, clubs, churches, etc. The people who connect with a group are called “members” (in contrast to a personal profile which has “friends” and a fan page which has “fans”). An example of a group page is our local chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. Here we have authorized “officers” (as seen in the left column) to have administrative privileges over the content of the page. Groups allow for more control over who participates and group administrators may restrict access to a group so new members must be approved. Think of Groups like a private club. Do you want to let everyone in? Or do you want to keep the group a little smaller and more personal?
3) Fan Page
A Fan page is the newest of the three types of pages and is designed with companies or brands in mind. An example of a fan page is the one I have created for my company, Northeast Public Relations. Fan pages offer some powerful tools and capabilities not available in the other two categories. For one, Fan pages are visible and accessible to everyone on the Internet whether they are a Facebook member or not and are indexed by Google. In contrast, groups and personal profiles are not fully visible. In Fan pages you get visitor statistics via a dashboard called “Insights.” You also get to install applications which may help you add further capabilities to your fan page.
What if you’re in the middle?
There are some organizations that could fit into either a group page or fan page because they straddle the line between what these pages represent. If you’ve anticipated your needs, researched your audience and still could go either way, I would suggest opting for the fan page because of the added Google visibility and “insights” tool.
So what should Wachusett do?
I did a little more digging and found out that Wachusett does have a Fan page, which is the appropriate category for a ski resort. As of this writing, the personal profile version of Wachusett is attached to the homepage Facebook link, when it should be the Fan page instead. I would recommend Wachusett begin the process of migrating friends into the Fan page and then shut down the personal profile version in a few months. The link from the Wachusett homepage should be corrected immediately. Time is money. Why double your work by maintaining two Facebook addresses?
If you’d like to learn more…
In first quarter of 2010, I will be offering both beginner and advanced seminars on how to use Facebook for business. If you would like to be notified of seminar dates, become a fan of my company, Northeast Public Relations, Inc. Or if you can’t wait and want a personal consultation, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After this post was initially published, Wachusett Mountain has since updated the links on their homepage to direct visitors to their “fan” page.