Should Individuals with a Brand Maintain a Company Facebook Page?

Individuals with namesake brands often ask me if they should maintain a personal profile or a company page on Facebook. These individuals are often designers, authors, consultants, photographers and other artists who do business as themselves, ie: Jane Doe who runs Jane Doe Inc.  These companies are small businesses with five or less full-time employees. Many of them are Jane Doe working single-handedly to find and execute business assignments.  Jane barely has any time for marketing, but feels the pressure to join the social media revolution.

I always suggest that Jane start small with a personal profile. I’d rather see Jane’s social media efforts be a huge success, then deal with the “problem” of too many fans and too much activity before splitting the account, here’s why:

Most people don’t realize in order to create a company fan page you must also have at least one administrator who maintains a personal profile page. Company pages cannot make friend requests directly; they can only “suggest” their company page to the friends of the administrator or pay to promote their profile page in Facebook ads. Therefore, Jane Doe must first friend request someone personally before being able to use the Facebook interface to suggest they friend Jane Doe Inc. Experience has shown, unless Jane’s company page has highly relevant, interesting, and different content from her personal profile, most connections will be happy with the personal connection already made.

We suggest the following as a first step with Facebook:

• Create a personal page, not a fan page
• Have people friend you at your personal page.
• Seek out people you know, and make the connections you want to make. Using this method, you will find that many old connections and your extended network will find you.
•Foster this network. Some of them may require your professional services and may not  know what you do professionally. If all your information regarding your professional services resides on your company page, your personal contacts may never receive this information.

Regarding Privacy
Most people don’t want to friend professional contacts due to fear of privacy, or lack thereof. Facebook has made significant progress on this front.

• When you friend someone categorize your acquaintance using “Lists.” For example: colleague, client, friend, family, close friends, etc.
• When publishing content, allowing people to tag you, and other privacy settings, create preferences that default to “friends only,” and “hide from” your most sensitive contacts such as your “client” and “colleague” list. This means only your close friends, family, and other lists will see that information. •Rest assured, this privacy setting is in effect, even if a mutual friend comments on the post. Furthermore, the client or colleague will never know what is being hidden. Your profile will appear normal and full of content to them.
• If you ever want to see what your profile looks like to friends you are hiding information from, Facebook has add a handy “view as” feature where you can do just that.

Promoting Content
The real benefits of this system come alive when promoting content. Maintaining one profile is easier to update than the task of updating two pages with duplicate content. Also, using lists and selecting specific individuals you want to share with helps that information receive higher priority within those friends’ news feeds. Even better, personal profile pages receive higher relevance than company pages. So you have a better shot of reaching the people you actually want to reach!

• When publishing content relevant to your colleagues and clients, select those lists and post to them and ideally to them only! This will help push this content into their Highlighted Stories news feed, ensuring that more of them actually see it.
• Note, friends can actually be in multiple categories. For example your co-worker could be on your Close Friends and your Colleagues list.

What’s Missing?
Personal profile pages cannot be customized to have a custom designed landing page or Fan Gate. Although these are great features for brand building, they must be designed and programmed by a professional and certainly add cost/complexity to a social strategy.

In addition, you will not have access to the fan engagement metrics, called “Insights,” Facebook provides for company pages. However we’ve found that these tools are woefully under-utilized by small brands.  Therefore the benefit of their inclusion does not outweigh the positives of utilizing a personal profile page.

We believe these tools are best utilized by a savvy Facebook-er who is ready for the next level of time commitment and content creation.