Facebook: When is a Profile a Page?

Tech TuesdayF acebook was originally created by Mark Zuckerberg as a tool students at Harvard University could use to communicate with each other. The popularity of thefacebook (as it was then known) spread, but initially you could only join if you were a member of a recognised university, and then later a member of schools and organisations in English-speaking countries.

Once its popularity increased, it became a lot easier to get a facebook account. You no longer had to be affiliated to a school or university to get an account, and PR companies and businesses soon caught on that brands could become “people” and interact with a captive audience online.

However facebook later decided to ban businesses from creating personal profiles, allowing them to create groups, now pages, to give their brands a platform. Although there are a few businesses still lingering around as people, strict terms of service say that any company that is discovered doing this may have their account disabled.

In 2011 its very clear that profiles are for individuals, and pages are for businesses. While profiles do offer a few extra benefits – you can actively invite people to ‘like’ your page and you can see their personal profiles – it’s aga inst the rules, too risky and not in the best interests of users and the individual business for an organisation to masquerade as a person.

In the estate agency world, where companies are trying to connect with residents or potential residents, it’s a benefit to those interacting with your page if they know that you won’t be able to see their personal profiles. The Young London facebook page is an example; it aims to provide an online hyperlocal community for our existing tenants.  Whilst they may not all be keen to become ‘facebook friends’ with their estate agent they’re happy to become a ‘fan’ of the company’s page; they can interact with other residents, access useful information, as well as ask and find out about new things in their local area, all without the estate agency having access to their additional personal information and photographs on their page.

Define your audience and get a personality

But having a ‘page’ doesn’t meant that you’re restricted to acting with a purely corporate slant. Just because it’s designed for a business to use, it doesn’t mean that you should necessarily act exactly like you do in other corporate situations. Zoopla UK is an example of a company having a fun and consistent facebook feed. From asking fans to guess the price of Clarence House to showcasing some ‘interesting’ images from properties available on their site, they know who they want to attract and are catering to their needs.

The most successful facebook pages provide accurate content for their target audience – so make sure you spend time deciding exactly who that audience will be and provide information and spark debate about the things that interest them.  It’s not all about the numbers, so unless your strategy is to get as many random people as possible to like your page, your content should be tightly  focused to the needs of your target fellow facebookers.

The How and When of posting

Identifying how many posts you should make per day is often a random choice. Socialbakers facebook analytics suggest that you should post twice a day in order to maintain the best levels of engagement, although like all social media statistics this might not be applicable in terms of your organisation’s facebook aims and how you want your fans to engage. That said, two posts a day is a good starting point – but don’t just logon twice a day to make a post. Reply to comments, like posts on other pages and check your account frequently to manage and respond to what people are saying and asking.

In terms of content, an unwritten rule is that a facebook page shouldn’t post updates about what one of its administrators had for dinner – but there are always exceptions, and with a hyperlocal page it may be part of your strategy to mention a great new restaurant that has opened recently, or the independent bakery where you bought your lunch – it’s all about knowing what’s relevant to your facebook fans.

Four facebook factors:

Get to the point

If you have a lot to say, don’t say it on facebook. Post larger pieces of content to a blog or website and summarise it on facebook alongside a link.

Interact with users

If people are not engaging, ask them. They might not want to at that moment in time, but they will keep coming back to the page and will comment when they see something they like. Remember to reply to all comments (as soon as possible).

Provide interesting content

Most companies are boring if you don’t work there and what you, or your MD or CEO, might find fascinating is unlikely to be as interesting to outsiders. The day-to-day logistics of running the behemoth Starbucks is not what their 21,583,793 facebook fans are interested in, so the company only posts content suitable for the majority of people who buy their coffee.

Everyone loves a freebie

Offer freebies, discounts and tips – people will like your page and will appreciate that you are trying to help their lives, even if it’s only in a relatively small way!

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About Christopher Hann
Can be found on Twitter, Google+, Facebook & PRSupdate.

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