I’ve talked about this before- the difference between a friend account and a fan page on Facebook, but for some reason, I don’t think that the message is getting through. So I’m dedicating a rather long blog to discuss this topic is detail with the hopes of educating everyone and putting an end to this issue.

Let’s start with the basics. Here are the differences between a friend page and a fan page on Facebook:

  • Friend: This account is designed for a PERSON. A living, breathing, individual who is looking to connect with friends, family, business professionals, or people they don’t even know. Whatever their reason to be on there is, they are their own individual. These people have the ability to reach out to others and connect via “friend requests”. Once a request is approved, this gives the user access to any information that user makes available to their “friends”. Often times, this can be their entire content on Facebook. (Yes, my friends who are nerds like me know how to make lists and limit content for others, but let’s face it: how many people ACTUALLY do that? I’d guess MAYBE 10% of Facebook users).
  • Fan Page: This is designed for businesses or public figures that maintain their own “brand”. You do not need to send a request to this user, you simply can “like” the page. This page allows for multiple administers, provides analytics that are important to businesses, and allows your business to have a voice on Facebook that’s separate from the individual voices behind the company.

Now that we’ve reviewed the basics, let’s talk about why you need to set your business up with a fan page and not a friend account. Before I go any further though, let me first say that I get why businesses set up their Facebook accounts incorrectly. Often times, it’s not intentional. They do not realize the difference between the two and in my opinion, its Facebook’s responsibility to make sure this doesn’t happen. But I think more often than not, people set up their businesses as friend accounts because it’s easier. You can build a fan base by going out and requesting people to become friends with you. However, this is not a long term strategy. What you are doing is “illegal” in Facebook world. It’s a direct violation of Facebook’s terms and conditions. Plus, it’s cheating. And it’s not good for business.

Here’s why you need to set it up as a fan page:

  • Analytics: Facebook provides analytics (insights) to fan page owners. These analytics help you determine what kind of traffic you are generating to your page, what type of content your fans are consuming, and a host of other information you would not get on a friend page. Best of all, these are FREE to you as a page administrator.
  • Management by multiple people: No funny log ins, no logging-in and logging out- simply add someone as an admin on your page and you can both manage the content. In business, this is especially important. This gives the ability for multiple people to access the account, providing a “back-up” plan in case someone leaves the company. You never want to be stuck with a fan page that only one person manages- trust me, you can never re-gain control (unless they are nice enough to give it to you, which is rare).
  • It’s legit: Like I said before, friend profiles are in violation of Facebook’s terms and conditions. I doubt that Facebook will come knocking on your door about your 1000 friends, but they might.
  • It makes you look more professional: Point blank, creating a friend account now days for your business makes you look stupid. And it’s about to get creepy. Who wants to really be “friends” with a business? I mean, that means that I have to share all my personal information with you (IE Pictures, videos, status updates, ect). Sure, that’s great for business, but not so great for the user. As users grow more “in tune” with Facebook and privacy issues continue to be a concern, I expect this to become a highly discussed issue over the next year.

Having said all of this, there are a few times when it may be appropriate for your business to create a “fan” account. These are rare, but still can occur. In some cases, a business might create a friend account to manage their business accounts. My company has a friend account for this reason but we do not have any friends on there, do not accept any friend requests, and ask people to visit our fan page to connect. This is another way we “back up” our fan pages- we have one log in that’s well known and easy to remember for everyone in the company, just in case we run into issues. I caution you to use a friend account in this manner only- if at all.

The overall message here is that your business needs to set up your social media presence correctly. I can’t stress it enough- know what you’re doing before you do it. And for those of you who have already treaded down the dark waters, I’ll have a follow up soon about what to do if you’ve set your account up incorrectly.

~Christina Torri, Social Media Coordinator