Facebook for Business: Profile, Page, or Group, What do I do?

By Meg Havenga

Facebook Profile

A Facebook Profile is a personal account on Facebook, and everyone that uses Facebook must have one.  Every individual is allowed one (and only one) Facebook Profile.  Just because you CAN set up a 2nd profile using a different email address doesn’t mean you’re allowed to or that you should!  If you have more than one Facebook Profile, you are actually in violation on Facebook Terms of Service, and if Facebook discovers it they will shut down your account, no questions asked.  Not worth the risk in my opinion.

So what’s the benefit of a Facebook Profile for business?  In my opinion, your Facebook Profile is your greatest asset on Facebook.  It’s the place where you network, meet people, develop relationships.  This is not the place for spammy business messages.  Rather, it’s a place to provide value and truly enjoy other people.  It’s a way for people to get to know you as a real person, instead of just another direct sales consultant trying to sell them something.

Now I know some people like to keep their personal and their business completely separate.  While this is of course your decision, I don’t think it’s in your best interest.  People like to do business with PEOPLE.  That’s the beauty of direct selling, and why social media works so well with what we do.  By giving people the chance to get to know us as an individual (sharing carefully selected personal content), we become so much more than just a consultant.  We become someone that people know, like, and trust.  And that leads to long term business relationships.  That’s the purpose of the Facebook Profile when you’re using it for business.

Facebook Page

A Facebook Page is a business presence on Facebook.  In order to create a business page that people WANT to return to (so that it does you any good) you need to update this regularly, and provide engaging content that people want.  The cool thing about Facebook Pages is all the customization you can do with them.  You can add custom applications, contests, etc. to make them highly engaging.  They are a great way to help customers and prospects engage with your brand, while also providing resources that consultants can use.  They also provide visibility to the company, when done well.

Because Facebook Pages are strictly business, you can be more overt in your marketing messages (with the understanding that you shouldn’t overdo it…people don’t opt in for ads.)   But you can treat your Facebook Fans sort of like an opt-in list, and provide more specific messages about your business, specials, etc.  Facebook Page updates appear in the news feed of all fans, and you have the option of messaging all your fans (although those messages go into the “Updates” section of the inbox, which I’m not sure people look at regularly.)  And when people become a fan of your page, it appears in the news feed of their friends, increasing your page’s visibility (groups do this too.)

One other nice feature of Facebook Pages is the analytics Facebook provides for them.  You can see the way that people are interacting with your content when you set up a Facebook Page.

Facebook Groups

A group is a place to build a community where you can interact with people on a regular basis.  While you can’t add all the cool bells and whistles like you can with a Facebook Page (so you don’t need to spend that time) what you can do is create a community around your business that keeps people engaged. The key to a successful group, again, is providing value.  It becomes a way to set yourself up as an expert that people turn to for advice.  It’s also a place to provide your contact info, so people don’t need to go hunting for your receipt the next time they’re ready to reorder from you.

So that, in a nutshell, are the differences between Facebook Profiles, Pages, and Groups.  While I have not covered EVERY detail of each function, this should be enough information for you to make the decision about the elements that will best support your direct sales or network marketing business.

Check out the Facebook Blog for more cool tips, tricks, and advice on the nuances of using Facebook: http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=324706977130&ref=mf

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