Lately I’ve been wondering about whether it’s time to move from a regular profile on Facebook to a fan page. It’s a conundrum I’ve been noticing a lot of buzz about lately.
Because I primarily use Facebook to interact with people about ideas around work/careers, it gets kind of muddy when I want to catch up with friends and family who are on Facebook, but whose news is lost amid the chatter of status updates from friends I don’t know personally. Say a friend from real life gets engaged or moves to Tahiti, there’s a good chance I’ll never know about it.
For now, my solution has been to create various “friends lists.” Using this nifty Facebook feature, I have one list called “friends I know,” which is a much smaller group of people than my total list of friends. That list allows me to view status updates from that limited group. I can also decide that only these “friends I know,” will see certain photos or parts of my profile.
But this is really only a partial fix because Facebook caps the number of friends a user can have at 5,000 people. And while I’m not there yet, I can imagine getting there some time soon. Then what?
Just as I was wondering what to do about this, I read helpful post by social networking guru, Katie Hellmuth, explaining how a fan page works. Since she did such a good job of explaining that process, I invited her do a guest post on whether a fan page made sense for someone like me.
You’re a journalist, author and a speaker, so, you are really selling your words and your mind. Therefore, you (or Heymarci, if that’s how you like to be known) is a brand. Which means that you need brand management in all your social networking activities. In order to help spread the word about your recent articles, talks, or ideas, you update your Facebook profile. Your “friends” see the update, and follow your links. Voila. Social Networking.
The trouble is, you do not know many of your “friends” in Facebook. They are people who have requested friendship because they liked an article you wrote for The New York Times or for the Heymarci Blog. In order to allow them to see your Facebook updates, you have to accept their friendship. But when you accept their friendship, you will then see the status updates of all those “friends,” including those which will be passively marketing to you, hoping that a key influencer like you will see their recent activities and want an interview for some topic.
Why is this trouble? Two reasons: First, Facebook wants to keep itself personal, so it imposes a 5,000 friend limit. Why would you want to limit your audience to 5,000 people (Barack Obama didn’t)? Second, if you do care to keep up with your real friends, you will run into the problem you described above — your real friends will be lost in the flood of status updates, video posts, and e-book links sent by all those other “friends” who want to network with you. You may find that you lose out on the fun and intimacy of having a personal Facebook profile in the first place.
What to do?
As a professional expert, you really must start a Fan Page (here are directions on how to make a Facebook Page). And in doing so, you must be verrrry careful not to be a diva about it, and be aware, this is one more thing to market (which can be tiring). Consider these things:
Brand Yourself by Your Professional Entity
While creating the page, the first step is to tell Facebook if you are a Brand, or a Public Figure. If you select the “Artist, Band or Public Figure” route, Facebook gives you the option of labeling yourself as a “Writer”, “Comedian”, “Critic”, “Polititian” or other such public figure type provided in a list. Selecting this type lets you insert information about yourself, such as your Personal Information and Personal Interests. These are slightly different options provided by Facebook than one gets if one selects “Brand or Product,” which then asks you to identify if you are in “Fashion”, “Financial Services”, and many more.
Brand Yourself as a Product
Just as you use Heymarci as your moniker, most people with personal brands will want to name their Page something other than their names. The WordPress Chick is a website design expert, and she has branded herself in several different areas: she is an expert in WordPress, and she offers all kinds of services, from teleclasses to design to managing Facebook groups. But she doesn’t stop there. She built The Self Help Chick, The Wealth Chick, The Joomla Chick, and The Women of Internet Marketing Blog. This example illustrates how a person has branded their services and talents rather than their name. In terms of marketing these on Facebook, Kim could go one of several ways: 1. Create a “Chick” type page, with links and graphics representations for all of these. 2. Create a Facebook Page for each of them, which could attract a smaller but more targeted audience, or 3. Create a Facebook Page for her person, and list out these things. In this case, I would most likely go with 1 or 2.
Drawbacks of the Fan Page
The biggest drawback of the Fan Page is that it is less personal, and is for the most part action-less, meaning, people and other Pages can’t see what that Page did. Facebook tracks activity of people. If a person posts to the wall of a Facebook Page, then that person’s friends can see that activity in this form: “Susi wrote on the wall of the page HeyMarci” and “HeyMarci” would be a link to the Page. If there is no person-generated activity on the Facebook Page, it grows lonely and won’t help spread anything viral. So, there is more effort involved with marketing a Page.
Here are some examples of why the page is less personal. Bear with me, as we are about to talk about how one pixel-based entity, which has no heartbeat, is more personal than the other:
- If you have a Page (as opposed to a Profile), and as a Page you want to write on the Wall of your friend to show your support for them, your Page wouldn’t be able to do that. For example, If a member of our women-centered entrepreneurial company, Collective-E, asks me if Collective-E could be their “friend.” Sadly no, the Facebook Page cannot be a friend of a person. However, (and this is new to Facebook as of late 2008) a Facebook Page can “fan” another Facebook Page. Collective-E, as a policy, does fan the Pages of members. So, if HeyMarci started a Facebook Page, and became a Collective-E member, the Collective-E Facebook Page could fan the HeyMarci Facebook page. In the meantime, you (Marci Alboher) and I (Katie Hellmuth) can be friends with each other, and you (Marci Alboher) can “fan” the Collective-E Facebook Page if you do like and support our company.
- The Page cannot post its own pictures. But you, as the owner or fan of a Page, can post pictures to the Page. Other Fans of the page will not see that those pictures suddenly were posted. They will need to either be sent an Update by you (the official way a Page owner can email fans of the Page), or they will need to stop by the Page on their own. However, if I am your friend, I may see that you just posted pictures on the HeyMarci Page. I can see this because activities of friends are tracked in our News Feeds in our personal Profile area (hence the marketing benefits of having Friends). So, I can see that you posted pictures that way. If I posted pictures to your Page, my friends will see that I did that, and get exposure to your page, and if curious, could click on the link that said “Katie just posted pictures to the HeyMarci Page”, and the picture will actually display in my friend’s newsfeed, and they may visit your Page, and if you’re lucky, fan it.
That is the viral spread that you’d aim for by having a Facebook Page. It is not limited to 5,000 fans, and you do not need to fan everyone else who becomes a fan of a Page that you own (you can have more than one Page).
So, if I were you, go ahead and Friend List all you like, but start a Fan Page as well for your existing moniker, HeyMarci, or for yourself, Marci Alboher, and continue to build on it.
Next, you’ll want to deal with the mechanics of transitioning to a Fan Page.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where Katie will cover “How to Turn Facebook Friends into Fans.” But meantime, please chime in if you’ve had any experiences with Facebook Fan Pages.