Quick: What’s the difference between a Facebook profile, group, and business page? If you don’t know, you’re in danger of missing your target audience. Creating a Facebook business page is NOT the same thing as making a profile or starting a group.
Some folks try to run their online advertising through a personal profile. (We see this problem on LinkedIn a lot, too.) If you do that, you’re not only throwing away one of the greatest opportunities with Facebook marketing -- analytics -- you also may be violating Facebook policy.
Here are the differences between business, profile, and group pages -- and how you can leverage all three to boost your online business.
(Trying to set up your free business page today? Click here for a how-to.)
Creating a Facebook Business Page (or a Profile or Group)
Since it’s they’re the very foundation of Facebook, let’s actually start with ...
When people sign up for Facebook, they’re signing up for a personal profile. This is how your high school classmates spam pictures of their kids and your Aunt Carol posts how many miles she jogged today LIKE ANYONE CARES.
(Photo courtesy opposingviews. And probably your Aunt Carol.)
They’re called personal profiles for a reason. Facebook’s terms of service require that you don’t use your personal postings solely for commercial gain. Now, doesn’t stop you from doing some marketing on your personal page.
Here’s a quick step-by-step of how this ideally happens:
- You post about your business on your personal profile and make those posts public, allowing strangers to stumble upon them. This is especially helpful if you have a large personal following but your business page has few followers or is just getting created.
- Now, even people who aren’t your Facebook friend can visit your personal profile and follow any future (public) posts by clicking the Follow button.
- When users follow you, they’ll see any business-related posts you make in their news feeds. Remember that to keep your personal posts -- and life -- private, you must adjust the audience through your privacy settings or, for specific posts, change it via the drop-down menu on the post.
These are nice first steps. But don’t rely just on your personal profile. You want to look professional, not rinky-dink.
Why use a business page when you can get away with everything we just mentioned for your personal page?
If you use only a personal profile to talk business, advertising options are limited. You’re not supposed to post ads linking to your online ordering site or other similar pages. Plus, if you get too sales-y on your personal page, you might have Mark Zuckerberg’s henchman cornering you in the alley behind your building.
Owning a business page gives you the freedom (literally, it’s free) to focus your efforts toward your industry and potential buyers, rather than old exes and high school buddies.
To that end, your business page has its own:
- Cover photo and profile photo
However, everything still connects to your personal profile -- you must log in to your personal Facebook first to access your business page. From there, you can access your business page by picking it on the upper-right drop-down menu.
Someone who “likes” your business page will become a new audience member who’ll receive updates on their news feed about your biz.
Beyond that, you can use Facebook’s paid advertising tools to help you reach new audiences. So even companies with a small social media advertising budget can get something out of Facebook:
- Encourage people to “like” your page, increasing your number of followers
- Show ads to people who like your page.
- Target users who have engaged with your posts or visited your website
- Search for people in demographics similar to those who already like your page
- Show ads to people on your email list
Also unlike a personal page, a business page gives you access to key analytics. If you check out the Insights overview, you can see how your page is performing in terms of:
- Post engagements
All done and want to go back to your personal life? To switch between commenting/liking/etc. on behalf of your business page and posting on your personal page, use the bottom-right button circled (poorly) below:
We mention this because so many people forget they’re still “logged in” as their business. Commenting on your company post as the company itself makes you look like a bit of a doofus.
Groups allow Facebookers to mingle and share content related to their interests or career. Surely you can see the value of tapping into this highly segmented audience. You’ll just have to do so with your personal account -- you can’t use your business page to start, join or post in a group.
Your personal profile picture appears when you comment or post inside the group you’ve joined. (Best to use a pic that’s not embarrassing or offensive.) While you’re identifying as yourself in the group, you can still talk about your businesses and answering industry-related questions members might have.
So while business pages are the greatest factor in Facebook marketing success, you should also join groups that are related to your business. Share informative blog posts, videos, etc. Can't find a relevant group? Start your own! Before you know it, you’ll be meeting new potential customers and partners.
Ready to get started? Here are the three kinds of Facebook groups:
- Public: Anyone can join immediately. Can be found by anyone through the Discover page.
- Closed: Must request to join. The group’s administrator reviews all requests.
- Secret: Private and don’t appear on the Discover page. The group owner usually invites specific, hand-picked people to join.
Since people create groups centered around a specific topic (or industry), members are typically very targeted and receptive. Take advantage!
Use All 3!
So, while you absolutely need a Facebook business page ASAP, there are also ways to use groups and your personal profile to increase brand awareness. Just make sure your primary efforts are toward:
- Posting helpful info on your business page
- Using the Insights tool to measure success
Facebook makes it easy to look like the hippest, most customer-attuned business on the block! Aunt Carol will be proud.