Should you change your Facebook profile to a business page?
If your Facebook profile reaches 5000 friends, you need a business page. Reaching the 5k cap is only really achievable if you are a business or famous. In which case you shouldn't have a profile page & you are directly violating Facebook's TOS.
All it would take is a not so nice competitor reporting you & bam, bye-bye Facebook page.
I run a company outside of Totally selling art supplies and have had an active presence on Facebook for about 4 years. My site started out as a photo/news blog, then 2 years ago I turned it into an ecommerce site selling products my audience would be interested in buying. This "business page" was set up before official business pages were rolled out by Facebook in 2009. The original ones were very limited and as I was well under the 5k cap I never bothered to switch over.
Having recently hit the 5k limit and generating about 50 friend requests a day, I had to bite the bullet and make the change-over.
The new Facebook business pages have a whole lot more going for them now than they did, and with the timeline being mandatory at the end of March, finally I can have a page that resembles my profile page. As always there are pros and cons and I'd like to highlight the things that have affected me directly.
Pros & Cons
Facebook admin panel: You get all sorts of stats and insights that you don't get when you are using a profile page for business on Facebook. Very useful! For a full rundown of all the Facebook admin panel features, check out Samuel Axon's post on SproutSocial.
You get a prominent 'about us': Before it was in the sidebar, very small and out of the way. Now it is right under your big image and much wider. You still have the ability to put URL's in.
You can send & receive messages: The inability to send personal messages was the number one reason I never made the switch. A lot of my customers will message me on Facebook with all sorts of queries. The old business pages had no messaging functionality, so if you had an unhappy customer they would vent on your page for everyone to see rather than speak to you privately. Not a good look.
All of your friends become fans: It even added the pending 350 friend requests as fans as well which was an added bonus.
You don't violate Facebooks TOS: This has to be a good thing. Now they can’t just close your page down at the click of a button. Well they probably can, but now they have less of a reason to! Plus competitors can’t get you shut down.
You can embed your stream on your homepage! This is a feature that the profile accounts don’t get. Very useful.
You lose all your posts: Photos, people's comments, tags etc. It is basically a clean slate. Facebook does allow you to download all your data, which is all the info you have ever shared, but there is no way to reinstate your old timeline which was my second reason not to switch.
You lose your Facebook URL: Well I did! I had to pick another. Facebook said, ”We'll also make your account's username the Facebook web address for your Page.” But it didn’t! I am going to see if my old page disappears and I can reclaim the old name.
No more adding friends: Kind of a given this one, but still a con. For example when I make a sale I used to be able to put the customer's email into the Facebook search, see if it matched anyone’s profile. If we were already friends I could write a thank you message, if not I could request them. This is no longer an option.
No stream of activity: With a normal profile your friend’s activity is available when you click 'home' or you get a stream in the right hand side. I used to repost a lot of the images/articles friends were posting, which in turn led to their friends seeing it and some adding us.
No posting on profiles: This is another feature that will be dearly missed by me. I can no longer wish customers happy birthday, post thanks on their walls or comment on their activity. The interactive elements I think are essential for a business to thrive on Facebook.
What type of Business Page should you choose?
One thing that confused me was which type of page I needed to choose. After some Googling, Dummmies.com came up trumps and summed it up in a very short and sweet manner:
Facebook gives you six main options: Local Business or Place, Company Organization or Institution, Brand or Product, Artist Band or Public Figure, Entertainment, and Cause or Community.
Is your business a “brick and mortar” store? When you click the Local Business or Place option, you see a drop-down menu with 38 category choices. You can choose one of these categories to create a Page, or if none of the categories fits your business, you can choose Local Business and go from there. The Info page for this type of business page is very detailed, with editing fields for hours of operation, parking options, and price ranges. As soon as you click Create Page, you also will have the Facebook Places format merged in. This means people can “Check In” when they visit your store in real life, and those check in numbers will be listed on your Page next to your “Like” numbers.
Do you have online products to sell? Choosing Brand or Product will give you the best Info tab for your type of business.
Are you running for president? Even though the public might find you entertaining, you are considered a Public Figure, and if you choose Politician as the subcategory, you will have info fields for your political affiliation and views.
Is your Page only about your book or your CD? You might be tempted to choose the Artist Page type, but if your Page is only about your artistic project, choose Entertainment instead. If you then choose the Book category, you will have an info tab with fields for your ISBN and other specific details.
Are you a nonprofit organization? You might be tempted to click the Cause or Community Page type, but take your time to browse through all the options first. You might find a better description for your work.
Think you made a mistake? No worries. You can change your Page type and category even after you’ve created it. Just navigate to your new Page, click the Edit Page button (top-right corner) and click the left navigation link called Basic Information. Then use the drop-down lists to redefine the Page.
There are a few good sides and there are lots of bad sides to making the switch if you are used to running a business from a Facebook profile page. You do lose a massive amount of interactivity, which for me was crucial to the growth of my site's Facebook presence. That will be sorely missed.
Having thought about the timeline issue for a few weeks, I decided Facebook is a looking forward kind of platform. It's very rare that you'll go back 3 months to find a post someone made, and even if you do its an absolute nightmare! So the only thing really needed to get going again is to reupload the 1000's of photos I have added over the years, and by doing so the fans get to see them all again, and the people that have only recently been be-friended get to see all the old ones.
At the end of the day profiles get capped at 5k and technically you aren't allowed to be doing it anyway. The only other choice you have is to make a second profile and hope you stay under the radar, but then you will have two accounts to manage and be doubly breaking the TOS.
I’d rather rack up the fans, embed the feed on my homepage, keep the likes coming in and be in Facebook's good books!
Have you made the switch already? Noticed any functionality that you miss? Let us know in the comments.