Facebook has Individual Profiles, Groups, and Pages. Learn the Differences, or Be Doomed.

I was friended today on Facebook by NBC News. That was, on the one hand, really exciting, as a marketer and p.r. person- I mean- who wouldn't want to be friends with NBC News? On the other hand, it was very troubling- because organizations still simply aren't getting how to use Facebook and the key differences between individual profiles, groups and Pages. Just a very quick search in my backyard in Queens, New York yielded individual profiles from Queens Green Drinks, Brooklyn-Queens American Poolplayers Association, Queens Princeton Review, Queens Gateway to Health Sciences School, and dozens of other groups and businesses posing (intentionally or unintentionally) as individuals. A search for the term "NewYork" yields many hundreds of individual profiles for companies and organizations based in new York who are on Facebook as individuals.

Some of these "people" may not get it while others may understand what they're doing but may think they're getting into people's news feeds more as individual profiles than they would as groups or pages. While the latter may be true, all of these "people" are clearly in violation of Facebook's Terms of Service. Their accounts, both for their organizations or companies and for themselves, could be deleted at any time by Facebook with or without notice. I have already heard of this happening many times.

But more important, Facebook has grown much more dramatically than MySpace (140 million users and growing) because it is so much cleaner and more functional than its closest competitor MySpace. If people continue to misuse Facebook by setting up organizations and companies as individual profiles, it will seriously clutter Facebook and damage its reputation, useability and functionality.

A (very) brief review for you: (if you want more, I recommend you check out Mari Smith's excellent work on this subject, or email or call us)
Individual profiles are for individuals. Sign up for Facebook and share, enjoy, communicate, find friends, etc.
Groups and Pages can be launched by individuals, for your organizations or businesses. I recommend in most cases doing a Page and I have 10 tips for your Page here. In some cases, a group may be better...and in many cases, you may want both a Page and then multiple groups to support the Page. The aformentioned Mari Smith has a great post on this here.

Good luck navigating the waters of Facebook! I have confidence that most people, organizations, and businesses will figure it out sooner or later. If your account is deleted for violating Facebook's TOS now, well, don't say I didn't tell you so.

And to NBC News- I guess I'll talk to you later!