In the rapidly growing world of business leaders and rising entrepreneurs there comes a time when a person at the forefront of their of organization begins to consider whether they need their own fan page.
If you’ve been paying attention to your own personal account over the last few years you may have noticed your page went from exclusively limiting connections to friends, to expanding to a subscriber option, to now a followers tab as of December.
Over time, Facebook has made these changes to compete with the merge of one’s social circle and expanding social brand. While there are significant limits to keeping just a personal page, there are also limits to jumping to a fan page without having established your own basic social presence and voice first.
Allowing people to follow you is an option on Facebook that you may not have turned on. Go to your account settings and make sure you are updated based on your preference.
When someone is following you they are subscribing to all of your public updates. That means, anything you post will end up on their newsfeed, UNLESS you specifically select the update to friend’s only option. Your personal page is much more secure in having you hold off specific information you don’t want going out to everyone.
While you are limited to the number of friends you have (5,000), there is no limit to how many people can follow you. Likewise with a fan page there is also no limit to who likes you. There is a difference however, between fans and followers, when it comes to adding and messaging people.
On your personal page you can become friends with anyone you want (provided they accept you). You can add people that follow you and you can also message them. A fan page cannot become friends with a fan. A fan page cannot message a fan, however if the option is selected a fan can message you.
So for those rising 5,000 friends of yours you will have the open relationship to receive their updates on your feed, like their statuses, poke, message, and essentially connect unless they have otherwise specified against in their privacy settings. When someone follows you, you don’t receive their updates to your news feed, you are not friends with them; you only have access to their page based on those individuals’ privacy settings. In this regard, a follower is very similar to a fan sans the ability to add them as a friend.
One of the most beneficial reasons for having a fan page is Facebook Insights. You can track, monitor, and analyze each individual status and really understand your brand’s social growth, progress and lack thereof.
There is no ability to automatically analyze your data via Facebook with your personal page. At some point in the future I predict there will be 3rd party apps that would be able to fully analyze your growth, but for now this is limited. There is one app, Wolfram, that gives you insight onto who/what/where your friends are, but it is not nearly as beneficial as Facebook Insights, which additionally analyzes your updates.
You cannot advertise via your personal page. You can promote individual posts, however this is very different from Facebook ads on a fan page. On a personal page you can only promote posts you’ve shared recently within the last 6 hours. Additionally, you are promoting them to your existing audience. Essentially you are bumping up its exposure to people who already follow you. It is not nearly as productive in building a new audience compared to advertising your business page. Where you can actually target audiences and locations that you do not already have a connection with.
Lastly, You have the ability to converting all of your friends and followers to a fan page. If you decide in the end to make the switch, Facebook allows you to automatically convert your friends to fans. There have been notable technical errors with this feature (only a small portion of your friends are automatically converted, whereas the rest get lost in the process) so this can be unreliable. This is a serious risk to consider and investigate before making the decision to convert.
Are you a business or are you representing your business?
Are you the business or are you representing your business. As a business you will want to promote a product or event or idea and your fans understand that. When you do this via a personal page however, it essentially comes off as spam to all those who follow you. That is because they are subscribing to a person, not a product.
Having people follow you and become your friends creates the feeling of social intimacy. Just knowing someone is getting insight towards your “personal account”, even if you are consciously limiting your personal details, creates a stronger connection between you and your audience. Especially if your audience sees you actively liking and engaging with other people outside of your wall; something that you cannot do with a business page.
One huge benefit as a personal brand is utilizing that level of intimacy to make stronger connections with your friends and followers. When there is the sense of a two-way relationship (you can like them, they can like you) they become more involved. They have more trust in getting to know you as person vs. a brand. You are perceived as more authentic. And as an authentic person you can convert your followers to your friend list via adding them and sending a personal message. That being said when do you reach your friend limit, you have naturally created your own personal brand ambassadors based off of organic growth. You have friends with a sense of loyalty. And you also have a more defined voice from curating your relationships over time. You can now either convert to fan page or continue to build your personal PR.
What you want to consider:
The main point to consider is if your going to sell something, whether it’s a camera or a photography service, go for the fan page. If you are representing your business and not the business itself it may be wiser to continue to build your following and look at yourself as an extension of your business/your own personal PR rather than a business itself.
Regardless of what you decide, make an effort to know where you want to go before you choose. Taking the time to know and plan your personal strategy will help you out much more in the long run, than having to go back and buffer unexpected results from a quick decision.
What are your thoughts on the follow button and how do you think it will evolve? Is it wise to convert to business page if you are not yourself a business? Share your thoughts in the comments below!