Yes! There is a difference between a Facebook profile and a Facebook Fan Page.
Facebook profiles are for people.
Fan Pages are for businesses.
I cringe every time I see someone set up a profile in their business name. Here’s why:
People vs. business
Profiles are intended for people, not businesses. It’s actually against the Facebook terms to use a profile for a business. If the Facebook gods find your profile set up like this, it’s possible they may delete the entire profile. So much for all your hard work getting friends!
Your Facebook Fan Page can be a part of your Search Engine Optimization strategy. Why is that, you ask? It’s because Fan pages are indexed by search engines. Profiles are not.
If you’re like most business owners, you want as many people as possible to find you online. If you set up a profile in your business name, you’re not maximizing your exposure. Sure, your Facebook friends will be able to see your page, but new people won’t find you all that easily.
Fans vs. Friends
Fan Pages can have an unlimited number of fans. Profiles can only have 5,000 friends. If you’re trying to build your business, why limit yourself? It only makes sense to choose the option that allows you to have more people get on your bandwagon.
One profile – many Fan Pages
You can have multiple fan pages, but only one personal profile. This is important for people who want to promote different businesses or groups. I have my personal profile and fan pages for PetsitUSA, The Pet Food List, and Austin Pet First Aid, which are businesses I own. I also have one for Wishbones for Pets – a pet sitter charity I operate with the founder Janet Depathy, of Under My Wings.
Keep in mind that you can still connect with people on a business level through your personal profile. I use my profile to keep in touch with family and friends, but I also connect with quite a few people due to business reasons. Since people like to know the person behind the business, this is a good way to interact with them. It’s also one way for me to create my personal brand. Note: Before using your profile in this way, get clear on the type of content you want to post on your profile. (More on that in an upcoming blog post.)
Update (March 31, 2011): Facebook recently made it possible to convert a personal profile to a business page. See this post for more info: How to Convert a Facebook Profile to a Business Page.
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I'm a social media consultant and work with people to help them learn how to get the most out of the Internet.