The Facebook Police

There are a number of organisations of varying kinds, which pose as individuals with a personal profile but indeed are not an actual individual person. Although a number of business owners follow this route, I find it even more surprising that some marketers are even doing this!

Why is this a problem?

Firstly, I would like to highlight that this is of course against Facebook’s terms and conditions of service (TACOS) which is highlighted in their ‘statement of rights and responsibilities’ here with further guidance ,which relates to pages in their ‘Facebook Pages Terms’ here. These TACOS are what you agree to when signing up on the social media site and I’d like to highlight the following, in particular:

  • Timelines represent individual people and must be held under an individual name.
  • You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself
  • You will not create more than one personal account
  • You will not use your personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes.
  • You will not… take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else’s rights
  • If you collect information from users, you will: obtain their consent, make it clear you (and not Facebook) are the one collecting their information, and post a privacy policy explaining what information you collect and how you will use it.

The main issue relating to having a personal profile as opposed to a page though is its privacy issue. Sure, in the short term it’s a way to tap-in to your customers mindset but the very issue of invading your customers privacy is that by your organisation using a Profile, Facebook users don’t know exactly who they are sharing their personal information with. Without an official page, who’s to say that whoever is the other side of that computer is even a representative of that organisation. As a Page, Facebook limits your access to a user’s private Facebook feed (depending on their chosen (yes, their choice and not an impersonating profile!) privacy settings which still allows you to interact with them on your page.

If you’re not sure how to interact with people on your page, you should find my other blog post useful: Social Media Content

Even this aside, I claim that anyone proceeding their organisation’s social media activities through a profile rather than a page are indeed, damaging the organisation’s brand as opposed to building it! One of the most important elements to building a successful brand is displaying transparency and a high degree of trustworthiness. Therefore, claiming to be something you are not is effectively against these two principles. Many people won’t accept your ‘friend’ request if you are an organisation that uses a profile and several will report you to Facebook which will, after a certain number of reports could close down your profile causing you to loose any existing contacts and post history you have.

Benefits of becoming a page

All well as helping to build a successful and reputable brand, there are, of course a number of additional benefits to becoming a page including:

  • People can share your page and posts with friends.
  • Embed your page’s Facebook wall feed on your website and/or blog.
  • ‘Boost’ your posts to help grow your audience.
  • Post offers and sweepstakes to encourage new business.
  • Content posted to a page is public and viewable by everyone
  • If you are a B2B organization or you want to carry out co-branding/promotional marketing campaigns, then you can partner with other pages by tagging (@PageName) to interact with other pages.
  • Enter your full organization name as opposed to being limited to a first and last name.
  • Add a Like button to your website and/or blog.
  • ‘Promote’ your page with Facebook advertising.

You can, of course use your own personal Facebook profile to engage in groups providing you are not using an additional account primarily used for commercial purposes. By posting as yourself as someone who represents the organization, it stands in far better stance with the concept that people like to know they are talking to a human (take automated call centres for example) and you can direct people to your page that way by following, engaging in posts which may be relevant to your organization’s activities. You can always include “Posts by….[your name]” on your page’s short description. which can make your page more personal. You may even want to start your own group to interact with a specific audience or if you have several different target audiences; on specific topics.

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