The decision primarily depends upon intended purposes, aims and goals for the account. The topic will be principally considered from the perspective of an independent (indie) author and their use of Facebook for promotional/marketing purposes. Nevertheless, there will be elements that would apply equally to entrepreneurs of any type of business.
Profile: Essentially a ‘personal’ account. It is from here users share with family and personal friends. Posts, it is envisioned, will be of private events and occurrences: day to day activity; children events; new births; weddings; anniversaries; birthdays; family; holiday photographs; etc.
Page: These used to be referred to as ‘Fan’ pages but are now known, by Facebook at least, as ‘official’ pages. Users also frequently refer to them as ‘business’ pages. In principle these are intend to be a little more formal and orientated to offering/selling a product or service. Consistent advice recommends, to be seen as viable, small business’s have a page. (Self-publishing authoring is recognised by many as being a small business but for the indie author there are further considerations that will be discussed hereafter.)
Pages: Drawbacks – Benefits
When first looking into the aspect of having a page, many will find it tempting to automatically set one up. However, though there are recognisable benefits there are also drawbacks for the individual indie author:
- Time: Pages are usually created under a profile resulting in the user having two accounts to manage. (The ability to change a profile into a page will be considered in a moment.)
- Getting ‘Likes’: Users have to actively seek out people to ‘like’ their page: the ‘friending’ facility of profiles is not available for pages. Many authors are reclusive introverts and the mere suggestion of having to approach people ‘cold’ is off-putting. There is also the time issue as most requests will have to be made on a one-to-one basis.
- Family and friends: Naturally, these will be asked to ‘like’ the page. However, they may not be interested in the ‘business’ side of things and will more than likely become fed up with the commercially orientated posts that will inevitably turn up in their newsfeed.
- Interaction: Pages may not comment on profiles. Comments may only be made on other pages.
Of course, it is not all negative. There are recognisable benefits to a page:
- Analytics: Automatically included with page accounts providing insight into: post views; demographics; audience; etc.
- Robust Advertising: Pages enable users to set up adverts that may be included in peoples timelines as well as elsewhere within the Facebook community. (Originally profiles had no advertising option but though this has been changed it is a far more limited facility to that enjoyed by pages.)
- Scheduling: In pages posts may be scheduled, freeing the user from the need to have to be permanently at their computer.
- Contests: Users may run contests/giveaways within their page account providing for greater engagement with fans, customers, etc.
- Newsletters: Pages provide for users to add a newsletter signup form.
- Unlimited followers: Profiles have a set limit of five thousand ‘friends’ whereas there is no limit as to how many people may ‘Like’ a page.
Profiles: Positives – Negatives
The majority of Facebook users will be familiar with profiles: by default, Facebook establishes a profile when users first setup an account. As already mentioned, profiles are seen as being ‘personal’.
- Interaction: Profiles are able to engage with and comment on all accounts whether profile; page or group (groups are outside the scope of this discussion and will therefore not be considered here).
- Visibility: Apparently the Facebook newsfeed algorithm displays more posts from profiles than from pages.
- Unlimited Followers: A recent change now enables a profile user to allow others to ‘follow’ them. (This brings the facility in line with that offered with pages.)
- Familiarity: All Facebook users know how profiles operate and are usually happy to engage with them.
As this discussion is focusing on the use of Facebook accounts for business/commercial purposes the following negative aspects will be judged from that perspective.
- Privacy: As a ‘personal’ account, users will usually share a high level of private, family and friend orientated, content. Using a profile for business/commercial promotion will inevitably expose the private information to fans, followers, customers, etc.
- Limited numbers: Profile accounts only permit a maximum of five thousand friends. Once this number is reached either some have to be ‘unfriended’ or the user simply has to accept the limit.
- Statistics: There are no analytics regarding posts views, audiences etc. for profiles.
- Functionality: Profile users cannot run contests, giveaways or integrate newsletter signup forms. Neither are they able to schedule posts.
- Blocking: Some ‘friends’, bearing in mind this includes those who are not actual personal friends but those encountered online, may become so bored with business/commercial content that they block further posts. They may even report them as spam. Facebook will note such actions with possible detrimental results; see ‘Facebook – Engagement Algorithm – Changes’.
- Professionalism: Some may see the use of a personal profile for business purposes as unprofessional with consequent results.
- Facebook Terms and Conditions: These prohibit profiles being used for business purposes. Misuse could result in an account being permanently deleted. (This point will be discussed further under ‘Conclusion’ below.)
Changing a profile into a page
Though the facility exists, most will recommend users do not avail themselves of it.
- Existing username will become name of page – existing links to profile will automatically pass to new page making it less ‘personal’ and more ‘formal’.
- Page will not show in friends/followers interest lists.
- Updates and photographs will not transfer.
- Personal messages from profile will not be visible.
- User will no longer be a member of any groups previously joined.
For the majority of indie authors a profile should prove sufficient provided:
- They do not use it for ‘hard’ selling e.g. do not consistently and overtly publish ‘Buy’ etc. posts especially in detriment to ‘normal’ ones. To do so may breach Facebook’s Terms and Conditions and could result in the account being shutdown.
- They do not have any privacy concerns: the majority of posts, unless privacy settings are altered will be visible to all. Adjusting privacy settings will severely limit who may see posts.
- Authors have the option of setting up a page (under their profile), or if they really wish, converting their profile to a page account if:
- They find books sells and/or readership/fans/followers increase markedly.
- They feel the need to publish marketing posts more aggressively.
Note!: Some may be tempted to set up separate profile and page accounts however, under Facebook’s terms and conditions users are not permitted to have two accounts. Facebook will delete one or both. In these days of advanced monitoring systems it is undoubted they will detect if both have been registered. Of course an individual and a company they are involved with may have totally different legal identities. In that instance it may be acceptable to have both. The content (there should be no cross-pollination), name and ID photograph/image/logo must be different. It is not wise to try and game the system.