Jane Friedman

5 Reasons to Use a Facebook Profile (Not a Page) to Build Platform

Today’s guest post is by freelancer Lisa Hall-Wilson (@LisaHallWilson).

My host here today, Jane, was among the first to announce she was only going to use her personal Profile on Facebook rather than starting an official Page. That trend is growing, and there are a number of reasons why that might be a good idea for you too.

First, let’s make sure we’re all using the same terms. A Page and a Profile are distinct things in the Facebook environment, and there’s an easy way to tell the difference between them.

A Page is available to businesses, brands and products, causes, public figures, and so on. It offers special features and capabilities, such as marketing insights into your followers and custom apps to capture e-mail addresses via contests, and more. To receive Facebook updates from a Page, people must actively “Like” it.

A Profile is for individual users, which allow people to “friend” you. (You are limited to 5,000 friends.) What’s less well known is that a Profile can also be opened to up to Followers. Because you aren’t meant to sell anything from a Profile, there aren’t any marketing capabilities, features, or insights into who is following you. When people encounter your Profile, they are asked to “Friend” or “Follow.”

What Readers Want

Readers are looking for three main things from authors on Facebook.

  1. Behind-the-scenes glimpses into the writer’s life and writing process
  2. Inside scoops on new releases, sales and upcoming events
  3. Access

What Authors Want

Writers and authors are using Facebook for driving traffic to their blogs and websites, name or brand recognition, social proof and authority, e-mail acquisition, and growing a tribe (readership).

People are not going to Facebook to buy or find books.

Plus Facebook’s search feature isn’t set up to do this well. I don’t know of any big author selling books directly from Facebook (using Facebook commerce) because they’d rather people bought books from Amazon (or another online retailer) for the sales rankings and reviews. For the big-name author who needs to hire a social media administrator, and is looking for the marketing capabilities such as analytics, advertising, and capturing e-mails through third party apps, a Page is the better choice. But for everyone else who isn’t there yet, a Profile is often the better option. It’s simpler and easier to get your content in front of people, takes less time to manage, and will build a tribe or platform faster, especially if you don’t plan to run ads.

Here are 5 reasons to use a Profile over a Page to build platform.

1. It’s more personable.

Some readers will find your personal Profile and prefer to connect with you there, rather than your Page. And that can become awkward and difficult to explain your “friend” policy. You’re not a faceless corporation or multi-national company. Readers want to connect with you, the author, personally. Profiles give the appearance of being more approachable than a Page because a Page comes with a perception of built-in distance. If readers want to get to know you and your writing, a Profile can be a more organic place to accomplish that, especially with both the “Friend” and “Follow” option.

2. Your posts are more visible.

Some authors find that content posted on a Profile gets seen by more people than a Page, especially a Page with a low fan count or Edge Rank. There are more than 50 million Pages on Facebook, and competition in the News Feed is staggering. The average person on Facebook has just over 200 friends, so those odds are a lot better. With a Page, you must wait for people to find you and like you. You won’t be able to comment on Profiles with your Page. You can’t join groups as your Page or comment on group posts. When you like another Page from your Page, that like isn’t included in the fan count and the Page owner won’t be notified of your like. Very quickly it can feel impossible to get your content in front of people without running ads.

3. It’s simpler.

Running a Page and a Profile is very time consuming to do well. If you’re duplicating the posts on your Page and Profile, why run both? If you’re speaking to the same group of friends and family on your Page and your Profile, why do both? Some people get mixed up and accidentally post to their Page instead of their Profile or vice versa. It can get confusing.

4. You can have unlimited followers while keeping aspects of your Profile private.

While there’s a 5,000-friend limit on Profiles, there’s no limit to Followers (previously known as subscribers). Many professional athletes and other media personalities—journalists for instance—are using this option instead of maintaining a Page. It allows you to designate every update, photo, and profile element as viewable by specific circles of friends, or by the public (for your fans/followers).

5. You can publicize and embed your public Profile content on a website or blog.

You can now embed posts from your Profile (public posts only), as well as a Page. The official Facebook for WordPress plugin also does this very well with a lot of bells and whistles. These work just like the embedded video from Youtube. This allows those readers who lurk to interact with your content in perhaps a more familiar or trusted format, and gives your Facebook content a bump if it’s seen by more people.

Do you have a Facebook Page and/or a Profile? Which do you prefer?