Do You Know the Difference Between a Profile and a Page?

You Are Doing it Wrong… an open letter to anyone using Facebook and LinkedIn in a manner inconsistent with their terms of service...

Why is your company trying to be a person? 

The way to succeed in social media is to do the thing that no one else has thought of yet. However, using the profiles and pages incorrectly is not that thing. The power of Facebook and LinkedIn lie in the mutual acceptance requirement. These platforms are made for people (not companies) to connect with each other and facilitate their offline relationships on an online platform. The reason Facebook and LinkedIn have created a separate product for companies is because the interactions you have with a company should be different than the interactions you have with other people. The other reason is that they need to make money from companies so that the platform can remain free for people to use.

So, you thought you would just set up a Facebook or LinkedIn account for your company using the profile product meant for people because you thought you were getting around the rules, right? I suppose you thought this would be a great way to connect with your clients in the same space they are used to chatting with their friends, except that you are going to pretend that your company or brand is a person. Clearly, you have a person behind that profile running it, so it doesn’t seem like a big deal. That person is probably under 25, right? They know how to use Facebook as an individual so that is how they are going to represent your brand.

Twitter, on the other hand, is not set up to require mutual acceptance and has decided not to distinguish people from companies. On Twitter, we get to co-exist in any form we choose and it works. However, the more human your brand is on Twitter, the more successful you will be.  This brings me to another pet peeve. If you are a company in the meetings and events industry, you are not too cool to follow people back who follow you. Twitter is meant to be a conversation tool. If I follow you and you don’t follow me back, I assume that you are not interested in having a conversation with me and I will un-follow you. Make sure you have someone to monitor your followers for you.

People want to connect with people, not brands. That is why your strategy on Facebook and LinkedIn is not going to work. You might get people to accept your friend requests or connection requests, but they will be annoyed that you are doing it wrong and not playing by the rules. Here’s what you should do: if you are the owner, CEO, sales person, or in any other position that deals directly with clients, you should have a profile on Facebook and LinkedIn (as yourself!) and you should be actively using these platforms for professional networking. LinkedIn has always been the obvious choice for that sort of activity. However, Facebook allows us to really get to know each other and take our business relationships to the next level. Isn’t that the goal of your networking anyway? Why wouldn’t you use a tool that is made for that?

Company pages work the same way on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. People (and other companies, in the case of Facebook) can “like”, “follow”, or “circle” your company page and you are not required to accept this action. However, it doesn’t mean anything unless you are posting interesting content that ultimately gets shared by your fans. If you think it is easier to get “friends” than it is to get “likes” if you setup a profile instead of a page, you might be right, however it does not mean that your content will get shared more because you are “friends” with your connections. An individual is not going to feel the same affinity for a brand, even if they know someone who works there.

I hope someone disagrees and wants to comment here so we can discuss. If you agree, share this post with the companies who have asked you to be their friend!
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