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March 7, 2013

Facebook: Should We Use a Profile or a Page? — Guest: Lisa Hall-Wilson

Facebook logo with text: Which Should We Use: Profile or Page?

To those who know me, it’s no secret I enjoy Twitter more than Facebook. Currently, I use just a Facebook profile (the normal accounts for individuals). But if one was necessary, I didn’t want my inability to love Facebook holding me back from utilizing a page (the accounts for businesses).

Luckily, I knew just who to talk to: the Facebook Guru. At WANACon, Lisa Hall-Wilson gave a fabulous presentation about how to choose between a profile and a page. One slide in particular was brilliant at pointing out how there’s no “one right answer.”

As with so many things, the right answer for us will depend on our goals. I asked Lisa to stop by and share that slide from her presentation so we can all judge for ourselves.

*****

Thanks so much, Jami, for letting me hang out here. Facebook is my happy place, and I’m always excited about an opportunity to help writers make Facebook their happy place too. Maybe I can convince Jami to love Facebook more than Twitter? 😛

I presented a workshop at WANACon on whether you should have a page or use your profile to help build platform on Facebook. This is — by far, the question I am asked most often by writers. And my answer is always the same: it depends.

Helpful, right. Let me explain a little.

Traditional marketers will tell you a page is always your best bet because of the built-in marketing tools, but I’m not sure there’s a one-size-fits-all answer. When Facebook opened profiles to Followers (formerly known as Subscribers) for celebrities and public personalities, and mentioned writers and authors specifically, I think we’re wise to objectively consider our options.

What do you want Facebook to do for you?

For writers/authors Facebook does some things really well, and is really terrible at other things. Facebook is great for building a community or tribe, driving traffic to your website or blog, and capturing emails. Facebook, at this point, doesn’t seem to work well as a commerce site for writers and authors.

I shared a graphic in my class I’ll share here too. These are probably the most common ways writers and authors are using Facebook.

Name/Email Acquisition – Page. Traditional marketing says emails are gold. I know a lot of authors who run contests and sweepstakes with the sole purpose of growing their email list. The idea being that your email list is, theoretically, a collection of your most engaged fans. You must have a page to do this because it violates Facebook rules to run contests from a profile, and to capture the emails you need to use a third party app, which are only available on pages.

Drive traffic to your blog/website – Page/Profile. A profile and a page will do this equally well in my opinion. Profiles often have better Edgerank than pages, so your content will be shown to more of your friends than the fans on a page. However, a page offers demographics and insights (analytics) profiles don’t.

Connect and build community/tribe – Profile. Profiles are better at this than pages, not that it’s impossible on a page. The communication on pages was severely limited by Timeline to be mostly one way. I talk, you listen. On a profile, communication is two-way. You can tag other profiles (you can only tag pages with a page) and keep conversation going. Now with the Follow option (previously called Subscribe) you’re no longer limited to 5000 friends. Profiles are more personal.

Social Proof/Authority on a subject – Pages and profiles can do this equally well if you’re strategic about how and what you post. The difference is that your page can focus entirely on a subject or theme and give a polished professional impression, whereas a profile is informal and must be more personal in nature. Decide which approach is a better vehicle for your subject matter and your personality.

Brand Recognition – Pages are better for this. Profiles get better Edgerank (rank better within Facebook) but pages rank better with search engines. With a page you can use custom apps to help promote your work without being spammy, appear professional, and link your page to sites outside of Facebook. The easy, built-in widgets and buttons, like boxes, etc. available on WordPress are connected to pages, and unless you’re html code savvy, this won’t be available if you’re using your profile exclusively. You can also run ads with a page, that’s not available to profiles.

I think the days of one-size-fits-all answers for writers concerning marketing and publicity are gone. Know your options, know your brand and your audience, and make a smart decision. If you’re concerned that you might want the insights and marketing tools available on pages later, you can create a page and grab your custom url. Then, just leave the page unpublished. That way you have the url if you decide you want a page later on.

Have any Facebook related questions? I’ll hang out here for the day and answer as many as I can 😀

*****

Lisa Hall-Wilson: I’m passionate about making the world a better place one get-off-your-butt-and-do-something article at a time. I’m a call-it-as-I-see-it truth teller & freelance writer, history nut & dog-owning cat lover. I write dark fantasy fiction, make Facebook a happy place for writers, and blog Through The Fire because no experience is wasted when you share it to help others. I tweet but Facebook is where I hang out.

*****

Thanks, Lisa! After hearing her presentation at WANACon, I knew my decision to stick with a profile was right for me. My website handles all the brand recognition and email collection aspects, and I don’t want to split my efforts with a “mini-website” on Facebook, so a page makes no sense for me.

However, for others, a Facebook page might be the perfect method to reach their audience. As I said, Lisa is a Facebook expert and recognizes that there’s no “one right answer” for everyone.

Her Facebook class starts next week:

The Facebook for Authors and Artists course is 6 weeks of interactive online goodness where you’ll learn the many features of the platform, receive personalized feedback, daily FB tips, and take part in weekly recorded digital classroom sessions.

Start at the beginning with the basics of building profiles and pages, understand Edgerank and newsfeeds, learn best practices, create custom tabs, and other tips sure to get you noticed.

Class will be conducted on Facebook via a closed group. You receive a lifetime membership to this group, with the option to audit future classes as often as you like (because you know Facebook is going to change something).

*****

Lisa here again! I’m doing a Facebook blitz this week to help promote my six week class Using Facebook to Build Author Platform. On Tuesday I was over at Jenny Hansen’s More Cowbell talking about driving traffic to your blog with Facebook. Yesterday I was over at Marcy Kennedy’s blog talking Facebook etiquette.

As thanks for hanging out, I’m giving away a free written critique of a Facebook author/writer page to one commenter on each blog. Leave a comment on each blog to triple your chances of winning! Winners will be selected on Friday.

*****

Are you on Facebook? Do you have a profile, page, or both? Did this article help you decide which way to go? What are your goals for your Facebook platform? Which approach is a better match for your goals? Do you have any questions for Lisa?

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What do you think?

60 Comments on "Facebook: Should We Use a Profile or a Page? — Guest: Lisa Hall-Wilson"

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Lisa Hall-Wilson

Thanks for having me, Jami!

Pauline Baird Jones

I told you I’d stalk to you to the end. LOL Good information again. I have both, but I know I don’t use them very effectively. I’m eying your class with longing. What’s the daily time commitment like?

Lisa Hall-Wilson

Pauline – there’s 2-3 lessons per week you work on at your own pace. If everything Facebook is new to you, it’ll be a signficant time commitment, but if you understand basic terminology, already have a page and a profile — between an hour and two a week plus the weekly webinar.

ChemistKen

I haven’t paid that much attention to Facebook yet-I mostly ignor my account, though I know I shouldn’t- so here’s a stupid question: What’s the difference between a profile and a page? Is page the same thing as a fan page?

Lisa Hall-Wilson

The main difference is what you’re asked to do. A profile will ask you to add as a friend or follow, a page asks you to like. A profile is for individuals, public personalities and celebrities. A page is for businesses, non-profits – anyone selling a service or product and using Facebook to promote themselves.

Diane Capri

Lisa, this is great info. Thanks for sharing. I have a page for my writing. Can people who are either not a Facebook user at all or for one reason or another, not logged into their Facebook accounts (maybe they’re using someone else’s computer or in a public place or whatever) still interact with me on my page?

Lisa Hall-Wilson

You should be able to ‘see’ the page if you’re not logged in, as in follow a link, but you won’t be able to comment, share, like, etc. It insists you sign in first. Didn’t used to be like that – was a Timeline change last year. Profiles are different – if you’re not logged in, even on a public profile, all you’ll see is the cover photo and profile pic.

Diane Capri

Good to know, Lisa, (even if that’s not what I was hoping for!) Thanks!

Jenny Hansen

Really, really great post! I love seeing the “why” of Profile or Page laid out like that. 🙂

Lisa Hall-Wilson

Thanks, Jenny 😀

Steph

I’m not ready to develop a page and am pleased that I really don’t need to for my purposes. Thanks for the info, Lisa, and for hosting this post, Jami.

Lisa Hall-Wilson

You’re most welcome, Steph. Thanks for following me around the blog blitz this week!

Rhenna Morgan

Wow! Perfect timing! This debate has been ping-ponging around in my head for a few days. What’s your opinion on leveraging BOTH? Or is that just a headache? I was able to snag the page for my pen name (RhennaMorgan) and started off with that. But I’ve been extremely frustrated with the one way communication. So, I went and set up a Profile for Rhenna. I’ve done nothing with it yet, but–based on everything above–I’m thinking of switching to just the profile.

Questions – Is your class through WANA Intl? Will Facebook really “bust you” if they find out Rhenna is really a pen name? Can you really not drive a person to your profile via a facebook link on your website? I though I’d just change the url behind the link to take me to the profile?

Lisa Hall-Wilson

If you want to use a pen name, then a page is the better way to go. FB does take fake profiles seriously. I call it playing FB roulette. They’re so big that the changes of them finding you is probably insignificant — unless someone complains – or you do well enough as an author that you get noticed. Not sure it’s worth the chance of having your profile deleted.
As for leveraging both – I have both, but I’m catering to two different audiences. I use my page almost exclusively for a writing audience and the posts there build that brand and credibility. I use my profile to build brand, but I connect with readers there more than writers — so I post totally different stuff. There are some who follow me in both places, but typically only one place or the other. To use both a profile and page to *hedge your bets* isn’t a great strategy.
You can create your own links and buttons to your profile from your website – sure, if you know how to do that. But the widgets and plugins that come ready to use almost exclusively link to pages.
Hope that helps.

Lisa Hall-Wilson

And yes – the class is through WANA Intl.

Tracy Campbell

Hi Jami,
Thanks for having Lisa here today
Lisa, the one thing I gleaned today was that a page should offer items geared more to my writing life. 🙂

Lisa Hall-Wilson

Your page should be your best professional foot forward, for sure.

Ellen M. Gregg

Great information again today, Lisa.

Before I went off Facebook for Lent again this year (I still push posts and the occasional status to my pages, and even to my profile), I “shuttered” my profile from followers. I gave them a few days’ notice, and pointed them toward my pages. Honestly, I suspect those followers were hangers-on from when I did my big purge 18 months ago, taking my friends list from 2100+ to 300-ish.

I watched the press release for the new, consistent-to-mobile Facebook design. Do you think that will change how users – brands and that mom down the street alike – make use of it? I can’t wait for the new design to assimilate, but I’ll have to – at least until April 1, after Lent. 🙂

Lisa Hall-Wilson

I have seen several people do one of those purges, myself included, before a few recent changes. First, if you take the time to organize your friends into lists, you can customize the privacy for each list (what they can see, comment on, etc.)

Second – pages? plural. I’m not sure there are too many convincing arguments for having more than one page, other than as a placeholder on the url but clearly points to where you’re active. It splits your profile and requires even more time to manage.

I watched the press release live. It’s hard to say how the announced changes will affect how the average user enjoys the platform. The change will be a while yet in coming, you have to join a waiting list to be a beta tester.

C. C. Cedras

What a great review of the WANACon presentation! I’ve got a profile where I spend nearly all my time and attention, also I’ve set up a page that is shared with two co-writers that we’ve aligned with our blog, but we also post memes, etc. on the page (often from other writers or about books/writing). I’m positive I’m not maximizing the capabilities of either my profile or the page and really need to take Lisa’s course…if not this one coming up then another one SOON.

Thank you Jami and Lisa for presenting this information in a simple, straightforward way that even I can understand! Great post.

Lisa Hall-Wilson

Thanks! Glad you found it helpful.

Darlene L. Turner

Thanks Lisa for this post! I know you and I have had this conversation before. I’ve struggled on whether or not to set up a page, but have held off. I like how you outlined it here. You’re very helpful as always!

Thanks Jami for hosting Lisa!

Darlene

Lisa Hall-Wilson

Thanks for stopping by, Dar.

Coleen Patrick

Thanks for breaking this down, Lisa. I was wondering if I could stick with my profile, because my profile is completely public. I’d never used FB before I started blogging so it’s always been mostly about the public me. A page would be double the work. Good to know that I can still make it work with my profile.

Andi-Roo (@theworld4realz)
I personally cannot stand Facebook, but I’ve realized that my attitude has a lot to do with who I am “friends” with on my personal profile. I have a lot of friends from childhood, and distant relatives I haven’t seen in years. Unfortunately (for them as well as for me), I’m not the same person I was as a child, or as a teenager, or even as a young twenty-something. Because of the somewhat long term ties, it’s not easy to just “unfriend” people I’ve been in contact with for years, but a lot of the values for which I stand are found offensive by my Facebook “friends”. This is where my blog’s fan Page really came in handy. My blog is not necessarily a writing platform, but it is a safe place for me to vent my frustrations and talk about how I feel regarding the tough topics I have to avoid at the “dinner table” (which is how I have come to view my personal Profile). When I wanted to stop “hanging out” on Facebook altogether, my hubz put together a Facebook Page for my blog. This has literally been an emotional lifesaver. Now I can talk about my picket fence life and safe, boring, traditional, non-controversial stuff with my relatives and long term friends, without fear of being overly offensive. And at the same time, I can get personal and be my natural, true self in front of people who don’t mind seeing the “real” me. It’s… Read more »
Lisa Hall-Wilson

The winner of the free critique is Rhenna Morgan. Rhenna, send me an email at lisa at lisahallwilson dot com or find me on facebook at facebook.com/lisawilsonwriter and we’ll get started on that! Thanks for all the comments!

Julie Glover

Great information! Instead addition to my profile, I have a page; however, I decided not to do much with it until I’m close to publishing. I think about how I use Facebook and how I manage my profile friendships or page likes, and it helps me think about what I want to do with my own Facebook presence. Still, I’m learning a lot from Lisa. Thanks!

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[…] Hall-Wilson: Facebook: Should We Use a Profile or a Page? There are advantages and disadvantages to both – find out which will serve your needs […]

Shan Jeniah Burton

Hi, Jami (and Lisa,too)!

I have had a Facebook profile since 2008, and I use it for groups, and to network with interesting people – mostly writer and unschooling types.

Friends know I am much more likely to respond to Facebook messages than to emails or phone calls.

I’ve had a page since 2011, but it seems to mostly be a place where I keep things I don’t want to lose….like a link warehouse!

I’ve been wanting to make it more effective, and I think Lisa’s class may be in my future!

Jessica Schley

So behind on my reading! But what a fantastic post. I’m still dipping my toes into Facebook as a writer. I started with a page, but then realized I wanted the “tribe” aspect, and that while I’m still working on becoming published, I just want to use FB to connect to other authors and share things. So I created a profile instead.

Now, to use it…

Great informative post! Thanks, Lisa, for the great post, and thanks Jami for inviting Lisa to share her expertise!

Sarah Brentyn
Sarah Brentyn

Jessica…how did you create a different page (profile)? FB won’t let me do anything/change anything. Thanks.

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Sarah Brentyn
Sarah Brentyn

Ack! I so needed this. My facebook is a mess. An empty, lonely mess. I don’t know what kind of account I have, I’m sure I did it wrong, and I don’t visit it much. Hence the 10 “likes”. Mess.

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