the biggest mistake businesses make with facebook.

Posted on January 11, 2012

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Lately we’ve seen a profusion of businesses and organizations showing up on Facebook as personal profile (individual) accounts. It may seem like a good idea, but here’s the thing: It’s not. It’s against Facebook’s Terms of Services and your account may be deleted. It has happened to folks I know.

Imagine you go through the trouble of creating and maintaining a personal account for Joe’s Pizza (instead of a fan page), accrue 1,000 friends and, one day, receive a note saying that this account has been found to be in violation and all your work has been obliterated.

It can happen. It has. Check out Facebook’s terms of service, including this part (bolding for emphasis):

Registration and Account Security

Facebook users provide their real names and information, and we need your help to keep it that way. Here are some commitments you make to us relating to registering and maintaining the security of your account:

  1. You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.
  2. You will not create more than one personal profile.
  3. If we disable your account, you will not create another one without our permission.
  4. You will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain (such as selling your status update to an advertiser).

The good news is that, if you’ve started down this road, Facebook offers a quick guide to converting a personal profile into a page, which will also automatically turn your friends into fans.

Besides potential deletion, this post from Fresh Buzz Media lists other reasons a page is better for your business or organization: Fan pages are more findable on searches (better SEO), more customizable, offer analytics or Insights to learn about activity on your page, can have multiple administrators easily and (if you’re really popular) that personal accounts are limited to 5,000 friends while pages can have unlimited fans. Everyone from celebrities to roller derby participants can create pages for themselves or their alter egos, and it’s easy to do.

In addition, Facebook has added more functionality so that fan pages can Like other fan pages, RSVP to events and comment on some parts of Facebook. Your postings will still show up in your fans’ feeds. And did I mention YOUR ACCOUNT CAN BE DELETED because it’s against Facebook policy? OK. Just trying to be helpful.

EDIT/UPDATE: I learned my friend Alaina Wiens did an even better job of explaining this topic and why to convert to a page. Check out her excellent post for more.

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