The Great Facebook Debate: Page or Profile?

social media mondaysEarly on in my writing career, I made the decision to use a Facebook page for my author presence instead of my personal profile. There were a number of reasons for this. First and foremost, of course, is the fact that Facebook’s policies clearly state that you cannot “use your personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain” and they “can remove any content or information you post” if you’re found to be in violation.

While there may be wiggle room in the “primarily” part of the policy, my reasoning is that I would rather avoid all possibility of dispute in the first place—especially when it’s so easy to do so by using the pages they provide for business purposes. And when there are so many other advantages to using a page as well.

  • Profiles allow a maximum of 5,000 “friends”. Pages, on the other hand, allow an unlimited number of “likes” from fans. While you may not think you’ll ever hit the 5,000 limit, why not plan now for success? By starting out with a page in the first place, you’ll never face the issue of having to transfer your fans over from your profile. TIP: if you’re already using your profile for your author presence, Facebook offers you a way to convert your profile to a page.
  • You never have to worry about publicly posting something you meant to keep private. While it’s true that your profile gives you control over your privacy settings (you can assign friends to lists and then direct your posts to specific lists), you need to be diligent about doing so. On a page, however, everything is public: you just don’t post anything there at all that you don’t want the whole world to see. TIP: if you have a lot of friends/family on your profile who aren’t following your page and you want them to see a certain post, share it to your own profile.
  • A page allows you to have a larger cover photo than a profile does. This means more space available for showing off your books or branding yourself.
  • On a page, your “About” information is directly below your photo. TIP: include a link to your website or blog in this section to encourage click-throughs to your site (see an example of this on my Facebook page).1240404_365387346925527_1233620655_n
  • Facebook pages allow tabs—essentially, these give added functionality to your page via things like contests, events, newsletter sign-up, a video stream, and more.  (Photos and Likes are built-in default tabs that you cannot change or delete.)  Most of these are done via third-party app such as Shortstack (which offers a free account). You can also build in fan gates, which require fans to like your page in order to see certain content (perhaps a giveaway or a free read), but I have yet to figure out how to create one of those—although just last week I managed to add a videos tab with the help of this article.
  •  Facebook ads. You may be aware of the controversy surrounding Facebook ads and so-called “click farms”, which has called into question the value of Facebook ads. Jon Loomer provides what I think is an excellent breakdown of the issue. Personally, I have used Facebook ads in past and will continue to do so in the future. Why and how is a whole other blog topic, however, so I think we’ll save that for another Monday. Suffice it to say that you have the option with a page, but not with a profile. 😉

And there you have it, friends—my thoughts on why you should have a Facebook page rather than just a profile, assuming you’re using Facebook as a medium in the first place. Tweet: The Great Facebook Debate: Page or Profile?

Next week, a look at how you can build your Facebook community and improve engagement there.

UPDATE: After I wrote this post, Facebook announced that it was (again) changing the format of pages. The tabs that I spoke about above will still be on the page, but will be hidden (available under the “more” button). My initial reaction to this news was less than favorable, but this article has made me reconsider. Have a look at it, and see what you think. Feel free to come back here to discuss! 🙂

Remember to leave me a comment if you have a question—I’m happy to answer. 🙂

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14 responses to “The Great Facebook Debate: Page or Profile?”

  1. Michelle Avatar

    It would be nice if more people understood the distinctions between public and private pages. I’ve described the public page as “your branding brochure to the world,” and a private page as “the small circle of people who are entitled to know the good, the bad and the ugly – weather, politics, religion, etc.” The public page is a way to communicate with fans, where you control the content and extent of interaction.
    Great post!

    1. Linda Avatar

      Great way to differentiate, Michelle — and so glad you like the post! Thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂

  2. Ally Avatar

    Very helpful Linda! I am looking forward to the next post on this. Very timely for a small group of us setting things up.

    1. Linda Avatar

      I know it’s a question a lot of authors struggle with, Ally — glad you found it of use! 🙂

  3. sahara foley Avatar

    Just starting to look at facebook for add’lnplatform. Thxs for tips.

    1. Linda Avatar

      You’re most welcome, Sahara! Let me know if you have any questions. 🙂

  4. JP McLean Avatar

    Helpful post, Linda. I’ve now added my website to my FB “about” page-great tip and every little tip helps, so thanks.

    1. Linda Avatar

      You’re most welcome, J.P.! I’m happy to have helped! 🙂

  5. Julia Veitch Avatar

    Hi Linda, v informative. Through a page, how do you invite people to events. People can only like the page, not friend it. Thanks, Julia

    1. Linda Avatar

      Hi, Julia! There’s a tab for that — but finding it will depend on what version of Facebook page you’re using. They’ve just rolled out an update that’s been optional so far, but will switch over automatically on June 5. Can you tell me if you’ve made the switch yet? That will help me describe what you need to look for. 🙂

  6. D. D. Syrdal Avatar

    You are a treasure trove of knowledge, thank you so much for sharing all this!

    1. Linda Avatar

      It’s my absolute pleasure, D.D. If I can save some other poor soul from the thousands of hours of research I’ve done, I’m happy to do so. 😉

  7. PWM Avatar

    The problem with just a page is that you can’t join reader’s groups. That’s a big deal when trying to promote through a pen name.

    1. Linda Avatar

      A valid point, if that’s the approach you’re taking, yes. I use my personal profile page for the groups I belong to, but then again, I write under my own name, too.

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