By now, most small businesses know that Facebook can be a great tool for connecting with customers and prospects, building relationships, and growing your business.
However, many businesses jump into Facebook without a clear understanding of how to use it. I know this, because at least once a month I get an invitation to become "friends" with some company, non-profit or even an event.
I can only imagine what that would be like: catching a Sox game with an
anthropomorphic mascot, having drinks after work with that cute new not-for-profit from accounting or perhaps texting the Friday Arts Walk during a boring meeting.
On Facebook, people have profiles and businesses have fan pages. If you want your business to succeed on Facebook, you have to understand the difference.
How are Pages different from personal profiles?
Profiles can only be used to represent an individual and must be held under an individual name. Pages also allow people to maintain a personal/professional distinction on Facebook. You may only create Facebook Pages to represent real organizations of which you are an authorized representative. Fans of your Page won't be able to see that you are the Page admin or have any access to your personal account.
It's quite possible that Facebook at some point will crack down on all the non-humans who have profiles, shutting them down with extreme prejudice. If that happens, all that hard work you've put in to building your business's profile will be down the tube.
It makes a lot more sense to create a profile for yourself and a fan page for your business. A profile has benefits because you can connect with other real people who are your vendors, customers and prospects. You can ask your friends and clients to become fans of your company, which can start to build momentum.
When some company does ask me to friend them on Facebook, I politely decline but tell them that if they set up a fan page I'll be happy to become a fan.