As I've mentioned a few times on this blog, one of my main goals is to help businesses and the individuals within them navigate through the intricacies of social networks. One topic that seems to create confusion is the different types and uses of Facebook pages. A person who only casually uses Facebook for personal reasons might not realize, for example, that a business Page works differently from a personal profile. Which is why I'm here...
The most common and well-known page on Facebook is the personal profile. The personal profile was how Mark Zuckerberg originally conceptualized the social network; as a place where individuals could share their "face", among other details, with other "faces" in their network (specifically, college). When I first started using the site in 2004, it was only for college students, and therefore, had practically nothing to do with companies. It helps to think of today's personal profile in those terms, since Facebook has become much larger and much more complex in the subsequent years.
A more recent Facebook development is the Page (yes, with a capital P). The Facebook Page is designated for companies, celebrities, brands, organizations, bands, etc., as a way for these entities to communicate with their customers/followers/supporters. The Page doesn't behave in the same manner as a personal profile; you (the individual) can't be friends with a Page, you can't send the Page a private message, and you may not even be able to write on the Page's Wall, depending on their chosen specifications. What you can do- and what companies really, really want you to do- is to Like their page. Once you Like, say, Social Brio Marketing (I know, smooth, right?), you'll see all of my updates in your News Feed, among the updates of the "faces" with whom you've become friends. For businesses, this is like gold, as it's essentially free marketing to their customers (and part of my job is to convince businesses of this fact)!
One little note before I move on: you may have asked yourself, "What type of presence does a person have if he/she is famous?" For example, I have a friend who is well-known in certain circles, but also wants to maintain a personal relationship with friends, family, etc. His solution: to maintain both a personal profile and also a Page, which allows him the chance to interact with friends on a personal level and his followers/admirers on a more professional level.
To complicate things just a little more, there are two other categories on Facebook with which the average Facebook user seems not to be too familiar: Groups and Community Pages. A Group can be established by any Facebook user, and is comprised of fellow users based on a common goal, interest or other mutual reason. For example, my childhood girlfriends and I have a group for just the 7 of us, and here we communicate, post trip pictures and videos, and have a listing of all our birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Our Group is set to Secret, so no one else on Facebook can see any of the content. By contrast, one of my friends recently ran the NYC Marathon; as part of his fund raising efforts, he started a group with over 100 of his friends whom he thought might donate to the cause.
Community Pages are different yet. Let's say, for example, that I really like shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue (just, you know, hypothetically). I can start a Community Page titled "I Love Shopping at Saks," and at first this Page will display Bing and Wikipedia entries, in addition to other Internet and Facebook results on the topic. And if enough people have the same passion as I, the Page will be maintained by the Facebook Community. This option provides a place where users can express their passions publicly, but separate from, say, Saks Fifth Avenue's official Page.
Got it? It can be overwhelming, particularly if you haven't grown, as a user, with Facebook. But now, my friends, you'll know what to do on Facebook the next time you have an overwhelming desire to express how awesome you think Gloria is on Modern Family. (Isn't she?!)