Although Facebook was initially intended to be a social network, it’s value for business purposes has quickly become apparent. As is frequently and correctly stated, if Facebook was a country it would be the third largest in the world, behind only India and China. Further, the way Facebook advertising can be structured according to demographic information such as age, gender, location and the interests of each Facebook member, allows for advertisements to be much more specifically targeted than many other advertising options. Not having a Facebook account would be a big own goal for any business or person looking to promote themselves.
A big drawback for businesses is the 5,000 friend limit on personal accounts. Facebook also takes a dim view of businesses outrightly promoting themselves and their products from their personal accounts and reserves the right to close these accounts. Facebook warns that having a personal profile for anything other than a single individual violates its guidelines. Facebook suggests converting such profiles to business pages, or else risk being banned for policy violations. In any event, people who’ve opened personal accounts will quite soon object to having their newsfeeds assailed by constant updates from business users which are intended for their own financial gain. Facebook will investigate complaints about “spam” and close accounts. Even if they don’t, friends will “unfriend” in droves to avoid such “spam”.
Facebook therefore launched “Pages” for business users analogous to the “profiles” that personal users have. For the business world, profiles became pages and followers became fans. It is very much “best practice” to promote your business, product, brand etc from business pages and never directly from your personal profile.
Further, there is no 5,000 follower limit for business users. You can build an unlimited number of fans for your page, eg the manchester united Professional Sports Team page has over 16 million “Likes” and the Justin Bieber page has over 31 million “Likes”! This option has given business owners and entrepreneurs a dilemma – do they choose to build a business page or a profile? Or should they do both?
In the case of major organisations, sports teams and entertainers, the answer to that is easy. The numbers involved are simply too vast for meaningful social interaction away from that organisation or brand. Also, the higher the profile, the more selective they will usually want to be with what they wish to share. Users entirely looking to use their account for business purposes will not be looking for social interaction away from news directly related to that business. But for those with an intermediate level of contacts such as Internet Entrepreneurs there is much more of a dilemma. Is the best policy to abandon their existing Facebook profiles and build a new page, to have both a page and a profile, or even to look for a way to migrate their existing profile into a business page? Facebook now allows this option. If you have both a personal Facebook profile and one or more business pages there is an option on the top right hand side of each business page offering to use that page as your Facebook page.
You will be taken to a page titled “Profile to business page migration”. Various categories of business options will be presented to choose from. Please note this is the same option you get when creating a business page from your personal account. If you go ahead with the migration option do note that ONLY your profile picture and friends move with you. Everything else will be lost. There are limited back-up options but you run the usual risk of losing data.
This is an improvement on the situation which previously existed which meant converting your Facebook profile into a business page also meant losing all the friends linked to the personal account. In effect, migrating to a business page was the same as starting all over again. Well known people could get away with it but the risk was that past friends connected to your personal profile would not notice what had happened and could forget about you, thus throwing away relationships so carefully developed prior to the switch.
Now that friends can be carried over with the migration, is such a move now a good idea? The arguments against it should be carefully weighed up:
1) You will no longer have automatic access to your friends’ updates and events via the newsfeed. Your “Wall” would revolve solely around activity on your own page and any interaction that takes place between your followers on that page.
That might help you keep your “focus” but is it genuinely “social”, in the way social media is intended to be.
2) Will your friends appreciate now being categorised in effect as followers. Some could view it as a change in relationship and quietly opt not to continue to follow your page. After all, if they perceive you are not genuinely interested in them, why should they be interested in you?
3) The account associated with the profile you previously maintained will be converted to a business account, which will be the sole admin of your new Page. Some options available to personal profiles are not available to business accounts. For instance, pages previously “Liked” from your personal profile will no longer be “liked”. Photographs other than your user photograph will also be lost as there is no facility to carry them over with the “migration”. Old wall posts will disappear.
4) There have been concerns over the performance of the migration tool.
5) Migration is basically a “one-way street” – if it doesn’t work out it cannot be automatically reversed, although Facebook have now instituted an appeals process, reinstatement cannot be guaranteed.
Although more administration is involved, the option of retaining the personal profile and continuing to operate your business pages as extra pages would appear both to offer the most flexibility and to be the safer option. It avoids jeopardising the results of what has been built up already. Relationships with contacts can continue on a level playing field and your credentials for being genuinely committed to social media will be retained. The option to encourage and/or induce friends to “Like” your business pages will be retained and allow them to do so voluntarily. Keeping business matters and promotions to your business pages will also make it far less likely that you will fall foul of Facebook’s user policies. You will also retain the option of selectively sharing posts on your business pages into the newsfeeds of your friends via your personal accounts when you wish to do so.
These are a few of my concerns over “migrating” – perhaps others have a different view? Let’s also remember that Facebook is a constantly moving feast and its policies and procedures are constantly changing.
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