I know all the experts, gurus, and Social Media Ninja’s are going crazy over the headline of this post. I can hear them yelling at me and I’m sitting in a quit room writing this.

Haven’t we yet learned that all the definitive statements about Social Media are wrong? The only reason people write rules is so they can be expertly teaching their rules and by creating a wrong way to do something they create a need for there to be a right way to teach it.

Just my two cents.

Anyway, lately I’ve been seeing experts, gurus and ninjas spouting off that personal pages shouldn’t be used for businesses. The only real reason I’ve discerned from watching the videos, reading the blog posts, and articles is that facebook has a right to shut down your page because it’s in violation of the rules of facebook.

Okay folks there are over 400 million users on facebook. It is not an easy task to search all those pages to determine if they are people or businesses. And there are sites out there that will back up your facebook page. ArchiveFacebook is a free service to back up your facebook page including friend list, photos, lists and more. SocialSafe has a small fee and call’s itself the facebook backup tool and also saves friend lists, photos and more.

So if your biggest argument against a personal page for your business is I might get shut down here are some ways to preserve your data.

Now I don’t believe EVERY business should have a personal page only certain types of pages may need the interactive qualities that a personal page has to offer. If facebook would give more usability to the fan pages (should I really be calling them “Like” pages?) then there would not be a need for companies to break the rules and create business pages on personal accounts. So while this might be a longer blog post than usual, I’m going to give you three real life scenarios of businesses that are successfully using personal pages for their businesses and why they need to do it this way.

Just in the interest of not giving facebook a heads up to shut down these pages I will not name the companies but I’ll give you some background.

Case One:
The first, is the most ingenious. This is a new home site that has a fan page, but also has a personal page. Some might say redundant but think about it. A new home site agent may not always be the agent in that community over the course of the build. If that individual takes the time to friend all the people who walk in the door, or buy a house, when that agent goes, that database goes. And there are several reasons why you want the administrator of your fan page to be friends with your prospects and customers.

  • Once they friend people they can suggest the fan page you can’t go up to people you don’t know and suggest a fan page
  • Once they friend people they can tag them in posts whether they fan the page or not and it shows up in their streams you can not tag people in fan page posts unless an administrator is friends with them. You cannot even tag people who “like” the page
  • In the case of new homes you can post pictures of the progress of their home and it shows up in their feed and their friends see it as well
  • Once you move on, that personal page belongs to the builder and not the individual and so do all the contacts

It’s all well and good to meet people who walk through the door on your site and tell them to fan a page, but many people when they walk out the door, frankly are not proactive. If you want to engage them you’ve got to go out and find them! You know they are your target group. But fan pages don’t let you go out and find your prospects, they wait passively by for people to find you. You can drive your traffic there through many means but just as the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them click the like button, but what if you write them a nice thank you note…through facebook.

Send them a nice thank you note through facebook in the form of a friend request.

Thank you so much for your visit today Mr. Buyer, I’d love to be able to show you and your friends the progress of your house through our facebook business page, I’ll be able to tag you in the posts that pertain to you if you first accept my friend request and then become a fan of the page. Won’t it be fun to share this experience with your family and friends on facebook!

Same goes for an A or B prospect.

Thank you so much for your visit today Mr. Prospect. I could tell from your reaction to our community today that it may be near the top of your list during your search. I’d love you to be able to be kept up to date on all the new building going on, as well as any special and handy information. We post it all on our fan page, please accept my friend request and then become a fan of the page and if any home sites or styles come up that I know you’ll be interested in, I’ll tag you in the post so you can check out the floor plan. How does that sound?

Odds are that is the most directed way you are going to get them to fan your page and they will have a much harder time saying no to something like that. Especially the buyer.

One site agent has found much success this way. She didn’t want every prospect and client on her personal page. Yes, yes I know you can filter out who get’s what. But it was easier for her, and for the builder if they all are in a separate account.

Not everyone needs their client base to know them intimately on facebook.

What she is NOT doing is going out fishing for people to friend. You know those annoying people that see you are friends with 50 people they know so they send you a request even though they don’t know you because they are “building” their business online. I understand why that is annoying and why people say I don’t want to friend businesses.

Case 2:
A start up with a national focus wants people who offer services to join their network so that their customers can post reviews, and prospects can find services based on those honest client reviews. (A new alternative to Angie’s list) They need to get the word out to influencers who’s followers may like the service but doesn’t know it exists.

This business creates a personal page so that they can interact with influential bloggers on facebook and other business pages. The goal isn’t to get anyone to friend them, but to interact with other fan pages.

This is active listening as well as interacting with other businesses.

You can’t do that fan page to fan page, you can only do it on a personal level. By following the fan pages, the company can follow the conversations and see how it may relate to their product. When appropriate they work on engagement with in those pages.

  • You may be asking yourself, well why don’t they just fan these pages in their personal account? Account managers for Social Media can change
  • Many People who manage multiple accounts don’t want their personal facebook stream to be all about business
  • When the brand interacts with the fan pages the brand becomes more identifiable. It’s business to business interaction.

These are simply things you can’t do with in a fan page itself, they are not interactive.

Case 3:
A local business focused on promoting entertainment and events creates a fan page after years of having a personal page. The whole premise of the business is inviting people to the events and giving them follow up information on what, when, where, and why. People who fan the page are interested in events, or they wouldn’t have bothered to fan it.

When you create an event through a personal page, you can communicate with the people who have RSVP’d, the people who are Maybe’s and the People who don’t want to come, even if you are not friends with them. As long as they were invited you can communicate.

From a fan page, this is not the case. When you create the event through your business page, you do not have the same interactive quality that you have with the would-be participants that have been invited by someone to the event.

This can be a problem if:

  • You need to cancel the event
  • You want to amend the event with important information
  • You want to remind people that the event is coming up
  • You need to direct people who have RSVP’d to please buy tickets from another site

By having a business personal page of the same name as the fan page, then when people get invited from the personal page, it’s not Jane Doe who they don’t know inviting them, it’s the actual business known for putting out information about all the hot events. And they maintain the ability to interact as need be with the people invited to the event.

Again this site isn’t actively going out finding people to push their message out to, they are the kind of page that people find and request their friendship. That means they are interested in the services that are offered.

With these three scenarios I think it’s easier to see there can be no definitive statements in Social Media. The most recent definitive I’ve been hearing lately is don’t create a personal page for your business. There are reasons why that is not true.

I agree that businesses shouldn’t be fishing for my friendship if I have not indicated any association with them whatsoever. But if businesses that I’ve expressed interest in such as say my favorite jewelry store or something like that, found me on facebook and let me know they were on facebook too and requested my friendship, sure! I’ll drool over their merchandise on facebook! Why not.

At this point in time there are so many proactive things you CAN’T do with a facebook fan page so therefore there are reasons to go around the system.