Wanna be friends?

I have a fair number of Facebook friends, at this writing, 465 to be exact. My friend list included former co-workers, marketing friends, and people I worked with in the broadcast industry. In addition to all of those, around 50 of those friends are businesses. I will regularly get friend requests or suggestions from businesses, and I’ll be told I have 20 mutual friends with the local seafood restaurant or pizza place. I’ll be happy to be “friends” with a steakhouse or computer store, (especially if there are discounts involved), but I’ve wondered why I would want to be this establishment’s “friend” as opposed to someone who “likes” the page.

I’ve asked around, and find that some businesses didn’t know there was an option to have a business page, so they set up a regular profile page. Some who have thought about it and know the difference say they like the fact that their business will be “suggested” automatically, and stay in their customers’ newsfeed more often. It seems to be more personal.

Several problems occur early on. Once you are at the 5,000 mark, your Facebook “friend” page is full. I’ve seen businesses be in a hurry to migrate their friends to a new page once they are getting close to 5000.  “Friends” can put apps and games on your wall. Do you really want  “Do you think Brad’s Steak and Chips can milk a cow”? on a page representing your brand? More importantly, you get no analytics or other business tools on a profile page. On a business page, there are many tools that break down how many people have viewed and used your page, and even give insights into individual posts.  You can also add and remove administrators without giving away the actual account password.  If you have a profile page, you have to give the account password to all of your administrators. When personnel turn over,  it can be a real pain to change the password and then make sure everyone who works on the page has the new one.  A local pizza chain tried both a business and profile page. They ran a couple of promotions, but Facebookers didn’t know which page to sign up on. I’ve checked both of their pages, and it seems that they have given up on social media, which is unfortunate.

Is there a place for a “friend” page for a business. I believe there is. The key is a person who can genuinely interact with current and potential customers. A restaurant should have a business page, but why not a chef who has a personal page? If you are the brand, I certainly would interact with people as friends as well as have the business page. 4 Chics and a Cat is a thrift store located near Knoxville, TN  which benefits animal welfare organizations. The store has a business page, but  their cat, Gabby, makes friends with four-legged creatures (How does that cat type on a keyboard?).

Bottom line: On Facebook, choose a business page for your business. Don’t be afraid, however, to add a personal touch and interact with people on a profile page.