Some real estate agents have long believed that the key to marketing on Facebook is to use a personal Profile over a business Page.
Why? Well, I don’t know really. But some agents have told us it’s because someone told them that it helps reach more people and generate more engagement without having to navigate the Facebook algorithm that applies to businesses. Instead of asking people to ‘Like’ your page and waiting for them to do so, you can approach your clients and prospects via Facebook with a ‘friend request’ if you use a Profile instead of a business page.
The problem with this theory, however, it’s a similar algorithm that governs personal Profiles as a Facebook Page.
Others have simply used a Facebook Profile to promote themselves and their listings because they didn’t know any better. Either way, it’s a risky strategy.
If you are deliberately trying to “game the Facebook system” by using a Facebook Profile versus a Page, sooner or later you could find yourself in hot water and potentially lose access to everyone you’ve connected with over the years. Or worse, kicked off Facebook altogether. If you’re using a Profile for business purposes because you didn’t know any better, then read on also.
Before we look at why you shouldn’t use a Facebook Profile for business purposes, let’s first separate the difference between a Profile and a Page.
What is a Facebook Profile?
A Facebook Profile, by its most basic definition is a personal account on Facebook. When you first signed up for Facebook to connect with friends and family you would have set up a Profile.
This is the place where you communicate on a personal level using your own name. You can share photos, videos, and other general updates about your life, interests and hobbies.
Everyone who joins Facebook gets a Profile. You can only ever have one under your name.
What is a Facebook Page?
A Facebook Page, by comparison, represents a company or organisation. Here you can promote offers, run advertising and contests to your followers. All followers arrived by choice to your page and have willingly ‘engaged’ page by “liking” it.
Not only is using a personal Profile to promote a business a violation of Facebook’s terms of service, it also puts your business at a disadvantage.
Why you can’t use your personal Profile as a business Page:
It is against the Facebook Terms to use your personal account to represent anything other than yourself (such as your business). If you are caught, you could permanently lose access to your account and all of your ‘friends’. And it happens regularly.
Agents and agency principals have often contacted our team for advice when Facebook has shut down their personal Profile. By that stage, there is nothing we can do to help. If your Profile is flagged for abusing the Facebook terms of service i.e. you are being overly promotional on your Profile or spruiking your business too much, there have been four different scenarios we’ve seen play out:
- Facebook will give you a warning and ask you to turn your Facebook Profile into a business Page. Generally, in this instance, we’ve seen an allowance of 30 days to do this (but this has differed from case to case)
- They will shut down your Profile altogether without warning and then tell you that your Profile has abused their terms of service and if you want back onto to the platform you will need to create a Page
- They will kick you off Facebook altogether
- (rare, but it’s happened) If Facebook see you posting business-related content to both your Page as well as a Profile at the same time, they’ll warn you about this and ask you to refrain from using your Profile for business purposes
It might seem harsh, but this happens to real estate agents more than you might realise and it’s up to companies likes ours to deliver the bad news that they can no longer reach their connections in the same way they’ve been used to.
I understand the thinking behind why some agents have used a Profile over a Page, but the reality is… it’s risky. If you’ve built up a ‘following’ of 5,000 ‘friends’ on your Profile (the maximum you can have on a Profile), and Facebook shuts you down, what do you do next? Don’t rely on Facebook responding quickly to your angry emails either. They are notoriously quick to block accounts and notoriously slow at responding to messages.
My advice…. stop playing with fire and just turn your Profile into a Page or create a Page in addition to your Profile. It might sound like a lot of work given how many people you’ve ‘friended’ on your Profile, but the quicker you make this change, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Even if you feel like you’re not being overly promotional on your Profile, I’d advise you to play it safe. If you have a bored competitor who reports your Profile to Facebook, that could be all they need to start auditing your content to determine if you should be using a Page.
Plus, there are a bunch of reasons why a business Page is better to market yourself and your listings:
1. Facebook Insights gives you access to lots of customer data
As a business on a personal Facebook Profile, you have no access to Facebook Insights. This means you are unable to export and analyse the mountain of information that can help you to understand your target customer, what they like, don’t like, where they are from and when they are online.
If you are a serious business, you need real data to drive your marketing strategy. Insights is where it’s at.
2. Facebook Tabs and Contests reel in new customers
With Facebook tabs, you can use different applications to explain more about who you are as a business. Highlight your services with a HD video introduction, feature your products. You can even post a newsletter opt-in form to capture your leads even when they haven’t made it to your website.
You can outline the history of your company and share your story to engage with your followers. There is no space to do this on a personal profile other than sharing posts over and over.
Feature the best your business has to offer front and centre on your business Page so that your leads can’t miss it.
3. Facebook Offers share your best deals with the right audience
Do you want to generate viral buzz about your business? You’ll need to run Facebook Offers. This is the best way to promote a deal or an offer you have to your Facebook audience without violating the personal profile terms of service.
4. Facebook ads target new leads to increase engagement with your brand
Do you need to build a mailing list? Run an opt-in ad campaign to capture more emails on your website. Want to increase site traffic to convert more leads and increase your profits? Run an engagement ad to entice new visitors to your site.
Facebook Ads give you the opportunity to target your ideal audience and position ads where only they will see them. But, only if you run a business page. Just another reason to convert that personal profile.
Your Facebook profiles are the perfect place to discuss hobbies, politics and share personal glimpses of our lives, but, don’t mix business with pleasure. Build a solid Facebook business page and engage with your audience right where they are in a professional space where you can manage the conversation.
Important: if you decide to turn your Profile into a Page, here are a few additional things you need to be aware of.
If you’re using Facebook to market yourself and/or your listings (and who isn’t!?), then use a business Page to do that. Don’t risk building a Profile only to potentially lose access to your audience because Facebook caught you violating their terms of service. If you already have a Page as well as a Profile, keep your business stuff separate from your Profile altogether. The occasional post on your Profile about something that happened at work is fine. Just know where to draw the line. Plus, your friends probably don’t want to see you talking about work on your Profile all the time anyway!