In some of our recent blog posts we have been looking at how best to use Facebook for business. If your business isn’t already using Facebook then it’s a certainty that you’re missing out on a range of benefits, from increasing brand visibility, improving brand reputation, delivering targeted traffic to your website and gaining hugely valuable market research from the people who really matter.

Yet all too often businesses go about using Facebook the wrong way. Making the wrong choices early on can prove to be very limiting quite quickly, precluding several key benefits from ever being possible. One of the biggest decisions right from the start is whether to create a profile page or a fan page for your business. Not everyone realises that there is a choice, and both those who have limited or no experience of Facebook and those who already have a personal profile page often launch happily into creating a business profile page without any real thought as to the alternative.

Facebook TipsHowever, there is an alternative to creating a Facebook profile page for a business, and it’s the fan page or business page. One of the main things to be aware of is that creating a profile page for your business is technically a violation of Facebook’s terms and conditions (not something many people realise.) This is critical, because it is possible for Facebook to close down a business profile page if it is found to be in breach of the terms.

This could be disastrous, and so it pays to make sure that you get things right from the very start. It’s also worth nothing that you’re not allowed to have more than one profile page anyway, and if you’ve got your own personal profile page, and then go on to create a profile page for your own business too this could result in one or both accounts being deleted. So the first thing to do is to make sure you create a fan page, not a profile page.

Quite apart from safeguarding the status of your page by complying with the terms of use, there are other key advantages which make a good deal more sense. For example, a standard profile allows people to gather friends. This usually involves people applying to become a friend, and then being manually approved or declined. There are two problems with this from a business’s point of view. First of all, there’s actually a limit on the number of friends you can have on a personal profile page, which clearly isn’t good news if you’re trying to develop a large client base. The second problem is that people applying to become a friend of your business need to wait for you to then spend time every day manually approving them.

However, with a business’s fan page people don’t apply to be friends, they simply click the ‘Like’ button and become a fan. This is immediate and automatic, and there’s no upper limit to the number of fans you can have. This makes a good deal more sense all round. It also sounds better if your business has fans, rather than friends.

You’ll also notice that when creating a profile page you need to enter items of information such as a first name and a last name. This doesn’t work for most businesses, and so you’re either left with the choice of using the CEO’s name instead of using the business name, or somehow splitting the business name into two parts.

Other elements of a profile page such as relationship status and date of birth are irrelevant and unhelpful, whereas a fan page offers you the chance to include information such as opening hours, year founded and contact details.

So whether you’ve already got a profile page and realise that you really should have a fan page, or whether you’re just about to get started with Facebook for the first time, make sure you subscribe to our blog for more tips and advice on making Facebook work for your business.