Is the Follow Button Right for Your Facebook Business Page?

By Andrea Vahl, John Haydon, Jan Zimmerman

The Facebook Follow button, which you might want to use for your business Page, is something you can turn on inside your Profile so that people can follow your public updates:

  • Turn on: You can switch on this system, and you can switch it off. You need to make a few adjustments when you turn it on.

  • Follow: This is a one-way connection inside Facebook. You can follow someone without being his Friend. You and your Friends are following one another. If you are following someone but he isn’t following you, you see his Public posts, but he doesn’t see yours. After you turn on your Follow button, anyone, anywhere in the world can follow your Public posts.

  • Public updates: You can post an update designated as Public, which means that anyone can see it, including your Friends and those who have followed you. And as an added bonus, if someone has requested to be your Friend and you haven’t responded, he is automatically a follower and will see your Public posts.

The biggest pro for turning on the Follow button is that there’s no limit on the number of followers you can have. (In comparison, the Friend limit on Facebook is currently 5,000.) You can go through your Friend list and unfriend people you don’t really know, and they will automatically become a Follower. This cleans up your Friends list.

The biggest con for turning on the Follow button is having to create Public posts. Public posts are generally different from what you might be used to posting on Facebook. The public is not so interested in your cat, but it might be very interested in your work with the Humane Society. There is a difference in those two kinds of posts, and you’ll need to remember to make both.

So now you need to determine whether you are a public figure and whether you should go through the process of turning on your Follow button. Through this process, you also see whether you need to have both a Profile with the Follow button turned on and a business Page.

The table shows the different available features for a personal Timeline with the Follow button and a business Page.

Note: Turning on your Follow button is available only to those over the age of 18.

Which Facebook Features Do You Need?
Available Features Personal Timeline + Follow Button Business Page
Use for both Friends and a bigger audience X
Quick mobile updating X
Timeline applications (personal) X
Interest lists/groups/chat X
Privacy settings X
Timeline layout X X
Facebook Insights X
Multiple people can admin X
Custom tabs and apps X
Target updates by location/language X
Promote with ads and sponsored stories X

Use these questions to help determine whether the using Follow button is right for you. Keep count of how many questions you answer, “Yes.” By the end of the quiz, it will be obvious whether you need to activate your Follow button.

  • Do you consider yourself to be a public figure?

    “Public figure” is a slippery term. According to Facebook, authors, magazine and newspaper writers, politicians, actors, and radio and TV personalities are public figures, but there are other definitions, too.

  • Do others consider you to be a public figure?

    When others think of you, do they think “public figure”? You may be a spokesperson for some type of event (local, regional, or national), or you may represent a topic (such as a conversation in your business niche or a nonprofit organization).

  • Are you considered to be an expert in your field?

    Do people seek you out when they have a question about your business niche? Do you speak about your business niche at events?

  • When people look at you, do they think of your business?

    Most small-business people carry both sides of their lives — business and personal — with them wherever they go. If you’re walking down the street, and someone says “Hi,” does she also ask you about your family or your business or both?

  • Do you like to share things that are business-related?

    Look back at your personal posts on Facebook for the past year. How many of them are related to your business niche? Would you share more of those types of posts if you felt that people wanted to see them?

  • Do you have people who want to be your Facebook Friends but are really business contacts?

    Have people who you don’t know personally asked to be your Friends? Have you ignored a bunch of people who’ve asked to be your Friends?

  • Are you branding yourself?

    Are you setting yourself up to be a public figure in the future? Do you want to be a public figure?

  • Are you and your products the same thing?

    Do you sell information products that feature you as the expert?

  • Are you branding your company to include you?

    Apple = Steve Jobs. Is that the kind of relationship you have with your company?

Don’t turn on your Follow button if you answered most of the questions, “No.”

Do turn on your Follow button if

  • You answered most of the questions, “Yes.”

  • You’re branding yourself.

  • You’re branding your products, and people think of you and your products together.

If you’re branding your company, you don’t have to turn on your Follow button. If you enjoy your business and have a great passion for it, though, consider turning on the Follow button so you can expand your territory of influence.