Mistakes to Avoid When Using Pages, Timelines, and Groups to Market on Facebook

By John Haydon

One of the most common mistakes businesses make when they start using Facebook is using the wrong Facebook tool. Many start by creating a Timeline, which is really intended for people to share personal information on Facebook. Or they start by creating a Group, which is intended for people to connect with one another on very specific goals and interests.

Each of these Facebook tools serves a very different purpose:

  • Timelines: Timelines (otherwise known as Facebook Profiles) represent people. They allow Facebook users to connect with friends, upload and share videos and photos, and store their activities over time.

  • Pages: Pages represent businesses, brands, nonprofit organizations, public figures, and celebrities. Pages allow you to create awareness of your product or service within the Facebook community, engage with customers and products, and even sell your products or services.

  • Groups: Groups allow people (using Timelines) to organize around shared goals or topics of interest. People can join Groups; Pages can’t.

Many businesses start with the wrong Facebook tool because they may be comfortable using a Timeline and don’t know anything else.

Timelines are personal, not business

Timeliness limit the number of friends to 5,000. This makes sense, because no human being could actually be friends with an unlimited number of people.

A business, on the other hand, might suffer under such limitations. Your business can post updates to your Page at any time without any concern about a limit on the number of people you can reach.

Here are four more key differences between a Facebook Page and a Facebook Timeline:

  • Timelines don’t have any marketing analytics. Facebook Pages give marketers a powerful tool called Insights that allows you to see how users engage with your Facebook Page updates.

  • Friending a Timeline is very different from liking a Page. When Facebook users send friend requests, they’re essentially asking that user for access to her photos, her list of friends, her phone number, her relationship status, and other very personal information.

    Facebook Pages offer no such functionality for marketers. In the real world, a business would never make such personal requests of customers and prospects. Asking a user to like your Page, on the other hand, doesn’t cross any such boundary. Instead, users like Pages.

    Facebook now allows Timelines to activate a subscribe feature, allowing Facebook users to subscribe to public updates from that person. This feature is the only marketing feature Timelines have, which is still extremely limited compared with the features offered in a Facebook Page.

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  • Using a Facebook Timeline to market your organization is a violation of the Facebook terms and conditions. Facebook terms state: “You will not use your personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes.”

    Facebook terms also state: “If you violate the letter or spirit of this Statement, or otherwise create risk or possible legal exposure for us, we can stop providing all or part of Facebook to you.” This means that even after you spend a lot of resources to build a large number of friends — say 5,000 — Facebook can simply delete your Timeline.

  • Facebook Timelines have bad search engine optimization (SEO). Facebook Pages are public by default. This means that anyone can search and find your Page with the Facebook search engine and with Internet search engines, thereby helping your business gain visibility and broadening your audience beyond just Facebook.

If you created a Timeline to market your business and want to switch to a Page, here’s the good news: Facebook gives you the opportunity to convert your existing Timeline to a Page. When you do so, your Timeline picture remains, and all your friends become fans of the new Page.

When you’re converting a Timeline to a Page, though, all other information is removed. So if you opt for this conversion, save any updates, videos, photos, and other types of content to your hard drive so that you can put them on your new Page.

After you convert your Timeline to a Page, you can’t revert back to a Timeline.

To convert a Facebook Timeline to a Page, follow the steps for creating a Facebook Page.

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Groups are for connection, not promotion

Another very common mistake businesses make is creating a Facebook Group to market their products or services. The problem with this action is that Groups are intended for Facebook users to connect with one another — not to receive notifications about promotions or new products from businesses.

Most Groups are very small and used as tools for people to communicate in real-life social circles. Now, this isn’t to say that businesses shouldn’t use Groups. Post Planner, a Facebook marketing app company, uses Groups to engage Facebook experts and Post Planner evangelists.

Groups can be valuable for businesses, but here are three reasons why Facebook Groups aren’t as good as Facebook Pages for your business:

  • Groups offer no capability to add custom applications. One thing that people love about Facebook Pages is that you can add a lot of custom tabs to conduct polls, create photo contests, and collect emails, among other ways to keep prospects and customers connected. You can even add storefront e-commerce applications to a Facebook Page!

  • Facebook Groups have no viral features. When users post updates in Groups, they’re shared only with other members of that group. Pages, on the other hand, automatically generate viral reach each time a person likes, comments on, or shares updates from that Page.

  • Facebook Groups have no hierarchy. All members of a Facebook Group are generally seen as being equal players who contribute to a common cause or interest. For this reason, the Group members — not a brand — dictate what topics are discussed.

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