This is a story about Facebook.
It’s the wet summer of 2012, it’s the east end of Glasgow, and there’s a smallish corner cafe which is making quite a name for itself. The staff are friendly, the mood is chill and the venue itself has the important advantage of being the least stabby-looking place to get a beer in the area. I go there far too often and would be totally happy to hear when there’s an open mic night happening and when their meltingly- delicious slow-roast pork belly is back on the specials menu.
In circumstances not unconnected with the slow-roast pork belly, I’ve also rejoined my favourite gym in the west end. Since it’s been a while, there are a lot of unfamiliar faces and it’s all go for the staff, with a major refit and a bunch of new classes being trialled over the last few weeks.
These are businesses I enjoy interacting with, identify with and would happily promote to others. But I don’t follow either the gym or the cafe on Facebook, and I’m not going to. Both businesses have made an error that, for me, is a deal-breaker: they’ve set up a personal Facebook profile for their business.
If your business page is set up as a personal profile right now, please understand that you are missing out on a ton of cool stuff that doesn’t require much time or any special skills to use. You could be pinning your best offers right at the top of your timeline so that new people who add you have a decent chance of seeing them. You could be accessing Facebook insights, happily prying into how people are interacting with your page and deciding when and what to post. If you want to disappear for a week or two, it’d be a doddle to add other members of staff as page admins and choose which level of permissions you give them. Dealing with friend requests would be a thing of the past, and you could have as many fans as you like without ever hitting a limit.
Facebook clearly doesn’t want people using personal profiles in this way; in fact, it’s a direct violation of their Ts &Cs. In reality, I don’t know how likely it is that Facebook would push the big red Delete button for this, but as well as being functionally rubbish, these pages are also on shaky ground.
All this, of course, is none of my beeswax. From a purely self-interested point of view, this matters because I don’t want businesses on my friends list. Maybe this seems pedantic, but when you look a little closer there are some very sound reasons to be wary. As a ‘friend’, a business has access to all of your status updates and pictures. The owner can see who your friends are and can post directly on your wall if he feels like it. When you add a business as a friend, you don’t know who looks after the Facebook account or who else the account might be shared with. Perhaps you could set up a special subgroup of friends and assign those people limited permissions, but who really does that? We’re lazy, we have a bunch of cat videos to watch and anyway, why should all the effort be on our side when Facebook has made this so very easy for admins to fix?
As a specialist social media agency, we don’t recommend Facebook as a blanket solution for all businesses. It can work incredibly well or be totally inappropriate, and where it’s a good match, admins have to have the time and the content to keep it flowing. These small, local and mainstream businesses are one of the areas in which Facebook really has a chance to shine. But unless we’re on real-world friendly terms: please, let’s keep the relationship strictly business.
From Community Manager Annie Macfarlane @anniefiddle #YomegoSocial