February 7, 2011

Why you want to create a Facebook Page, not a Profile, for your nonprofit

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John HaydonI’ve been chatting with Will Coley lately about nonprofits that violate Facebook’s Terms of Service, sometimes knowingly, by using a Profile to market their cause rather than a Page.

Using a Facebook Profile to market your nonprofit on Facebook is not smart, for at least three reasons:

You have no way of knowing what people want

1Facebook gives marketers a powerful tool called Insights that allows you to see – on a post level – how your fans engage with your content. Profiles don’t have this tool, only Pages do.

Facebook users don’t analyze how their friends react to their status updates. But marketers care very much about this – and so should you.

People don’t want to be your friend

2A friend request is very different from asking someone to like your Page. If you’re sending friend requests as a Profile, you’re asking the user to allow you to see their photos, their friends list, their address, their phone number and perhaps their relationship status.


Facebook users don’t want to share this info with your organization. Asking a user to like your Page, on the other hand, doesn’t cross any personal boundary.

Facebook could delete your profile

3Using a Facebook profile to market your organization is a violation of Facebook’s rules.

What this means is that after spending a lot of resources of building up a large amount of friends – say, up to 5,000 – Facebook can simply delete the profile.

A visual map of your Facebook options

It’s likely that most nonprofits that go this route do so simply out of ignorance. The difference between a Profile and a Page is a topic covered in the Facebook Foundations webinar I conduct with CharityHowTo. Above is a map of all properties available on Facebook — Pages, Profiles, Places and Groups — on one slide. You can also download the PDF.

Why else is using a Profile bad business for nonprofits?

Cross-posted to JohnHaydon.com.

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John Haydon delivers social web strategy solutions for “the quick, the smart, and the slightly manic.” Curious? Then visit the John Haydon blog, follow him on Twitter or leave a comment.

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2 thoughts on “Why you want to create a Facebook Page, not a Profile, for your nonprofit

  1. How do you create a page without having a profile? Is there a way to transfer fans to "likes?" How do you get Hootsuite and the likes to work without having a profile?

  2. You need to create a profile – and should if you want to have a better understanding of how to use Facebook. Fans are likes. Hope that helps.