Tech Tips for Writers: Facebook Profiles vs. Pages

Let’s face it. Facebook is a necessary evil for most writers. Most people I know have a love/hate relationship with the social network. But it’s hard to deny the reach and effectiveness.

There’s a lot to learn about Facebook, but one of the most frequently asked questions is, What is the difference between a personal profile and a page?

The Definition

Every user who signs up for Facebook starts with a PERSONAL PROFILE. This is your hub, where other users FRIEND you. It is for individuals and non-commercial use. Right now, the cap for the number of friends you can have is 5,000.

Screen shot 2014-11-02 at 6.34.16 PM
(Personal Profile: Note the personal info along the left column, and the “Friends” tab.)

A PAGE is like a basic timeline connected to a personal profile. This is a marketing tool where users LIKE your Page.

Screen shot 2014-11-02 at 6.34.51 PM
(Page: Note the Likes counter and the different menu items, including “Insights”.)

You cannot have a Page on Facebook without having a Personal Profile. However, owners of Pages are anonymous to the Facebook user, so don’t worry that your Page will give away your true identity, Batman. You may also have multiple Pages associated with one Personal Profile. Each Page can also have multiple administrators.

The Specifics

Pages and Profiles operate in some similar ways, but they have crucial differences.

A Profile allows you to:

  • friend others
  • join groups
  • create/join events

A Page allows you to:

  • create events
  • promote offers
  • run ads (either by promoting your page or boosting a post)
  • schedule posts
  • gather insights about your fans
  • track the effectiveness of your posts
  • compare the effectiveness of your Page to similar Pages

Do I Need a Page if I Have a Profile?

Probably. Both have different purposes. If you want to gather data about your fans, you’ll need the Insights feature on the Page. This tells you who your fans are, when they’re online, and other interesting details to help you target your book-buying audience.

In my experience, Personal Profiles are more casual. These are for funny things you see online, photos, quizzes, and randomness. A Page is a marketing tool, used to market either yourself or your books. Some overlap exists, sure. But if you meet an agent or editor, are you going to give them the URL to your Personal Profile or your Page? No contest. The Page is your professional first stop.

And Finally…

As I said, Personal Profiles have a cap of 5,000 friends. There is no cap for the number of likes your page can acquire, and anyone can like your Page.

Along those lines, you should NOT blindly accept every friend request you get. Spammers are rampant on Facebook, and they have been known to hijack Personal Profiles, then contact every person on the hacked profile account. Every friend request should be vetted. Visit that person’s profile. Do you have friends in common? Did they join Facebook in the last few weeks? Do they list themselves as male, but have a female profile photo? BE CAREFUL who you friend. I do not accept every friend request, and if they look sketchy…sorry, Charlie.

For how to set up a Personal Profile or a Page, visit this post from Mashable.

Did this answer all your Page/Profile questions? Continue the discussion below….

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19 Comments

  1. This is great info Joanna! I still find myself stumbling through Facebook. They keep changing their rules on hosting contests and it confuses me.

    Reply
  2. JB Schroeder

     /  November 3, 2014

    Very timely and very helpful, Joanna! I’ve been debating what to do with my own fb situation and this makes the differences so much clearer. Thank you!!!

    Reply
  3. Diana Quincy

     /  November 4, 2014

    As someone who is often baffled by FB’s foibles, I appreciate this tutorial. Thanks Joanna!

    Reply
  4. Yes, a lot of it is a big mystery. Glad you found it helpful!

    Reply
  5. RoseAnn DeFranco

     /  November 4, 2014

    So very helpful, Joanna! I really love the way you have the same header for both your author profile and your page. It also helps that you have three amazing covers in that header! I did not realize you could only create an event from a PAGE. With all the talk of FB wanting to charge for an account or page, I wonder if they will charge for an account that allows for more than 5,000 friends. Thanks for all the insights. 🙂

    Reply
  6. I’m still working through how to effectively use FB. Any suggestions on how to use Ads to help build a reader base?

    Reply
    • All the research I did said to boost a post. Don’t just buy an ad to promote your page. I ran an ad to let folks know about a contest and sign up for my newsletter. I feel like, for the little money I spent, it was well worth it.

      Reply
  7. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  November 7, 2014

    I’ve got both. My question is…should I change my personal page to my professional name (like you have done) and just let my friends know? Is there any way someone looking at your page can link to my personal profile?

    Reply
    • The personal profile and page are completely separate, unless you choose to promote them together. (Sharing posts, putting links in your info to direct to the other.) So no one will see it unless you tell them to.

      You can change your profile name, but FB frowns upon that because each user is supposed to be using his or her LEGAL name for the personal profile. That’s why pages exist, for folks to use their professional names. Technically, according to FB TOS, you can get booted for using a name other than your legal name.

      I set up two separate personal profiles. I have my non-writer profile that I’ve had for eons, and then more recently created the writer personal profile. BOth are connected to my Fan Page.

      Does that help?

      Reply
      • Jaye Marie Rome

         /  November 7, 2014

        Very helpful. I’m surprised a bit about the profile name, because I know more than one person who uses either a company name or an alias such as “Billy’s Son” rather than their real name. They still post the typical personal stuff though.

      • Jaye Marie Rome

         /  November 8, 2014

        OMG, is Facebook tracking me all over the net? My friend just posted on our rescue loop that she had her fb account disabled yesterday because she didn’t know she had to use her real name!

      • Ha! There you go.

        I *can* happen, but probably doesn’t happen very often. I mean, doesn’t Facebook have better things to worry about?

  8. Joanna, you are so great with this social media stuff! I always appreciate your insights. I find Facebook ads very effective myself. I create an ad, rather than boosting a post because I seem to get more metrics and more control over my target audience that way, but I think they both work really well.

    I noticed something about my Page that I wondered if you could confirm or maybe expand on: it seems that posts that are just text or even text with photos don’t get much reach anymore. I’m finding I have to post links to get any distribution from my Page. Have you noticed this too?

    Reply
    • In my experience, there’s no difference in the set up for an ad vs. boosting a post. It’s just the content and where it’s delivered to, no? I’m curious to learn more on why you think a generic ad, vs. boosting a post, gets more traction. Perhaps I’ll do a test to see.

      The FB algorithm is a mystery, and I suspect there’s no right answer here. All the research I’ve done (and my own anecdotal evidence, which means squat) is that the reach (from lowest to highest) is : text only, text with links, text with photos. I’m surprised you’re seeing a boost with an outside link, as Facebook likes to keep users within Facebook. They’d rather not send you off to CNN or Buzzfeed, if they can help it.

      Perhaps your users are uniquely interested in your links (meaning, your good at providing content they’re interested in) and they respond to your posts? Anyway, it’s great! You’re bucking the trend. 🙂

      Reply
      • Re: the Facebook ads vs. the post boost. I took a course on Facebook a year ago and the teacher recommended ads vs. boosts because there’s more control. I get great results with ads, but don’t know about the post boost since I don’t do those.

        I tend to “share” links from other Facebook friends on my Page. Maybe that’s why I get better traction from those? I’m baffled.

      • I will have to try the ads to see if there is any difference in the target marketing. I think the boost targeting is pretty specific, so I’m curious…

        Thanks for sharing!

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