Facebook-Profile-Costume Get more tips like this and learn about the full range of social media marketing platforms, tool, techniques, and strategies from Dan Zarrella 's book " The Social Media Marketing Book ," published by O'Reilly.

If I could give you only one piece of Facebook marketing advice, it would be: People have profiles. Brands have pages.

Social networking profiles represent people. From your Facebook profile, you declare personal relationships, grow your network by manually accepting friend requests, and discover other people in your network to add as friends.  Your Facebook profile includes facts about you including your favorite movies, what schools you went to, and your favorite quotes.

Your brand isn't a person . It doesn't have a favorite quote or book. You can't friend a brand, and it certainly can't friend you back. Brands don't have friends . Brands have fans . Fans have discussions about your brands, share news about them, and share information about your brands with others.

Facebook: The Favorite Social Network of Businesses'

A new Business.com study of 3,000 businesses showed that 83% of respondents named Facebook as their favorite social network to engage with customers. However, marketing on Facebook hasn't always been so easy for brands. When Facebook first began to catch on with businesses, it experienced a gold rush of brands who joined solely to social media market. Just like nearly every other social network, the relationship between people and brands got a little messy. Remember, people you're trying to reach have probably been using Facebook more often and for longer than you have. Unless your approach is pitch perfect you may end up doing more harm than good.

Profiles are for People. At this point in Facebook's community's development, you do not want to keep a profile if you are a brand. Keeping a brand profile is a surefire way to come across as totally out-of-touch. And worse, even if you were to pull off a successful corporate profile, Facebook has been known to suspend profiles for "too much marketing activity."

Groups are for People. Groups really aren't suitable for a serious marketing effort. They originally were created as a place for like-minded people to communicate outside of their immediate network and never were intended for brand use. There is very little time and energy required to make one and consequently, users do not value them as much as pages. How many I-lost-my-cellphone-so-I-need-all-your-numbers-again groups have you been invited to?

Pages are for Brands. After setting up a page for your brand on Facebook , use applications to pull in content from your blog and Twitter account (you do have those too right?) to keep your page full of fresh, frequently updated information. Resist the urge to turn your page into a watered-down version of your website. Include some offers, media or conversation on Facebook that does not appear anywhere else. Retail brands like Victoria's Secret are especially talented at this. I recommend viewing their Victoria's Secret Pink Facebook page and see how their brand interacts with fans.

So, what if you have a profile page or a group set up for your brand already? In some cases, businesses who've launched a successful profile or group prior to Facebook pages can contact Facebook to have them migrate their contacts to their new Facebook page. This is definitely something you consider if you've got a lot of group members or friends that you don't want to lose when you transfer your brand to your new page.    

Check out Dan Zarrella's new book for more great ideas on the best ways to leverage Facebook and other social platforms in your business.

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Originally published Nov 23, 2009 8:30:00 AM, updated October 20 2016

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Facebook Business Pages