My good old, reliable hub of knowledge that is the Urban Dictionary describes the ‘Friend Zone’ as follows:
“The worst position someone can be in if they have feelings for someone else. When a person develops romantic feelings for someone, but the other person sees the relationship as just being friends.”
While I wouldn’t describe it as the worst position one can be in, it certainly isn’t the greatest; one party has to hold back from saying what they truly feel or believe and the other has to draw a line and make their position clear, potentially causing a lot of upset.
However, there is one friend zone that none of us can really get out of, or get enough of for that matter – that little site that’s celebrating its 10th birthday this week – of course, the notorious friend zone that is Facebook.
On Facebook we can’t get enough of friends and the bigger our friend zone the better – people from school, ex-partners, neighbours and anyone with a half decent profile picture are all invited to be our online friends.
So, my very important question today is, when setting up for business on Facebook – a site designed as a very personal platform – where do you draw that all-important line between the personal and the professional?
The customer expects a lot from companies now – social media platforms are getting friendlier and with that you have to become much more personal. However, as a professional business you have to set boundaries in order to minimise potential damage to your online reputation without dismissing potential customer advances…
Hmmm, this friend zone is pretty tricky!
So, do we hang back and keep our customers at arms-length or do we take it further, expose more of our personal selves and try to make Facebook something more than just a list of friends?
Well, much like in any of life’s complicated little situations; we have to weigh up some pros and cons here.
When it comes to Facebook for business, you have three main options:
A ‘business only’ Facebook account.
Up until 2013, Facebook gave you the option to create a ‘business only’ account – something that was little known about and therefore not widely missed. However people who used business only accounts are livid at the prospect of now having to set up a personal account in order for their business to achieve any kind of Facebook presence. However, a business only account can still be achieved by converting a personal profile .
► You can use a business email to sign up so that your colleagues can login without the danger of them going into your personal account (or, if you’re colleagues are like mine, from ‘fraping’ you).
► Even if your colleagues have chosen not to own a personal Facebook account (therefore unable to become a page admin), they can still have access and have a say when it comes to the business page as you can all use the same login.
► Any friends you add will then be converted to ‘likes’ when you convert to a page.
► Well, it sort of defeats the object, especially for those dead against setting up any kind of personal profile to start with.
► Facebook will frown upon you! Facebook doesn’t take kindly to personal accounts that aren’t ‘real’ people. You may find that if you want to create, for example Miss “Mobius Media” that you may be reported or that Facebook will not let you sign up with the name you want.
► I have found (particularly with pages that I have taken over) that ‘business only’ Facebook profiles don’t have some of the benefits (for example, integrating your page with third party apps or search bar options) if not connected with a ‘real’ person.
Create a separate, professional profile
Creating a ‘professional’ profile is something I have done before and have also taken over accounts that have taken this approach – first create your professional Facebook profile and create your page through this account.
► Again, you can use a generic business email to set up this account so that your colleagues can have access to your business page even if they are not on Facebook.
► You can keep it private: you don’t have to add any personal information, photos or updates – you can keep it strictly business.
► Business associates and colleagues that want to find you online can still add your professional Facebook account without you worrying about them seeing what you got up to on Saturday night.
► You will still have to build up a friends list in order to invite them to your page. You have to do this from scratch when starting from a new profile page.
► Your interaction may dwindle – I find a lot of clients who take this approach will set up a half-baked profile with no pictures and no personality and as a result have not managed to entice many friends to invite to their business page. Inviting your friends is a great starting point and you may find (without buying them) that your ‘likes’ don’t take off quite so quickly. In cases like this, inviting your email contacts or simply putting your Facebook for business link to your email signature is a great way to let your clients, colleagues and associates know you’ve gone social.
Create a page through your personal profile
This is the most common way to create a page – log straight into your personal Facebook account and get started.
► No one can see you! This is where a lot of clients get confused as some believe that a) people can somehow link the business page to the admin profile (which is not the case) or b) that by inviting another admin to manage their business page, that admin can somehow get access to (or post as) your personal account. This is also untrue.
► You already have an established friend zone – particularly if it’s your business or start up, it’s likely that you have friends and family who will be more than willing to support your venture by giving you a ‘like’ should you invite them, not to mention support your future content with likes, shares and comments.
► Using personal Facebook accounts to manage your business page increases your reach – for example, taking photos of each other on an office trip will reach a much wider audience and encourage interaction so much more if you have the ability to tag your colleagues.
► You have to be an already-established social butterfly – you need to have already have a personal Facebook account, something that simply isn’t an option for some people.
► Customers can’t see you, but if you want to start building up a team of admins, you’re going to have to connect with your colleagues online. Depending on the kind of professional relationship you have, you may not want your colleagues knowing that you got in at 6am and missed your pole dancing class because you were busy filming your NekNomination.
► If you go all out and represent your business all over your personal account (eg, listing it as your place of work, putting the logo as your cover photo etc) you have to remember that anything you say could be reflected onto the company.
► There’s a risk of mixing your business profile with your personal one – it’s a long shot but wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened and could have disastrous repercussions!
So it really boils down to your company – if you take us at Mobius as an example, we have no problem with using our personal Facebook profiles to manage our business page – we have a very relaxed and friendly office and like this to reflect in our online presence. As long as you keep an eye on who has access and exactly what they’re posting, you will still be able to put some regulations in place.
So whichever option is right for your business, if you’re not embracing Facebook for business after 10 years then you need to take it to the next level – and make it more than just a friend zone.
P.s. LIKE US ON FACEBOOK!