The Facebook Page: Is it right for your company?

As a social media tactic, the Facebook Page seems to be king of kings these days. Some companies are taking full advantage of the viral capabilities of the Page – using it to supplement online strategies or even in place of a website or promotional microsite. However, other companies struggle with using the Page and simply create one because they think they must in order to have a successful social media plan.

While I’ve worked with companies who’ve seen great results using the Facebook Page, I’ve also worked with companies for whom the Page is not right – and that’s OK. If your company is not ready to assume the risks (and rewards) of having a Facebook Page, there are other tactics you can turn to and even other ways to integrate your business with Facebook.

The Facebook Page is a unique animal – though it’s similar in some ways to a MySpace Page, a YouTube Channel and others, the way that actions taken on the Page spread virally through the Facebook social graph is incomparable. This is a huge incentive for many companies to create Facebook Pages, but presents serious concerns for others.

The Facebook Wall

So, what’s the most common concern? Simply put, the Facebook Wall.

The Facebook Wall is the area of the Page that is meant to chronicle the actions taken by the Page, posts by the Page and posts by Fans of the Page. Generally, posts that appear on the Wall may also appear in the News Feeds of Fans.

The Facebook Page (and Wall specifically) intimidates some companies due to perceived risks. A few I’ve heard often are:

  • “When a Fan posts a negative or incorrect comment to a company’s Facebook Wall, the company assumes ownership and responsibility for that comment. It is on the company’s Page, sitting side-by-side with the company’s logo, and if it allowed to remain on the Page, the company is endorsing it.”
  • “When a Fan posts photos, videos or links to a company’s Wall, the company is essentially using assets that do not belong to it to promote itself.”
  • “If a company’s senior leadership were to see a negative post by a Fan on the company’s Wall, it would insist the comment be deleted or potentially end the initiative altogether.”

There are ways a company could address these concerns and mitigate the perceived risks – a moderation plan and a thorough understanding of Facebook’s terms for a start – but often when these concerns are raised, it is because a legal team is involved. And for many legal teams, mitigating risk is not enough.

Some companies propose to solve for the above risks by “turning off” the Wall, preventing Fans from posting any content to the Page. These companies would also have to refrain from posting to their own Walls, as that opens the door for Fans to post Comments in response.

Some companies think this is an acceptable approach to Facebook. But the truth is that a Facebook Page without a Wall is not a Facebook Page at all. Perhaps too cute a motto, but true all the same. If a company cannot embrace the concept of the Wall, then it shouldn’t have a Facebook Page.

The Alternatives

So, your company can’t accept the risks and agrees that (say it with me) a Facebook Page without a Wall is not a Facebook Page at all. You’ve eliminated a Facebook Page as a social media channel for you at this time. Let’s talk about alternatives.

There are numerous tactics you could incorporate into your social media strategy outside the Facebook Page, too many to talk about here, but here are two that make particularly good substitutes for the functionality a Facebook Page provides.

  • Broadcast your news through Twitter: Twitter allows your company to broadcast information to your audience in a way that is similar to a Facebook Page Wall, but without some of the perceived risk of a Facebook Page. Negative and false comments about all kinds of companies are being tweeted constantly, but – big but here – your company does not have to own them on its own Page. Your company’s Page will only contain tweets made by your company. Even Tweets containing “@yourcompany” will not appear on your Page – eliminating concerns about “sponsoring” customer comments. However, users are still posting undesirable tweets about your company and it’s still vitally important that you respond to those issues as part of a successful social media approach.
  • Publish to Facebook via Facebook Connect: As a non-developer, it seems as if there are infinite ways to implement Facebook Connect on your company’s website. Ben & Jerry’s used it earlier this year to allow users to “fan” each of their ice cream flavors without actually starting a Facebook Page for individual flavors. Garmin uses it to allow users to publish recent purchases to Facebook. And numerous review sites, such as Yelp, use it to enable users to publish restaurant and business reviews to Facebook.

Facebook Connect effectively turns your company’s website into a Facebook application, allowing you to publish user actions to Facebook (with the users’ permission) and drive traffic back to your site – all without a Facebook Page.

Caveat: I heart the Facebook Page

I heart Facebook. I love it as a user and I love it as a marketer. If your company is willing to accept the risks – and incredible rewards – of fully leveraging Facebook via a Facebook Page, do it. Do it today.

However, I want to give a little hope to our friends and clients who need alternatives. There are so many great ways to use social media to engage your audience. Give us a call if you want to chat about them.

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