Yesterday, we discussed Why Facebook is a good way to incorporate social networking into an online profile management and web communications strategy.
Today, we'll continue with examining whether you will need a profile, group, page, or combination of these.
The Facebook "profile" is for individual networking and personal communication. "Personal," does not necessarily mean that every person who is a mutual friend on your profile is someone you have had over to dinner, and are willing to share your deepest, darkest secrets with. Remember, NOTHING is really "private" on the web. In most cases, these are friends, relatives, acquaintances, and friends-of-friends with whom you share common interests.
Facebook requires a first and last name that sounds like a first and last name for a Facebook "profile." Occasionally, the site will go through a purge, and dump accounts that appear to be using "fake" names. Therefore, it is not wise to invest a lot of time into building a Facebook profile under the name of a blog, business, or political statement.
The Facebook Profile has much more options for security, and communicating with potential friends. You can adjust your settings to reveal all, some, or none of your information to just about anyone you wish (within certain limits).
The Facebook "groups" are for collaboration around a certain idea or topic. They are similar to the Facebook profiles in that they have some security features (they can be "open," or "closed," to the public), but different in that any name can be chosen for the group. Groups are for sharing videos, photos, links, and for hosting discussions. Administrators of the groups have the ability to send direct messages to everyone in the group at once. Group members also have the ability to invite all of their friends, or several of their friends to a group at once.
The Facebook "fan page" is the least private of these options, however, they have the advantage of being indexed on the search engines, so they are good for search engine optimization (SEO) when developing an online profile. They have some of the same features as group in that users can share links, videos, and photos; however, it is not possible to send direct messages to everyone on a fan page at once.
So, which is better for you? You'll need to have a profile in order to set up either a page or a group. You may choose to use that profile to keep in touch with people you actually know while you use your group or page to keep in touch with your extended network. There is currently a limit of 5,000 friends on a Facebook profile, so if you think there is a possibility you will surpass that, it is better to just start out with a Fan Page, to keep everyone from having to switch later.
In upcoming posts, we will discuss some basic "do's" and "don'ts" for using Facebook.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.