If Walls can talk: managing a corporate presence on Facebook

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Great news a couple of weeks ago for companies that maintain Facebook Pages: the fast-growing social network has made them function more like Profiles.

Photo courtesy jaycameron via Flickr

Photo courtesy jaycameron via Flickr

What’s the difference between a Facebook Page and a Profile? Up until now, many companies and public figures chose the Page option, enabling them more control over their presence in several ways. One of those hasn’t changed and remains perhaps the most important difference: Pages can only attract “Fans”, not “Friends”. If you choose the Page option, anyone can become a Fan of your Page without your approval of their request. This keeps public entities from having to deal with the sometimes hairy question of whom they want to “associate” with on Facebook; it’s not up to you to acknowledge Fans the way you approve or deny Friend requests.

Here’s what has changed: Pages didn’t used to enable Walls, Status Updates, or additional tabs with photos, video and other content; the new version enables all of that. Those are the site’s most popular features, and their absence made Pages look like wallflowers at the Facebook party. If you’re not a Facebook user (and contrary to popular belief, 86 percent of Americans aren’t, according to research by AllFacebook.com, a division of Social Times), the Wall is a way to communicate with someone one-on-one for all to see. Write on someone’s Wall and your message appears on their Profile for all to see. This kind of public eavesdropping is key to the popularity of Facebook and Twitter; it greatly increases the amount of content available for all.

Now that Pages have Walls, companies are faced with the question of whether to allow their Fans to post text, photo and videos to their Pages instantly (read more about the changes from Facebook’s own guide). TechCrunch reports that not everyone is happy with the changes, especially those who have invested money in developing their Pages. But ultimately, all of this makes the presence of brands on the site more sociable.

Should you allow just anyone to write on your Wall? If so, of course you’ll need to monitor the Page closely, and not just so you can delete potentially offensive content. You should also be ready to respond to comments of an inquisitive or complimentary nature. But the changes will require keepers of Pages to pay closer attention and participate more anyway; if you’re not sharing content, both promotional and simply useful or interesting, on a regular basis (i.e. daily or at least weekly), there’s not much point to being there at all. What are your thoughts about maintaining a company presence on Facebook?

Tags : social media

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