OK, so we are not going to talk about pings this time, but it worked for me in the title. But let’s talk about profiles and pages in Facebook. In speaking with many travel professionals, there is still much confusion about the difference between the two. Hopefully I can shed some light on the differences.
A profile is about you. Please note the period at the end of that sentence. This is the place to share your party pictures, the latest off color joke, your status updates, an interesting YouTube video and more. It is all about you and your friends and has nothing to do with your business. Remember, your Facebook friends can be classified just like your real friends. I have many real-life friends where our friendship is limited to holiday cards and two phone calls a year. I have many that I will go and have dinner with next week. See the difference? Some of my friends are clients. Some of my clients are friends. Facebook allows you to categorize each friend with certain viewing permissions. I have three categories—“totally cool”, “not so sure”, and “just the facts.” My closest friends are “totally cool” and can pretty much see anything I post on Facebook. My “not so sure” friends might be a client I do not know too well personally, a local elected official, my kid’s teacher, etc. What they can see is limited—no photos, no links, no religious preference, political leaning,only part of my wall, etc. My “just the facts” friends really only see the basic information—my location, maybe my real email address, some interests, no wall, and they are not able to see who else I am friends with.
This makes sense. It is just like real life. You share the minutiae of your life with your closest friends and acquaintances, and share considerably less with those you do not know as well, but have a need to keep in touch. If you don’t know how to do this send me $20 an email and I will teach you how.
This is your business. There is a period at the end of that sentence as well. Think of your page as your store. You are not going to be posting about your latest binge drinking spree or uploading the video of your kid’s first steps. This is the place for trip reports (notes), your personal photos or video of a resort you recently inspected, a link to an appropriate news article that your clients would like, a link to your latest blog posting, or a special deal you have discovered. But more than those, this is a place for conversation—not sales! If you are always promoting some bargain, people will leave and you have become the used car salesman of the travel world. Talk! Discuss! Engage! Rather than post the latest deal to Rome, begin a conversation…”I was just reading a post on a Forum about Rome and remembered how much I love that city and how I need to go back…soon!” And let it go from there. You will be able to show your experience and knowledge and if you are lucky you may get a booking or a group from it. Never think of your Facebook page as a sales tool—it is an engagement tool. YOU are the sales tool.
Keeping them separate
The confusion comes in keeping them separate. First some practical notes—when you are posting on your page (business) you will ALWAYS post as the business (with the business logo and name) and never as a person (unless you have two profiles and log out and all that), that is the way Facebook has it set up. Again, it makes sense, you don’t see the CEO of Toyota posting on Facebook—although he may be the face behind the business. Treat your page as if it is your storefront agency. Answer questions professionally. Have businesslike manners. Decorate the office appropriately. Offer valuable information. Remember, just because you have a store, does not mean someone will buy from you. You are the sales tool. Just because you have a page on Facebook does not mean someone will buy from you. You are the sales tool.
I developed this analogy clarify the relationship between pages and profiles. Imagine it as a landlord/tenant situation. The landlord (Facebook) wants to know who is behind the business (page) before they rent to you. They will ask who you are (profile) and make a decision if they will rent (do you have a good Facebook record) the store to you . Once the deal is done, the sign goes up and everyone is exposed to the business—not necessarily the owner; and the landlord really does not care as long as the rent is paid.
And here is your free, no charge, Facebook tip of the day: Instead of dealing with the ridiculous URL that Facebook assigns to your business page (www.facebook.com/pages/83804747) why not get a simple one like www.facebook.com/TravelResearchOnline? (By the way, that is an active link. You should go there and “like” the page!) Easy, just go to www.facebook.com/username and you can select the custom URL, if available, as long as you have a minimum of 25 fans. It also works with profiles!
Does that help? Do you have any Facebook tips to share? Please leave a comment!