Facebook is Doing It Wrong for B2B Companies

The big recent news about Facebook Pages is that people no longer fan those pages, but like them. This is step in the right direction for B2B companies, but there are quite a few things that are wrong with Facebook’s approach to Pages. Since social media is still so new, and changing all the time, as people learn how to best utilize tools and approaches, there is a reluctance to saying people are doing it wrong. But in this case, with a feature that was designed for companies and brands, Facebook is doing it wrong.

I was writing a post about some helpful tips for B2B companies looking to create Facebook pages for their companies when I got completely stuck on my first tip. Many people do not know about the existence of business profiles and I was going to outline the steps to creating a Facebook page managed by a business profile, rather than a personal profile. But it turns out that it violates Facebook terms of use.

Maintaining multiple accounts, regardless of the purpose, is a violation of Facebook’s Terms of Use. If you already have a personal account, then we cannot allow you to create business accounts for any reason. You can manage all the Pages and Socials Ads that you create on your personal account.

Here’s why this is a problem. When you create a Facebook page, the creator of the page has rights above all other administrators of the page. The creator can add and delete other administrators, but they cannot remove themselves from the page. And there is no way to promote an administrator to this higher level of control. An employee can create a Facebook page, but leave the company on good terms. They still have full access to the page, including the insights dashboard which shows activity and demographics of the page, as well as receiving the weekly email showing page activity. What if they went to work for a competitor?

[UPDATE: June 15, 2010: Facebook gives admins the ability to remove other admins, including the creator admin]

There is not that much information that someone can get from these sources, but what if the employee who created the page is fired, or leaves on bad terms. They can immediately delete the other admins and change the content of the page. They could also easily delete the page. If you are a small B2B company struggling to find content for your Facebook page, this might be relief, although it can damage your reputation, but if you are a large company with tens or hundreds of thousands of fans who communicate though Facebook as another major channel, this is a problem. There has been lots of talk about Facebook attacks from the outside, but what about from the inside?

Many B2B companies hire outside consultants or agencies to build their Facebook pages, and those outside firms are in complete control over the page. Having disputes over payment with your social media provider? They can post that on YOUR Facebook page and if they have removed your admin rights, there is nothing you can do about it. This is not likely to happen, but it is another reason to thoroughly vet your partners for things beyond their social media prowess.

In addition to control, this page is linked to the creator’s personal profile. While it doesn’t show anywhere on the page who any of the admins are, if that person posts questionable content to their profile, this can connect back to your company. Even though pages are public and searchable, the only way to interact people who like your page (they are no longer fans), is to friend them. This lets them see a person’s profile unless they properly manage their privacy settings, which Facebook continues to change and makes difficult to manage, so people will wind up with their information publicly searchable. If Facebook really wants to serve business needs with pages they will make changes to the infrastructure of pages.

So how do companies overcome this problem of loss of control and get on Facebook without violating the Facebook terms of use? Here is my recommendation with a step by step guide. This is based on the assumption that all the people with admin rights on your Facebook page have their own personal profiles.

Before you start, create, or ask the company email admins to create, an email address facebook@yourdomain.com. Make sure this address forwards to you, but it needs to be identified as the company, not you.

  1. Log out of Facebook
  2. From the Facebook home page, click create a business page.
  3. Enter the page name. This should be your company or product name.
  4. Choose a category. These determine what fields you will have on the page, so choose wisely.
  5. Click save, which will prompt you to create a new profile.
  6. Enter the appropriate information for the company, not you, and save as a business profile.
  7. Go to the page and add yourself as an admin.
  8. Logout from the business profile and log back in as yourself.
  9. Now you can add other team members or partners as admins, and the company’s business profile now is the creator admin of the page.
  10. Proceed to administer the page as yourself, and there is no need to log back in with the business profile unless you are creating additional company pages.

Make sure you check with your legal team to make sure this workaround is appropriate for your company.

What others things about Facebook pages have made them a challenge for your B2B company?

4/30 UPDATE: Here’s another great take on this Facebook problem from Tamar Weinberg.

Comments

  1. says

    Thank you so much for this post. I have been wondering how to do this as I do not want to post business content to my personal page. I can finally take this off my inbound marketing to-do list!

  2. says

    Thanks for sharing this solution to a problem which has been baffling associations for a while — being tied to the staff creator of their public page. Unfortunately many of them already have pages tied to one person’s profile, but this will ease the barrier of entry for those who don’t.

  3. says

    well here’s MY FB fan page problem, just fyi:

    i built a fan page for my speaking/ authoring public persona, because i didn’t want to post my biz promotions in friend arena, i.e., where my many FB “friends” would be spammed by me. (when my not so close friends post houses they are selling on FB, i defriend or “hide” immediately) But i can’t quite tell if posts to my fan page are being sent to every friend’s (or just fans) newsfeed or not.

    the only workaround i can think of is to create a separate FB account and re-build the fanpage from scratch. what a pain. and as you point out, in violation. great. help.

    worse, when posts are made to fan pages there is no notification sent to admin. – jl

  4. Kari says

    The only issue I can see with this is one that I recently faced managing the Facebook presence for a client. A business profile had been created, and the business page was then created using that profile. However, the business profile then ended up getting loads of friend requests, so we then had to manage both the profile and the page. Our dilemma was what content to post where to avoid duplicate postings and losing friends or fans.

  5. says

    I think the fundamental problem is that Facebook was never designed for business. It was designed for college kids and now businesses are trying to use the wrong tool to do what they want.

  6. says

    One other thing to keep in mind:
    Be sure you check the separate email on a regular basis. You will get up dates from Facebook on recent changes and weekly stats updates that are very helpful.

  7. says

    I think this is a solid workaround to the problem. After all, the law treats legal business entities (that is, NOT sole proprietorships) as individual “persons,” so a corporation, LLC, LLP, etc., should have the ability to set up its own Facebook account, even if the person administering it already has a personal Facebook account.

    What I am trying to understand fully, though, is, “What type of Facebook presence is better for a business? A “page” that is created through an existing account (that is, a page that used to be “fanned” but is now “liked”), or the kind of presence that is created by setting up a separate business account?” (Or do you still just create a “page” under that separate business account?)

    Seems like you might get only one shot at doing this right, so I’d really like to be clear on it.

  8. says

    Lisa: Glad you can take something off your to-do list.

    Deirdre: Yes, this is for creation of new pages, and until Facebook makes changes, there’s nothing to do about existing pages.

    Justin: Page posts do show up in fans’ newsfeeds, but they don’t always show if they have lots of friends and follow lots of pages. And yes, no notifications is a big problem, but I was saving that for another post.

    Kari: A business profile cannot receive friend requests. Check to make sure it was set up correctly.

    Lateef: Yes, Facebook tried to add business functionality to something created for another purpose, but they have had a year to improve pages.

    Alexis: Unless you forward all email addresses to one address, you do need to check those addresses.

    Paul: Pages are public and searchable, so that is the best approach. With the addition of apps and the full use of tabs, you can create a much richer brand experience.

  9. says

    Jeffrey,

    Thanks for the info!

    I started to write a response explaining the limitations of starting a business page that wasn’t attached to an account, but decided to go test your recommendation first. I’m glad I did because it works.

    Facebook used to limit the functionality on pages that weren’t attached to a live profile, but it doesn’t look like there are any limitations now.

    Thanks again,

    Doug

  10. Jonathan says

    If I’m reading this right, this is great if you don’t already have a page. But what about those of us who have had pages for our organizations for a while now? Facebook need to address that issue.

  11. says

    SH#*!! I just published our company’s page YESTERDAY. If only I had thought through the whole admin/ownership thing.

    Does this mean I should delete our current page and start over? There’s no way to turn over admin rights to another person?

    I know, maybe Facebook will fix that problem.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  12. Sharon says

    Of course not. There is very little about social media EXCEPT customer support that supports B2B.

  13. says

    Lisa: Glad to help

    Doug: Happy to hear this works for you.

    Jonathan: Correct, this is only if you have not created a page yet. There is not currently a solution for existing pages.

    Jonathan S: If you just created your page yesterday, DELETE and start over. That is unless you have 100s of fans, ooh pardon me, people who like your page already. ;)

  14. says

    This is exactly how we created the Facebook page for the company I work in.

    However, we saw that Facebook says this violates their TOS; I think, in the part where you have to give your age, it said only real persons can create a Page.

    We did it this way anyway.

  15. says

    Eva:

    Until Facebook makes some changes, this really is the only way to do. They have created business profiles, which when used correctly solves the creator/admin problem, however, Facebook says you can’t use them.

  16. Susan says

    I actually tried this: set up the facebook@ email. Had to use a birth date that wasn’t mine (since even business accounts ask for a birth date). But this isn’t a great solution either for a couple of reasons. First, business accounts are very limited – I can’t move the group I originally created there for it to admin, so that has to stay with my personal profile. Second, even if you are just an admin for a page off of a business profile, FB may think you created a second account if the email is generic. This is not taking all of the risk away from you losing your personal profile (and they have deleted profiles they suspect in violation). Thoughts?

  17. says

    Susan

    Thanks for you comments and questions. Correct, a business profile has very limited functionality within Facebook. As an aside, you may want to review what you are using your group for and considering creating a page instead. Even though there is no way to move members of a group to a page, you get more flexibility with a page. This workaround, while not perfect, is meant to address two main issues: personal profiles having ultimate control over pages, and providing company ownership of the page. Now that Facebook allows admins to be removed, including the creator admin, the first issue is resolved. Companies can now remove former employees and partners who created pages. The only issues relates to ownership of the page. Does a business profile with a generic email address really solve this issue? Not really, but it moves in the right direction. Does creating a business profile with a generic email address violate the Facebook terms of service? It may, but until Facebook creates a system where businesses are welcome on Facebook as businesses, we have to create workarounds.

  18. says

    Before I start the process as outlined in your 4/21/10 post, any updates that I should be aware of around creating a Business Profile on Facebook for a B2B company (i.e. new best practices and/or new challenges)? Much appreciated!

  19. says

    Heather

    You can still follow this process to create a business profile, but what has changed on Facebook is that the creator admin no longer owns the page and has that right above all other admins. Read this post for details: http://socialmediab2b.com/2010/06/facebook-page-admin-control

    Having said that, it is still a good idea to create the business profile as an admin of the page, even though you will generally be logged in using your personal account. Ownership of these pages, especially for companies, is not fully clear, and Facebook is likely to make changes in the future that affect these pages.

  20. says

    excellent stuff jeffrey. appreciate the post.

    here’s a sticking point we’ve encountered. it relates to the work-around (we do this too, btw), specifically step #8 (“Logout from the business profile and log back in as yourself”). When you do this, and are acting as an admin for a company page, and THEN you try to ‘like’ another company page, the underlying profile (your personal one) is the one linked. this stinks on ice. the salient connection there is the business-to-business one (ex. Golf course to Hotel) and not necessarily the personal one. similarly branded smallish companies can leverage each others activity really well in FB-land, if FB would somehow allow it.

    FYI – Twitter gets it, and lets one company (and spokesperson) follow another company, w/out allowing the personal profile fudge it up.

    have you or your followers found a way to handle this?

    thanks,

    scott

  21. says

    This question is for anyone and everyone…hope you can help…

    How does one post as the Company not as the Company Fan page Administrator? For example, if I wanted to post to XYZ company’s Facebook page, how can I post as my company and not as me as the Admin for my company?

  22. Stacy says

    For email notifications of changes on Facebook business or fan pages, try MonitorMyPage at http://www.monitormypage.com. It automatically monitors your Facebook fan pages or Facebook business pages and looks for changes…new wall posts, comments, links, photos, etc. Then, MonitorMyPage emails the changes to you.

  23. Sonya says

    I am still wandering if there is any workaround to improve the moderation process for post and comments on Facebook.
    For Highly regulated companies such as Financial Services and Healthcare, it’s important to review the posts and comments “before” they are published. Any ideas?

  24. says

    Jeff, Nice write up clarifying the doubts for setting up a business page. But is FB worth the time and effort for b2b needs?

    Lateef, You have a point. After all, Facebook was designed for people and the same is being graduated for businesses now. However, FB has a long way to fulfill the needs prevalent in the b2b scenario. For example, the social media can help in increasing the marketing & sales effectiveness. Say, currently every b2b marketer buys a contact list and kick starts email & phone marketing which either land up in spam or be stamped as unsolicited calling. Even when there is an active business lead to followup, there is little that the b2b sales executive can do to make the prospect hit the BUY button i.e sales cycle times are longer and there should definitely be a solution via the social media way. Say, if all the companies & its employees are on a single b2b platform doing there day to day business activities, a simple secure FOLLOW feature can help a b2b marketer / sales executive to be updated from his prospects. Remember, all this well before the b2b marketer tries to reach through calls or emails. As and when the b2b marketer is being updated from his prospects, he / she can engage in a more win-win conversations so that the prospect can be made as a connection. Once the connection is established, the b2b marketer / sales executive can reach the prospect by overcoming the issue of SPAM.

    Sharon was right in pointing out that FB provides little support EXCEPT from a customer support perspective. Even from the CUSTOMER SUPPORT perspective, FB per se does not allow you to make a positive comment as a testimonial or for that matter it doesn’t allow to make a angry customer comment to a support ticket.

    BOTTOM LINE: NEED FOR AN EXCLUSIVE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR BUSINESSES.

    ~Mani
    Wapr.com
    Connect & collaborate with companies worldwide

  25. vamsi says

    Interesting read and useful comments. Mani, Thanks for the detailed thoughts. Simply tried Wapr and just realized that it even helps internal collaboration via the “enterprise mode” aka secure intranet. Isn’t it kinda a software that can be used enterprise wide? I will appreciate your thoughts on this.

    Also, liked the thought that the active business community on a single platform is the solution to have complete control on the b2b social media efforts
    ~vamsi

  26. says

    First off, social media is not new. The concept of social media has been around years. The obsession with social media is new. Make sure you understand the difference.

    Also, let me be the FIRST person to tell someone he or she is doing it wrong. There is a right and wrong way to do social media. Anyone that thinks otherwise is only kidding themselves. So yes, there is a right and wrong way to use social media.

    I also don’t think that it’s fair to say that Facebook is doing it wrong. Not sure 640 million people are all “doing it wrong”. I appreciate you taking the time to write this, but I have a very hard time taking any of it serious. I guess that’s the joy of a blog… and social media.

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