Facebook page: Friend or foe?

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 6.47.53 PMI don’t know about you, but lately I’ve had a slew of Facebook friends who are encouraging me to “like” their new Facebook pages. I’ve had so many, I almost had to check the date to make sure we hadn’t gone back to 2010.

OK, I jest. But just a little bit.

Before getting into my post, a couple definitions that may help some people, as many tend to confuse terms when it comes to Facebook. Everyone on Facebook has a Facebook profile. That’s what you create when you sign up for Facebook. However, people, places and things can also have Facebook pages. Pages were first introduced for businesses to have a presence on Facebook. You like a page, but you friend a profile.

Facebook pages for individual people, such as journalists, celebrities, etc., where all the rage back in the early days of Facebook pages. It was a way for people to get a piece of the Facebook pie with their fans, sources, and other people they may not necessarily want to “friend” on Facebook.  This changed in 2011, when Facebook introduced a subscribe button for profiles.

This was a great idea as far as I was concerned for a number of reasons.

One: It means less work for a single person to manage their online brand
Instead of posting a story on your Facebook profile for your friends to read, then on your Facebook page for your fans to read, you could post the article just on your Facebook profile, with the “public” privacy setting on it so friends and subscribers would see the content.

I mean in the world of Facebook, Twitter LinkedIN, Path, Instagram, Vine, etc., there are enough places to post your content to, why waste time posting to the same social network in two different places?

Two: It allows you to keep your Facebook private and means you can be more selective on who you “friend”
This is my favourite feature. I may not accept you as a friend right away, depending on a number of factors, but even if I decline your friendship request for now, you’ll automatically become one of my Facebook subscribers, so you’ll see all my public content. It’s a win-win.

I can also see how this would be a plus for journalists, who would be hesitant to friend sources or politicians, because it might seem like a conflict of interest. This way, if someone like that initiates a friend request, you can ignore it, but still allow them to see the content you post publicly.

I follow a number of people on Facebook who I wouldn’t normally friend, because we don’t know each other. One of them is Liz Heron, a former journalist who is now head of news partnerships at Facebook. I really love seeing the stuff she posts to her 900,000+ subscribers, but don’t have to worry about seeing stuff I may care less about since I don’t know her personally (I’ve reached out to Liz to ask what FB recommends when it comes to the subscribe button, and will update this post when I hear back).

Three: There’s a better chance your content can go viral
I don’t have any numbers behind this, but I’ve found by having my friends and subscribers able to access my content, like my blog posts, more eyeballs get on them than if I just posted to my personal profile or to my Facebook page.


Last year, a blog post of mine got hundreds of hits from Facebook alone. I posted it on Facebook the same way I post any other post, with the privacy settings set to public. That post received 13 likes and 47 comments — three of those likes and 12 comments were from people I didn’t know. They discovered it because their friends interacted with it.

Friends of friends see my posts in their newsfeeds when my friends like or comment on a post, so the reach is further. (However, there are no analytics associated with the subscribe button for Facebook profiles yet, so I understand why some people may find that disappointing).

The move to subscribe, now known as follow, just makes sense to me. I find it odd to see new Facebook pages being created by journalists or people. To me it’s just extra work, I prefer things to be easy. If you want to follow my public Facebook updates, you can do so here.

I’d be interested to hear if I’m missing a reason why a Facebook page is preferable over utilizing the subscribe option available on your Facebook profile, so please do leave a comment if you thing a page is better.