Online Marketing Q&A: Facebook Page vs. Profile—Which is better for audience reach?

by TJ Kelly Updated Jan 13, 2017 184 Views

Which is the better place to host a weekly Facebook Live video series: your business page with 200 likes, or your personal profile with 800 friends?

Facebook App Login.

Page. 9 times out of 10.

Every single one of Facebook’s tools is set up to favor business via Pages, not profiles.

  • Pages are public and profiles are layered with privacy settings.
  • Pages can boost posts, profiles can’t.
  • Pages have analytics and intelligence measurement, profiles don’t.

It’s cool that profiles can comment on people’s lives and activity, so you should definitely maintain an active profile.

But your blog/podcast/Facebook Live show/ecommerce store—these are all marketing tools and they belong in the marketing landscape.

In Facebook marketing, Pages are the rule. Profiles are the exception. Only break the rule if you have good reason.Click To Tweet

But aren’t Facebook pages “Pay to Play?”

“I post something on my business page it reaches 12 people. A personal post gets 70 likes!”

Marketing on Facebook.

Yea, your profile post might get more likes than your Page’s post, but it’s not Facebook’s fault.

Well, it kinda is. But not for the reasons you’d think.

Pages are not inherently disadvantaged in visibility. The visibility rules are different but there is no deck stacked against pages.

Pay to Play is A-Ok

Pay to play is a shortcut. It’s not a bad option, but it’s not the only way.

Admittedly, it’s much easier and faster to pay, which Facebook probably counts on.

Especially in the early stages, when your page doesn’t have many fans yet, it will seem like profiles work better. And in the short term, they do.

Profiles have a shelf life

But sooner or later, you’ll exhaust your potential friend pool (or hit your friend limit) and then you’re stuck.

Pages have no fan limits and their path to discovery is not restricted to friend-of-a-friend circles the way profiles are.

If you’re getting 70 profile likes but 12 page reach (assuming these likes & reach are on identical or similar posts), it means your friends don’t see your page’s stuff.

(If the posts are totally unrelated, then it’s apples and oranges and impossible to compare. In data science, that’s called a category error.)

Profile outperforms your page?

If your fans don’t see your page’s stuff, you have an algorithm problem. FB only shows your posts—whether from profile or page—to users who are likely to interact with them (like, share, comment, clickthru).

They measure likelihood using past interactions with your page/profile and those similar to it.

The key is audience interaction

The algorithm and audience interaction are the keys here.

Pages and profiles have different algos applied to their posts, but the key indicators are the same.

The more users interact with your Facebook posts—could be Page or Profile posts—the more posts they'll see in their News Feed.Click To Tweet

How to get your Page into more people’s News Feed

How do you break into that “always show up” algo sweet spot?

Facebook News Feed.

I could write a book. And many have.

But the most reliable method long-term is to provide useful, compelling material that drives interaction.

Since we’re talking Facebook, I should include “viral/clickbait” because that stuff spreads through FB like wildfire.

But it does so because of the interaction rates. Thus the term “clickbait” in the first place.

Facebook’s algorithm, Facebook’s rules

You have to know the rules to win the game. Even if it’s only so you know how to break them.

Facebook makes the rules, so we have to jump through their hoops if we want any success.

We know the algo favors interaction, so we should focus our efforts there.

  • Juicy, click-magnet titles (they DO NOT have to be the same title as the landing page)
  • Pictures with people’s faces in them (psychology in action!)
  • Emotion, especially positive ones with some mystery or FOMO thrown in

Facebook Algorithm - Relevance Evaluation.

Bottom line?

Facebook does not downplay Pages’ visibility as a means to force publishers to pay.

They filter out Pages’ posts if the algo determines that the users probably won’t care. They do so to protect the integrity of everyday users’ Facebook experience.

Remember MySpace and how much it sucked in the later years? That’s what FB is fighting.

The onus is on us as publishers to up our quality—using Facebook’s definition of the word “quality”—so our stuff is visible and successful.

Yes, Facebook filters out Pages from users' News Feed more than Profiles. It's not extortion—it's quality assurance.Click To Tweet

“But my profile posts perform better!”

What if your personal experience has been more engagement on your personal profile?

Facebook Algorithm - Post Ordering.

You post on your business page and your Facebook Insight tells you that it showed that post to 4 people, even if you regularly pay to boost posts.

Meanwhile, on your personal profile, you publish the same exact post, and clearly more folks see it! You get WAY more engagement on the personal profile.

Maybe you’ve even run your own experiments where same post will get 1 or 2 likes on the business page, but it gets 20 likes and a few comments on the personal profile.

In all your Facebook marketing, there is a huge difference in how those posts are sent through news feeds.

You may conclude that Facebook has a bias in its algorithm between business and personal pages.

And guess what.

You’d be right.

Think Facebook's algorithm is biased between business and personal pages? You're right. It's all about UX & QA.Click To Tweet

Why profiles perform better at first

When your Facebook Page is just starting out, it may seem like a total flop. Keep at it, even if your profile does better.

Facebook Algorithm - User Control.

If you’re like most real estate agents, lawyers, mom-and-pop-shop purveyors, or other shoestring marketing budget businesses, the scenario described makes total sense.

The reason your Facebook profile may outperform your Facebook page is that your profile likely has a much longer history with your interactors (friends, fans, etc).

Therefore, Facebook’s algorithm has more reason to show off your profile posts to those people.

Your page, by comparison, is likely much newer and therefore has a higher mountain to climb in breaking into your friends’ News Feeds.

Pages and Profiles are treated differently

And, as noted above, the algo does treat Profiles’ posts and Pages’ posts differently. It is harder for Pages to break into a user’s News Feed.

But again, that’s not some nefarious extortion attempt, it’s a user experience move.

Facebook Profiles can outperform new/small Facebook Pages at first. Probably due to your history w/ friends. It won't stay that way.Click To Tweet

Your mileage may vary

Nothing is ever set in stone. Keep in mind that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.

Facebook Keyboard.

This post is not gospel. It’s informed by industry best practices and our/our clients’ experience, but it’s a classic YMMV example.

Do what works.

Given the option, we recommend Page every time. But if your profile marketing is working for you, that’s outstanding. I’m actually a little envious!

We stand by our philosophy that Pages are better than Profiles for marketing purposes, but there are exceptions.

A few closing thoughts:

  1. If profiles were truly better, Coca Cola, Verizon, and GE would be sending you friend requests.
  2. I have never heard of someone ignoring their Page in favor of a Profile. Countless examples of the opposite.
  3. I can definitely see the utility in using a Profile to surreptitiously befriend and listen to Facebook users in an attempt at subtle influence.

Ultimately the only thing that matters is ROI. Pages have more pros than cons in our book, so that’s our go-to.

On Facebook and in all marketing, only one thing matters: results. Do what works.Click To Tweet
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