So you recently discovered that the Facebook personal profile you created for your business should not be a personal profile, but really should be a Facebook business page (aka Fan page). What’s the big deal?

There are two really good reasons for following Facebook’s rules about this; the first is that it violates their terms of service (could result in your page being taken down by Facebook completely) with no recourse. We have seen a number of cases where this has taken place and those businesses are stuck starting over from the beginning – some of them had several hundred “friends” on their business page and ended up with literally nothing. The second is there is a limitation on the number of friends a personal profile can have – that limit is 5,000. Fan pages however have no limits on the number of people that “like” their page.

This may not seem a big deal for most companies as they probably don’t envision having more than 5,000 people be their “friends” on their business page, but you run the risk nonetheless of having Facebook shut down the page entirely for violating their  Terms of Service (Section 4. Registration and Account Security. Item 4. “You will not use your personal profile for your own commercial gain).

Oops! How can I tell if I have a personal profile for my business or a fan page for my business?

The answer is easy. Go to your page and see if you can send or accept friend requests. Only Facebook personal profile pages can send or receive friend requests. Only Facebook Fan pages can have “likes”.

So you have a personal profile acting as a business page; now what?

You can convert your Personal Profile to a Fan page by following the instructions provided here. If you are going to take this on, I strongly encourage you to read through and understand these steps BEFORE beginning the process. Some of these things cannot be undone and I wouldn’t count on getting any support from Facebook during this process!

A couple things to note before starting:

  • The conversion is permanent
  • You can’t transfer your personal profile page to an existing business page
  • Profile pictures on your personal profile page will be transferred to the business page (you may want to review some of those pictures first) ;) Photo albums are not transferred and will be lost
  • The account associated with your old personal profile is converted to the business account. The business account will become the administrator of the Fan page until new admins are added
  • All “friends” on your personal profile will automatically “like” your new Fan page
  • Personal profile information is not transferred and will be lost

This may sound daunting but remember, violating Facebook’s Terms of Service may cause your page to disappear completely, without warning and without recourse then where will you be?

OK, so where to start?

  1. Review the Facebook Help Section for this Topic.
  2. Let the current friends of your personal profile know what you are doing and why.
  3. Backup your personal profile information. Remember, your personal profile is not transferred to your new Fan page nor is it saved anywhere. If you want to keep a copy, it’s your responsibility to do so. The following information is saved during the backup of your personal profile process:
  4. After the back process, complete the process of Migrating Your Personal Profile to Business Page process and pay close attention to the details! Remember, the conversion is permanent and without a profile backup some information can and will be lost permanently.

The following information is saved during the backup process:

    • Personal profile information (contacts, interests, groups, information, etc.)
    • Wall posts
    • Status updates
    • Notes
    • Friends Lists
    • Messages
    • Events you have RSVP’d for
    • Comments made and received on wall posts and photos
    • Photos
    • Videos

With your new Business page in place, develop a plan to market your business on Facebook. Follow an effective strategy of defining your social media goals, determining content (messages, blog posts, website contextual information), define a delivery method and frequency, and determine how you are going to engage with your new “likes”, measure the results and tweak the strategy.

Finally, remember to change any URLs published or printed that you may have had pointing to your old Personal Profile page to your new Fan page (business cards, marketing materials, websites, email signatures, etc).