A growing trend for small businesses seems to be creating a small business page on Facebook. Photographers, boutique owners, design firms, and just about everyone else does it. So if that’s the case, why do people feel the need for a business page and is it helping or hurting your company?

First of all, there is no way to separate your personal account from your business page—they are automatically linked. That means that customers can easily see everything on your personal profile, even those photos from your night out drinking on your birthday—not something you want customers and clients to see. You also can’t control what other people post to your personal page whether they post something insulting because they are mad at you or post something embarrassing. (Yes you can delete the posts, but maybe not before the wrong person sees it). Therefore, this business page can create a negative connection with your company. You don’t have to have a personal account to create a business page, but if you do, they’re already linked and if you want to run a Facebook Ad Campaign, you do have to create a personal account.

There are also loopholes with Facebook when you create a business page with them. You have to get 25 or more “Likes” on your page before you get your domain name and until then it’s made up of random characters (14367854257894@facebook.com). Who’s going to search for that? You can also use Facebook’s paid advertising program to get around this or to promote your page further in the future, but you need to decide if this is really worth it—in most cases, it’s not because private advertising programs are often better. There are also so many policies, guidelines, and restrictions such Platform Policies, Promotions and Offers Terms, and Data Use Policy to name a few. (If you are curious, you can read more about them here: http://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php). While it’s necessary for anyone to have these regulations, Facebook’s are especially restrictive and with your own website, you won’t have to adhere to as many policies.

You may decide that for your company, this would be an added benefit in addition to your website and that’s your choice. But make sure it is in addition to, not instead of a website. Customers can get distracted by other things on Facebook when they look at these pages and specific information like pricing, packages, and order forms are not available. Websites offer much more specific company information, are much more complete, and give you a lot more freedom.

There is also the issue of Fans vs. Friends. Friends have to be approved by you first, but Fans just have to click the “Like” button on your page and they’re a fan. Other people can see that a person is a fan, go to their profile, see something negative, and associate them with your business. While that’s not your fault, why take the chance? Also, a fan is a one-way connection while a friend (and contact that comes through your website) is a two-way connection, which is often necessary for business inquires. While it’s good that you can have unlimited fans and they can’t see your personal information, it’s definitely something to consider carefully. Finally, you cannot change someone’ status from Friend to Fan, which can put you in an uncomfortable position.

One more thing I want to point out about Facebook Business Pages is their timeline layout. It’s confusing, cluttered, and often adds unnecessary “events” (and I use that term loosely) to your timeline such as adding photos to an album which is automatically displayed on your page. I don’t like the layout for my personal profile and I don’t like it for businesses either.

Should you create a Facebook Small Business Page? My answer is no. But of course the choice is up to you. Just think twice about it.

© 2012 eMarketing 4 Business LLC