I have noticed a trend recently on Facebook of libraries using personal profiles and wanting to friend me. It is kind of a strange and awkward use of Facebook for outreach. Yes I agree that libraries should use Facebook to reach out to the community. However, when you set up an individual profile on Facebook, it is linked to an individual e-mail address. There are many things wrong with this setup. First, there is no longevity guarantee. What if the person who has control over that e-mail address leaves the library or the department which set it up. Second, it is harder for a team of people to manage the account because it is just liked to one address. Also, an individual account does not have diagnostics of interactions. So it is impossible to guage the types of interactions.
There are many advantages for libraries and other institutions to use the Facebook pages feature instead. It has been around since 2008 and offers many advantages to organizations. You can create a page and have multiple admins and these can change as your organization changes. In my own case, one of the admins where I work moved for another job. Well, that did not affect our workflow on the page, I was able to remove her and add someone else. Pages also are designed for the voice of an organization. You can post events, upload photos and video, and interact with patrons. Also, there is an Insights feature that gives great demographics for your page. You can see active monthly users, interactions and even those who have hidden your posts from their newsfeed.
For the most part, I think libraries do utilize the Facebook page for online outreach. Some, namely branches or individual programs may have a tendency to want to use an individual account. I believe that in the long run a page serves the interests of nonprofit networking and online PR better than a individual account.
Cherly Smithem offers some great insights on Facebook pages. She runs a local PR consulting company and here is what she says about this issue.
So, here’s a note: if you are a non-profit organization, business, service, consultant or professional and you have a Profile on Facebook rather than a page, you need to change it. Create a Page for your business, and invite your “Friends” to “Like” you. Did you know, Facebook defines Profiles as a place for people? Businesses, either for-profit or not-for-profit have Pages.
She also quotes from Facebook:
“Profiles represent individuals and must be held under an individual name…In addition, Pages are managed by admins who have personal Facebook profiles. Pages are not separate Facebook accounts and do not have separate login information from your profile. They are merely different entities on our site, similar to how Groups and Events function. Once you have set up a Page within your profile, you may add other admins to help you manage this Page. People who choose to connect to your Page won’t be able to see that you are the Page admin or have any access to your personal account.”
“Pages are for organizations, businesses, celebrities, and bands to broadcast great information in an official, public manner to people who choose to connect with them. Similar to profiles, Pages can be enhanced with applications that help the entity communicate and engage with their audiences, and capture new audiences virally through friend recommendations, News Feed stories, Facebook events, and beyond.”
These are just some food for thought.