Let's be honest, I'm wading into treacherous waters with this topic. It's one that many people are very opinionated about. I'm talking about when people use their personal profiles on social media to promote their businesses.
And, no I'm not talking about those who post the occasional thing about their business, or who share professional accomplishments with their friends and family. I'm talking about those businesses and brands who use their personal profiles for the purpose of business.
Most larger businesses don't run this issue of using personal profiles, because they're not built on a "person". But entrepreneurs, small businesses, personal brands, and others often find it easier, and convenient, to use their personal profiles to build their business. I'm not going to hold back any punches here... we all know that the multi-level-marketers (MLM) are some of the worst out there. Now, many of these people are wonderful and don't use this tactic, but if any of your friends or family run an MLM business, you know what I'm talking about!
And, to be honest, there are plenty of "experts" in the social media space who are guilty of this same thing.
In fact, this topic comes up frequently in groups and conversations with my peers.
Because it. keeps. happening!
And it's driving many of us crazy!
Which is why I'm here, ranting about my thoughts on the topic 😉
Ok, so why do people keep using their personal profiles for business? Because it's easy, it's a sneaky way around algorithms and rankings, and "everyone else is doing it".
Insert my frustrated, eye-rolling face here!
But now, the real reasons to stop using your personal profiles for your business.
Every platform is different and have different criteria for personal versus professional use. Twitter doesn't differentiate, so you're all good there. Instagram just recently started allowing businesses to use Business profiles so there's still some gray area here. Pinterest makes it so easy to convert to a business account now and, for many of the reasons below, you really should. And Facebook... well, you really do need a business page. Period.
It's More than "Frowned Upon"
This applies mostly to Facebook since they're the strictest of all the major platforms. If you haven't read their terms of service (because, really, who reads those things?), let me just share this information with you.
According to Facebook's terms of service:
- You will not use your personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes.
- You will not create more than one personal account.
These two statements alone make it perfectly clear that you are not to run your personal profile for business purposes!
Of course, the lawyerly types skirt around this by reminding us that their "personal profile" isn't "primarily" for commercial gain. Meaning, they have friends and family on the profile. They share personal photos and lifetime events. They are merely "incorporating" their business ventures into their "life" on Facebook.
Oh - phooey! It's a bunch of BS and we all know it.
Not to mention, I know a bunch of people on Facebook who don't even post the personal stuff on Facebook. It's all business, all the time! They are more personal on Instagram than they are on Facebook.
Seriously, if you are using your personal profile purely to build connections, share your professional content, and build your brand... you're doing it wrong! And it's pissing people off.
But of course, it's probably working for you, right? You're getting better reach than those who are using a business Page (as required by Facebook rules). You're getting more interactions and engagement, so you're winning.
Good for you. Until Facebook shuts down your profile. And you lose everything. Have fun recovering from that one!
Did you know that many platforms actually impose limits on how many friends you can have?
Facebook caps you at 5000 friends. Even LinkedIn caps the number of connections you can have at 30,000 - which is a lot, but it's still a limit (and, yes I personally know people who are legitimately at that limit).
So, if you plan to grow your business to any significant follower count, you're only going to go so far using a personal profile. By contrast, a business profile will allow you accumulate followers without these restrictions.
You Look Like an Amateur
I told you, I'm not pulling any punches.
When you use a personal profile to brand your business, you look like an amateur. You look unprofessional. You look lazy.
It's like you're too "busy" to actually set up a professional page which makes me question your commitment to finding time to work with me. Just saying.
Even on Instagram, where business profiles are relatively new, people now recognize a business profile and the professionalism it conveys.
You Don't Get Analytics
By now, you know how I feel about having an effective social media strategy. You know what comes along with a strategy? Analytics to determine what is actually working!
And you know how you get analytics? By having a business profile!
If you're using your personal profile, you're missing out on valuable insights related to reach, engagement, audience metrics, and so much more.
Sure, if you only have 100 friends on your personal profile, it's easy to guess your way through these numbers and figure out what post content is performing best. But as those friend numbers grow, those details are quickly blurred and even lost.
You Can't Use Ads
Look, I'm not a huge fan of paid advertising on social media. Yes, I will use it under the right circumstances. And, I have actively encouraged many of my clients to use ads because it best suits their goals and end states.
The reality is that, no matter how you feel about ads, to run your business effectively on social media, you will, at some point, need to use advertising.
And you sure aren't going to be doing that on your personal profile! Because you don't have access. Simple.
You're Adding to the Problem
Plenty of people keep doing this and they keep justifying it (if not teaching it) because "everyone else is doing is so I should too".
Well, like your momma said, if all your friends jump off the bridge, will you do it too?
Maybe you would. That whole thrill seeking thing is more for some than others. But you get my point.
The more we proliferate that it's ok, because others are doing it, the more we spoil the batch for everyone else. We are teaching people, friends, business owners, that it's ok to skirt the rules, that it's ok to cheat the system. And we're setting them up for failure.
If you're guilty of this practice, please make the efforts now to migrate your business to the profiles where it belongs. You're helping yourself in the long run.