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My wife has a personal page, which she uses mostly, but not exclusively, for her public persona as an author. She's been doing this for years, but it seems like now she needs a professional page. So I created one, and one for the book she has coming out. But now I'm totally confused about how to manage this.

Converting her personal account to a fan page as described in this Facebook help article, seems way too drastic:

When you convert your personal account to a Facebook Page, we'll transfer your current profile picture and add all your friends and subscribers as people who like your Page. We'll also make your account's username the username for your Page.

It sounds like she would actually lose her personal account, and I think it would offend people to be automatically converted to "fans" of an author, when they thought they were friends with a person.

What I want is a way to make her author page her public persona on Facebook AND let her keep her private account, but I can't see a way to do this? Is there one? Or even to let her keep her personal account and just use that, except that I've heard that you can't really do this, because of the 5000 friend limit, and the rules about using a Facebook account for professional purposes. Can I do this?

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3 Answers 3

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I was just researching this exact same question for a client. I work primarily with authors and speakers, and this question comes up a lot. Here are the key things to note.

When you migrate a profile to a page:

  • you do lose the old profile. You have to create a new profile for your personal use. But if the idea is to clean up the profile, starting with a clean slate isn't a bad thing!
  • only your profile pictures and friends/subscribers are transferred over to the page. So, backup your content if you have any interest in saving it. It won't be accessible later.
  • other than the new likes and a profile picture, your new page is blank. Once again, not a bad issue. Just start creating content. At least you'll be off to a great start with the following.
  • if your profile is the admin for any groups or apps, assign new admins before you migrate.
  • if you have a username specified for your profile (otherwise known as a "vanity URL"), it will be applied to the new page instead. FB does not allow you to change the username of a page with more than 200 "likes," so depending on how many people are friends, you may not be able to update the username of the page.
  • from what I can piece together, the name of the new page (the page title) is based on the profile name. Therefore, Joe Schmoe's profile will be displayed as "Joe Schmoe" for the page title. At least that's my guess. So, if you want a different title, change your profile name before you update the account. The first name could be "Joe Schmoe's" and the last name "Awesome New Facebook Page." You get the idea. I have to admit, I have not tried this out yet, but my guess is that it would work. Otherwise, to change a page title, you have to put in a special request with Facebook, and they're not very responsive about it.
  • the newsfeed of your new page will be blank because you haven't "liked" any other pages yet.
  • some people may be put off by becoming a fan when they thought they were your friend (think old high school classmates, family members, etc.). So, anticipate a drop-off in "likes" soon after the conversion.

Know that making a page is definitely the right answer. You need to be in conformance with Facebook's terms of agreement, otherwise, you risk them shutting your account down. But there are other reasons for it too. For instance, Google indexes pages, but not profiles. In addition, pages allow much more functionality than profiles do, including adding apps for a mailing list, creating events, etc. I hope this helps!

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Thanks for your detailed feedback, and I'll mark this as the answer (looks like your very first!), because you have clearly identified the issues very well. Some of these outcomes are desirable, but some are really offputting. I continue to be amazed at the clumsiness doing basic things with Facebook. Can I not just keep the personal page and not use it, to wean people onto the public page? –  Joshua Frank Sep 21 '12 at 11:47
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Nothing prevents you from having a public persona page and a personal Facebook page.

Things she could do:

  • She could stop accepting friend requests and keep them as subscribers. They aren't her friends, but fans, so she stop adding them as such, direct them to her Facebook fan page instead
  • She could send out a broadcast message every few weeks informing her fans of the transition
  • She could have some tool (like HootSuite) manage both accounts
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I'm a visual/musical artist. I had a personal page, and when I started the pro page, I started a new friend/subscriber list from scratch (only those who liked the pro page.) For a while, I used the personal page to help promote the pro page to personal friends who may not have seen the pro page or its posts. After enough likes (many were folks I never met and were not personal FB friends), I flew solo and stopped promoting on the personal page so much. But I still do once in a while. Now, if someone looking for my art finds my personal page first, it can lead them to the pro page eventually. Now the pro page is growing on its own. I didn't have to make my friends fans but I'm glad that now most of my fans are friends, and just the ones who want to be. As personal friends are added, I invite them to like the pro page as well. The nice thing about this arrangement is that when a daily content (say, a cute, humorous picture about art) is posted on the pro page then shared to the personal page, it can reach further by way of personal friends' pages, comments, shares, etc.

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