In the last few days I’ve talked to three people who’ve been debating setting up Facebook Fan Pages for some cause / group they like or support. They’ve also asked about Twitter. I saw this post about the pending re-launch of the Facebook Pages with a new-and-improved experience for brands. I’ve been using Twitter a lot lately (mostly lurking, not much posting) and I really think Pages has both a big challenge and a big opportunity ahead of it. Two quick thoughts:
For large brands, Fan Pages on Facebook might make sense if they become more profile-like. To me, most large brands aren’t terribly personal. Take Nike for example. Who do you think of when you think of Nike? Tiger Woods? Michael Jordan? Derek Jeter? I think of all of them because the Nike brand is not about any one individual – it’s a brand in the more traditional sense (it’s about a lifestyle, a state of mind, etc). I find the current Pages product to be kind of dull and not super-interesting; I’m not really sure what I, as the user, am supposed to get out of it. And I seldom, if ever, hear from the people and organizations behind the pages of which I have become a fan. What’s the use case and why isn’t it working today (for me, at least)? I’m willing to give Pages another shot if the new rev is more engaging for me as a user and the entities behind them take more advantage of the opportunity to reach out to me in interesting ways.
For small business, Internet celebrities, self-promoters, or other people where there is a nearly inextricable linkage between the individual and the brand (or, better said the individual is the brand), I have a hard time seeing how Facebook pages can unseat Twitter in the short term. If the person is the brand, why split the brand between a personal page and a fan page? If you’re Scoble, Shaq, or anyone else who has a large cult-of-personality type of following, why would you want to fork your audience between the “you” that is your Facebook profile and the “you” that is your Facebook fan page? It seems more logical to centralize everything around the “you” that is your one profile. And Twitter does that better today, largely because they’re not (yet) making any distinction between a person, company, organization, cause, etc – any entity can have an account and use it as he or she likes.
There are a lot more Internet celebrities, self-promoters, small businesses, real estate agents (yes we still have them), self-professed experts, and individuals trying to be heard on the Internet than there are Fortune 1000 companies out there. I’m not sure which, if either, is the meatier target to pursue and what a useful product would like like to either constituency.