The Great Facebook Debate: Friend or Fan? Be Both.

June 29, 2010 04:04 by Sarah

When Facebook Fan pages first launched, there was a pretty large acceptance of them, but there were nay-sayers that choose not to go that route. These individuals stood by the wayside and didn't adopt fan pages for the simple reason that they were limiting when it came to cross-marketing opportunities. You see, an individual can become a fan (or "Like") a brand but they can't be friends with them. That brand can't go to someone's page and write them a message. That brand can't like a status update or even wish someone a Happy Birthday. The brand name is limited to its fan page and that's it. So, when certain brands decided that they needed to be more personal, they stuck to the original Facebook game plan: they would be an individual and therin they would be able to be more personally connected to their customers and clients. Good plan, right?

Well, there are downsides. Facebook Fan pages allow for customization options using the FBML (it's HTML for FB) coding. Fans can be directed to land on a specific page rather than just the typical profile. Contact information is more readily accessible and fan pages do have more communication tools available to them. For example, a fan page can easily send an update to all fans with just the click of a button. Also, should you ever decided that you want to integrate advertising, the fan page is the way to go. Additionally, Facebook's Open Graph platform has allowed for embeddable platforms so that brands can incorporate their fan pages right on their own websites. See that little box right over there? That's ours. You can click "like" and be automatically connected to our FB fan page without leaving the haven of our little blog. Not a bad plan either, since there's plenty more entertaining blogs to read along the way.  

That being said, we realize that it's not fair that we as a brand can't wish our fans a Happy Birthday or comment on their status messages. Speaking on behalf of the company, I can officially say that we're nice people. If you've spilled coffee on yourself on the way to work and Rebecca in prep did the same thing, we'd like to be able to comisserate with you. If it's your b-day, we'd like to wish you great wishes and perhaps offer you our promotional hangover kit the next day. After all, promotional products are conversation starters and it's kinda sucky that we can't be involved in the conversations. Therin lies the rub...except, not really.

You see, in order to run a Fan Page, one has to have a personal Facebook profile so that they can be the admin. So, I have one. If you search for Sarah Shepherd on Facebook, you may see that widely recognizable M and that's me. Well, not really. That's the M. I'm not actually shaped like a 3-dimensional letter because life would be more difficult that way and I'd most likely be employed at Sesame Street. But I made it my profile picture simply because that way you all would know that I'm the person behind the brand. Essentially, every one of our employees is a person behind this brand but I'm the one that's actually repping us out there on the interwebs. Crazy interwebs. It's nuts I tell ya.

Anyway, my status on the FB friend thing is this: if you friend me, I'll friend you back, but I'll never friend request anyone. If you think I'm cool enough that you'll want to connect with me outside of our fan page, great. That way I can say congratulations on your commencement and Mazel Tov on the new baby. We can talk about our mutual love of Phil Collins and if you don't like Phil Collins...well, I'll just have to re-evaluate our FB friend status. My personal page will include Motivators updates but for the most part, it's me. I do talk about things other than promotional products. Heck, I've been talking about promotional products for the past 4 years. I've written over 1500 blogs about them, I tweeted about them, I've talked to random strangers at TGI Fridays at Penn Station about them. I do have somewhat of a life outside of them, even though those last few comments probably made you doubt that. So yeah, friend me and I'll friend you back. Just look for the M.


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