But as a news reporter at WCCO-TV, it didn’t take long before random viewers started “friending” me on Facebook. I’ve never really separated my personal and professional life and that approach has served me well. I shared my love for food and wine online, and today I have a side job writing restaurant reviews for a regional magazine (Minnesota Monthly).
When my number of “friends” started approaching 3000, I created a Fan Page and urged people to become a fan. But this isMinnesota: people want to be your friend not your fan. I had about 1200 “Likes” as of a couple weeks ago.
So when my personal profile hit 5000 friends, I had to take action. I decided to convert my personal profile into a Fan Page. If you’re a journalist on Facebook, and you don’t have a fan page, I highly recommend doing it. Hopefully you can learn from what I’ve experienced.
BENEFITS OF A PAGE:
• No 5000 Friend Limit
You can have as many people following you as are interested. And all your friends are automatically converted into “Likers” of your page.
• No more managing Friend Requests
People click “Like” and they get my updates. Done.
• No more Facebook messages
I get DMs on Twitter, email on my work account, email from a gmail account, email from my personal website. It’s nice to not get messages from Facebook.
• People who Like my Page Still See My Updates
Facebook has really upgraded Pages. Fans still see status updates in their news feeds. They still comment. They can now tag my page in their photos.
• Facebook Insights
If you click the insights link on your page, you can see who your fans are, what age and gender they are, where they live. It’s a cool tool.
BEFORE YOU CONVERT YOUR PROFILE INTO A PAGE
• Download Your Photos and Videos
This can take several hours, but luckily Facebook does all the work. Just go to your Account Settings page, and click the “learn more” link beside “Download Your Information.”
Click download, and it downloads all your photos and videos, and even keeps them in the folders you had them organized by.
It also downloads your friend list, your messages, your status updates, but that stuff isn’t really necessary for you when you set up your new Page.
• Manage other Pages You Administer
If you are an administrator of any other Facebook pages, you’ll need to make sure a friend is also an admin, or create a new personal profile, and make that an administrator. You will lose that when you personal profile becomes a page.
• Consider Notifying Your Friends
I chose not to tell my friends that anything was happening. I did tell the people who had liked my old Fan Page that I was eliminating it, and they should join the new one.
I just did it, and then told people in a status update: “Welcome to my new Facebook home: I don’t have two pages anymore, it’s all consolidated as one.” And people seemed cool with it.
LET’S DO IT: HOW TO CONVERT YOUR PROFILE INTO A PAGE
<a href=”http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php?migrate” target=”_blank” >Here’s where to start.</a> That’s Facebook’s very easy tool that makes this happen. It literally takes a couple clicks, and it converts your profile into a page.
WHAT YOU LOSE WHEN YOU CONVERT
• Pictures and Videos
Only your profile picture comes over. You won’t keep any of your pictures or videos, and if you were tagged in friends pictures or videos, that is gone. The good news is you downloaded those pictures, and you can upload whatever you want to.
• Facebook messages
This may be a good or a bad thing, but you can’t send or receive messages through Facebook.
• Event Invitations
Again, for me, this was great. I was getting bombarded with event invitations from random fans, and I was missing invitations from real friends. I’m glad I can’t get invited to things as a Page.
• Tagging/Commenting Ability
I can only tag other Pages I like in my status updates, and I can’t really post on most people’s walls because most people only let “friends” post. I’m a page, not a friend.
STARTING A NEW PERSONAL PROFILE
For many anchors or reporters, being on Facebook is only a professional tool. So they want need or want to start a new profile. I love connecting with my friends, and I quickly started up a new personal profile. You’ll need to use a different email than the one you used on your old page – because that is now your “business” log-in for your Page.
• Lock Down Privacy Settings
You can’t find my personal profile in a search, and for the first month I’m letting friends of friends see things. After one month, I’m locking that down to just friends.
• SLOWLY Invite New Friends
Be careful, because even though Facebook wants you to add people you know when you start a new account, it got mad at me for making too many friend requests. In fact, I was locked out of making friend requests for two days, because Facebook’s computers thought I was a spammer.
This was extremely irritating. I couldn’t send messages through the personal profile, or friend my real friends! So take it slowly, or have a friend “Invite” your real friends to become your friend.
• Be Strict About Who You Accept
It’s hard to define “real friends.” I have work contacts that I consider friends. I have chefs who I know from my food writing. I have neighbors. Co-workers. All those requests start happening. I’m being strict, and hitting “Not Now” on a lot of those requests.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Today I have an active Facebook page with nearly 5300 people who like it. I have a private Facebook profile that I can actually keep track of. And I keep the two separate, posting work stuff (and some personal stuff) on my Page. I send my Twitter feed to the page as well.
I’m still trying to figure out what I’ll be sharing on my profile, but I’m not worried about it. I’m just enjoying that I only have 200 or so people there, I know them all, and when my sister posted her ultrasound picture last Friday, I actually got to see it.
I’ve found it easier to log-in to Facebook as my personal profile, and then administer the page through that log-in. I also use Tweetdeck to post to my various accounts, but I’d love to hear your suggestions on how you manage all of that.
To those of you just starting out – you’ll never have to go through this. Even as a new reporter in the smallest market – you should set up a Page for work (I assume you already have a personal profile). I know you think you’ll never have to worry about having 5000 friends – but you too could soon become a big deal, at least on Facebook.