Author: Wes McElveen
UPDATE As of April 2021, Facebook no longer offers a one-click conversion to create a page from your profile, but you can create a page and invite your friends to follow it. Read how to do it quickly below!
Social media is a great way for public officials and government agencies to communicate with the public. As you may already know, these communications are considered part of the public record. But did you know that using a Facebook Profile to share information can unlawfully limit the accessibility of those communications and restrict your ability to comply with public records requirements? If youre doing official business, you need to conduct it on an official Page. Confused? You arent alone. Read on to understand the difference and how to use Facebook effectively and in compliance.
Profiles and Pages are not the same thing
First you need to understand the differences between a Facebook Profile and a Facebook Page. People often use these terms interchangeably, but they are actually very different in how they are accessed and used. A Profile represents an individual person, has friends, and has the ability to show content to some people while hiding it from others. A Page represents an entity such as a business, a government, or a public office. Pages are public by design, and the content on pages can be viewed by anyone, even those without Facebook accounts of their own.
The key difference here is who can view and access the content. The visibility of Profile posts is often limited to the Friends of that Profile, and can be further restricted to only specific Friends. Posts on Pages can be viewed by anyone. The only way to make a Page private is to unpublish it completely. Facebook also restricts the types of content that can be captured and archived on a Profile, which can make it next to impossible to comply with public records requests related to comments or direct messages, both of which are considered public record in most states.
On the other hand, Pages allow for public access to and archiving of posts, comments, comment replies, photos, videos, live videos, direct messages, and more. Anyone can view page posts, even those without a Facebook account, and there is no limit to the number of people who can follow a page.
Transitioning your Profile to a Page has additional benefits beyond compliance:
The benefits of using a Page for official communications go beyond public access and accountability. Page management is also easier for your and your organization:
You can create a Page in minutes
So what do you do if you already have a following on your Profile, but now recognize the need to bring your communications practices into compliance and take advantage of the additional benefits of using a Page? Facebook no longer offers a one-click solution to convert a Profile to a Page, but you can follow these four simple steps to create a Page and invite your friends to follow it.
How to create a Page:
What happens next?
Training users to interact with your Page instead of your Profile
Now that youve completed the mechanical steps, youll need to go a little further to ensure that your Page is adopted by your constituents. Your friends and followers were automatically notified during the conversion process so here are a few additional tips to make a smooth transition from a personal Profile to an official Page:
Its worth your time, and its the law!
As a public official, responding to constituents is a critical part of your job. Doing so in a transparent, on-the-record manner is your responsibility. Using Facebook correctly will protect you from legal risk and will help you reach the people you serve. If you need help, check out the additional resources below or reach out to us.
Interested in additional resources for public officials on social media? Check out our webinar replay, Social Media for Elected Officials: Whats personal & whats public and learn more about our Facebook archiving software.
What is ArchiveSocial?
ArchiveSocial is the worlds leading social media archiving software. It helps organizations maintain compliance with public records laws and other regulations by automating social media record retention and actively managing risk online.