Here’s the different presences on Facebook:

(1)  Profiles.  Facebook profiles are for people, and by people I mean a single person.  A profile represents the personal aspects of your social interactions — your friends, your interests, pictures of you, etc.  Profiles are kept private in order to protect individuals from interactions with the public.  Only your friends can see what you are saying.  Facebook terms of service prevent profiles from being established for a commercial interest.

(2)  Pages. Facebook pages are for businesses, organizations, and public figures.  Pages are visible publicly, allowing anyone to view.  This is the place where any commercial entity should live on Facebook as it is viewable to everyone and does not violate Facebook terms.  Only authorized representatives of a company or public figure should create a Facebook page.  The only reason I make this point is because if you want to show your support of an organization that is not currently on Facebook, you should not be the one to create the page unless you are a representative of that organization.  One final note about pages is that only your company or organizations own internal staff should setup the page.  You can have an outside entity (marketing agency, media consultant, etc.) help guide you through the process, but an outside entity should not be the one to do the setup.  If an outside entity sets up your page they could delete your presence at any time if there is a falling out, disagreement, or you move your business elsewhere.  By setting up internally you keep complete control.

To create a Facebook page:

(3)  Groups.  While Facebook profiles and pages are for official entities, groups are for everything unofficial.  If you want to create a place to discuss your pet with local enthusiasts you may make a group called “Des Moines Dog Lovers.”  While this is not an official entity, it is a shared interest.  Groups are made to allow people to join together for a common cause, reason, or interest.  They are in-formal and highly flexible.  Groups can be made publicly viewable or private, all depending on the objectives of the group.  Groups can also be used alongside pages — for example a church may have a page for their organization to publicly display their presence and also a group that is only for church members.

To create a group:

(4)  Places.  Facebook Places is a new development.  A place represents any physical location.  Places are created by “Checking In” through the Facebook mobile application.  They can be created by anyone.  Anyone could create a Place for your entity, there may even be a Place for your entity already.  The key factor for businesses is getting Places associated with their Facebook Page, to do this you must claim the Place.  To claim a place you must submit a utility bill showing the business name with address to Facebook.  (This was relaxed from the original requirement of submitting articles of incorporation, thank goodness!)

To claim a place: