Anyone who’s spent time using Facebook (which is just about everyone) has probably experienced confusion at some point in figuring out how things work. People who use Meta/ Facebook for business and advertising purposes are even more likely to have been frustrated and confused with the endless maze of tools, complicated integrations, overlaps, changes, and all-too-frequent glitches. It’s understandable that Meta doesn’t offer human support for users since they have about three billion of them. They do offer human support for advertisers, but it tends to be low-quality support. The people providing the support are often as confused as the people needing it. (Unfortunately, this is not an exaggeration.) You’d think they would at least offer clear explanations of how things work so users and advertisers can read or watch videos to understand more, but Meta is even sorely lacking in that department. Too many things are not explained well or not explained at all.

Trying to memorize the way things work with Meta/ Facebook for business is like trying to memorize the arrangement of a plate of spaghetti. It’s even trickier than that, actually: Imagine that the noodles are moving as you go!

Unlike most people on their support staff who undergo a training course and then get put into the field, I have spent years and thousands of hours learning (in any way I could) to execute with their tools and systems in pursuit of a deeper understanding for how they can be used for business. This article is meant to explain some of the biggest areas of confusion that people have. It’s only the tip of the iceberg, but I hope it’s helpful to you.

The company name

The company that was known as Facebook, which owned Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and other platforms, changed the name of the parent company to “Meta” in 2021. There are different theories on why they did this, but the public explanation was that they wanted to morph into becoming a “metaverse” company, as opposed to just a social media company. They consider the metaverse to be the next phase of the Internet, which will include a myriad of device types, including head-worn devices that have virtual reality technology. The Metaverse strategy is also meant to be a long-term attempt to break the stranglehold that Apple and Google have over apps since they control the app stores for iPhone and Android, said Mark Zuckerberg, Meta CEO.

Although there’s some logic to the name change, it was largely ill-conceived. In some contexts, it makes sense to say Meta, but in others, there is no correct name to use, which leaves us needing to say “Meta / Facebook.” There still is a Facebook, obviously, and Facebook business pages. The business tools all use the Meta name: Meta Ads Manager, the Meta Pixel, Meta Business Suite, and Meta Events Manager, to name a few. This makes some sense because those tools apply beyond Facebook. But it’s your Facebook login that gives you access to these tools. So, are you logging in to Facebook or Meta if you want to use Meta Ads Manager? That’s an example of how certain contexts leave no name that fits perfectly, other than saying Facebook/ Meta.

(There actually is a “Meta” login now, but it currently relates to virtual reality experiences on head-worn devices, such as the Oculus.)

Personally, I think that Facebook/ Meta should have copied Google’s approach for a name change. Google changed the parent company name to Alphabet but kept the advertising tools with the Google name – even though you can advertise beyond Google services through Google Ads, such as YouTube.

Your one and only account login

Another huge point of confusion has to do with Facebook accounts. I’m always hearing people say “I want to keep my personal Facebook account separate from my business,” so they think they should create a separate account login for their business. But it’s against Facebook’s community policies for any human to have more than one login to Facebook! It doesn’t matter how many businesses a person might have; nobody is supposed to have more than one login, and that login is supposed to be for their true self with their real name. This is because they want all business assets to be tied to a real person. So, what about separation so that your personal side of Facebook isn’t seen by those who interact with your business? That separation is built in by default. The people who visit your Facebook page won’t see who your Facebook friends are. They won’t even see who you are, if you don’t want them to. If you create more than one login to Facebook, you can expect that at least one of them will be disabled at some point because it’s a community policy violation.

“Profiles”

The main profile

Many people erroneously refer to their personal Facebook account as their personal “page.” Your personal side of Facebook is called your “profile.” Pages are what you create for your business, an event, a cause, or something else that you want to create a page for. You can create a page just for yourself if you want, though, named after you. Many celebrities do this to put messages out to their fans. But your personal side of Facebook – the one that allows you to have two-way connections called “friends” – is your profile.

A new type of profile…

That might be a little confusing, but it was made more confusing in the last couple of years. Now, your pages also have “profiles.” This is so you can interact on Facebook as your own person or as your page entity. These page profiles can have their own news feed, but they can’t make or accept friend requests. To have full admin capabilities on your page, you’ll need to switch to your page profile. (Think of Clark Kent turning into Superman.) On a mobile device, you can do a long tap on your profile picture to get the option of switching profile. (This also works in the Messenger app.) On a desktop computer, click your round profile picture on the upper-right of the screen to get the option to switch profile.

Tip: If you’re pulling your hair out one day because you can’t seem to accomplish a simple task on Facebook, or you can’t find a particular function, check to see which profile you are using. There’s a good chance that the problem is that you need to switch to a different profile.

Another new type of profile…

This is a recent development that through me for a loop recently. For many years, I’ve understood Facebook’s policy of authenticity with names and logins, and that they represent real people — One human, one login. Although that isn’t changing, they are adding another layer with profiles. Facebook documentation says, “You can create additional Facebook profiles from your main profile. You’ll create a profile name and @username for each profile.”

Here are some important points about additional profiles:

  • Meta says, “After establishing your main profile, you may become eligible to create additional profiles as well.”
  • Additional profiles are not required to use the name you go by in everyday life.
  • Though your additional profiles are not required to use the name you go by in everyday life, you must not mislead others regarding who you are or what you’re doing. Do not misrepresent biographical details, like your age, location, or occupation.
  • This feature might be mostly directed towards gaming, so you can keep some anonymity when you play.

I don’t seem to be eligible for additional profiles at this time, though my main profile is well established and my account seems to be in good standing. Could it be that it’s a new feature that is not fully rolled out? Or could it be implemented mostly for people who using gaming features? At this time, I don’t know.

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What is a “business” in Meta?

The concept of a “business” is one of the most important and rarely understood ones in the Meta world. As a person on Facebook, you can create an entity called a “business,” which is a container-like feature for organizing and sharing access to your various business assets, such as pages, pixels, ad accounts, and much more. This entity is sometimes referred to as a “business manager” or “business account,”  depending where you look. This entity can be created by going to www.Business.Facebook.com while logged into your personal Facebook account.

In order to understand the what and why of the “business” entity, it helps to look at the following historical sequence.

  1. Facebook started as a network where “friends” could be linked to see posts from one another.
  2. They later added Pages, which allowed businesses to have a presence, build a following, make posts, etc.
  3. More features were added for businesses, such as tools for advertising, tracking, post scheduling, targeting, and more.
  4. As more and more tools and assets were added for businesses, there needed to be a structure for organizing them and controlling access to them; So, the “Business Manager” tool was born. It was described as an umbrella-like tool because it covered and consolidated all of the tools and features of a business.

So, the Business Manager tool was the beginning of the “business account” concept at Facebook/Meta. In the past, you would go to www.Business.Facebook.com and click “Create Account” to initiate the setup of the Business Manager tool – i.e., the umbrella that could also be called your “business account.” (Again, this would all be done while logged in with your personal Facebook login.)

This structure is still very much intact, although it’s been made more confusing with the addition of Meta Business Suite in recent years. Meta Business Suite is now where many business tasks can be completed. Be aware, however, that you could be using it as a page or as your business entity. Click on the dropdown menu in the left panel to see if you are using it as your page or as your business. In that dropdown, you might see a link that says, “Create a business.” There is also a mobile app version of Meta Business Suite, so you can manage business assets and complete tasks on your phone.

Here’s a hugely important tidbit about “businesses” in Meta that hardly anyone knows: The business itself can be the owner of a Facebook page and other assets but nobody actually owns the business! People either have full access to it, partial access to it, or no access to it. Even the creator of it can be completely removed from it (thereby losing all assets it contains) by someone else who has full access. It’s like a house that nobody owns, but there are keys that can be given out. Whoever controls the keys controls the house.

WARNING: WHEN YOU GRANT FULL ACCESS OF THE “BUSINESS” TO SOMEONE ELSE, THEY HAVE THE ABILITY TO PERMANENTLY REMOVE YOU AND RETAIN CONTROL OF ALL ASSETS OF THE BUSINESS, INCLUDING PAGES, AD ACCOUNTS, INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS AND MORE.

Meta allows each person to create up to two “businesses,” but it’s possible to have access to many more if access is granted from “businesses” that others have created. (“Businesses” can grant other “businesses” access as a “partner”.)

What is Accounts Center?

Accounts Center is an interface Meta offers to “manage your connected experiences and account settings across Meta technologies.” One key purpose it serves is to inform Meta that your Facebook profile and Instagram profile are the same person — you. This helps in terms of advertising. If they didn’t know your accounts are the same person, they would count the “reach” of ads differently, thinking that two different people were reached if an ad appeared in your Facebook feed and your Instagram feed.

Here are some things you can do once your accounts are added:

  • You can share posts, stories, and reels from Facebook to Instagram automatically.
  • You can use login information from one account to log into other accounts you have across Meta apps, as long as these accounts are added to the same Accounts Center.
  • You can sync your name, profile picture, username and/ or avatar across Facebook, Instagram and/ or Meta Horizon.
  • You can sync your shopping activity across accounts, which means you can add and see items from your wish list in all accounts, and your recently viewed items.
  • You can use Meta Pay across Facebook and Instagram, so you payment method, delivery, and contact info are synced.
  • You can automatically send follow requests to your Facebook friends or people you follow on Instagram who also have a Meta Horizon profile and have chosen to show their Facebook and/ or Instagram profiles with their Meta Horizon profile.
  • You can subscribe to the Meta Verified program (explained below).

To add accounts to Accounts Center on your computer:

  1. Click your profile picture in the top right of Facebook.
  2. Select Settings & privacy, then click Settings.
  3. On the left, scroll down and click Accounts Center.
  4. Click Accounts & profiles.
  5. Click Add accounts and follow the on-screen instructions.

What is Meta Verification?

Through the Accounts Center interface, there is an option to get your account verified by Meta, which is a paid service. True to form, it’s not completely clear what the advantages are to getting Meta verified. The benefits that Meta promotes are a bit vague. The basic idea, though, is that it verifies that you are really you. Once verified, your profile will appear with a “verified” badge on Facebook and Instagram. To subscribe to Meta Verified, you’ll be required to submit a government-issued ID.

At the time of this writing, the cost of Meta Verified is $11.99 per month (USD). The promoted benefits are:

  • A verified badge
  • Increased account protection with proactive identity monitoring
  • Support (I wouldn’t get my hopes up about this one!)
  • Stars and stickers, which you can use to support your favorite creators on Meta technologies

Note: Purchasing a Meta Verified subscription on Facebook won’t automatically transfer over to your Instagram profile, unless you subscribe two profiles or add a second profile to your subscription.

Google vs. Meta Webinar on May 1st, 7 pm

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Subject: Google vs. Meta for Marketing

Five different advertising avenues

Going through the advertising options with Meta can be very confusing. By my count, there are now five different avenues that can be taken to start running paid ads. Some of these methods share the same backend systems but have different user interfaces — made to be more compatible with the platform being used. Here is a brief description of each approach/ avenue/ entry point:

Advertise through page promotions (aka boosts)

When using your Facebook business page, you may see blue buttons that say, “Boost post” or “Advertise” or “Promote.” This is an interface that’s built into your Facebook business page and meant to make advertising easy and accessible. It doesn’t have nearly all of the options, features, and flexibility that the Meta Ads Manager tool has, but it does offer convenience and the opportunity for more exposure. On the back end, this interface connects with an “ad account,” which is like a backbone that all of these approaches share. So, you could create an ad campaign by boosting a post on your page and then later view or modify it in the Meta Ads Manager tool (as long as you choose the same ad account in each place).

(Each person has a single ad account associated with their personal profile, but other ad accounts can be created in the “business” container entities, aka “business managers” aka “business accounts.”)

Advertising through Meta Business Suite

Meta Business Suite is a relatively new tool for completing tasks and organizing assets in a business. It also contains an interface for creating ad campaigns. It’s very similar to the page promotions/ boosts interface that’s part of your business page. From the home screen in Meta Business Suite, you can click the “Create an ad” button to start the process. Be sure to select the ad account that you want to use from the drop-down menu at the top, such as your personal one or one contained in a business.

Advertise through Meta Ads Manager

Meta Ads Manager is Meta’s full-featured advertising interface. It contains a wide range of options to give the most control possible over your advertising efforts. It also has the biggest learning curve. If you want to become an advanced Meta advertiser, Meta Ads Manager is the tool you’ll use for all ad campaigns.

If you’re using Meta Ads Manager, you can choose to allow your ads to appear on Instagram (among other outlets) – even if you don’t have an Instagram account. Here are two possible scenarios related to Instagram and Meta Ads Manager:

  • If you associate your ads with an Instagram account, the account handle will be included in the ad impressions on Instagram.
  • If you choose not to associate your ads with an Instagram account, the ads can appear on Instagram associated with the Facebook page only.

Advertise through an Instagram account that’s connected to Facebook

The traditional structure for advertising on Instagram is that the Instagram account needs to be linked to a Facebook page. This link can be established through the Instagram app or the Facebook page settings. Once linked, ad campaigns can be created through the Instagram mobile app or Meta Ads Manager.

Advertise through an Instagram account that’s not connected to Facebook

Only recently has Meta offered a way to advertise on Instagram without a connection to Facebook. Their documentation says, “The ability to create Instagram ads without a Meta ad account connection is limited to businesses that are boosting their Instagram posts for the first time.” Advertising with this approach begins by clicking the “boost” button under a post in the Instagram mobile app.

Performance goal tracking

For the performance goal options to be valid, there must be a way to track when they occur. Some of them are trackable without any added setup work by the advertiser because the events happen through Meta technologies. For example, things like link clicks on ads, taps on phone call buttons, page likes, ad impressions, and Messenger conversations (among others) all happen directly on Meta technologies, so there is built-in tracking for those actions. Other events happen outside of Meta technologies and require using the Meta pixel and/ or the conversions API. Their job is to detect actions on websites or in mobile apps and then report that data to the Meta Ads system.

For events that happen outside of Meta technologies, there is a special interface for event management and monitoring. It’s called Meta Events Manager. Through Meta Events Manager, you can:

  • Install tracking mechanisms to a website or mobile app (such as the Meta Pixel and conversion API)
  • Configure particular actions to be counted as events, including applying the relevant category
  • Test the events to see if they are tracking properly
  • See data over the previous 28 days about events that have been occurring

When it comes to tracking through Meta Events Manager, there are three approaches to event tracking. (This gets confusing, but it helps to put them in context for why they exist.)

Standard events – These events are categories of actions that are commonly useful for advertisers.

Custom events – These are events that advertisers might find useful but fall outside of the categories offered by standard events.

Custom conversions — Custom conversions are like a quirky cousin to standard events and custom events. They offer a different technological approach to tracking and thereby have some superpowers that standard events and custom events don’t have. There is an overlap in what they can do; for example, a page view conversion action could be tracked with any of these three event-tracking approaches. But here are some capabilities that only custom conversions offer:

  • Custom conversion events can be set based on URL rules (not coding).
  • Custom conversion events can be set based on specified/ filtered occurrences of other events.
  • Custom conversions can be shared through the business manager structure.

A key difference between custom conversions and standard or custom events is related to aggregation. For example, the standard event “Leads” will count the number of leads brought in by a campaign, ad set, or ad. But what if your website brings in three different types of leads? The Leads standard event won’t distinguish the types; It will only count the total. In this case, you might want to create custom conversions that distinguishes the types. To do this, you would base the custom conversions on the Lead event but specify that the confirmation page URL has a particular word or phrase in it (assuming each type of lead has their own confirmation page URL).

The endless maze of tools

Learning your way around the various tools and user interfaces involved in Meta for business is daunting! Even pros who use them daily get thrown and confused sometimes. Why? Because there are so many different services that overlap, intersect, and continuously change. Believe me, it can warp your brain, and the learning curve is enormous. It’s clear that Meta does not prioritize either user-friendliness or educational support. New features and changing structures pop up all the time with little or no explanation.

To me, the maze of Meta for business is like a huge indoor shopping mall: You walk in, and there are many different directions you can go. If you’re not familiar with the mall, you could become more familiar by walking all around it a few times. That can give you a feel of the basic structure, so that you know where some key points of interest are – the food court, the restrooms, your favorite stores, etc.

But what about the map? Most malls have big maps near the entrances so you can navigate to what you’re looking for, rather than having to find it on your own. Meta for business had no such navigation feature until somewhat recently when they created Meta Business Suite. Although Meta Business Suite involves yet another user interface for managing your business, its purpose is to provide a good starting point for whatever business task you want to accomplish. It has prominent links for the most common tasks and a menu of other tools you might want to jump to easily.

Getting help and support

Across its various platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, there are around three billion users of Meta technologies. Therefore, it’s understandable that there would be a lack of good human support for users. They have upped their game recently on providing support for advertisers, though. Here are some ways of getting support from Meta:

Facebook user help

The main help page for Facebook users is: https://www.facebook.com/help. That’s the best place to start when you have a question related to the personal use of Facebook.

Support inbox (for your personal profile)

This is an important feature that very few people know about. If there is an issue with your account, you might get a message from Meta/ Facebook about it. Those messages appear in the support inbox, which can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/support That’s a great place to look at times when things seem amiss,  or you’re having difficulty completing a task.

Support inbox (for your business page)

There is also a support inbox for your business page. Be sure to check it to see if there are any messages from Meta/ Facebook when you’re running into difficulties. To get there, the link is the same for your personal profile and your page support inbox; just switch to your page profile to see its support inbox — https://www.facebook.com/support

Facebook business help

The main help page for business-related information is: https://www.facebook.com/business/help

Facebook business support

At this time, you can get chat support from a human about business-related issues. You can start by going to: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/support

You can also start by clicking the “?” icon in Meta Business Suite or Meta Ads Manager.

If you’re trying to get help from a human at Meta, (sorry to say this), it’s best to keep your expectations low. The support staff is generally unable to make changes to your account for you. They are also frustratingly lacking in knowledge sometimes. The labyrinth of Meta technologies is vast and changes often, and without sufficient explanation. Even its own support staff struggles to understand. There always seems to be a lot of questions for which only the highest level Meta engineers know the answers.