Photo by Pessoahele
There is much controversy surrounding this issue — and we’ve had clients ask us: “Should I have a Facebook Group or a Facebook Page?”. The knee-jerk reaction might be to say “If you’re using social media for business, you need a Facebook Page.” Well, we’re here to tell you that it isn’t always as straight forward as that. The most important factor in a social media presence is engagement. Do you have the right audience? Is that audience interested and participating in the conversation? Are they taking action because of those conversations? We’re currently working with a client to create a two-pronged Facebook strategy which includes two networks – a Page (for the public and other interested parties to learn about the organzation, its purpose, goals, events and more) and a Group (for individuals close to the organization to stay connected with each other although they are located across the nation and in other countries.)
Here’s how Facebook wants you to see it (very surface-level):
Pages allow real organizations, businesses, celebrities and brands to communicate broadly with people who like them. Pages may only be created and managed by official representatives.
Groups provide a closed space for small Groups of people to communicate about shared interests. Groups can be created by anyone.
That said, a Facebook Page might – or might not – be the best place for your organization’s audience to engage with you and with each other. For guidance, revisit your main objective for your social media presence. Is the objective to spread news from your organization to its constituent (top down mentality) or for members of your organization to connect and communicate with each other under your umbrella (bottom up mentality)? If a top down strategy is yours, a Facebook Page is probably best. If it’s a bottom up you’re after, a Group is the way to go.
You might remember the old Groups format on Facebook from about 5 years ago where people congregated in groups with titles like “Flip Flops All Year Round” or “I Love New Haven”. In those circles, often the main point was declaring one’s alliance with a group of like-minded individuals by clicking the “Join Group” button, but that’s where the involvement ended. These days, Groups have been totally refreshed and are quite functional. As part of a Group, members can group chat, upload and edit documents, share links, photos, videos and more. Groups can be open or closed and even secret (only members can see the group and what members post.) However, they are less customizable than Pages and Groups do not have the fantastic metrics to measure engagement that Pages do have.
Read on for some more tips and detailed background information on whether a Group or Page is right for your organization. And, maybe for you, it’s a combination of the two!
Facebook Pages allow real organizations, businesses, celebrities and brands to communicate broadly with people who like them. Pages may only be created and managed by official representatives.
- Privacy: Page information and posts are public and generally available to everyone on Facebook.
- Audience: Anyone can like a Page to become connected with it and get News Feed updates. There is no limit to how many people can like a Page.
- Communication: Page admins can share posts under the Page’s name. Page posts appear in the News Feed of people who like the Page. Page admins can also create customized tabs for their Pages and check Page Insights to track the Page’s growth and activity.]
- Metrics: Facebook currently offers metrics to Facebook page admins in the form of Insights and Analytics. Insights provides Page owners and Facebook Platform developers with metrics around their content.
- Applications: Applications enable Facebook Page administrators to extensively customize their Pages. For example, the Static FBML application lets Pages administrators create custom page tabs. Some Facebook Page administrators have opted to use more interactive applications. For example, Einstein Bagels is giving away bagels to users that become fans of their Facebook Page. A BMW dealer in Minnesota published their entire lot inventory on their Facebook Page.
- Website Integration: Facebook provides page widgets, allowing for easy conversion of website visitors to fans, without leaving your own website.
Facebook Groups provide a closed space for small Groups of people to communicate about shared interests. Groups can be created by anyone.
- Privacy: In addition to an open setting, more privacy settings are available for Group. Secret: Only members can see the group and what members post. Closed: Everyone can see the group. Only members see posts. Open (public): Everyone can see the group and what members posts.
- Audience: Group members must be approved or added by other members. When a Group reaches a certain size, some features are limited (5,000+ fans = no messaging). The most useful Groups tend to be the ones you create with smaller Groups of people you know.
- Communication: In Groups, members receive notifications by default when any member posts in the group. Group members can post updates, (visible only in Group members newsfeeds and on the page itself) participate in chats (unavailable when the Group exceeds 250 members), upload photos to shared albums, collaborate on Group docs, invite all members to Group events and send posts to the Group wall using a custom email address.
- Messaging: When a post is made, members are notified on Facebook and by email, and they can respond with comments. Members can change their notification settings (so it’s possible they may not be emailed directly) but they will always see new posts when they visit the Group. Group admins can’t send private messages to all members of a Group. The best way to reach all members at once and start a discussion is to make a post in the Group.
- Admins can edit the Group information, add, remove or ban current members and other admins and edit (remove) wall posts
- Admins can set up a custom email address for Groups.
- NOTE: Joining a Group does not expose the content of your profile to any Group members who would not normally be able to see that information. The privacy settings for your account control the openness of your profile, regardless of the groups you join.