If you’re a marketer who’s been asked to create a presence on Facebook for your client or company, you might have struggled with the decision of whether to create a Facebook page or a Facebook group. At first glance, the two seem quite similar, but once you dig deeper the functionality is very different.
I was recently asked the question of pages vs. groups on the U Stand Out Facebook page. Ask and you shall receive (for the most part), so here are the core differences between Facebook pages and Facebook groups.
What is a Facebook Page?
Facebook pages are for organizations, businesses, celebrities, bands, etc. to broadcast information to fans in an official and public manner. They can be enhanced with applications that help the brand communicate with and engage their fans, and capture new audiences virally through their fans’ recommendations to their friends. Fans of a Facebook page will see that page’s updates on their newsfeeds.
What is a Facebook Group?
Facebook groups are for members of groups to connect, share or collaborate on a given topic. Groups can be used to create awareness around various ideas, such as events, meetups, or alumni connections. The main feature of groups is the ability to make then “invite only” or limited to certain networks.
What is the difference between Facebook pages and groups?
1. Official vs. Casual
Pages can only be created to represent a real organization, business, celebrity, etc. by an official representative of that brand. Groups, however, can be created by any user and about any topic.
2. Professional vs. Personal
If you are a page admin, your name will not be displayed on the page. If you post to your page’s wall or take any other action on the page, such as comment on or like a post, it will appear to come from the page rather than your personal profile. If you are a group admin, your name will appear on that group and any action you take within that group. Groups can also have “officers” who are displayed on the group.
3. Public vs. Private
Groups can be kept closed or secret, or limited to networks associated with a user’s profile, whereas pages are open to the entire public. Fan pages are visible to people who are logged out of Facebook or not registered at all.
4. Customization and Applications
Pages can install applications, such as the Static FBML application, which allows advances customizations such as a default landing page. Other applications, such as polls, can be installed to increase fan participation. Groups, however, have very limited options; the only settings you can alter are the following elements, which mostly all are limited to enable/disable options:
- Who can write on the wall
- Discussion board
- Access (public, private, or secret)
5. Indexed by Search Engines
Many articles out there claim that pages are indexed by search engines, whereas groups are not because of their private nature. Please note that this is NOT the case. Both pages and groups can be indexed by the search engines, unless the group admin specifies that the group is closed. Fan pages just have more opportunities to be search engine optimized, since they can be customized with tabs and landing pages with Static FBML. Facebook groups can still be search engine optimized in the info section of the group, but pages have more content to SEO.
6. Membership Control
Groups offer more control over who can participate in the discussion. Groups can be entirely secret (invite-only) or private (appears in search results, but members have to be approved or part of a certain network). But anyone can become a fan of a fan page and participate in the discussion. Because of the groups’ privacy settings, they are more like “clubs.”
7. Mass Messaging
Groups can send messages directly through its members, and these messages will appear in the members’ inbox, just as they would receive a message from a friend. However, the caveat is that once a group reaches 5,000 members, mass messages can no longer be sent. Fan pages can only send “updates” that do not appear in the users’ inbox, so are not seen as often. Also, groups can send event invites directly to all of their members, but pages have to resort to other methods of promotion (updates, Facebook ad buys, etc.) to try to let their fans know about an event.
8. Targeted Updates
Fan pages can target their updates (status updates, photos, videos, shared links, etc.). These updates can be targeted by location and/or language. Groups cannot target their updates.
10. Engagement metrics
Facebook pages allow admins to track engagement. This feature is called “page insights,” which provide admins with demographic breakdowns, page views, engagement stats (comments, likes, etc.), video views, photo views, etc. This information is extremely valuable when measuring social media ROI. Groups do not provide this information.
11. Vanity URL
A vanity URL (also called “user name”) is the unique URL you can assign to fan pages or user profiles, such as http://facebook.com/UStandOut. This URL before given a unique vanity URL was http://www.facebook.com/pages/U-Stand-Out-Social-Media/128257327553?ref=ts. So the vanity URL is much more memorable and easy to share. Groups cannot be assigned vanity URLs.
12. Promotional Widgets
Fan pages have promotional widgets you can used to attract more fans to the page. Adding a Facebook Fan Box to your website will allow site visitors to become fans of your Facebook page without ever leaving your site. You can also encourage fans to promote your fan page on their website or blog with fan badges.
Examples of what should be a page or a group
Ok, so let’s review. Now that you know the differences between pages and groups, you may still be confused about which to choose for your brand. So here are some example entities, and where they would best fit:
- Brands or products (Coca-Cola, Harley-Davidson, Verizon)
- Stores or venues (Best Buy, H&M, Banana Republic)
- Celebrities and public figures (Barack Obama, Johnny Depp, Lance Armstrong)
- Bands and singers (Linkin Park, Taylor Swift, Coldplay)
- Sports teams (New York Mets, Boston Red Sox)
- Other organizations (charities, universities
- Alumni groups (high school class, study abroad program)
- Charitable events and fundraisers (walk for the cure)
- Clubs (book clubs, running clubs, other scheduled gatherings)
- Random weird stuff (I Just Tried to Ford the River and my ****ing Oxen Died, New York is Better than Wherever You Are From, etc.)
Should you create a Facebook Profile instead?
No. The question on the U Stand Out Facebook page included profiles, but profiles are strictly for personal use, and should only be created for an individual. Facebook has been known to delete profiles created for fictitious characters (Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, etc.) or brands that should be Facebook pages, or the random weird stuff (Sushi is AwEsOmE, Long Walks on the Beach, etc.) that should be Facebook groups. So imagine pouring all that hard work into a profile, just to have it deleted.
Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!