Image via CrunchBase
As we all become more and more addicted to Facebook, the swirling community vortex has fantastic opportunities for connections and for viral marketing. But as I was creating podcast and fan pages, I ran across a stumbling block: should I make a Facebook brand Page as the official representative of the organization, or would it be better to create a Facebook Group, which seemed somehow more democratic and viral?
Short conclusion: why not create both? Asking which is better, a Facebook group or brand Page is kind of like asking, should I blog or should I Twitter? That is, is there really a compelling reason not to be everywhere you possibly can?
That being said, there are some differences in functionality for Groups and Pages. A quick compiled list based on some great articles (links below). Here's the skinny:
Must be created by an official representative of the organization.
- Public; can be viewed even if you’re not a Facebook member
- Public; indexed and searchable by Google
- Can advertise via Facebook social ads
- Easy to add and leverage Facebook applications
- Allows unlimited number of fans
- Visitor stats provided
- Can create events
- Notifications stay on the Page, NOT to the members’ inboxes, and many members don’t check back
- Changes to Pages don’t show up in newsfeed
Anyone can create about darn near anything.
- Discussions are public and searchable by Google
- Automatically links to related groups
- Updates go straight to members’ inboxes
- Can create events
- 5,000 fan limit for messaging
- Facebook applications can’t be added
- No visitor stats
So... which is better?
While there has been a lot of discussion as to whether Groups or Pages are more viral, the general consensus is that because anyone can create and participate in a group, they do seem to grow more rapidly and organically. And the biggest advantage of Groups by far is the ability to message all members (well, up to 5,000) directly to their inboxes; Groups are much better for direct communication because of that feature.
However, all that being said, there isn’t much of an argument against having both a brand Page and a Group as well; there’s no reason to choose one or the other. Organizations should have both, like having a mailing list as well as a blog.
How to use Groups
If you are going to start a Group, Social Media Explorer has these great tips on Best Practices, including:
- Have more than one admin
- Use your Group to promote live Events
- Decide on frequency of communication
- Choose how much and which content to moderate
- Read Patrick O’Keefe’s Managing Online Forums (I’ve read it ; he is exhaustive in its coverage)
And finally, David Meerman Scott, author of World Wide Raves, has a great case study on using a Facebook Group to promote an event. A Group started three months before the Singapore Tattoo Show became the de facto mailing list and conversation starter, generating three times the expected attendance (15,000 attendees)!
- Create a Facebook Group and invite all your interested friends
- Allow members to invite their friends
- Message Group members no more than five times a month
- Post photos, videos, etc. from your live events
- Commit time to following Wall conversation in Group
- Use Group to promote live events both before and after
- Create a Facebook Page for your organization
- Cross-post video, photos, etc. to your Page
- Use social ad to advertise your Page
- Anything you'd add to this list?
Successful Facebook Groups
The Group Dilemma from the Facebook blog
Search Engine Journal on Pages vs. Groups
Facebook group discussions are public and searchable
Facebook Group and Brand Page Best Practices
Facebook Page or Facebook Group?
How to use Facebook Group to promote event—case study