One of the things that confuses people the most when they first start using Facebook to gain exposure for their business is the Profile/Page/Group dilemma. What’s the difference, and which one would serve your needs best? I’m going to do my best to answer this in the most simple terms, in regards to what you expect to gain from your Facebook activities.
I’ve Heard I’m Missing Out On Traffic If I don’t “Do Facebook”
This is probably the main concern my clients come to me with. They know they need to have a presence on Facebook, but they’re not sure how to go about it. When they go to the homepage of Facebook, they’re immediately faced with decisions that they’re not prepared to make.
You may not want to participate on Facebook on the “Personal Profile” level, so why do you need to open an account as a personal profile – can’t you just start a page for your business?
The simple answer is no, you can’t. You have to start out with a personal profile. You don’t have to use it, and you don’t have to fill out all your personal information. You might want to “Friend” me though!
Consider the personal profile as a gateway to being able to create a Page for your business.
With the recent changes to the Facebook Pages, you can do everything you’ll need to do, “AS” the page itself. This is a great way to magnify your branding efforts because as you travel around Facebook commenting on other Pages, you’re doing so as your business and your Page link is left behind each time (opposed to the old way where we had to interact from our personal profiles which weren’t easily linked to our pages).
Pages, Groups and Profiles, Oh My!
Once you’ve accessed your personal profile within Facebook, you have the option to either make a Group, or start a Page. You may even be tempted to do both. Don’t let the information overload get to you! Consider your goals for using Facebook for business, and let them decide which route to take. Realistically, it’s rare that a small business is going to need both a Page and a Group.
Use a Facebook Page for Branding and PR Purposes
You’ll get much better results from your Facebook efforts by using a page for these purposes. Schedule events and send invites to everyone that has “Liked” your Page. Interact with customers, provide customer service and add personality to your business – Facebook Pages are best suited for these goals. Cultivating a relationship with your target market is easiest through a public Page, even if they haven’t ‘connected’ with you yet.
Facebook Groups Allow You to Offer a More Private Interaction
The Group function on Facebook allows you to interact with your audience in a more private setting. You can set permissions so that Group activity is Private or Public. Probably the most important difference about Groups now that the Pages are so different, is the fact that when you participate in a Group, you’re doing so from your personal profile. This may be more suitable for smaller, targeted segments of your audience. Groups also have a chat function that you may find useful for committees and/or focus groups, and are built on the premise of real time interactions without much in the way of ‘archiving’ your group’s activity.
Functionality must be considered when choosing between a Page and a Group
On a Page, you have the ability to create photo albums to organize your photos any way you’d like. Groups don’t. Pages have your posted links, photos, and notes categorized and linked to in the left hand column for you and your visitors to easily access. Groups don’t. People and other Pages can “Like” your Page without having to also be your “Friend”. As a Group, you can only add people on your “Friends” list on your personal profile, any others would have to first ‘Request to Join’, and then be approved by Group Admin in order to gain access. The Pages are pretty much “set it and forget it” easy as far as gaining followers.
Build Relationships with your Facebook Page, Nurture them with Groups
In the most simplistic terms I can muster, it almost seems to me as though a Facebook page gives you an overall opportunity to grow your online presence (ease of joining by any of the 5M+ members without further action by you). Groups, on the other hand, are a tool to use once you’ve identified a need to pay special attention to a smaller segment of your audience (by offering tighter control over who gains access, and bringing your interactions down to a more personal level by connecting from your personal profile).
If you’re looking for more detailed information on the differences between Facebook Pages and Groups, check out Facebook Pages vs. Groups written yesterday by Jessica Young.
Do you need a Facebook Page, or a Facebook Group? If you’re still not sure, leave a comment and maybe we can come up with a solution for you together!