Here’s how to decide between groups and pages on Facebook

how-to-choose-between-facebook-group-and-page-formatsBy Paula Wethington

About two years ago, the communications officer for a small organization I belong to set up both a page and a group on Facebook. His intention was that the page would be the “public face” of the organization while the group is “members only.”

Over time, the page has pretty much stalled out while the group is humming along with conversations and content. While I told my friend I thought trying to run both would be confusing given how people usually interact on Facebook, I did leave it up to him. The result is this: I have a closely watched case study in which format works better for small, niche organizations!

What Facebook option should you choose for promotional and marketing efforts on behalf of your organization, business, brand, project or campaign?

Consider using page format if:

  • You have a steady source of content that is of interest to people beyond a core group of members, customers or volunteers.
  • You are willing to accept the likely scenario that only 5 to 10 percent of your page fans will see any given post in their news feed.
  • You wish to share content from other pages to your page in a way that sends a notification to the other page.
  • You wish to schedule posts for the best time or day for the content to be seen and reacted to.
  • You wish to use the “pages to watch” function to monitor friendly or competitor pages for top performing posts along with comparable pages’ engagement and growth rates.
  • You wish to like or interact with other pages as your page.
  • You think someone might create an unauthorized page for that brand unless you claim your name. This could be important, for example, for public officials.
  • You have a physical location where people might want to “check in.”
  • You wish to use the Reviews / Star Rating feature.
  • You wish to use the paid / sponsored post options to get a message in front of people who might not already like the page.
  • You wish your content to be public by default.
  • You would like to use Facebook Live video as with the brand logo.
  • You would like to use Facebook’s “Call to Action” buttons that have messages such as “Call Now” and “Message Now.”
  • You want access to analytics via Facebook Insights that tell you how well a particular post performed in terms of audience.
  • You wish content to be seen publicly as from the brand, business or organization; but allow behind the scenes notes that indicate which admin or editor made that post.
  • You have two people who can be trusted as top-level admins on the page with permissions that include ability to delete the page.

Consider using group format if:

  • You need to rally volunteers and staff around one big project or event a year.
  • You would like to set up a “exclusive access” perk for fans with information or  offers they can’t find anywhere else.
  • You expect or need members of that group to see as many updates from you as possible.
  • You would like to restrict or limit via public / private / secret settings on the group who sees your posts. For example, the women in my family set up a secret group to discuss my daughter’s wedding planning details.
  • You wish to give all members the option to start a conversation or post a link.
  • You would like admins to individually approve or review someone before adding them as a  member.
  • You have a smaller organization that relies on a core group of people to make things happen.
  • You would like to share and edit documents among members. This has been a successful tool for a professional group I belong to as the document files are we share include lists of our social media handles.
  • People who might wish to network on a specific topic but are not likely friends on Facebook for reasons such as living in different communities.

Both options have these advantages:

  • Both are free to create.
  • Multiple administrators allowed on both.
  • Event pages are available on both.
  • Photos can be shared on both.
  • Pinned posts to feature an introduction, FAQ list or current projects are available on both.
  • Removing individual people from the page or group; or from the admin team, is quick and easy on both.
  • Both provide a valid and practical way to use Facebook by entities that are not actual people.

Specific challenges for pages:

  • Getting a message seen by as many people as possible will require some use of sponsored post features and / or leveraging “viral” topics that are applicable to your audience.
  • A page cannot be a member of, or interact, with a group or profiles; only individual profiles can do so.
  • Pages can be frustrating to admin on mobile device. Even if you install the Facebook Pages app and you still will need to log in on desktop occasionally to see all the analytics or use all the page functions.
  • If you have a significant number of fake or inactive fans, that lack of response can backfire in terms of Facebook thinking your page content is not of interest.
  • People can “like” a page but adjust their news feed views so that they don’t see everything from you. The default, after all, is not “see first.”
  • Even a “see first” toggle on preferences doesn’t guarantee your content will appear in a fan’s news feed quickly.
  • Content can and does appear hours or even days later in many fans’ news feed.
  • Live blogging / frequent updates in a short amount of time such as discussing a sports event in progress doesn’t work well with the unpredictable news feed timing. Consider using Twitter for that purpose.

Specific challenges for groups:

  • It is difficult to promote a group to people who are not already members or friends of members.
  • Groups can not interact as their own entity with other groups or pages.
  • People can be members of a group, but decide to turn off notifications.
  • Admins have to interact as their individual profile, not as the brand or project.

I’ve been involved in digital media on a professional basis since 2006. You’ll find social media tips and tricks on my Twitter account – @WethingtonPaula and in the Digital World board on my Pinterest account.

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Author: Paula Wethington

Paula has over 10 years experience working in a variety of digital and social media formats on behalf of a newsroom; and over 25 years total working as a reporter at newspapers in Ohio and Michigan.

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