Facebook Page or Group? That is the Question.
If you already have a profile on Facebook and are thinking about creating a presence for your business on Facebook, you may be wondering: Which is best for your business- a Facebook Page or Group, or both?
But before we get into the nuances of Facebook groups...
What is the main difference between a Facebook Page and a Facebook Group?
Facebook Pages are typically set up to represent a business, organization, brand or public person. Pages are always public, meaning that anyone on or off of Facebook can search for, and view the Page's posts. In order to see a page's posts in a Facebook newsfeed, the page must be liked.
A Facebook Group could also be set up to represent a business, organization, brand or public person, but the Group could simply be an online community of people. Facebook Groups may or may not be public depending on which of the 3 privacy settings is used: public, closed or secret.
Facebook Group Settings Explained
A Public Group and its posts can be viewed by people who are not on Facebook. Anyone on Facebook can see the Group's posts and members, and anyone on Facebook can be added to a Public Group by a member of the Group.
A Closed Group cannot be seen by people who are not on Facebook. Anyone on Facebook can find a Closed Group and see its members, but only members of the Closed Group can see the Group's posts. Anyone on Facebook can ask to join a Closed Group or be added by a member of the Group.
A Secret Group is basically invisible. This type of Group cannot be seen by people whether or not they are logged onto Facebook, except for members of the Secret Group of course. Anyone on Facebook can join but they must be invited or added by a Group member. Only members of the Secret Group can find the Group on Facebook and see the Group's posts.
Facebook Page Visitor Post Settings Explained
With Facebook Pages, the Page's posts are usually done by the Page's admins or other team members. These posts will appear as posts by the Facebook Page onto the Page's timeline. Other Facebook users may also be able to post on a Page, depending on the Page's settings:
- Visitors are allowed to post on the Page without any restrictions
- Visitors can post, but the posts will be subject to review and approval by a Page admin
- Posting is disabled, i.e. no posts by others is allowed on the Page.
Facebook Group Posts
On the other hand, posts in a Facebook Group, even those by the Group's administrator, will show up as a post by that individual person's Profile. This is unlike Pages which can post content as if it is coming from the Page and not a personal Profile. Therefore the content posted in a Facebook Group comes directly from the members of the group. Essentially the content is crowdsourced from the Group, but how much of the content comes from the Group vs. the Group administrator depends on how much control the Group's administrator exercises over what is posted in the Group. Similar to a Facebook Page, posts in a Group might require review or approval by the Group's administrator or moderators before being posted in the Group. Members of a Facebook Group can comment freely on what is posted in the Group. And members of a Facebook Group will automatically receive notifications of all activities that happen within the Facebook Group. Because of this, Group posts are much more visible in Facebook feeds than Page posts.
Features Unique to Pages and Groups
Facebook Pages have built-in analytics, so you can get feedback on your posts- e.g. which are the most popular, most liked, shared, or viewed and what type of engagement posts have received. You'll also be able to garner some statistics and demographics about your audience, and see when they are online. Pages can also be advertised, in other words, you can advertise your Facebook Page to new audiences and potential customers on Facebook. Pages also allow the installation of apps that do things like help collect email addresses and leads, or run contests.
Facebook does not provide any analytics for Facebook Groups and technically Groups can't be advertised.
UPDATE: According to the August 2, 2017 episode of The Social Media Marketing Podcast Facebook Groups now have insights and analytics.
But Facebook Groups do have some functionality that Pages do not. Group members can upload a document to be shared with the Group, or create a shared note that other Group members can view and/or edit. Groups can also store files and allow members to search through posts.
So why create a Facebook Group?
While having a Facebook Page seems like a requirement for anyone who wants to do business on Facebook, whether or not to create and run a Facebook Group is another matter. First you will need to decide if it is necessary for your business and what, if any benefit there will be. In order to decide, it requires a bit more understanding of how Facebook Groups work. The simplest way to describe a Facebook Group is as an online community, a discussion forum, or a support group organized around a common interest or goal. Groups are great for organizing people and facilitating interaction between people. That is the lifeblood of a Group- the interaction and engagement. Active participation with and amongst Group members is what keeps a Group alive and growing. A Group could be a great a place to share or get resources, advice, and support. So the main thing to consider is if you can be committed enough to manage your Group and to be responsive to your Group. If you have some expertise that you'd like to share, a Facebook Group could be a great place to do so. However, you'll need to strike a balance between promoting yourself and serving the Group. After all, a Group is a sort of community which should be focused on what interests its members. Things should not be one-sided.
I am in a number of Facebook Groups and I've noticed that the best Facebook groups have couple of things in common: 1) a clear purpose/topic of interest- so that Group members know what to expect and what they can post in the Group, 2) clear rules/standards/code of conduct e.g. no spamming or self-promotion is allowed, and 3) a lot of interaction and engagement with its members- members are invited to comment, ask questions, and to share information and resources with others.
So don't make your Group all about you, encourage everyone to participate and contribute, let the Group run itself, but do police things if members break the rules or disputes arise within the Group, and always make sure that the Group delivers value to its members. And one last thing, bigger is not necessarily better. While many of the most successful Groups on Facebook have 5000-15,000 members, I've also been in very small, secret Facebook groups with less than 10 people that were very effective. Everyone in the Group was super committed to the Group, supportive and collaborative. The right size for your Facebook Group will really depend on what the purpose of your Group is- whether it's to serve a team, a neighborhood, networking group, social group, community group, or a common interest group.
UPDATE: On June 22, 2017, Facebook announced several new tools for Group Admins: Group Insights, Membership request filtering (this allows group admins to sort and filter membership requests on common categories like gender and location, and then accept or decline all at once), Removed member clean-up (to keep their communities safe from bad actors, group admins can remove a person and the content they’ve created within the group, including posts, comments and other people added to the group, in one step), Scheduled posts, and Group to group linking (which allows group admins to recommend similar or related groups to their members).