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Marketing Pros and Cons of Facebook Groups vs. Facebook Pages

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Pros and Cons of Facebook Groups vs Pages

It was a cold, frustrating, non productive, rainy day in my web marketing career.  

Against my better judgment, I descended into the depths of outdated Facebook “how to” articles and ended up in a vortex of nothingness.  I kept telling myself, “Breathe in deeply and exhale slowly.  The answer is just around the corner.” 

My head was throbbing with pain after 8 hours of hellish computer research.  I felt lost, frustrated, utterly dejected.  Two extra strength Advil were futile against this massive Facebook headache. 

Surely, eight hours of intense internet research would lead to some kind of breakthrough, like a holy scroll of final teachings after a lifelong spiritual journey.  

The whole day I spent searching the web for basic answers to seemingly simple questions about Facebook’s Group and Page settings. 

Alas, nothing.  8 Hours.  Still no clarity.  No light bulbs shattering overhead.  No beer shooting out the nose with enlightenment.  Just frustration on tap.  My beloved Facebook… I will always love you, but I don’t always have to LIKE you.

I just wanted to know if I should start a Facebook Page or a Facebook Group!

This mental sword fighting with Facebook’s instruction manuals went on for hours and left me feeling hopeless, starving and cross eyed. 

My thinking mind was in full flight.  No emergency exits.  Being-ness didn’t stand a chance.  

Did my life have meaning?  I needed professional help so I visited my therapist around 6pm after work.

There I sat in the therapist office at the end of the day.  The therapist said; “Taylor, we talked about this during your last visit.  You made a promise to yourself, do you remember?”  I felt numb. I couldn’t feel my legs and my head was ringing.  I could barely hear the therapist’s words. 

I began explaining the importance of this decision to my therapist (who by the way was half listening and Facebooking on the iphone).  The squeaking sound of my stress relief toy slowly calmed me. 

I just sat there, dazed, paralyzed by the paradox of choice and stuttering the words “Facebook Page… Group…Page …Group….Should go with a Facebook Page or a Facebook Group for my upcoming Santa Barbara SEO workshop – a group of business owners discussing web marketing each week.”  Ready to check into psycho ward now.

It was one of the worst cases of internet research shell shock I’d experienced. 

All drama, word play aside, and getting to the point like a good technical article should, I felt compelled to write a blog post that might save a few lost souls from the vortex of outdated “how to” articles on the web.  Facebook account settings and features change on a monthly basis these days.  Without a clear road map this research may drive you to drinking the egg nog this holiday season.

Before you go Googling through 100’s of outdated Facebook “how to” articles and losing 8 hours of precious being-ness, below are several pros and cons of Facebook Pages and Facebook Groups to help you make an informed decision. 

  

 FACEBOOK GROUPS:

PROS:

  • Groups give members more privileges by default, such as creating events or adding other group members.
  • An open group is more likely to attract members.  With an open group, any Facebook member can join the group. After somebody joins the group, they can see all the content posted to the group. The group is listed in Facebook search results for relevant terms. More members will increase exposure and bringing more opportunities for networking.
  • Content posted to a closed group is only visible to members. A closed group allows more control over who takes part in a group. Nonmembers can see a list of members but not any of the posts. This a big time pro for some folks because they want a higher level of control over the content. Closed groups also make it easier to prevent spammers from joining the group and annoying members.
  • You can also set up a group with a third status — secret. This is similar to a closed group but nonmembers cannot see any details, not even a list of members. The group’s existence won’t show up in Facebook search results. This means the only way people can become aware of the group is if they are told about it by an existing member.
  • Groups work better as a tool to gather people and tend to be geared more towards interaction with each other rather than one voice (or brand) that a fan page offers.
  • Groups are best when you want to inform a particular group of people, for example the members of your organization, your co-workers. The group is perfect for inner purposes.  But if you are a representative or manager of some big event, company or a product you should make the FB page.
  • Groups can invite all existing friends and they will be automatically added to the group, which helps kick things off quite a bit.
  • Groups are unique in that they allow members to directly add their friends to the group using a link in the right side bar. This is a nice “viral” aspect which has been said to make Groups grow faster than pages.
  • In a Group, the most current comment appears at the top of the wall, making it easy to see the most recent conversations.
  • When you belong to a group you can add the group to your left side bar on your home page which makes it very easy to access. No searching around to find the group.
  • If you run a closed group, you will need to approve applications to join. This takes time and effort (which most people lack). Users must ask permission before joining the group. This can come from a user applying to join the group and being approved by an administrator, or by an existing member inviting someone to join the group and them accepting.
  • Once a group has 250 or more members you can no longer change its open or closed status.

 

CONS:

  • Groups don’t allow you to add some of the most popular apps such as welcome Pages, Twitter integration, contest apps, etc.
  • Publicity in a Group is generally less powerful than a page.
  • When you join a group you are automatically ‘signed up’ for email notifications for all posts and comments. This is said to be overwhelming especially when the group is growing in leaps and bounds and you aren’t sure how to turn off the emails (or you cannot find time to pour over 100’s of outdated Facebook “how to” articles and you are afraid of ending up in the therapy office).  
  • In a group all members can directly add their friends to the group using a link in the right side bar. This means that people can be added to the group without even knowing it. Feeling like you are being spammed really brings out the worst in some people.  Proceed with caution.
  • Group timelines show the latest posts on top and which means posts are constantly changing order.  The post with the most current comment appears near the top.  This makes it difficult to keep track sometimes.
  • Groups are reported to be harder to find, especially if you aren’t already a member.
  • No links exist for the Photos so you have to click on a photo and then scroll from there.
  • Since Group admins can only comment as themselves, it is difficult to show official posts.
  • No Share Link.  It’s difficult to share photos because there is no share link (you have to manually copy and paste the URL from your browser)  The share button for the Group is at the very bottom of a wall so you have to scroll down, down, down, down, to find it.  Confucius say: “Confused mind says no.”
  • Opting out of the Fan Page route will lower your chances at increasing Edge Rank in your personal profile.  What’s Edge Rank?  Think Google Page Rank.  It’s a magical formula Facebook uses when ranking posts on news feeds of both personal and fan pages.  Less engagement decreases your post’s Edge Ranking, which basically means less people will see your posts.

 

FACEBOOK PAGES:

PROS:

  • Pages can add an iframe app which allows you to add html code.
  • Pages generally have more features than Group, such as welcome pages, twitter integration, contest apps that help drive traffic and engagement.  Pages can post as an “independent entity”
  • Pages can add an opt-in form
  • Pages have better control of the content than a group.  Groups may lose control of focus easier.
  • Unlike Facebook Groups, Facebook Fan Page engagement is not limited to members only. Yes the content for open groups is visible to anyone on Facebook, but its engagement is limited to members only. As such, only the Group members have the option to like posts and comment on posts.
  • Posts on Facebook Pages have a button that allows you to share the post, not so on Groups. This is a significant social media buzz kill.  While the term “open group” gives the impression of openness, it is still in fact quite closed. It cannot be easily spread, passed on or shared.

 

CONS:

  • Cannot auto add Group members like you can in a Group.
  • Lower visibility in newsfeed.  While Page content can be shared, the limitation is of course low newsfeed visibility.  Many of your fans, even though they liked your page, will simply never see your update. 
  • Pages are more difficult to build a following, and keep their attention.
  • Fan pages have less control over who sees content.  You cannot stop a person from initially liking your Page whereas there is far greater control over who joins a Group. While you can block certain people from your Page, the time value of money is not good, and only after a person has become a fan and proven to be a nuisance can you block them.

Social Media is all about engagement.  You’ve heard it before…the three E’s: Engage. Educate. Entertain. Decide what type of engagement you want to achieve with your social media communications strategy.

If your goal is to engage internally, then a Group is likely the most suitable option. If you want to engage with as wide a possible community you can, consider a Facebook Fan Page (keeping in mind the newsfeed and notification limitations of pages).

Seth Godin, master of the universe, expert marketer, evangelizes almost daily about the importance of “tribes”, your people…the ones that know like and trust you. 

Growing your tribe should always be on top of your to do list (for both personal and business life) and Facebook is an undeniable catalyst when it comes to growing a community of like minded people.

What do you think? Do you have a social media strategy in place? What tips do you have to share about your experience with Facebook Pages and Facebook Groups?  Please leave them below.

 

 

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