One of the main problems I face when teaching clients about Facebook is explaining the differences between A Personal Profile, a Facebook Group and a Facebook Page. I’m also often asked which is better, a Group or a Page. In this article I hope to address this and end any potential confusion
Friend, Fan or Member?
To begin with lets just define the terms before we proceed, a Personal Profile has Friends, a Group has Members and a Business Page has Fans. As long as you stick to this terminology you should not go wrong. The confusion starts if you begin referring to your personal profile as your Facebook page or your Fans as the members of your Group
Size Restrictions and Messaging Ability
A Personal Profile is currently restricted to a maximum of 5000 friends, you can only direct message your friends in groups of 20 people. A Facebook Group can have an unlimited amount of members and you can send direct messages to your Group until it reaches 5000 members. A Facebook Business Page can have an unlimited number of Fans but has no direct messaging ability. You can only send messages to your Fans as notifications. Unfortunately most Facebook users never check their notifications
News Feed Access
Your Facebook Profile has direct access to the newsfeed, though status updates, sharing links, posting photos and videos and importing notes. A Facebook group now has restricted access to the newsfeed. Activities will only show up under the highlights on the right hand side of your home page and not in the main stream. A Facebook Business Page has direct access to the newsfeed in much the same way a Personal Profile does. One of the reasons Facebook Pages are becoming so popular right now is because of the viral effects that this produces
Facebooks terms of service directly stipulate that you are prohibited from engaging in commercial activity for your Personal Profile
You will not send or otherwise post unauthorized commercial communications to users
This restriction also applies to groups and they seem to be continually increasing their vigilance with regards to unwitting users who break these rules.
Facebook want all commercial activity to take place from Business Pages and they want you to pay them for the rights to advertise to their users. This doesn’t mean you can’t engage in indirect marketing from your profile or group, it just means you need to be much more careful and adopt conversational marketing tactics rather than direct sales pitches.
Which Is Better: A Facebook Page or a Facebook Group?
There is no easy answer to this question, Groups and Pages have different functions and it totally depends on what you want to achieve. For a good overview check out John Haydens recent article – Facebook Groups and Pages – Features, Benefits And Killer Tips
In my personal opinion the recent updates and changes in Facebooks site design has made Business Pages by far the best option for any business or brand wanting to increase their exposure
a study by the search engine journal came to this conclusion
- Pages are generally better for a long-term relationships with your fans, readers or customers;
- Groups are generally better for hosting a (quick) active discussion and attracting quick attention.
The fact that Facebook has restricted a Groups ability to access the newsfeed means they have much less viral potential now. The main benefit of a group is your ability to direct message your members and the ability to create closed and secret groups. Mari Smith wrote a comprehensive article on this subject last November – Facebook Groups vs Facebook Pages – which is best? – that still has some excellent information although since the recent changes in Facebook her conclusions need some revision. Jessica Lee from Inside Facebook also gave 4 reasons why marketers should choose Facebook pages over Facebook groups. Also worth reading is Howard Greensteins article on Mashable – Facebook Pages vs Group
I hope this article has cleared up some of the confusion concerning Facebook profiles, Facebook Groups and Facebook Pages, if you enjoyed this post please retweet on Twitter or Share on Facebook by pressing one of the buttons below