Facebook Fundamentals : What’s The Difference Between A Personal Profile, A Group And A Business Page


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


Commercial Activity

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



  1. Wes Haley says:

    I’m still a little confused by the business thing, but you have to create your business page from your personal profile in order to have an entity that can create fans, right. If so, then where from your personal profile does it let you manage that business page? I created one for my buisness, but now I can’t find it.

  2. Hi Wes,
    For some strange reason Facebook make it very difficult to access pages. The quickest way to get to your page is to type its name in the search box.

    The other way is to scroll down to the bottom of your page and click on the “advertising” link, now select “pages” from the menu bar. A list of your pages should now appear. Click “edit page” to go to your page admin panel.

  3. Wes Haley says:

    Ok, thanks for the article, it really cleared some things out as I try and get my business a facebook presence.

    One final question. When I send people friend request, the only way to do it is through your personal profile, right. Meaning, they will see Wes Haley sent you a friend request, not Haley Video Services sent you a friend request, and there’s no way for that to be different.

  4. dinesh kumar says:

    Hi! your article was worth all knowledge a beginner requires, kindly suggest me how should an author initiate for his e book promotion; subject, motivational. regards

  5. Do you have any information (or opinion) about the potential volume of traffic on Facebook (Pages) vs Google?

  6. Do you have any information (or opinion) about the potential volume of traffic on Facebook (Pages) vs Google?

  7. There is another option now for a Community Page. How is this different from a Business Page? Can I swap between either without having to redo everything? I started a Business Page for a Climate Action not-for-profit community organisation before I realised there was a Community Page option. 🙁

  8. The main difference between a Business page and a community page is that you have Admin control of a Business page and facebook will take this away from you don't if you create a community page and it gets successful. I would always recommend a business page over a community page. Its important that you consider what you name it otherwise Facebook might re-clasify your page if you dont make it clear that it represents your particular Non Profit

  9. It really depends on exposure, like every other marketing channel ;o).

  10. Hi
    Thank you for your great work!

    Please forgive me for a 'technical' question: I operate in several niches, all very different.

    I want to start to use your methods to minetize my web sites, so I want to open a Facebook account.

    But I am not clear on one issue: since facebook requires that one person (individual? email?) has only one FB account, how can I separate my business FB from my personal FB?

    Should I create ficticious people/emails, one for every niche, and open several FB accounts?

    Once I create a FB account for a niche, is it correct to open a different page for every web site that I have in that niche?

    Thank you very much for your help!

    Giuseppe (Joe)

  11. How do you set up a business page for a beauty salon,i have tred numerous times and failed…..

  12. Thank you Ian .. most informative! Especially like your links to related articles. Thanks

  13. Clarified some things, not others. For example, what exactly do you mean by “direct access to THE news feed?' Which news feed are you referring to, and who are you referring to as having the access? ]

    Facebook terminology is odd and uses terms pre-existing Web terms in a weird unconnected way. For example, the whole idea of a “Newsfeed” coming from a personal profile is to me a nonsequiter. They want personal profiles to remain strictly personal, yet a news feed is not a personal sounding thing. Newspapers, News Agencies, Businesses and blogs have news. I don't consider my personal communications on Facebook to be “News.”

    IN any case, to clarify who has access to this News Feed:

    Of course a profile has direct access to its own newsfeed. That goes without saying.

    But are you saying that a Fan Page has direct access to the newsfeed of the associated profile? Are the posts on the Fan Page accessible back to the personal profile?

    Oh yeah, you didn't even mention, they don't allow you to just create a Fan Page without it being connected to a personal profile.

  14. HI Joe – you create one personal profile on facebook (where you login ) and then from that personal profile you can create as many business pages as you want so you can have a separate business page for each niche

    Please do not setup ficticious people/emails – that is totally against facebooks terms and conditions – you only need ONE personal profile on facebook adn do the rest through offical facebook pages that are created from within your one personal profile

  15. Garvey Winegar says:

    I'm new to FB. Where would I find a basic tutorial?

  16. Hey Garvey – there are a lot of ebooks and info blogs that you can find via a google search – if you want to find out more you can use the facebook help files (not always particularly robust or detailed) or you can find several facebook programmes being offered right now – (some care is needed to make sure you purchase one that is genuine and ethical based not a get rich quick scheme)

    The thing to consider is exactly what you would like to learn, what your goals are for using facebook and narrow down what you will be searching for so tht you can find the exact information and tutorials that you would like that really will give you the information you need.

    You can also join some of facebooks business pages where people, like myself, offer a lot of freebie videos, hints and tips for using facebook and are always there to answer peoples questions too.

    Do let me know if I can help you in anyway

  17. Delphitroy says:

    hi, great explanation, thanks. Can I get a Facebook badge from my Business page to put on the Business website?

  18. The other thing is that a community page does NOT allow you to create a default welcome page which is one of your most impportant marketing tools when using facebook for business. Lots of people have wrongly created a community page and lost control of it as you say Ian and also there are many people out there creating community pages because they believe that it will create more trust in their business (usually the affiliatte marketers)

  19. Yes you can – you can do this through your business page settings –
    better known as the How2Girl

  20. Our group does no profit things like making videos to songs already made and things like that. How would I make a page for people to like?

  21. Your article has definitely made me more aware.Very nice explanation here, clearly define the difference.Problem I see for a company with Groups is that you cannot install apps as additional tabs so you can with Pages and Profiles.

  22. MaskMan says:

    join my group , only for joker lovers , active people neded

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  28. Hi,

    Thanks for helpful facebook page, but I am still confused re diff between groups and people i have friended (i.e for my profile page /krishines, separate from my business page /krishinescounselling)

    When i first joined i gathered an initial bunch of friends to get going. Now i want to sort them into separate groups according to level of closeness etc. and what I engage with externally re links I put on etc.
    Q1. If someone is a ‘friend’ do they then appear/receive stuff only on the feed for the group I put them in?
    Q2. Or do I still have a basic timeline that all my friends get fed and v.v.
    Q3. related to these, do i then have to create posts separately for all my groups? I guess so, but just clarifying.

    Can you help?? Not my area of expertise!


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