Facebook Groups vs Facebook PagesShould I use a Facebook Page or a Facebook Group?

This may have been a question you have asked yourself at the start of a new project, or perhaps you have created a Facebook Page without even considering a Group despite the fact it may actually be more suitable for your purposes.

This article has come about because I asked myself this very question just the other day when faced with a work brief to create some sort of social platform (preferably on Facebook) for a specific group of affiliates.  I immediately thought of a Group, but agreed to draw up a table outlining the differences to bring to a meeting where we could all decide together. Coincidentally a few days later I received an email from someone I used to work with at Qantas asking the same question in relation to a personal project they were starting.

Then, a few days later, I was asked by someone to answer a Facebook Groups-related question on Quora. I am always looking for inspiration for what to write about on The Social Skinny (please send suggestions through to [email protected]!) and this was clearly a sign from the social universe that I was needed to write an article on Facebook Groups.

If you do a search on Facebook Groups you will struggle to find an up-to-date source of information, because most articles that address this topic are pre-new-Groups-launch and so contain outdated information and incorrect facts.  But never fear…I am here, as always, to save the day!

PS.  I’ve also previously written about how to set up a Facebook Group, which may be useful if you’re going down this route.

Yeah yeah, but what is the difference between a Facebook Page and Group?

There are HEAPS of differences between a Facebook Page and Group. A Page is meant to be more of a broadcasting platform one-to-many (though obviously you should be engaging with your fans also), whereas Groups are meant more for equal collaboration and discussion amongst a group of people who are related in some way and/or share some sort of similar interest.

If you’re a business/brand/celebrity and you want to provide updates, special offers, competitions etc to your clients (current or potential), a Page is the way to go. You want to build up your fan base as much as possible and you don’t necessarily need your fans to be engaging with each other (just you).

If you’re part of some sort of society/association/group of individuals linked in some way and you want to create a platform that facilitates a non-hierarchical discussion environment amongst a finite (manageable) number of people then you should look into creating a Group.

Before you make your decision, however, you need to keep a number of important points in mind:

  • Facebook Pages (unless admin-only) are public, can be found through search, and anyone can join. You can, however, limit them to being visible in certain countries (and to some extent certain ages) only.
  • Facebook Groups can be public, closed (anyone can find Group, only members see posts) or secret (nobody can find the Group unless added by a member).
  • There are two ways to join Groups – a Facebook friend adds you or you ‘ask to join’ and an admin of the Group accepts your request.
  • Groups don’t allow much branding at all. You get only your profile picture (a small square image), and nothing else.
  • Groups don’t allow other tabs/applications. This means you couldn’t run a competition, or have a contact page, welcome page or anything like that.
  • My experience is that Group posts don’t go to your newsfeed. Instead, you get a ‘notification’ that someone has posted in the group. This can be both good and bad – it’s good because people definitely won’t miss it, no matter how long after you post the content they log onto facebook. HOWEVER, sometimes when there is too much posting going on it just gets so annoying a lot of people choose to change their notification settings so that they don’t receive these anymore. As the posts aren’t fed to your Facebook newsfeed, you effectively forget about the group forever because there is nothing prompting you to visit.
  • Groups allow ‘shared documents’ as well as group chat.
  • Fans of a Page cannot see everyone else who is a fan. Members of a group can see other members of that group.
  • Both Pages and groups can create events, post images, allow commenting/liking, restrict posts to only admins, and create polls.

Essentially, Groups are more like a private club or networking group. Pages are meant to be promoting a certain product/service/brand/celebrity.

Here’s a table I drew up that displays some of the differences:

  Page Group
Purpose Represent particular person or brand Collaborative environment for group of people
Restrictions Public or admin-only Public, closed (visible but must request to be added) or secret (cannot be found by search or any other means)
Add people No (can suggest page) Yes – only those who are Facebook friends of Group members
Facebook Notifications for fans/members Only if someone comments on/likes the post you have made or commented on. Default: FB notifications (and potentially email) for all new wall posts (by anyone) – can be changed.
Posting restriction Posting can be restricted to Page admins only or open to everyone Posting can be restricted to Group admins only or open to everyone
Wall Yes Yes
Post images Yes Yes
Comment/Liking ability Yes Yes
Create events Yes Yes
Applications/tabs Yes No
Posts fed to newsfeed Yes No
Polls Yes Yes
Create shared docs No Yes
Group/Page email address No Yes – this means the group members have access to a group email address that when used sends content directly to the Group wall.
Chat No Yes – through chat bar
View other fans/members No Yes
Advertising Yes Yes – unless closed group
Vanity URL Yes – you can choose No – though it is a logical URL determined by Group name. Eg. www.facebook.com/groups/groupname although sometimes it may have a string of numbers at the end.
Indexed by search engines Yes Yes – but not if secret
Notes Anyone can search, find and join a Page unless it is set to admin-only. Admins have the ability to delete/ban people. Anyone who is a member can add another member. This can lead to groups getting out of control. However admins are able to delete/ban people from the group.

So that’s about it, I hope it answers all your questions. Now the only question that remains is: will you create a Facebook Page or a Facebook Group?

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