Facebook Fan Pages vs. Groups

by Brett Pollard on October 20, 2009

Which is the better marketing tool?

Now that Facebook has announced it’s changes to Facebook Groups, the differences between “Groups” and “Pages” have become even more blurred.  At first glance, the new layout for Groups looks eerily similar to the Pages format.  However, a deeper look into the remaining differences illustrates two very distinctive purposes.

New Facebook Group Changes:

  1. Groups now have a wall just like Pages and Profiles (see image below)
  2. Comments are now allowed on member posts
  3. When a friend posts to the group it will now be visible on your news feed
facebook_groups_sample_480

New Facebook group page example

Despite the similar look and feel, Facebook explains some of the differences in a recent blog post.

“Keep in mind that while Groups and Pages now look the same, they still serve different purposes. Groups are for fostering member-to-member collaboration, while Pages remain the best way to broadcast messages to your fans if you are a business, organization, public figure or other entity.”  Facebook Blog

If you are using a Facebook Group for your business presence, there are two ways members will see your posts to the group.  First – If the Group member is also a friend, they may see your post on their news feed.  Second – Members who are not also friends will only see your post if they navigate directly to the Group page.

Why is this?  Simply put, Groups are intended to be a sub-community within Facebook for discussing common interests.   Facebook wants to enable users to start a Group regarding any subject for any purpose.  By continuing to offer Groups and Pages, Facebook is clearly recognizing the need for both options.

“You can form a Facebook Group around any community you’re connected to in your real life: book clubs, sports teams, churches, whatever you want.” Facebook Blog

facebook_pages_sample_480

Facebook fan page example

On the other hand, Facebook Pages are intended for businesses and organizations to have a professional presence in the Facebook community.  They serve to create an environment for fans to listen, learn and communicate with entities they know and trust.  Furthermore, Pages offer several behind-the-scenes benefits over Groups.

Business Benefits of a Facebook Fan Page:

  1. Pages are easily customizable with FBML and apps
  2. The content on Pages is visible to unregistered users meaning it is also indexed by the search engines
  3. Pages offer analytics (page insights).  Although these are rudimentary, there is some value in knowing the demographics and fan reaction.
  4. There is greater opportunity to foster a long-term relationship with your fans
  5. You can promote your page with Facebook ads
  6. You can claim a custom URL when you have 100+ fans

The bottom line is that Facebook Pages have been the better choice for marketing since they were launched.  It may be that the visual similarity between Pages and Groups will be confusing to some users.  But a quick look under the hood of each reveals the true winner – Pages.

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