Facebook Groups vs Pages

A round table, a few suited men and a lot of blabbering. A podium, a guest speaker and a massive cheering crowd.  Now both these situations sound familiar. And that’s the analogy I’ll use to speak about Facebook Groups vs Pages and Facebook Groups respectively. Over the past few years, they’ve moved close enough to each other, leaving people confused as to which one to use.

Let’s start by answering the basic questions.

What are groups?

If you do not know what groups are, you’re probably still stuck on Orkut. However if you are a rare exception and are still interested, you can continue reading. According to Facebook, groups are “for like-minded members to connect, share and even collaborate on a given topic or idea”. Groups can serve as an extremely effective marketing tool. But more than that, they were meant to serve as a tool for building awareness around various ideas. We’ve rapidly seen many users use Facebook Pages (for a few advantages that I’ll list out later) for the same purpose, but this is what groups were initially intended for.

Here’s how you can create a group:

  1. Log on to Facebook
  2. Mouse over the groups tab on the left side of your newsfeed and click on more.
  3. This will open up to a list of groups you’ve already liked. On top of the page would be the ‘Create a Group’ button.

You can also set up a group as an ‘entry by invitation only’ platform. Three formats of groups are available on Facebook and their description is listed on the right:

What are Facebook pages?

In contrast to Facebook groups, which are focused on building conversations around topics or ideas, Facebook Pages “allow entities such as public figures and organizations to broadcast information to their fans.” If you are looking to set up your company’s “official Facebook presence” you would opt for Facebook Pages.

Here’s how you create a Facebook Page:

  1. Log on here and follow the steps.
  2. Once your page has been created, you can use paid ads or your own social clout to get more users on the page.

So what Sort of Conversations Would you come Across on both these Platforms?

Horizontal– Simply put, this would imply a lot of user generated content. This type of conversation would happen mostly on Groups. Every user of the group would get notifications on the latest activity by other users and this results in a lot of peer to peer interactions, just like a Group Discussion.

Vertical–This is a typical, top to bottom conversation. Like a public speech, there is one admin who’s addressing a huge crowd. This would happen mostly on Brand pages. Although users are notified, posts on page walls by other users do not feature in notifications.

Groups Vs Pages: A Feature Comparison

To explain this to you in a more simplified manner, there’s a little Acronym I’ve created – MAD PEST

M- Membership Restrictions

A-Applications

D- Direct Messaging

P-Publishing

E-Event Notifications

S-Search Indexing

T-Targeted posts

Let’s go over them in detail now:

Membership Restrictions:

One of the few benefits of Groups over Facebook Pages is the ability to restrict who can access them. Like I mentioned above, you can choose from thee types of groups: open, closed, and secret; depending on your requirement. In contrast to groups, Facebook Pages are always public (unless they are hidden for specific purposes) and there is no option to make them private.

Applications:

This, in India, is a big enough deal – given the big boom that the Digital Advertising Industry haswitnessed in the recent times. Only Facebook Pages can include applications. These custom applications provide Facebook Page administrators with infinite customization opportunities. Administrators can customize tabs; create mini websites and interactive applications to engage the existing user base.

This feature, however, is not available for Groups.

Direct Messages:

One of the best features of groups is the ability to send messages directly to members’ Facebook inboxes but these are restricted once a group surpasses 5,000 members. You shouldn’t opt for a group if you aim to meet your marketing objectives with a Facebook property. However the ability to send messages directly to a user’s inbox results in higher conversions over Facebook Page notifications.

Publishing:

Both Groups and Pages broadcast notifications to members’ news feeds giving each and every activity significant reach. Similar to the manner that status updates feature in friends’ feeds, Group and Page updates follow suit.

Event Notifications:

One of the greatest weaknesses of Facebook events created by ‘Page’ administrators is that you cannot send inbox messages to your fans. Instead, users are sent Page updates in their newsfeeds.

In contrast, Facebook groups can send event invites to their members (with a few restrictions). As is the case with mass messages, group admins are restricted from sending event invites to members once the group is beyond 5,000 members.

Search Indexing:

Both Groups and Facebook Pages are recognized by search engines, however Facebook Pages provide administrators with greater search engine optimization opportunities when Static FBML application are used on the brand page. But even on groups, you can control the content within the information area of your group, which is sufficient for showing up in Google and other search engines.

Targeted Posts:

In addition to being able to publish to fans’ streams, Facebook Pages also have the ability to target stream posts based on location in language. This works exceptionally well for global brands such as Ford and Coca Cola.

Over and above the above mentioned points, there are a few more features that are exclusive only to Facebook Fanpages:

  1. Metrics–One of the greatest values of Facebook Pages is a feature called “Page insights“. Page Insights provide administrators with information about the demographic break down of their fan base as well as engagement information.
  2. Promotional Widgets – Facebook Fanbox widget allows admins to promote their Facebook Pages on official company websites.
  3. Vanity URLs – These are unique URLs that redirect users to your Facebook Page. By having a vanity URL, you can more easily promote your Facebook Page. Imagine talking to your customers and saying – join us on Facebook at Facebook dot com slash your business name and they’ll be glued to you – hook, line and sinker!Facebook groups do not have this functionality as they are tools for discussion and not a place for brands and public figures to engage with their fan base.

Here’s a comparative example that covers how Naukri, a premium job search portal and Internships and Placements, a closed group on Facebook that caters to vacancies for students and freshers in Advertising, Media and Marketing, are going about their social media:

So the next time you’re stuck on a Groups or Pages situation, just recall MAD PEST and you’ll have your answer instantly!

 

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