So you’ve gotten to the point where you realize that your business needs more of a presence on facebook. Afterall, marketing to 300 million active users who are all hanging out in one place is a fantastic way to get eyeballs in front of your business. It will also enable your business to enhance and maintain current customer relations as well as create an excellent interactive platform for new friends to learn more about your business.
If you are thinking about extending your business presence on facebook, you are probably a little confused about about your options, group or fan page. That is the goal of my post here. I hope to outline the differences and similarities so you can make a wise decision. I clearly lean toward one for branding purposes, but generally having both a group and fan page is the best option.
With either one, you do need to start from a single personal profile, however it can’t be traced back to your personal profile if it is a fan page. Groups indicate the administrator, and you can assign whomever you want as the administrator or even have multiple administrators.
A fan page allows for a username after you have reached 25 or more “likes”. This username is important because it can be used as a search term in facebook or in search engines to find you and your business. It also allows for a short URL when promoting to others. Think carefully about your username as it should be as close to your name (if you are an entrepreneur) or your business name as possible. Also, once you have chosen it, you cannot change it. So take your time in this step.
The group URL is ridiculously long and spammy looking in my opinion, plus it doesn’t do anything in the way of branding.
Hosting A Discussion
Both fan pages and groups allow for this. This is like a mini forum where you can post on certain topics and engage your friends in a discussion and even get their feedback on certain subjects, products or services. Make sure you refer to it often on your wall, each tab serves as its own URL, so you can use the URL for promoting directly to the tab. There is one flaw with Discussion Boards-they are difficult to follow. Check out this blog post about how to receive notifications to track new responses in the discussion board: Track Discussion Responses.
This is where a fan page shines over a group.
A fan page has all the apps of a group, but is capable of adding a host of other apps.
Applications basically extend the functionality of your facebook profile.
Here are some recommended apps for fan pages:
- Reviews-build credibility with testimonials
- NutshellMail– a newsletter fans can subscribe to right from your page-like a Facebook DVR
- Poll– engage fans and make better decisions
- Involver YouTube Box-instant upload of your YouTube videos
- NetworkedBlogs-autoposts any new blog content you create directly to your fan page
- Static FBML-use this until Facebook changes to iFrames. This allows the ability to use FBML code to create custom landing pages or other custom tabs. Excellent way to set yourself apart from your competition and give your page personality.
- Twitter Tab– allows a dedicated tab for all your tweets, updates automatically
- LinkedIn-allows your linked profile to be displayed as a dedicated tab
Messaging to all Members
This is where the group shines. A mass message can be sent to all members at once and it ends up in their “messages”. That is up until you have 5,000 members, than you can no longer message all the members at once.
In fan pages, you can only send an “update” . The problem is that everyone checks their messages and seldom check their “updates” which is located on the far left on your home screen. So chances are, your group message will get seen much more often that the fan page updates, unless of course you are in the habit of checking updates.
Only fan pages allows for “Insights”.
Insights shares analytics about demographics, page views, tab views, media consumption, comments, likes, unsubscribes, post quality and daily page activity.
With facebook ads you can reach your target customers, deepen your relationship by promoting your fan page, control your budget by setting a daily limit. Check out this case study to see how effective facebook ads can be: Case Study.
Both Groups and Fan pages allow for unlimited members. Personal profiles allow up to 5,000 friends. However, you can use the group or fan page URL to manually invite people to “join” your group or “like” your fan page who aren’t your friends on your personal profile.
Visibility & Privacy Settings
Fan pages are visible to unregistered users. They are indexed by external search engines, such as Google. Groups are not indexed.
Groups allow you to set join permissions. They can be open, closed (requires admin approval) or invite only.
Groups list the name of the administrator, fan pages do not.
Both fan pages and groups allow this feature. It’s a great way to notify all the members about an upcoming event, sale, webinar, etc.
Fan pages allow you to “update” all fans and post the event on the wall.
Groups go one step further and allow you to mass “message” all members regarding the group event. As mentioned previously, messaging tends to more effective than updating.
Both groups and fan pages allow for moderation. You can manually remove spam posts and members when needed.
Fan page owners can send updates to their fans, which shows up on their home page (news feed). Group status updates don’t appear on the group member’s home page or news feed.
So as you can see there are clearly advantages and disadvantages to both. I use both a fan page and group.
I think branding is hugely important for a business, fan pages allow you to essentially create a highly customized business profile via various applications. Another great advantage of fan pages are that status updates will show up on your fans news feeds. Fan pages are best for establishing long-term relationships.
However, groups have the ability to mass message all members. Groups are great for hosting quick discussions and attracting quick attention for events, etc.
So there you have it, now go out and get your fan page and group and claim your username before someone else does.
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To your social success,