Facebook Fan Page vs Facebook Group: What’s the Difference?

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People using Facebook for business often ask “should I have a fan page or should I have a group?” Many people suggest that you should do both, however, if you have limited time to devote Facebook it is probably a good idea to choose one to start.

Here is a list of differences between fan pages and groups. Once you know what the options are between the two, you can make an informed decision.

Fan pages are indexed by Google; groups are not. Not only that, but if someone finds your Facebook fan page from outside of Facebook, they can see the full page and all the information even if they are not logged in. With groups however, somebody must already be inside Facebook to see them. However, I would think it would be far more important to have your primary website found first on Google rather than your Facebook fan page so I’m not sure that this is necessarily the most important difference between pages and groups.

Groups are linked to your personal profile. This has pluses and minuses. On the plus side, you can easily invite all your personal connections to join a group you create. On the downside, because a group is always connected to your personal profile, if you are trying to separate your personal Facebook use from your professional but Facebook use groups are not as effective.

Groups offer the creator more control over who can join. Groups can be completely open, where anyone can join, they can be open but members must first be approved by the administrator, or groups can be secret with only those specifically invited even knowing the group exists. A fan page however is completely wide open. Anyone can find the page and anyone can join. As a creator of page, you are severely limited in your ability to keep people away.

The biggest plus sides from a business perspective of fan pages is the ability to customize the page. They’re many more options as far as applications that can be added to a fan page such as custom backgrounds, adding an opt in box, selling from your site and more. Now some of these customizations do require a certain amount of technical skill, or access to a tech person who can do it for you, however it does make fan pages more flexible for business professionals.

Another big plus for the fan page is that once you have a minimum of 25 fans, you can create a custom URL. Just like with your personal profile, you can create a URL that is www.Facebook.com/yourchoice. With the group however, you are stuck with one of those nasty Facebook URLs full of random numbers and letters. The customized URL means you can further brand yourself, improve your SEO, and generally appear more professional. A customized URL also makes it easier to promote your fan page outside Facebook.

The fact that groups are less customizable than pages does have its plus side. Groups tend to have a more personal feel, and seem less or corporate. Done correctly, groups could encourage more interaction with members. The downside is that because a group is directly connected to your personal profile, any activities by group members could potentially reflect on your reputation. If people behave badly within the group, this could cause problems for you.

Both groups and pages allow you to use advertising as promotional tools. Facebook ads are a paid feature, however can be very useful for attracting membership. The biggest advantage of pages is when you run an advertising campaign been Facebook, is the ads allow social ads. This means when you’re ad appears on someone’s page, if one of their friends is a fan of your page that friend’s name will appear underneath the ad as “Jane Smith is a fan”. This social proof may encourage viewers who would otherwise ignore the ad to click the link.

When communicating with group members or fans, there is a difference between the two. If your group has fewer than 5000 members you can send messages to all members that will appear in their Facebook inbox. From your fan page, you can update all of your fans regardless how many have, however it will appear in their update section not as an e-mail in their inbox. For some people this may be a serious concern, however so many people seem to be over using the messaging feature that many people do not use their inbox as frequently as others.

In conclusion, if you are looking for more professional feel, and want more customization, a fan page may be the best choice for you and your business. If you’re looking to connect with smaller numbers of people, want a more personal feel, and want more control over who can be a part of your community then a group may be the better choice for you.

Andrea J. Stenberg

Have you created a group or a fan page? Please leave a comment and tell us why you chose the one that you did. If you have both please share with us how you use them and what works.

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