Should You Create a Facebook Group?

Facebook GroupsHow to Best Organize Your Audience

Pages and Groups are Facebook’s solution to the frustration people were previously experiencing trying to connect with brands and celebrities with the limitations of a personal account. They are both designed to interact on social media, both as individuals and businesses, interests, causes, etc.  in a broader way than personal accounts allow. They share similarities, but there are some distinguishing characteristics that are important to understand. Most businesses by now know they should have a Facebook page for their business, but many may not be familiar with the value of creating a group around a topic, cause, or interest, which may or may not be related to the business.

A brief overview of Pages:

1. They are public – there is no way to restrict who sees the page and its general posts

2. Posts on Pages show up on the Newsfeed of the personal accounts AND the Pages that like that Page

3. Only personal accounts impact the number of Likes on a page, not other Pages

4. There is no way to reach out specifically to individuals who like the page, posting relevant content when the Page audience is most likely to see it is the only way to reach your audience on a Page

5. You can pay for promoted posts which will reach a larger target audience than just those who like your Page

6. When someone other than the Page Administrator posts a message on a Page, it shows up in a sidebar section, not as a regular post on the Wall

7. When someone responds to a post on a Page, it shows up as a comment under the post with a clickable link to the Page that offered the comment

Pages are a powerful platform to showcase business services, branding, culture, customer service, as well as cross-promote other businesses, interact within their community, and create buzz beyond the business. There are a number of limitations with Pages that makes it challenging for businesses. Groups offer a different opportunity to interact with your audience on Facebook.

A brief overview of Groups:

1. There are three privacy settings for  you to choose who will interact with your group and how

a. Open groups function like pages so anyone can see and participate

b. Closed group names can be seen by anyone, but members must be approved by the moderator

c. Private groups are not seen in a search and all activity is members only

2. Group topics usually center around an industry, interest, activity, event, or cause

3. Groups can only be established from a personal profile, not from a Page

4. People can interact with Group posts the same way they do on Pages

5. Group posts show up on members timeline just like Pages posts

6. Group moderators can reach out to group members specifically with messages which will show up as a message in their notifications

The most significant thing for businesses to understand about Groups is that is is a way to organize your audience around something greater than or more specific than your brand. Being able to reach out to the members specifically is a huge benefit and something that Pages do not allow. Make sure if you create a group the personal account it comes from is connected to your business. This means that either you are a small or independent business owner with significant personal branding in your business, or your personal account that hosts your business page is a general account without much personal content.  Pay attention to Facebook’s Terms of Use for this and make sure your designated personal account does not violate those terms.

An example of how a business may want to use a Group, in addition to their Page, is when coordinating a large event. One of our consulting clients is preparing for a trade show that they are hosting. They decided to create a new Facebook page for the trade show so the vendors, attendees, and sponsors could have a platform to post content, updates, pictures, etc. and start connecting before the show. This was a great idea and a great way to leveraging social media for their trade show. I did suggest the possibility of a Group as long as their personal account was relevant. Here are the reasons why:

1. They want to increase their social media activity on their brand Page and creating a new Page shifts focus off their brand

2. With Pages open forum, you have no control over who is participating and gaining access to the information being shared. This is a bigger issue in some industries than others, but something to consider

3. Once the trade show is over, that Facebook Page will presumably die, until next year, and all that good internet buzz is just sitting there. Groups are more likely to remain engaged after the event if their is traction around the topic

4. Most importantly – moderators can reach out to the group with updates that they will see at notifications. This means that it is far less likely for updates and posts that the audience would be interested in are not seen or ignored

5. If you create momentum with a Group around common interests, and you are the moderator, even if it is from a personal account, your influence and position within the industry is far more significant as you are demonstrating leadership and area expertise

There are good reasons to have Facebook Pages and other good reasons to have Facebook Groups. I encourage you to look at the guidelines and see if this is something that suits your goals. Contact us if you have any questions or would like some help with your digital presence.

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