What’s Best for Your Organization, a Facebook Group or Fan Page?
Within Indiana’s Tourism Industry, I’ve noticed that most organizations have created Fan Pages, while a handful have decided to instead create Groups or even a Personal Profile for their organization. Hopefully this post will clear the air about the differences between the ways you can reach out to potential and current customers on Facebook.
Whether you decide to use a Fan Page or a Group for your organization depends on your goals for Facebook. One thing you should not do, however, is create a personal profile for your organization. Beyond being against Facebook’s Terms of Service, your organizational goals will be much better met by setting up a Group or a Fan Page.
Facebook Groups started out as the only way to interact with organizations and other groups of people. Your college class may have a Facebook group that is used to update members when reunions are happening or when something big is happening at your Alma Mater. A Facebook Group is a great way to keep a relatively small group of people updated on what’s going on with your organization.
A great example of an effective group in the tourism industry is Travel Michigan’s. They recently shifted their industry communications from the standard email newsletter to a Facebook Group – Travel Michigan Industry News. This has the potential to be a great change for Travel Michigan, as they now can reach industry members in a medium they prefer. Also, by creating a group for the dissemination of Michigan tourism industry news, they’re also providing a place for industry members to have conversations and participate. A standard email newsletter doesn’t allow for this level of interaction.
That being said, the Facebook Group works great for groups like a college alumni class or an industry group, but it might not be the best fit for a true business to consumer (B2C) communication.
Facebook Fan Pages (AKA Public Profiles)
Facebook Pages were created as a way for companies, organizations, politicians, celebrities, non-profits and others (basically, anything that isn’t an individual person) to have a profile on Facebook. Several years ago, before the advent of the Fan Page, the only way for organizations to interact with their customers on Facebook was through a group. Luckily, Facebook realized they needed to give organizations, celebrities, etc, a more robust and customizable way to interact with their fans. Thus was born the Facebook Fan Page.
At Visit Indiana, we use a Facebook Fan Page (also known as a Public Profile) to connect with our fans. Pages give you all the flexibility of a personal profile and (most importantly) provide you with in-depth statistics on your page and demographic information about your fans.
Pages also allow you to install different applications, like the FBML application we talked about in our last post, Flickr applications and many more.
One more great thing about a Fan Page; once you have more than 25 fans, point your browser to http://www.facebook.com/usernames and you can create a vanity URL for your Fan Page. The Visit Indiana Fan Page URL used to be: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Visit-Indiana-Indiana-State-Tourism/42785429080 — quite the headache to remember. Now that we’ve created a vanity URL for the page, you can find it at http://www.facebook.com/VisitIndiana.
All in all, there is a lot more flexibility available through a Facebook Fan Page than through a Group. In the end, you can decide what’s best for your organization, but here’s a quick comparison chart so you can see, at a glance, the differences between Facebook’s Fan Pages and Groups.
Facebook Groups Vs. Fan Pages
|Updates feed through to members’ or fans’ Wall||NO||YES|
|Install applications to further engage followers||NO||YES|
|Allows messaging through Facebook’s “Messages” feature||YES||NO|
|Sends updates through Facebook notification tab||NO||YES|
|Lets you host discussions||YES||YES|
|Provides you with detailed analytics (Facebook Insights)||NO||YES|
|Lets users post photos and updates||YES||YES|
|Allows “vanity” URLs||NO||YES|
Now that you’ve seen the differences between Facebook’s Groups and Fan Pages, you can make an informed decision about which will best serve the needs of your organization. Let me know which one you’re using and how you came to that decision.
Click here to get started with your organization’s Facebook Fan Page.
Or click here to get started creating a Facebook Group for your organization.