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I often get asked whether Facebook Fan Pages or Facebook Groups are the best way to go when it comes to promoting a small business online. In order to answer that question, we need to look at what the main differences are between the two.
These are generally smaller gatherings of friends with a common interest, similar to traditional forums and user-groups. You set these groups up from your personal Facebook account and it is a place for you and your friends to go to discuss and share information about that common interest.
Although it is very easy to set up, there are some very specific limitations to the use.
- All Facebook groups are limited to no more than 5,000 members. Therefore, if you plan to grow your customer network beyond that amount, it is not in your business’ best interest to go this route.
- A Facebook Group is similar to a club or forum which requires sending invitations to join, approving applications and monitoring posts. There are security restrictions in place which allow you to make the group private or public and have control over who is allowed to be a member.
- The groups are searchable on Facebook making them easy for users to find within the site.
- Groups are meant to allow you to communicate on a more personal or one-to-one basis. This might be a good way to begin relationship marketing, but on a personal rather than corporate level.
- You have the ability to send a message blast to all existing members.
- You do not have the option to use applications or customize your group making it of very limited value for strengthening your brand.
Facebook Fan Pages:
- There is no limit to the amount of people who may become a fan of your Facebook Page.
- You have complete control over the look and feel of your page. You can strengthen your brand with logos and custom applications.
- You can update your page and all of your fans will receive a message through the updates feature of their inbox. This allows you to reach a larger number of people than a group that is limited to 5,000.
- One key benefit is that Facebook Pages are searchable from outside sources such as search engines. This extends the reach of your page to anyone who is searching for your products or services, provides you with a high PR link to your website and gives you another URL to promote to other social media sites.
- You do not need a personal Facebook account that will be connected to the fan page. This helps keep your personal life separate from your professional life.
Facebook Groups are intended to be an extension of your personal account. It is great for connecting with family and friends to share a hobby or special interest or to establish a rapport with a small community of like-minded individuals on a personal level.
Facebook Fan Pages are better for businesses and celebrities who want to connect with customers on a larger scale with more professional interaction between business and client. Product awareness, branding and marketing are done more effectively using this platform.