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Marketing Your Business on Facebook: Group or Page?

Written by Hirsch Fishman on January 23rd, 2009

Small business owners such as myself are always on the lookout for ways to promote their business. With over 150 million users and still growing, Facebook can be a great way to do that.

My business is almost entirely dependent on word-of-mouth referrals, so making sure that as many my friends and contacts as possible know about Addicott Web is crucial. The vast majority of my social network is on Facebook already, so it’s the perfect way for me to reach a broad audience.

What are the two approaches?

There are two tools that Facebook offers that can be used to market your business: groups and pages.

The differences between groups and pages are subtle, and average Facebook users probably don’t notice how they are different. In fact, I didn’t realize the difference myself, even after I started looking into which to use – which is how I ended up creating a group before I realized the error of my ways and created a page instead.

So why did I ultimately decide to use a Facebook page instead of a group? Simply put, because pages offer more flexibility to post such things as:

  • Customer reviews of my work
  • Recent blog posts through the RSS application
  • Connections to pages of my clients

But groups can have their benefits too – just not for my purposes. Here is a quick table that summarizes the differences between the two tools:

Key Feature Page Group
Shortcut URL Yes No
Discussion forum Yes Yes
Discussion wall Yes Yes
Extra applications? Yes No
Messaging to all members Yes Yes
Visitor statistics Yes No
Video and photo galleries Yes Yes
Event creation and invitation Yes No
Promotion with ads Yes No

Facebook Groups

Facebook groups can be created for just about anything. They are typically used as gathering places for people who share a common interest, support a common cause, or participated in some program or event together.

Why might you want to use a group to market your business?

  • Administration – As the group administrator, you can easily send messages to group members, making it easier to communicate with them about your business.
  • Familiarity – Facebook pages are relatively new, only having debuted in the last year or so, but groups have been around since the start. Because of that, people are a lot more familiar with groups and how to join and use them than they are with pages.

But there can be some drawbacks to using a group, such as:

  • Not widely accessible – Groups are only visible to Facebook members, so someone who’s doing a search on Facebook won’t be able to see it unless they have a profile and are logged in.
  • No extra applications – You can’t extra features to Facebook groups – what you see is what you get, which is generally the bare-bones stuff such as discussion boards, a wall, photo gallery, and basic administrative features.
  • Need to visit regularly – If you post a message to the group’s wall, you won’t see if or when someone responded to what you wrote unless you go back and visit often. This can be a big drawback if you want to facilitate a flowing conversation.
  • Less visibility on people’s profiles – When you join a group, it gets added to a long list of the other groups that you’re already a member of – and one that isn’t bulleted and lists the groups in no particular order to boot. If someone has a lot of groups that they’re a member of, it’s not easy to find yours amongst everything else.

Facebook Pages

As I detailed in another post on this topic, pages were created to allow people to connect with brands or famous artists. Pages can be created by anyone for any group, person, or business, although generally only an official representative of that business or person is allowed to maintain a page for that group or individual.

One of the biggest differences from a group is that you don’t become a “member” like you do of a group; rather, you are a “fan” of the page.

There are a lot more benefits to using a page versus using a group, such as:

  • Are widely accessible – Pages can be seen and found on the wider Internet to people who aren’t members of Facebook, so you do gain wider exposure in that sense. But even so, you have to be a member of Facebook to interact with the group.
  • Applications are available – As the page administrator, you can add applications to your page, similar to the way you can add applications to your Facebook profile. For example, on Addicott Web’s Facebook page, I’ve added an application that imports my RSS feed from my blog and displays my new posts whenever I post something to my blog.
  • Tracking – Facebook has provided page administrators a tool that lets them know how many visitors that they’re getting.
  • Better visibility – On your profile page, groups are displayed at the bottom with an image associated with that group next to it. The presentation and use of an image means that you get better visibility on their profile, making it easier for them (and others) to find your page.
  • Actions are documented – If a fan of your page takes action on it, such as writing on your wall or posting a video, their actions will be documented on the news feeds of their personal pages. Their friends will see the news feeds and if curious, check out your page – giving you more exposure.

There are still a few drawbacks though, including:

  • No mass invitations – If you want to invite people to become fans of your page, you can’t send invitations to large groups of people like can with a group. I’ve encountered this problem myself and it is quite frustrating.
  • Less familiarity – Longtime Facebook users might still be less familiar with pages than they are with groups. In general though I think this is becoming less of a concern, so I wouldn’t factor this into your decision between the two.
  • Messages might get less attention – As the page administrator you can send an update to your fans, but they might not notice it. Rather than appearing in their inbox, it gets displayed on the side of a user’s homepage – a less prominent spot that is unlikely to grab their attention.

Thoughts?

So now that you know the difference between Facebook groups and pages, which would you use to promote your business, or that of a business or organization you work for or with?

If you’re a small business owner and already use a Facebook group or page to market yourself, which approach do you use and why? Is it working for you?

Share your thoughts with everyone on both of these questions and more by filling out the comment form below!

About Hirsch Fishman

Hirsch Fishman is the owner of Addicott Web and is a professional web designer who specializes in building Wordpress websites for small businesses and organizations. Originally from upstate New York, he has lived in New York City and Chicago, and currently resides in Raleigh, NC.

40 thoughts on “Marketing Your Business on Facebook: Group or Page?

  1. Pingback: Thrive! » Blog Archive » Marketing Your Business on Facebook: Group or Page?

  2. Debbie Silbert

    Oh, my! THANK YOU so much! I have been pulling my hair out trying to figure this all out. Walls, News Feeds … Im already red flagged because I went to a friends friends list and sent every one of them an invite. Geez, this is a whole new world!

    1. Addicott Web Post author

      Yes, it is definitely a bit confusing at first – up until now there haven’t been any definitive answers on the topic, especially from Facebook. I’m glad that I could help though! Did you have any luck yet in setting up a Facebook page for your business? If so, what’s the link, I’d love to take a look and see what you’ve done.

  3. Joanna Figart

    Actually you can create an ad for your group. Otherwise, a clear well written article.

      1. Addicott Web Post author

        I think the limit is 5,000 friends per profile/page, so he’s still well within the limit.

  4. kay

    DONT GO FOR A PAGE. go for a profile instead. In the article you mentioned that its quite frustrating not being able to invite people to a page.

    It has become so frustrating to me, that I decided to write this comment (not so common for me).

    “Pages”are paying customers for FB. Companies, clubs, shops and so on are expected to create a “page” and advertise it through right-hand side ADS. I did just that, and spent 50 bucks to date. I have 147 fans, in 20 days.
    My competitor on other hand created a profile, and FOR FREE he invited all his friends and all sorts of random people. He now has 1000 fans in 20 days.

    I FULLY REGRET CREATING A PAGE. And I honestly feel cheated by facebook.

    1. Mariana

      You can’t have a profile if you represent a business. It violated Facebook’s terms and your profile could be disabled at any moment without any notice.

    2. Clary

      I do have to say that I finally found a way to promote my Fan Page and it now surpasses my Group one. In just 16 I had more than 600 new fans but paying close attention to the way I was choosing my target while placing an ad. Sales have been sparking up as well so the money invested has come back and some…

  5. Kimberly Clo

    Thanks for helping with this. Still trying to figure out what is the best way to promote my blow dry DVD for women. I know there are thousands of women on facebook that would want this info, but sometimes it feels like walking through mud trying to reach them.

  6. Dominic Smith

    Great article. I love social media and the prospects that it can bring however I am currently having the same dilemma as this article points out.

    I think I am going to lean towards a page. The fact that tracking exists on pages and the fact they can be seen without being a member of Facebook shows that they are made with businesses in mind.

    Hopefully I make the right decision…only one way to find out!

  7. Dominic Smith

    Ok, so I opted for a page…http://www.facebook.com/pages/Uni-fied/115396862737

    One of the deciding points was a username for the page so that you don’t have to be a member of Facebook to view it. Also, this is great from a marketing perspective. Unfortunately, anything setup after May 31st, 2009 and don’t have a minimum of 1,000 fans by this date do not qualify for a username yet.

    For a start-up business, this is not very good news.

    1. Addicott Web Post author

      I know, it’s a bummer that people with smaller fan counts can’t create friendly URL’s – I’m still waiting to be able to create one for my page as well!

      1. Rosemary Fitzgerald

        Since the URLs are so long for the Facebook pages, would you use tinyurl.com to convert it to something that does not take over your signature on your email? Or is there any other suggestion you have?

        1. Addicott Web Post author

          Unless it’s for Twitter, I actually prefer not to use a service like tinyurl because they obscure the destination – better to let people know where they’re being taken to. If possible, you should be able to insert a hyperlink in your signature around text like “Follow us on Facebook” or any text of your choosing – that would be my recommendation.

      1. Addicott Web Post author

        I didn’t hear about that change. Do you happen to know where/how we can go about getting those URLs? I’ve tried searching for it, but can’t find anything.

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  9. Pri

    Hey thanks for the article … I’ve been trying to figure out how to get people to become members of my page?! Just realized that i need a group for it! But looking at the comparison between groups & pages I’m gonna stick with my choice!

  10. Donna Cook

    I have read several articles on pages vs group and am still confused. I want to set up facebook for our church but can’t decide to create a group or page. help!

  11. Rebecca

    I have a business page on FaceBook through which I am hoping to be able to create a forum for clients to ask questions and share experiences. Is there any way to set levels of privacy so that posters can choose to dislay their comments pubicly OR privately?

  12. Pingback: Marketing Your Business on Facebook: Group or Page? : Welcome to Wiki.MapleCreation.com

  13. Maria

    Can you join a group if you are the administrator of a page? I would like to join groups on my page…

  14. Marty

    I want to create a facebook account for our home owners association where everone can keep up on the current events. Page or Group?

    1. Addicott Web Post author

      Hi Marty – you definitely want to create a page for that. When the administrator of a page posts something on its wall, it will show up in the news feed of everyone who’s a fan of that page. Groups don’t work like that. So to keep everyone up on current events, you want them to see your updates on their walls. Hope that helps!

  15. ishigaki

    One thing to remember is that people often search groups rather than pages as their is a common perception that groups will be a better source of objective information on a topic. Still, I’ll probably make a page.

  16. kevin Ackermann

    Hi! Thanks for the posts.
    I am setting up a small business where I sell shirts through sales events all around switzerland. right now i am having a group but still not sure if a page would be better! the only things i need are to keep them informed about new events and have them look at my shirts in the gallery. would you have any suggestion for that?

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  18. TAUPIN

    Hi,
    I am french. I wonder if I could use facebook groups to enable my customer to order a sandwich for example through the wall? Is it forbidden in Facebook to do that?
    Thanks
    Romain

  19. Ellen

    Help! You might be the only person who can answer this!! I have search everywhere and cannot find where I messed up or how to fix it. I created a FB page for my business (I chose the category of Online Store because its an online auction site and I thought that was the closest). The page has a Like button but not a way for people to become Fans. How can I change this? Do I need to delete the page and pick another category and start all over? (It’s been up for 2 months!). Also – when I tried to create an add, it automatically put my personal account name into the ad at the bottom saying I like the ad – what is happening? I searched and emailed FB help with no luck… Thanks in advance.

    Ellen

    1. Addicott Web Post author

      Hi Ellen – let me respond to your questions in order:

      1. Facebook changed the “Become a Fan” button to just a “Like” button. It will do the same thing (i.e., let people become fans of your page), it’s just a bit confusing, since you normally think of “Like” with approving of someone’s wall posts. There’s no way to change it, but since it does the same thing, it should be fine.

      2. I’m not sure about Facebook advertising, but I would venture to guess that it’s pulling that information from your profile. There must be a way to create a new account for your business and then switch the administrative controls of the page over to that, and then somehow tie the ads to that account instead of your personal account. Look into that, and hopefully it’ll do what you want.

      Hope this helps!

  20. Gillian

    Hi,
    Wondering if anyone can help me with this: I work for a non-profit organization and we have a facebook page created. Everything was working fine until I got notice from Facebook that I would be charged for this page, as they noticed it was being used to promote a business. My only issue is that, because we are a non-profit organization, all we are really using it for is word-of-mouth volunteer recruitment; we are not selling any services. Is there any way to avoid being charged and still keep our organization’s page? Thank you.

    1. Addicott Web Post author

      Facebook has buried the way to do this a bit, but it’s possible to do. Here’s how:

      When you’re logged into Facebook, go to your page, and click on the “Edit Page” link underneath the logo in the top left corner.
      On the page you’re taken to, in the middle column (and I use middle loosely) look for the “Promote Your Page” header. Underneath that there should be a link that says “Send an Update to Fans”.
      Click on that link, type your message, add a link/video/photo, target your message if you need to, and then send it. It will go to all of your page’s fans.

      Hope that helps!

      1. Jenny

        I just wanted to say thank you so much for this info, I have spent hours this afternoon trying to find out how my page on FB can actually connect with it’s fans, and you have the answer!!
        Still not entirely sure I’m a fan of the ‘page’ profile for businesses as it’s so hard to promote, but it’s what I have so I shall try to make the best of it!
        Thanks again.

  21. Neil

    Hi there, I’m just about to set up a FB page for my place of work but am stalling because of 1 issue which I can’t find advice on. When I begin to set up the page, I am asked if I am already a FB member – which I am. I am told that I must link it to my personnal account as you are not allowed to have more than 1 profile. What happens if I leave my job and no longer wanted to be associated with the company in question or I move on from my role and somebody else takes over my position? How will it be managed from then on?

  22. sarah brink

    I discovered the following about ads:
    1)If you click on them, they do not bring you to your page. 2)If you write in your home email on your ad and they click, it will not bring them to your email. 3)your ads only go to your friends. what’s up with all that????

  23. Amber

    is there a way to create a page without linking it to a personal account? I have been trying to do this and it lets me “create” it but I can’t actually do anything with it until I create a personal account to link it too….HELP PLEASE :(

    1. Eileen

      I created a business page and linked it to my personal account. I don’t see any way to delink it. I can create other administrators but it seems I will always have to be the main person and can never pass this page fully to anyone else? Is this the correct thinking? Sorry to answer your quesiton with a question.

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