Facebook was designed to help people connect with other people. Soon enough, corporate brands wanted a piece of the pie. Those that embrace social networking for business are accepting the massive paradigm shift in modern marketing, but this doesn’t mean that it’s a straightforward change. There is no established and accepted guide to marketing in the social realm because it is a moving, shifting, evolving species driven by companies that are optimizing their networks for the core users – the people.
Therefore us marketers have to make some decisions in order to connect to our clients and ensure we have a place in the relationship network. One such decision is what type of page to start on Facebook. Some may think it’s a small decision, but it is one that shapes the types of interactions you have with your fans, friends or members in the future. And switching the pages can be painful and will undoubtedly result in the loss of a few people in the process.
I guess the first thing to do is to discuss how Facebook defines each type of page:
- Profile – a place to communicate, connect and socialize with your friends.
- Fan Page – a place to communicate with your customers and fans by creating and maintaining an official page.
- Group – a place to communicate directly with other Facebook members who share a professional interest or hobby. Like a club.
Facebook is always developing new features and functionality, therefore you would have to assume that the functionality of each of these types of pages would naturally evolve down these lines of purposes. Even if you think a group is best for building your brand now, 6 months down the road Facebook might change their mind about a feature offered for groups, which will restrict your ability to market your brand. Or they could enhance one aspect of the fan pages which cripples your ability to keep up with competition when relating to your clients.
Aside from making some assumptions about the future, coming back to the ‘now,’ Facebook created fan pages so that businesses could interact with their fans on the network. It offers an experience similar to that of the profile, but with added categorization and different privacy options. This hasn’t stopped some companies from sticking with a personal profile or preferring a group over a fan page.
Here is a list of features that are crucial to marketing on Facebook and which page types offer these features:
Overall, most experts recommend not using a profile for business needs. Not only is it against Facebook use policy, it has non-existent analytics on Facebook and is a bit more cumbersome on the administration side. We get it that you can message your ‘friends’ better when they are ‘friends,’ but the limitations for promotions will only become stronger as the fan pages get a bit more development attention.
In conclusion, if you are thinking with your corporate hat on, a fan page is a better long-term initiative solution. If you are on Facebook to build your brand and connect with your clients, a fan page is for you. If you want to host a quick discussion with colleagues or network with people over a specific topic or special interest, a group is more appropriate. But a group isn’t a great long-term solution for your brand initiatives.
A little note: many people believe that groups will eventually be faded out as the fan page and the group merge to a closer feature set. Happy days for all.