Facebook Groups, and Pages and Communities; Oh my!

Wizard of Oz

Image by cjzurcher via Flickr

Once upon a time things weren’t so complicating in the world of Facebook. There wasn’t such thing as Facebook advertisements and fan pages. There was nothing but users connecting, chatting and most importantly creeping the pictures of their loser ex.

However, somewhere along the yellow brick road we were smacked with new options and new features. And with these new features came new rules. Rules that would change the way we interacted with one another and the way brands interacted with consumers.

The game had changed. And not for the last time. It appears that every few months we can find a new Facebook design or new feature. One question that will be asked for the next couple of months will be,

“What should I use, a group, page or community?!”

Allow me to break down the differences for you and how all three can help your business.

Facebook Groups

According to Facebook, groups are “for members of groups to connect, share and even collaborate on a given topic or idea”.

Facebook groups are essentially a dumbed down version of a Facebook page. Except, it does provide you with some advantages that a Facebook page cannot. Groups give you the ability to send out mass invites as well as mass messages to the members of the group.

Facebook groups have become more of a private place for users to communicate. Thus, it could used to get together a small group of people very quickly to use as a forum and bounce ideas off one another.

Groups are much more intimate than fan pages and community pages.  This is largely due to the key feature behind groups  – “invite only” or limited to specific networks. Thus, giving you a great opportunity to help set-up some team building activities outside of the office/public eye. IE. Fantasy football pool, Surprise birthday parties, Office pranks, etc…

Facebook Pages

When your brand wants an official online presence – You can’t get more official than this.

According to Facebook, these pages are specifically for local business, brands, products, organizations, artists, and public figures. If you are looking to set up your company’s “official Facebook presence” you should without question look into a Facebook Page.

Facebook has been pushing the idea of these being the go-to area for businesses for quite some time. And as a result they’ve consistently rolled out features to make marketers and page owners happy. As a result it only makes sense to use Facebook as your go to place for brand & consumer interaction. Just take a look at this comparison graph for the two options discussed thus far.

Community Pages

While some of us hoped this whole Community pages thing was an April fools joke. It turns out that Facebook wasn’t kidding around.

The new Community Page allows any user to create a page in support of their favorite brand or show their enthusiasm for a particular cause, idea or person they admire.

Now check this, Facebook has stated that they will adopt and maintain any Facebook community or Community Page that manages to gain a large fanbase.

Um…what?!

Yeah. That’s right. Facebook will take the community page you worked so hard to manage and make it their own.

So how could this benefit brands? Well first, it gives brand evangelists an opportunity to really promote their brand. Not only that, it has the capabilities that a Facebook page had in terms  of being spread with the click of a mouse.

One blogger said this discussing what this means for brands,

Well, one thing is certain, listening is going to be even more important than before. Remember all the chatter about how with social media, companies can’t “control the conversation?” That’s true to a certain extent, but there are a lot of smart people managing brands in social media channels and they’ve figured out ways around the conversation conundrum.

At this point the only benefits from a business perspective that I can see are in research and empowering brand evangelists. With these community pages still being relatively new it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

As I continue to reminisce about the days when Facebook was simple. I can only think of what will come next. The simplistic days are over and believe me when I say they aren’t coming back.

Toto, we’re not in kansas anymore…

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