From the “stuff I wish I knew back then” category, let’s talk about the subtle but important differences between Facebook Fan Pages and Facebook Groups.
I’m a big fan (no pun intended) of using Facebook to broaden a project’s audience and reach out to potential customers. If you use it correctly, Facebook can be an amazing tool to probe your target market, distribute mass calls-to-action, and build brand recognition.
Notice that I said “if you use it correctly.” It’s also easy to waste a lot of time on Facebook if you don’t implement the right strategy. An important part of that is how you setup and use Facebook Fan Pages and Facebook Groups.
Here’s my suggestion in a nutshell: You should use Facebook Fan Pages for building a social community around your project and for search engine optimization. You should use Facebook Groups for calls-to-action and mass messaging.
This is stuff that I wish I knew when I started using Facebook for marketing about a year ago, because it would have saved me a lot of time and effort. Let me key you in on my reasoning.
Facebook Fan Pages
The upside of Fan Pages is that they are much more visible to people searching for your product online. Fan Pages are indexed in the search engines, and often show up in a Google search for your product. They usually inspire more interaction among members on the page wall, and are a great way for legitimate fans to communicate with each other.
And like I said, Facebook Fan Pages are great for SEO. The links you post to a Fan Page are do-follow, so they are indexed by Google, and you have the ability to feed blog posts to automatically publish to the page.
Here’s the bad thing about Facebook Fan Pages, though: if you are the Fan Page administrator, bulk messages that you send to fans do not appear in their Facebook inbox. Instead, they appear in the notification bar on the right hand side of their profile.
That’s important stuff, because it means that all messages you send to fans are going to be pretty much overlooked.
Facebook Groups, on the other hand, solve the problem of sending a visible message to every single member. As the administrator, when you send a message to all members of a Facebook Group, it goes directly into their inbox.
From a marketing standpoint, I can’t stress enough how important it is to be able to send bulk messages to all members of a Facebook Group. While groups don’t really nurture the kind of visibility and community interaction that fan pages do, they are an excellent way to get information out to your target market quickly.
Before I realized this vital bit of info, I spent weeks building up huge Fan Page memberships with the intention of marketing to them via mass inbox messaging. I wanted to kick myself when I realized that I actually couldn’t send bulk messages to fans, after all.
So, What Should You Use: Fan Pages or Groups?
Facebook Fan Pages and Facebook Groups both have an upside and a downside depending on what your goals are. If you want to let your users build a community that encourages them interact online and talk about your product with minimal work on your part, then a Fan Page is probably the best choice.
Groups, on the other hand, are a better option if you want to reach out and deliver frequent calls-to-action to everyone who joins. One common-sense tip, though: don’t send out messages to your Facebook Group members too often, or they are likely to ignore you or leave the group.
Do you have any experiences you’d like to share about Facebook or social media marketing? Please leave a comment below and let us know. In the future I’ll be focusing more on tactics that will help grow your fans and group members, so be sure to subscribe to the Fathom Blog RSS Feed to keep up-to-date.