For companies trying to launch a presence on Facebook for the first time, the differences between a personal profile, a page and a group can be pretty confusing. I’ve seen plenty of mistakes from newcomers: thinking that a personal profile is actually a page is a common error, as is starting a group when a page would have been better. Here’s a quick primer that highlights differences between the three.
A personal profile is what you create when you initially become a member of Facebook and set up your account. Facebook makes it clear in its rules that a personal profile must represent a real person . . . not a business or product. Personal profiles are what the vast majority of Facebook users set up to interact with friends on the site.
You’ve probably seen businesses that have made the mistake of creating a Facebook profile to advertise their company (ever gotten a friend request from a person named “Metroville UsedCars” or some other company name?). As I said, this is technically against Facebook’s terms of service, and these kinds of profiles that don’t represent a real person can end up getting deleted. Recently, Facebook has created an option for you to change a personal profile into a page if you’ve made this mistake.
You must have a personal Facebook profile before you can start a Facebook page or group. If you’re the owner or representative of a company, it’s a good idea to limit the “friends” you accept on your personal profile to people who you actually know. While Facebook pages and groups are meant to serve large numbers of people, your personal profile is meant to be a more private outlet that you probably won’t want to share with individuals who you don’t know.
A Facebook page is geared more toward marketing and promotion for brands, products, celebrities and public officials. It allows large numbers of people to “like” the page and be updated with information and news from the page administrator, as well as interact with other people who have liked the page.
When you are an administrator of a Facebook page, anything that you post on the page wall will be included in the news stream on the profiles of people who have “liked” your page. In other words, if you have 10,000 “likes” on your page, then every message you post on the page wall will be disseminated to 10,000 people (since it shows up in their news stream, though, not all of them will see it).
While Facebook groups serve a purpose, they don’t allow you as many innovative marketing options as pages do. Groups can be made completely private, and are meant more for closer-knit selections of members who are members of a common organization (think book clubs, employees of a common company, or social organizations, for example).
One advantage of Facebook groups is that they allow the administrator to send bulk email messages to every member of the group, which you can’t do as administrator of a Facebook page. In spite of this, however, Facebook pages still offer businesses the best options for online marketing.