Facebook offers two distinct ways for your organisation to engage with its community, that of Facebook ‘Groups’ and ‘Pages’. While similar, both offer distinct advantages and disadvantages worth considering before your organisation dives into Facebook.
Facebook Pages are becoming the de-facto standard on Facebook. If your organisation is looking to ‘own’ its official space on Facebook that lets you leverage Facebook advertising and applications you would opt for a Facebook Page over a Facebook Group.
If your organisation has its own website and is able to integrate with Facebook’s ‘Open Graph’ API, a Facebook Page gives you the opportunity to use Facebook’s social plug-ins the “Like Box” and “Like button” to link the two properties for maximum effect.
Facebook Pages also let your organisation target its wall updates so that the post is only visible to fans in the locations you choose or who speak certain languages by clicking the ‘Everyone/Custom’ button next to the ‘Share’ button on your post to wall box.
Facebook Pages are always public, with no option to ‘close’ them or make them private, unlike Groups below.
Facebook Groups, while similar to ‘Pages’ are ideal for building support around an idea or issue among a tight knit group (less than 5,000 members). With the key distinction of ‘Groups’ being the ability to send a private message or event invite to all members as a ‘rally cry’ or call to action for your organisation/event.
There are three types of Facebook Groups: open, closed, and secret. ‘Open’ groups are much like Facebook Pages in thatanyone can see/join them. ‘Closed’ groups are publicly visible, but group administrators can approve/deny all requests to join the group. ‘Secret’ groups are entirely invisible to people not within the group and are invite only.
For most organisations, particularly over the long term, Facebook Pages offer the best way to establish your “official Facebook presence”, however before establishing your place on Facebook it is important to consider the options for best targeting your audience, as switching between Pages and Groups will result in you starting over from scratch as there is currently no easy way to convert between the two options.