As Facebook announced recently that Facebook Groups were going to take a leading role on our homepage and in our newsfeeds, I thought I’d do a very brief guide to the differences between your business page and a group account.
Your Facebook business Page represents your brand/business on the platform. It’s your shopfront where customers can browse what you offer, ask questions, find out information about your business/products/services. People will come to your page to be informed, educated, inspired and motivated and it’s a place to promote what you do/offer.
A Facebook Group is typically more informal and often private (i.e. you have to request to join) and as such is a place where you will find much more open discussion and communication around a topic or area of interest. Engagement levels are generally much higher in groups than you will get on a business page.
The popularity of Facebook Groups demonstrates a clear shift in how people are using Facebook now – taking discussions into a more private arena, seeking out people with similar interests. Could a Facebook Group work for your business? It very much depends on your goals.
Here are some of the key differences to think about if you are considering whether a Group might work for you.
Content on your public Facebook Page can be focused on your product/service area and you can easily self-promote on your page (although you shouldn’t ONLY self-promote on your page!). Facebook Pages are the place for you to share your blogs, articles, product/service videos and set up your shop.
Within a Group, there is less scope for self-promotion, Groups are not an extra sales forum for your brand. Some groups will allocate a day each week or one post where members can promote their services but in general, Groups are there to build and nurture relationships and have discussions, not to sell. However, if you get it right, you can build deeper relationships with your members in a Group, gather honest feedback and create a strong network of potential customers and brand advocates.
There are no adverts within a Facebook Group and a Group cannot run ads of its own. As organic reach and engagement continue to be a struggle for businesses on the newsfeed, paid advertising is almost essential there to really get results. If used correctly, Facebook ads are incredibly powerful and you can widen your audience and get results much quicker than simply through organic posting so if speed is an issue and you want to simply generate sales/leads fast – you’ll have to advertise via your business Page.
If it’s important to you and your brand to build a community and provide real value to a certain sector or niche then you’ll find this much easier to do in a private Group. People will open up and be more honest in a private space.
Many health organisations and charities have associated groups as a place to share, support and connect people – and a brilliant consequence of this is that awareness for the charity/cause is boosted and given credibility.
It takes waaaaaay more time than you think it will to run a successful Facebook business Page doesn’t it? Working with the current algorithms means your content has to be spot on – eye-catching, valuable and encourage audience engagement. That all takes a lot of time to create, and that’s before we even get to monitoring your page, responding to comments, replying to direct messages, analysing your data, running adverts – the list goes on.
Some Facebook Groups, depending on how they are set up and what they are used for, can be fairly low maintenance but don’t be fooled into thinking that setting up and running a Facebook Group is much easier and less time-intensive. Even Groups that are seen to ‘run themselves’ such as selling sites or open community forums, still require an administrator and need to be moderated to some level. Depending on the size and scope of the group, this can feel all-consuming.
If you set up a Group to build a community of people around a particular topic or linked to your business in some way, your Group feed needs to be treated much like your Facebook page. If this is a private Group that people request to join and you want them to be involved and join in conversations then you have to give them a reason or incentive to join and stick around. How do you do this? Through providing value and posting great content.
It’s not something you can create and sit back and admire, you have to show up consistently. It takes a lot of commitment and a whole lot of time to cultivate a truly useful Group that people will enjoy being part of. You still have to post there consistently, just as you do on your Page, monitor and respond, give real value, start conversations, provide information, go Live, run webinars….it’s not an easy option, but building that engaged community can bring real long-term benefits.
Facebook Pages offer a host of analytics and publishing tools that aren’t available to Groups such as your audience demographics, when they are online etc.
Here are a few examples of how you could make a group work for your business:
Group: A space to openly discuss skincare issues without judgement. Use the group to encourage discussion about products, skincare, wider topics within beauty/makeup. Be helpful, give value, allow the community to support each other without an over-riding sales message. Your brand awareness will grow, you will learn a lot about your customer’s problems/issues that you can then use in your own marketing messaging, you will build a network of potential brand ambassadors.
Group: A space to openly talk about issues; where members can encourage, support and help each other. You can add value with useful content, live training/coaching, webinars, weekly challenges. Without explicit sales posts, you can encourage members to your online courses or onto your email list for example.
Group: ‘Let’s Decorate’ – members can ask questions, get recommendations of products, share results or decorating disasters, review local public space interiors. When something goes wrong or a member needs help with something they can’t manage themselves, who will be the first company they think of?
Group: Somewhere to share advice, recipes, ask questions, discuss local provision, best places to find vegetarian food in your home town etc. Build a community in the vegetarian cooking/food niche.
Are you inspired to create your own Facebook Group? Let me know and send me a link, I’d love to see how you get on!