Facebook is still the biggest Social Network in the World, with figures at the end of 2013 showing the network as having “1.23bn monthly active users worldwide, adding 170m in just one year. According to Facebook, 757m users log on to Facebook daily, as of 31 December 2013.

Facebook published its number of daily users in the UK for the first time in August 2013 and the figures showed that more than a third of the UK population were visiting the site every day. US figures published at the same time showed that one out of three people in the US were visiting Facebook every day.” Source The Guardian

In February of this year Facebook celebrated its tenth anniversary, but the social network has come a long way from its early days in 2004 when it was first setup as a way for college kids to stay in touch once they left campus.

By the end of 2013 Facebook announced that it had “25 million active small business (SMB) pages” (Marketing Land) and this number seems set to continue to grow throughout 2014 and beyond. One of the questions we are often asked in the Lab is “Should a business have a Facebook Page or a Group? Which is the best option? Well there are actually arguments for both and in this post we are going to consider these options.

Before we do go into these differences let’s make one other thing clear Facebook Profiles are designed for an individual, Facebook Pages formerly called ‘Fan Pages’ are primarily designed to ‘allow entities such as public figures and organizations to broadcast information to their Fans’.

Facebook Pages

Facebook Page

As we have mentioned above ‘Facebook Pages’, first launched in November 2007 when in their own words “Facebook created Pages when we noticed that people were trying to connect with brands and famous artists in ways that didn’t quite work on Facebook…Not only can you connect with your favorite artists and businesses, but now you also can show your friends what you care about and recommend by adding Pages to your personal profile.”

As a general rule if you are looking to setup a profile on Facebook for a business then you should look to setting up a Facebook Page.

Facebook Pages allow a business to have a much greater degree of control than you would have on a normal profile and they do actually interact in different ways.

For example, on a personal profile an individual will interact with people they know by becoming a mutual ‘friend’ whereas ‘Pages’ are Public and as such will be visible in Facebook Search and thus available to all who can if they wish become fans by ‘liking’ an page they find of interest.

One of the things that you will notice when you first come to set up a Facebook Page is that they allow you to select a category for your business (local business, organisation, brand, band among others) which immediately segments your page allowing it to be added to and discovered on relevant lists within the social network.

An aspect that most people are not aware of is that Facebook actually has a limit on a standard profile of 5000 friends (which for most of us mere mortals is more than enough) however popular individuals such as Lady Gaga for example (who has 65+ million fans). Facebook Pages don’t have this limit and as such is much better suited for individuals who have this kind of massive popularity.

Many larger businesses also have a requirement for multiple people to have access and control of a single Facebook profile and Pages also allow you to have this important functionality. Pages allow for multiple administrators within a Company and since 2012 have also allowed for multiple roles within a page that allow for different access rights to the page.

Pages allow for five different types of access and we have listed these below:

Admin – this is the top tier role of any Facebook Page and allows the user to manage all aspects of the Page. This includes sending messages and posting as the page, creating ads, viewing insights and assigning the different page roles. Recently Facebook have also added the ability for Admin to see which person from the team has created a post or comment.

Editor – this role can do all of the aspects that an Admin can with the exception of assigning the different page roles to a user.

Moderator – this role can respond to and delete comments on the page but cannot create new posts, they can send messages, create ads and view insights as well as being able to see which admin has created a post or comment.

Advertiser – the role of advertiser allows the user to create ads and view insights as well as having the ability to see which admin has created a post or comment.

Analyst – this final role allows a user to view the page insights and see which admin has created a post or comment.

As can be seen from the above these roles really bring a popular degree of flexibility to how a company can allow access to its employees.

Facebook Groups

Facebook Group

Groups were first launched on the social media platform in 2010 and were described as a way for the network to mirror the way that people interact in the real world. At the time of its launch one of the strong features was noted as groups having the ability to share updates with specific groups of people rather than broadcasting to the entire network much in the same way we would in a family interaction.

With the focus now firmly on Facebook Pages people are utilising groups much less but they do still have some advantages. Facebook described the purpose of groups as ‘for members of groups to connect, Share and even collaborate on a given topic or idea’.

One of the major differences between a Group and a Page is that groups have the ability to be ‘invitation only’ and as such have much greater control over who can see and interact with its posts and content.

Membership to groups can be controlled by other means too, as groups have the ability to be open, closed or secret. Closed and Secret groups require that a potential member request access which then requires approval by an administrator giving a much more controllable environment than Facebook Pages.

With the degree of control available to a group you can begin to appreciate some of the advantages available for businesses to use the social network as a means of collaboration within the company. A major positive for a Facebook Group is the ability for its members to message or email other members without the requirement for the individuals to be friends (an aspect currently not possible to a Page).

One aspect that many consider an advantage of groups is that the posts within a group are not subject to Facebooks Edgerank algorithm and as such this means that the post that has the most recent interaction will always be at the top of the stream which is great for discussion type interaction.

Groups have a tendency to be much better for people who have a similar interest and want an experience much closer to that of a forum or support environment.

One thing missing from groups that may be an aspect addressed by Facebook in the future is that there is currently nothing like the Facebook Insights available to pages which makes the ability to see how useful any interaction much more difficult.

Hopefully this has given you a little more insight into the differences between the two choices and will help when you come to make your decision on which version is best for your business.