The difference between a Facebook Page and a Facebook group

Should I set up a Facebook Page or a Facebook group? That’s a common question from small businesses right now. Which is why I’ve put together this guide. It’s in two forms - a short version and then a more detailed explanation.

A short guide to the different Facebook options

There are three ways to engage with people on Facebook. These are through a personal account, a Page or a group.

Personal Facebook account: This is the basic Facebook account that most of us use to connect with friends and family. More than 7 out of 10 UK adults now have a personal Facebook account. One personal account connects with another by becoming their ‘Friend’.

Facebook Page: Anyone with a personal Facebook account can set up a Page on behalf of their business, club, charity, hobby, cause or for any other reason. People with personal accounts can choose to ‘Like’ a Page, but a Page can’t become friends with anyone.

Facebook group: Anyone with a personal Facebook account can set up a Facebook group. A group allows people with a common interest to have shared conversations, and groups have a variety of privacy options. Groups are only open to personal Facebook accounts, not to Pages (although there is an exception to this that I cover in the longer guide below).

If you want to use Facebook for business purposes, you can create a Page to represent your business, and/or a group for discussion and information sharing. You must have a personal account in order to set these up.

What if I don’t want to use Facebook personally?

Not everyone wants to use Facebook for personal use, and you may be reluctant to open an account in your own name. But you’ll need to, if you want to set up a Page or a group. There’s no requirement to add any personal information, or to become a ‘Friend’ of anyone on Facebook.

It’s important to note that Facebook forbids the use of a personal account for business.

I’ll cover the pros and cons of Pages and groups in the detailed guide below.

A note for those bothered by my use of capital ‘P’ for Facebook Page. I’m following Facebook’s own convention in its online guide and help text. Both the Facebook account and group use the lower case ‘a’ and ‘g’, but when it comes to the Page, they use a capital ‘P’.

A longer guide to the different Facebook options

I’m assuming you’ve read the short guide above, so I won’t be repeating the absolute basics.

Personal Facebook account

Your personal account is what Facebook is all about. Here you share information, jokes, pictures and more with your friends and family. If you want to, that is.

There are rules about how you use your account, although most of us don’t know them. These include that you can only have one personal Facebook account, and you shouldn’t use it for commercial gain (that is, for running business).

Click here to read the detailed rules (aka Statement of Rights and Responsibilities).

If you do use a personal Facebook account for business, you run the risk of it being shut down.

I actively discourage people from becoming the ‘Friend’ of a business run through a personal account. You can’t be sure who is managing Facebook for that business, and by becoming their ‘Friend’ you’re giving them access to information you post on Facebook, some of which could be quite personal.

It’s important to be in control of your privacy on Facebook and there are plenty of controls to help you. Find out more information here

You can use your personal Facebook account to make posts on:

  • Your own profile
  • Profiles of your friends

  • Pages

  • Groups

I won’t list the features and options of a personal account, because Facebook continues to add and change them. If you want more information about what you can do, take a look at the Facebook help pages, such as this one: https://www.facebook.com/help/239070709801747

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Facebook Page

You could think of a Facebook Page as being an alternative website for your business, charity, club etc. People who like your Page are described as ‘fans’.

People don’t need to be logged into Facebook to see your Page, but they can’t interact with it unless they have a Facebook account. I don’t recommend that your business only has a Facebook Page and no website, although some do. If you rely entirely on Facebook, you’ll be stuck if they take your Page down (and it does happen very occasionally).

More than one person can administer a Facebook Page. It may be that you set up a Facebook Page but in due course, pass it on to others to run, and eventually you cease to be an administrator. If you were to sell your business to someone else, you would probably pass on the Facebook Page to them.

There’s a separate app for managing posts and messages on your Facebook Page. If you’re not already using it, consider downloading the Pages app for your phone or tablet.

Who gets to see what’s posted on my Page?

Everything posted on your Page is public. However, not everything that you post on your Page is automatically presented to all your fans.

Facebook has a complex algorithm that decides who gets to see what on Facebook. After all, every time you visit Facebook there are loads of posts it could show you (from your many connections with friends, family, Pages, groups etc). It has to decide what is likely to be of most interest to you, and show these first.

The number of fans seeing posts from Pages has declined significantly over the last few years. That’s partly because businesses have posted lots of low quality content that, frankly, few people would choose to look at - who wants to wade through a stream of dull ‘buy this from us’ posts?

Recent changes at Facebook (from January 2018)  mean it’s going to be even harder for businesses to get their posts seen by fans. But harder doesn’t mean impossible. For the best chance of having your posts presented to fans, they need to be very interesting and very engaging.

Posting from your account onto your Page

Every Facebook post is linked to a specific author, or person who wrote it. The author can be a Facebook account or a Page.

When you’re the administrator of a Page, it’s easy to get confused about who’s the author of a post you’re making. Is it your personal account or the Page? And which should it be?

This is made more complicated when you’re posting from the Facebook app on a phone or tablet. When you post from a desktop you’re given the option to choose who you’re posting as, but that option isn’t always clear in the app - and remember, there’s a separate app for managing Facebook Pages.

Posting as a Page, you can make posts on:

  • Your Page

  • Other Pages

A Page can like other Pages, and individual posts on other Pages.

You can’t post on personal accounts or into groups (with one exception, which I’ll cover in the groups section below).

Can other people post on my Page?

You can choose whether to allow fans to post on your Page. You can also hide comments and block people from your Page.

You can’t control the ads that appear when people are viewing your Page.

While people can make comments and generate discussions on your Page, it all remains under your control. Even when you allow others to post on your Page, these posts are not shared with fans. This makes it almost impossible for someone else to share information or initiate a discussion on your Page.

There’s lots more information in the Facebook help section about Pages.

 Just one of the many Dorset Facebook groups

Just one of the many Dorset Facebook groups

Facebook group

A Facebook group is a discussion and information forum that allows anyone in the group to contribute.

Groups can be private or public. Every group has one or more administrators or moderators with control over who has access to the group and who can delete posts.  

There are several big differences between a Page and a group. One is that it’s much easier for any group member to initiate a discussion.

Another difference is that Facebook is keen to grow activity on groups, making this an area where you can expect to see new features being added.

A third big difference between a Page and a group

You can only post into a group using your personal Facebook profile. You can’t post into a group as a Page.

There is one exception to that rule, and it’s fairly new (introduced in late 2017). Page administrators can now set up a group that’s linked to a specific Page, and can post into that group as the Page.

Why would this be useful?

Groups are a great place for discussions. Let’s say your business sells pet products and you want to set up a group where people can discuss issues around pets. You can now create this group and link it to your business Page. Then you can enter into the discussions by posting as your Page, rather than posting from your personal account.

How groups differ from personal accounts and Pages

You can author a Facebook post from your personal account or your Page. You can’t author it in the name of the group. Nor can a group like or share posts made by others.

There’s lots more information in the Facebook help section about groups.

Final thoughts about Facebook accounts, Pages and groups

We all use Facebook differently. There are loads of things you can do in Facebook, and more are being added (almost daily, it feels like).

If you feel Facebook is getting too big and complicated to fully understand, you’re not alone. What’s important is that you find a way of working with Facebook that gives you the results you’re looking for.

If you’re not sure how to do something, don’t be afraid to ask someone. Ask me, if you want.

This post 'The difference between a Facebook Page and a Facebook group' was first published on www.dorsetsocial.co.uk.

 

FacebookAndrew Knowles