Time and time again I hear people and business owners alike complaining about Facebook. While some say it is an over-cluttered time waster, others claim that it won’t last more than one more year – it is eventually doomed to fail. Many businesses in particular just don’t see the value in it. They believe that it is just an outlet for college kids to post party pictures, or middle aged divorcees to reconnect with their high school sweethearts. While both of those actions probably happen hundreds of times daily on Facebook, they make up a very small component of the activity and value that this amazing site has to offer. The fact is, there is an incredible amount of value for businesses on Facebook. However, there are two main problems. First is the aforementioned misperception of Facebook. Businesses need to realize that they are missing out on a huge pool of potential customers and opportunities by avoiding Facebook. And secondly is that businesses just don’t know how to use Facebook to promote and build their brand.
Let’s quickly address the first “problem”. To keep things short I will provide you with three concise facts that prove Facebook’s value to any business.
1. 400 million active users worldwide…and counting – where else do you have access to this many people? No other form of media can give you this kind of reach.
2. Facebook > Google – It’s true. This March, for the second time in the past 3 months, Facebook surpassed Google as the most visited site on the Internet, making up 7.07% of all internet visits. No wonder Google is panicking, just check out the graph below.
3. Not just kids – Facebook’s demographic is extremely diverse – your target market is there! While it is true that the 18-25 age group were the largest Facebook users in the early days, now there are almost 18 million users over the age of 35. Furthermore, over 70% of Facebook users are from outside the United States.
Study: Age of Social Network Users (Source: Pingdom)
As for our second problem – businesses just don’t know how to use Facebook to promote and build their brand. I wrote a blog a few months back that described the differences between a Facebook Profile and a Facebook Page. Many business now understand that a Profile is for people, not businesses. This leads to the problem of businesses creating groups for their businesses. I cannot stress enough how important it is to create a Page for your business – it is the most effective and efficient way to market your business on Facebook.
First of all, let me describe what a group is, it’s purpose, and suitable uses for them. Groups are meant to bring people together with similar interests. They foster group discussions around topics of interest. For example, I am part of a Facebook group for Bishop’s business students. We have discussion boards about different classes, projects, professors, assignments, study groups, etc. We are not trying to promote anything, we are just there to discuss certain topics and to help each other out.
Pages are designed to promote and build a brand. This could include a business, non-profit organization, political figure, etc. While Groups can invite people to become members, Pages are populated by Fans. While this is the most obvious difference between the two, there are several more.
Here are the 5 main differences between a Page and a Group that prove why Pages are better suited for a business.
1. Fans vs. Members
This is the main difference between a Page and Group. Facebook users can become a “Fan” of your Page. This means that the content you post will appear on their news feed. On the other hand, with a group users become a “Member”. The difference is that your posts will not be visible on the members’ news feeds. They will only see them if they make the conscious decision to visit your group.
2. “Google Juice”
Fan Pages can be viewed by unregistered guests, meaning that it can be crawled and indexed by Google. This improves your visibility and your chances of getting found in a search! On the contrary, groups cannot be viewed until you become a member, therefore any content within a group will not be indexed by Google. Therefore… Groups = Poor Online Visibility!
3. Memorable URLs
Fan Pages give you the option to create a personalized URL such as www.facebook.com/webfuelcanada. However, this is only possible after you have obtained 25 Fans. With a Group, you do not have the option to create a personalized URL – you are stuck with that ugly jumble of letters and numbers that are impossible to remember.
Fan Pages allow administrators to view “Insights” – these show you who your Fans are (where they are from, what language they speak, how old they are, etc.) if they interact with you, and how your Fan base has grown (or shrunk) over time. Groups do not allow you to analyze your members. There is no tool to tell you who they are or which ones are interacting with you. The only way to do this would be manually, which would be extremely tedious!
Fan Pages allow administrators to create social ads. Using these ads you can target specific individuals or consumer segments. It is not possible to create social ads with a Facebook Group.
Despite their differences, Pages and Groups do have some similarities. They both allow users to partake in discussions, post pictures and videos, like and comment on posted items. Furthermore, one common misperception is that Page’s do not allow you to “bulk-invite” guests, whereas it is possible to do so on a Group. This is false. While it is true that you can bulk-invite friends to Groups, you can do the same on a Page. Simply click “suggest to friends”, then click “Select All”, and then “Send Invitation”. It’s as simple as that.
While Groups are great for short-term discussions, Pages are the way to go for businesses. They allow you to develop long-term lasting relationships with your customers. Engage them through interesting content, promote your events, hold contests, offer deals to fans, post testimonials of your service/product. There are also countless amazing applications that you can add to your Page to make it more engaging and attractive to consumers. Create your Page, make it interesting, and track the results.
Have you created a Facebook Page for your business?