What is a Page on Facebook?
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.”
So, when you become a fan of a brand, a band, a movie, or a person, that information is posted on your wall, and your friends might see it too. You can see which Pages your friends are fans of via the “Info” tab on their profile.
To create a fan page, one simply has to go to facebook.com/pages/create.php and create a new page. (I chose the categories “public figure” and “other public figure” and made one for myself at facebook.com/pages/Howard-Greenstein/70939380803.)
Of course, a single fan doesn’t make a fan page very valuable.
Value of Fan Pages
Facebook Pages can be thought of in much the same way as normal profiles on the site – brand or celebrity Pages have the ability to have friends, they can add pictures, and they have walls that fans can post on. Pages communicate by “updates” which show on the update tab or a person’s wall if they’re a fan and have allowed the page to show updates. Pages can have applications as well.
Here, for example, is the Mashable Page on Facebook: facebook.com/mashable
Pages have two walls, one of what the Page owner writes, and one just for fans to write their own messages. Like a normal Facebook profile, Pages have tabs that uncover more information.
What’s a Group?
Groups are a bit different than Pages. I administer an alumni group on Facebook. To create a group you go to facebook.com/groups/create.php and then fill in information about the type of group, and decide if it is open to a particular network (such as a University network) or all of Facebook. You can set join permissions on groups so that they are either open to anyone, closed (where users must get administrator approval to join) or secret (invite only). Groups have administrators that manage the group, approve applicants or invite others to join. Administrators can also appoint “officers” who are nominally in charge – however, being an officer doesn’t mean the person has the ability to administer the group.
Because of these privacy settings, Facebook’s groups are analogous to clubs in the offline world. Administrators can invite members to join via Facebook mail and email, and public groups can be found via Facebook search.
Pages vs. Groups: How to know which to use
There are a number of factors you need to consider when choosing which is right for your project, a Page or a group.
Personal vs. Corporate:
Due to their security features, and size limitations (only groups under 5,000 members can send email blasts), Facebook Groups are set up for more personal interaction. Groups are also directly connected to the people who administer them, meaning that activities that go on there could reflect on you personally. Pages, on the other hand, don’t list the names of administrators, and are thought of as a person, almost like a corporate entity is considered a ‘person’ under the law.
Facebook considers groups to be an extension of your personal actions. When you post something as a group administrator, it appears to be coming from you and is attached to your personal profile. Alternately, Pages can create content that comes from the Page itself, so that content doesn’t have to be linked to you personally.
Update: Also one key difference is that Pages are indexed by external search engines such as Google (), just like a public profile while Groups are not.
Email vs. Updates:
As long as a group is under 5,000 members, group admins can send messages to the group members that will appear in their inboxes. Page admins can send updates to fans through the Page, and these updates will appear in the “Updates” section of fans’ inboxes. There is no limit on how many fans you may send an update to, or how many total fans a Page can have.
Groups offer far more control over who gets to participate. Permissions settings make it possible for group admins to restrict access to a group, so that new members have to be approved. Access to a Page, however, can only be restricted by certain ages and locations. Again, this makes groups more like a private club.
Pages can host applications, so a Page can essentially be more personalized and show more content. Groups can’t do this.
Neither Groups nor Pages have great moderation features. They can both be a little granular as to how things get posted, who can post, and what kind of media can be posted, but that’s about it.
If someone posts spam on your Group or your Page, you have to remove it manually, and you can also remove specific members.
Ability to create events
Both Groups and Pages allow you to create related Events, which show up under the users’ Request (and later in the upcoming events page on the sidebar of their dashboard if they’ve RSVPed). Neither have any added functionality beyond the generally available Facebook Events application.
Ads can be purchased to promote either groups or Pages, but Pages can benefit from social ads that publicize the fan connection between a Page and a specific user.
The bottom line
Groups are great for organizing on a personal level and for smaller scale interaction around a cause. Pages are better for brands, businesses, bands, movies, or celebrities who want to interact with their fans or customers without having them connected to a personal account, and have a need to exceed Facebook’s 5,000 friend cap.