Why your biz or book needs a Facebook page, not a group

July 1, 2010

I don’t want to give away all my social media hints — I want people to pay me for this, remember? — but here’s a common mistake I’m seeing clients (and small businesses who should become my clients) make: creating a Facebook group or profile for a business, product or public figure when they should create a page.

Say your first book comes out, and you want to build relationships with readers. Or you’ve got an awesome freelance writing business you’re looking to promote. Or you run a travel company and want more clients. Or you’re looking to draw more customers into your coffee shop.

Lots of business owners — including writers who need to sell books or services — know they should use Facebook. It’s a good place to start building your social media relationships for lots of reasons, including 1. you might already know how to use it if you have a personal profile and 2. millions of people network there. But too many people make the mistake of creating a group or profile (that’s what you’d have for your personal account) when it would be far more beneficial to have a fan page.

Here’s why it’s better to have a fan page than a group:

  • It’s less of a commitment to become a fan of a page than to join a group. Yes, either way all your followers have to do is click a button. But this is a big difference in the minds of regular Facebookers. A group is more like an exclusive club, while anyone with minor appreciation for a certain brand might be willing to say they like it. That means followers are more likely to like a brand than join its group page.
  • Page updates appear in fans’ news feeds, while group updates do not. That means group members have to visit the group to be reminded of your services. Since you’re essentially advertising here, you want to be able to put your product in front of potential buyers without making them come to you.
  • The content on a page is expected to come from you, while the content in a group depends more on group members. Either way, you’re aiming to build a community, and interaction by followers in a group or on a page is always encouraged. But it’s easier to maintain a page’s momentum because you’re in charge. Groups can wither if there’s not enough participation.
  • Anyone can see a fan page. Groups tend to be more private; you might have to become a member to see all the content. You determine your own privacy settings, of course. But to promote your business, you want the most open option available.
  • Pages are more customizable than groups.
  • Pages allow an unlimited number of followers. Groups have a 5,000-person limit. Right now that might not seem like a big deal. But when your biz or book becomes super popular — like this author, who accidentally got 700,000 fans on his page — you’re going to want to have room for more than 5K fans.

Want more reasons? Mashable and Squidoo have posts on the differences between Facebook pages and groups.

Half of using Facebook to market your business is about not annoying your followers. Get in front of them, let them see what you offer, but don’t annoy them. The hard part about this is you have to be well-versed in the culture of Facebook to know how to avoid annoying people. And let’s face it, even some regular users annoy us. You don’t want your business to be like the friend who’s always throwing FarmVille pigs at you or has linked their Twitter account to Facebook so their updates take over your feed.

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Creating a page, not a group, is a step toward using Facebook effectively. And since it’s impossible to turn a group into a fan page, this is one thing that’s worth getting right from the beginning.

If you liked this post, you might want to read: How to use Facebook to — shhh — promote your book.

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11 Replies to “Why your biz or book needs a Facebook page, not a group”

  • Ndidi says:

    Hi Alexis,

    I recently open an account on facebook. I must confess I am new to facebook. As I was reading your post, I could not help wondering If I created a fan page or not. I guess I have to figure it out.

    There were some people I wanted to add as friends but could not. To get news feed from them, I had to click on ‘like this’ But these are individuals. so what kind of page do they have?

    • Alexis Grant says:

      Yup, if you have to “like” the page, it’s a fan page, created for a product or company or famous person.

      For most individuals, you should be able to add them as friends.

  • Ndidi says:

    Hi Alexis,

    I recently open an account on facebook. I must confess I am new to facebook. As I was reading your post, I could not help wondering If I created a fan page or not. I guess I have to figure it out.

    There were some people I wanted to add as friends but could not. To get news feed from them, I had to click on ‘like this’ But these are individuals. so what kind of page do they have?

    • Alexis Grant says:

      Yup, if you have to “like” the page, it’s a fan page, created for a product or company or famous person.

      For most individuals, you should be able to add them as friends.

  • Thanks for this great info, Alexis.

    I’ve been thinking of getting on Facebook for years. But I’ve been really resistant, first because of the rights/ownership issues about content, second about it being a “private club” (as a non-member, I have never been able to go in and check it out! so unlike a website, by its very nature it excludes a segment of the population from seeing it) and third because of all of the more recent kerfuffle about privacy.

    But I think I am finally ready to give it a try…

    From what I’ve read, I think I’d be better off going for an author fan page than a profile (I have several successful published books already, and expect to have another one out next year). But I still would like a chance to look at the whole thing before making that decision, though.

    So my question is:
    How can I, as a non-member, get in to see samples of both types of pages?
    Are there links to any specific people’s pages that you suggest I check out?

    Many thanks for your great info!

    • Alexis Grant says:

      Hey Jacqueline,

      Glad you’re finally ready to give it a try! Facebook can be awesome for networking — if you use it properly. To briefly address your concerns:

      1. I wouldn’t worry about content rights. But if you are, well, don’t post anything you don’t want someone else to get ahold of.

      2. Think of it as another way to reach your audience, in addition to your website. Rather than worrying about excluding people, recognize that it will bring a lot of people to your site and your blog. And since these people are choosing to support you — because they’re your friends in real life or because they enjoy your professional work — you’re giving people who already like you a way to easily see what you’re doing and to tell their friends about it.

      3. If you’re worried about privacy, only share things you want to be public. I can see you’re on Twitter, which is far more public than Facebook. On Twitter, you’re sharing with the world, while on Facebook, you’re only sharing with friends you choose to share with. Set your privacy settings properly and Facebook can only help you.

      I’d suggest you start out by creating a personal profile with real friends, then later create an author fan page that reaches out to a more general audience using your friends’ support. If you only want to create an author’s page… that’s too much for me to go into here.

      To answer your other questions:

      1. You don’t have to have a profile to look at pages. You can’t browse FB when you’re not a member, but most pages are public so even non-FBers can see them. Think of your favorite author, and Google her name with “Facebook page” — That should lead you to it.

      2. My friend Julie has a great page for her book:
      http://www.facebook.com/pages/Slept-Away/89049416566
      Here’s a page I set up recently for one of my new clients:
      http://www.facebook.com/OverlandExperts

      If you need more help, you know who to ask! That’s why I’m turning this into a job. alexiskgrant@gmail.com

  • Thanks for your answers, Alexis.

    I have tried googling authors’ names and “facebook page” – and I just tried again. I get a screen that says that confirms that page exists. For example I googled ‘kathy page facebook page’ and got this screen:
    http://www.facebook.com/KathyPage143

    But if I click on her name to actually see the page, I just get a prompt asking me to log in. So I know that her page exists – but I cannot get in to see it.

    I suppose that is something in her settings – it would be advantageous for an author to make their settings completely public – but since many or most of them don’t, I cannot get in! I really would like to see what I can do on Facebook, what a page looks like, before I make the decision of whether or not it is worth it for me to join. (Although I just tried for your name, too, and got the same result).

    I also tried author Adrienne Mason, who I know has a Facebook page, by googling “Adrienne Mason Tofino author Facebook page” and her page does not even come up in the search results. (I didn’t use the quotes in either search).

    Many thanks for the links to those fan pages. At least I can get in to have a look at them. But as for the personal pages, it seems the only way I can look at any is to either sign up first, or to look over a friend’s shoulder (I mean a “real” friend!).

    Cheers, Jackie

  • Alexis Grant says:

    Right — the FAN pages are public, but the PERSONAL pages are not. Even if you’re a member of Facebook, you’d have to be friends with those people to see their personal pages.

    Here’s a fan page for Jodi Picoult: http://bit.ly/9VEu7z

    If you LIKE the page (have to join Facebook to do that), you can see her wall, too.

  • Alexis Grant says:

    Right — the FAN pages are public, but the PERSONAL pages are not. Even if you’re a member of Facebook, you’d have to be friends with those people to see their personal pages.

    Here’s a fan page for Jodi Picoult: http://bit.ly/9VEu7z

    If you LIKE the page (have to join Facebook to do that), you can see her wall, too.

  • Melanie says:

    That article about the author with 700,000 fans is amazing! Yet another story that gives me pause about Facebook … But I know, I know. It’s got to be done.

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