Understanding Profiles, Pages & Groups
Trying to keep up with the rapid rate of change isn’t always easy so it should come as no surprise that many small business owners remain just a little confused about Facebook profiles, pages and groups. As a social media marketing agency, it’s our job to help keep you informed and updated on the latest changes, how each should be used and the limitations associated with different options so today we are going to spend a bit of time covering one of the most often cited source of confusion; the difference between profiles, pages and groups on Facebook.
Given the importance of Facebook to social media marketing in general, it behooves small business owners to understand as much as possible about the inner workings and available options. Consider this; Facebook is now roughly the size of the entire Internet in 2004…just 8 years ago! That’s what we call growth! But along with all that growth comes a lot (and we mean a LOT) of change. Timeline, groups, Interests Lists, advertisements….the list seems nearly endless and that’s just for this month!
Not surprisingly, small business owners simply do not have the resources to stay on top of all these changes but they do have the need to know about them. The first consideration is to understand what type of presence your small business has on Facebook. It might sound strange but a surprisingly large number of small business owners actually are not able to determine whether or not they have a profile, a page or a group!
Profile – This is the standard default for nearly anyone who has a Facebook presence. It’s allows a user to add personal information, photographs, interest areas, and so forth while connecting with other users or “friends” to share information and status updates with one another. Most individual users have a Facebook profile.
Page – A Facebook page is very similar to a profile but is a bit more formal. It can be used by a celebrity, business entity or other interest area. Several administrators can be named with different “fans” rather than “friends”. Fans “opt-in” to receive information and updates by “liking” the page while allowing users to interact with one another and/or the business entity.
Group – Think of groups like a club or special interest association. A group is often created around specific hobbies, interest areas of other concepts and administered by one or more persons who establish whether it is open to everyone, by invitation only or somewhere in between. Admin may create officers to help with the group without full administration privileges.
So which option is the best? It really depends upon your business or organization. For example, let’s take a local real estate agent…should they have a Facebook profile or a page? Perhaps both! This is one reason it becomes so essential to work with a reputable social media consultant when creating a campaign. By evaluating the current following, level of interest, business style and other factors you can build upon prior success while planning for the future. For instance, our hypothetical local real estate agent may want a highly personal approach to be used with fewer people – perhaps other business associates in the community – but still retain a much more visible presence for the general public provided by a page. Often a combination approach works best but that still requires a strong understanding of how each option will be used, by whom, when and how often.
Who, What, Where, When, & How
Now that you understand the difference between all three options, it will become necessary to determine the “who, what, where, when and how” for each. For example, who will be responsible for updating each area, how often, with what content, and how will security or other problems be address? Issues surrounding security, administration, user feedback, customization, visibility, frequency, content and the total number of subscribers are just a few considerations to take into account during the planning and preparation stage.
But that’s not all. To really make the most of all that Facebook has to offer, SEO and FBML (Facebook mark-up language) which is being phased out and replaced by iframes should also be integrated. This requires substantially more “know-how” than what the average intern has available; it requires a high level of specialized expertise with up-to-the minute know-how and awareness of all algorithm changes, upcoming updates and more.
All or Nothing?
Inevitably, every social media marketing agency will be confronted with a small business owner that thinks “Hey, if each is good then let’s just use all three”. Well, that is indeed a viable option for some business owners but not all! You see, the problem isn’t whether or not it can be built…it can. The problem is whether your business can put it to good use once it’s built! Research indicates (repeatedly) that even among those business entities that implement social media marketing, the #1 reason for not making the most out of it is the lack of staff. Few things are worse than building a brand new Facebook group that sits empty – imagine what kind of message that sends to prospective contacts! Automation can certainly help fill in the gaps but once again, we know from research that only one out of every four business owner that have adopted social media automation actually use the full range of features – again, time and staff cited as the main obstacles. It’s important to understand who will be responsible for updates and responding to clients, how the data will be used, the level and frequency of interaction etc…it’s all part of a comprehensive social media marketing strategy designed to address individual needs. Outsourcing, automation, clear understanding of current needs and future goals must all be addressed in advance in order to create the right system for a small business.