Facebook: Profiles, Pages or Groups?

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Hey Brandi,
Now that I know I want to connect with my customers on Facebook, I'm not sure where to start. Do I just make friends with my personal profile? Launch a business page? Start a group? So many choices!

This is a *great* question, and I'm so glad that we get to talk about it. (If you haven't decided about Facebook as a channel yet, check out the blog post Is Facebook Right For Your Business?

If you're already using Facebook as an individual, it can be pretty tempting to just make “friends” with clients using your personal profile. After all, creating a business page or managing a group seems like a lot more work. Here are the pros and cons for each – so you can decide what's best for you.

Personal Profiles

Pros: 

  • Easy to set up
  • You probably already have one (and a built-in audience with it!)
  • Good organic visibility (Facebook prioritizes posts from individuals over business page posts)

Cons: 

  • Limited to 5000 “friends”
  • You'll need to really understand the privacy settings to keep things like your family vacation photos private from your business followers
  • No customization – i.e., contest plugins, tabs, etc.
  • No ability to advertise your personal page (Cannot run Facebook Ads)
  • No analytics

Facebook Business Pages

Pros:

  • No limit to the number of followers or fans
  • Ability to advertise your page and leverage Facebook Offers
  • Access to Facebook Insights (aka Analytics)
  • Customization options with plugins, tabs, contests, etc.
  • Share the responsibility of posting with admin roles
  • Built-in scheduling options
  • Vanity URL makes it easier to share/promote
  • You have primary control over your brand presenceGr

Cons:

  • Not all of your followers may see your posts (priority given to personal pages)
  • Harder to grow organically
  • Conversations between fans are more difficult to manage

Facebook Groups

Pros:

  • Designed for collaboration and conversation, not just brand presence
  • Group members can help drive engagement
  • Share the responsibility of moderation with multiple admins
  • Groups are more visible in the newsfeed than Pages
  • You can share files in groups

Cons: 

  • No add-ons for aesthetics or promotions
  • No Facebook Insights or analytics
  • No vanity URL
  • May be difficult to find the group without having a direct link or knowing someone in the group
  • Requires a higher level of governance, rule-making and rule-enforcing since virtually anyone can post in the group
  • It reduces your customer's privacy – as a member of the group, they can see what all other group members are posting (and other group members can see what they post!) This is a really important thing to consider if your business is around a sensitive subject, like some components of health and finance. 

So, which do I recommend? The answer is it depends on your business. I know, I know, that's not the answer that you wanted. If I have to give a recommendation and you're only choosing one, I would recommend a business page. Not only do you maintain more control over your brand presence, you get access to page analytics and paid advertising options (when you're ready).

That being said, I've gotten a lot of value from joining Facebook Groups over the last 6 months, and see them as a powerful way to build community. If your business thrives from your customers interacting with one another, then I highly recommend creating a Facebook Group.

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