This is one that I didn't quite get my head wrapped around until recently. Although they have similar functionality, there are small but significant differences between a Facebook fan page and a Facebook group page.
First, let's look at how they're similar:
- Both types of pages allow you, and other people, to express your affinity for something. Be it dogs, planes, a person, celebrity etc.
- Both allow you to setup forums and have discussions
- Both have a wall for posts and allow sharing pictures and videos
- Both allow you to message members in bulk
- Both allow you to create events that are shared on the member's profiles
- Both can be promoted with Facebook ads
- Both types of pages send updates to the member's timelines
That's about where the similarities end. Let's look more closely at what a group does that a fan page doesn't do:
- You have to be a member of Facebook to access group pages
- Create a more personal experience since they are limited to 5000 members, just like your personal profile.
- Everything you post to the group is personally tied to your profile.
- Group pages are not indexed by the search engines
- You can't create a custom url for your group page.
A fan page on the other hand does this:
- You can add applications to the page
- You can get statistics for your page
- Once you have more than 25 fans, you can get a custom url.
- Fan pages are indexed by the search engines
- Fan pages are available to the general public, so people that are not on Facebook can access them.
So, which one should you create?
Both, if it's appropriate.
I read somewhere that if you're looking to make personal connections, you should make a group page, but if you're wanting to make a corporate type of page, then you should create a fan page.
Before I knew the difference between a fan page and a group page, I created groups. Now that I have a better understanding of the 2 types of pages, I feel more inclined to create fan pages just for the Google juice and the public access of the pages.
I think the main point is to create a community that is interactive, worth joining and staying a member of. That's the main point.
The point is, that with close to 300 million worldwide members (as of this writing) it would be foolhardy to ignore facebook as a source of people/members/fans/customers for your site.
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