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How to Expand Your Brand on Facebook: Groups vs. Pages and Marketing Passively

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Posted Nov 16 2009 11:31 AM

From Friends With Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook, by Darren Barefoot and Julie Szabo, November 2009, ISBN 9781593271992.

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Groups or Pages: Which to Use?

Traditionally (as in the past two years), groups were a focus for companies on Facebook. You started the official group for your company and encouraged your customers to join. Groups provided a natural conversational channel for communicating with customers and a clear focus for your Facebook-related activity.

A group is a great way to use Facebook to assemble an affinity group for social (without the "media") marketing. Facebook groups provide an effective platform for trying to change people's views or behaviors. Facebook users often join groups that reflect their values. Their list of groups is often a badge describing what they care about--whether that's Miley Cyrus or global warming.

In 2008, Facebook introduced a feature for companies called Facebook Pages. Facebook Pages are essentially profiles for non-humans--for example, the Toyota Prius.

Companies often confront the question of whether to create a page or a group. Here's a useful way to distinguish pages and groups: Facebook Pages exist to focus attention around a business or artist, whereas groups are for promoting a common interest, cause, or hobby. The two features have a great deal in common. But here are a few notable differences:

-Groups enable you to send out invitations in bulk to your Facebook friends, so you can generate more momentum and grow your membership numbers more rapidly.

-Facebook Pages are visible to search engines, whereas most other Facebook features, including groups, are not. Although this may change, keep this in mind when developing your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.

-Pages provide statistics for user activity; groups do not.

-Because of their name, design, and prominently featured Group Officers (those who founded and administrate the group), groups feel more social. Pages, on the other hand, offer a more formal, less conversational presence. If you choose, you can operate a page without ever disclosing your identity.

If you're starting from scratch, a page is probably easiest. If you're running a cause-oriented organization, however, such as a nonprofit or volunteer organization, a group may be a better fit.

Market Passively

-Users visit Facebook with informal and playful goals in mind. Keep this in mind when engaging in the basics of Facebook marketing.

-Create groups and event pages, and invite your community to join, but only invite them once or twice.

-After you've built a presence on Facebook, don't constantly hound your fans or group members with messages sent via Facebook mail.

-Remember that, depending on your industry, you may already be connecting with these people through an email newsletter, Twitter, or your blog. You don't want to send them the same news twice (or more!).

-Make your Facebook page an interesting, useful place to visit: post compelling company and industry news that your community will definitely be interested in.

-Think of a Facebook page as a blog. You're inviting people to become regular visitors, not jamming media releases down their throats via Facebook mail.

For more information, or to purchase Friends with Benefits, visit No Starch Press

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