1. Do you want a Facebook Fan Page, or a Facebook Group? Or both?
They are very different, and there are advantages to each. The biggest difference to my mind is how they are used to communicate. I did a quick informal poll around the office, and found most folk fan something to show support or express interest or advertise it on their page, but then never or rarely look at it again. Pages allow you to showcase and embed a variety of media and applications, with more special features available, and they can be public for people who are not in Facebook. Groups are not public, but allow you to send messages that show up in a person’s Inbox, making more direct communication easier.
Take home thought: Pages for discovery, Groups for communication.
“Pages can only be created to represent a real public figure, artist, brand or organization, and may only be created by an official representative of that entity. Groups can be created by any user and about any topic, as a space for users to share their opinions and interest in that subject. Pages can be customized with rich media and interactive applications to engage Page visitors. Applications can’t be added to groups.”
“Page Admins can update their fans about new Page content, promotions, upcoming events, and more. Pages can send messages to either their entire fan base or target their update to fans in a specific demographic. The messages Pages send their fans will appear in the “Updates” tab of a user’s Inbox.”
“Facebook Pages do not currently have an Inbox, and can’t be used to contact individual fans directly. We may add this feature in the future but don’t have a date for when this might happen. At this time, if you choose to send a personal message to a user, it will appear to come from you and not from the Page. Similarly, users aren’t able to contact Page admins through the Page.”
“We’re no longer able to convert Facebook Groups into Pages. You’re welcome to create a Page and notify your Group members that you’ll be using the Page instead of the Group going forward. If your Group has too many members to send them a message, we unfortunately aren’t able to provide you with any other solutions for how you might contact them about this change.”
Facebook: Help Center: Pages: http://www.facebook.com/help.php?page=175
Facebook: Help Center: Groups: http://www.facebook.com/help.php?page=414
2. Consider the audience when choosing the network – you can’t change it later
The network you choose when creating the page or group can potentially limit the audience. Don’t think about where you are, but who would ever want to see this and who do you want to have see it. If you say, “Oh, I’m in Michigan, and this is for Michigan folks mostly – I’ll choose my network as Michigan” consider that you can then never show it to someone who lives elsewhere even as an example of how you did it. That would include marketing, outreach, a shift in your mission or audience, government funding agencies, you name it. Only restrict the network geographically if you are confident that you will NEVER under any circumstances at any point in the future want the group to be accessible outside that geographic area.
3. Proofread the page name or title super careful – you can’t change this either
Pay special attention to plurals and variant forms or spellings for words.
4. Consider the content
Whether you have a group or a page or both, you need to balance keeping your content lively, current and interesting with being an obnoxious pest. You might guess this can be a tricky balance. It is worth taking the time to prowl around in Facebook, look at what other people and groups are doing, who seem to be successful at getting people to engage with them, and what are they doing that is different that others. Watch and listen before you speak.
Make a content plan. Figure out who is responsible for keeping what sections lively, share the load, make a schedule for how often what sections of the page should have new content. Making a good page and keeping it interesting and engaging is not something that magically happens. This is NOT a “if we build it they will come” prospect. Nothing in social media is. It takes work, and there are people who make good livings doing this for organizations like ours. It is usually not a one person project, unless it is their fulltime job just to keep your Facebook page looking good. Plan accordingly.
- WHY it is going there
- WHERE it is coming from
- WHEN and how often new items should appear
- WHO is the target audience
- WHO is responsible for content
- HOW is the content getting there
When you are ready to start talking, think about how to be efficient about it – how to get more bang for the buck. Think … RSS and Apps. If you use a blog, you can take the RSS feed from the blog and have posts stream to both your website and your Facebook page. Ditto for Twitter or Delicious or other tools. Think about what function they fill. I started using blogs to replace a newsletter that had become cumbersome to publish monthly. I used Twitter to create a custom newsfeed from a Google search because I wanted to filter the results with eyes-on content. There are apps and widgets in Facebook that you can add and customize to post content from an RSS feed to your Facebook page. You can find these for other places you might be posting or storing content, such as Twitter, Delicious, Flickr and YouTube. Services that have an API tend to be ones that have add-ons already available in Facebook. Putting content in these locations maximizes your audience. Here is one example of a tool, but search for more that meet your needs.
Blog RSS Feed Reader: www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=5315590686
There are also tools that allow you to send information or posts to Facebook at the same time you post it somewhere else. This allows you to be present in multiple spaces, but without as much work. Here are a couple.
5. Read the Facebook Help FAQ before starting – it might warn you of other important issues to consider.
Facebook: Help Center: Pages: http://www.facebook.com/help.php?topic=pages
A hat tip to Hung Truong with thanks for sharing thoughts while I was working on this.