Venturing into the vast and opportunistic world of social media generally elicits excitement from most marketing and communications experts. But have we chosen the most efficient platform? And are we really making the most from our social media efforts?
Facebook is a great way to take advantage of social media for both personal and business purposes. It is one of the largest social media applications and has a vast reach with over 800 million active users, 50 % of which log on to their accounts on a daily basis. 350 million of these users do not just access Facebook from their PC’s – they log in via their mobile phones.
So Facebook has an excellent user base with good reach but which is type of account is best for you? Facebook groups? Pages? Profiles? Or business accounts?
It actually entirely depends on your purpose, requirement, and intentions for social media as they each have different functions. However, Facebook themselves have branded profiles as purely for personal use. If you are an individual looking to connect with friends, keep up with events, and engage with brands and interests then you need a Facebook profile.
Business accounts are as their name suggests – an account for individuals representing a business or celebrity (authors, models, actors and etc) used to manage Facebook groups and pages. As their main purpose is actually simply to manage other accounts they do not have the same functionality as a personal profile, group or page.
As for creating a social media presence for a business or person, you have two options – Facebook page or Facebook group. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each,
Only Facebook pages (and personal profiles) can apply to have a username URL. This is a short link that redirects to your Facebook page. The purpose of username URLs is for promotion so a person or business can say ‘Find me at Facebook dot com slash company or person name’. Facebook groups do not have this ability.
Facebook groups have excellent messaging capabilities – this is one of the most beneficial aspects of groups. Groups are able to send out mass emails direct to their members’ inboxes; however this is capped at 5 000 friends. Pages allow you to send messages to unlimited followers, but only page notifications, not inbox messages. Messages sent direct to inboxes are proven to be more effective in engaging conversation, but this feature becomes less useful if you are targeting an audience larger than 5 000 friends.
Facebook pages have ‘insights’ which is data collated by Facebook allowing you to analyse your social media use and determine your traction and engagement levels with your audience. They also allow you to see which form of media is being consumed most frequently – audio, posts, video, as well as many other features. This allows businesses to report on social media use, effectiveness and ROI to an extent. The group feature does not have insights.
Facebook pages are able to deliver promotional devices such as the ‘Find us on Facebook’ friends or a likes counter. This is basically an image displaying profile pictures of current likes that links to Facebook, allowing people to easily ‘like’ your page. This feature is also not available for Facebook groups.
Facebook groups have the ability to restrict access to certain individuals although it also depends on the type of group – there are three: open, closed, and secret. Open groups and Facebook pages work similarly – anyone can join and are automatically accepted. Any Facebook user can request to join a closed group; however, they must be approved by an administrator before being added. Secret groups cannot be found in searches, and the only way to join is to be invited.
Location Targeted Posts
Facebook pages offer the ability to target the location of your post to a language, country, state or province, and even city. Allowing you to send specifically targeted messages based on language and location. This is an incredibly valuable tool for marketers, as they can create social media campaigns that use one page to focus on several locations and languages, while still sending specific information to each segment.
Both Facebook pages and groups are indexed by Google and generally receive good rankings. Although for SEO best practise Facebook pages allow for more opportunity to optimise their content.
For example including keyword rich text in the ‘About Us’ box is beneficial as it is high up in the html code and is one of the first and only places accessible to search engines.
Also Facebook usernames (which are available to pages, but not groups) allow you to enter keyword rich URLs which Google ranks as quite important.
You are also able to change your default tab with Facebook pages, but not groups. It is recommended that a keyword rich page such as your wall or info page is chosen above a welcome page.
One SEO practise available for both pages and groups is creating a relevant link neighbourhood. If you are a pet store, linking out to dog groomers, vets, and dog obedience pages creates a good link network. You should also attempt to receive links back to your Facebook page as this is a very effective way to gain rankings.
Overall your objectives and goals for social media will drive your decision in choosing which method to display your communications. However if you are an individual looking at keeping a circle of friends, hosting and attending events, and engaging with groups of interest and brands a Facebook profile is the most suitable option.
Facebook groups are an excellent way for people to congregate and discuss issues pertaining to a particular topic or issue. They are also an excellent means of creating and organising small to medium events.
As for a business or company that wishes to have a social media presence to connect and communication with their customers a Facebook page will allow you more flexibility in discussion, distribution, analytics, optimisation, and promotion.