The Difference Between Facebook Pages, Profiles, Groups and (New!) Community Pages

Everywhere I go, I hear that people are pretty confused about the differences between Facebook profiles, pages and groups, and which one is appropriate for their organization or business. A couple of weeks ago, Facebook rolled out yet ANOTHER type of page, the Community Page, which makes things even more confusing!

Here’s the most important distinction that you need to understand. Facebook profiles are for people. Individuals, using the site personally, like you or me (or some people set up profiles for their pets!). If you do business as a person or individual, for example, if you’re a realtor, then it would be appropriate for you to use your Facebook profile for business. But generally, Facebook profiles are for personal use. Facebook profiles ALWAYS have to represent a real person.

Facebook Pages (they refer to them as “fan pages” too) are for organizations, companies and businesses. Facebook’s official definition is:

Pages are for organizations, businesses, celebrities, and bands to broadcast great information to fans in an official, public manner. Like profiles, they can be enhanced with applications that help the entity communicate with and engage their fans, and capture new audiences virally through their fans’ recommendations to their friends.

So any organization–a football team, animal shelter, restaurant, dry cleaner’s, etc.–should always have a Facebook PAGE. (You can create a Facebook page here)

But you’ve all seen profiles that represent businesses and organizations! Well, these are in violation of Facebook’s policies. If Facebook identifies these profiles, they can and will remove them from the site.

Facebook makes it a little more difficult to set up a profile if you’re a business or company, because it requires you to have something that it recognizes as a “name,” and it requires you to select a gender. For example, if my business is called “Emily’s Oklahoma City Lakeside Cafe” it would not recognize this as a “name” and it would not let me create a profile. So I’d have to modify my name a bit…for example, here’s one of my favorite restaurants on Facebook. It refers to the restaurant as “she” because the person setting up the site chose “female” as a gender, and had to have something that Facebook recognized as a “name,” meaning a first and last name, so she had to condense it to “MamaRoja Mexicankitchen.” So if I were still trying to set up a profile for my restaurant, I’d have to be “EmilysOklahomaCity LakesideCafe” or something clumsy like that.

These should be flags or deterrents to setting up a profile instead of a page, but people still do it.

Don’t do it. Play by the rules. It’s not worth getting your profile deleted!

The main differences between pages and profiles:

  • On a profile, someone is your “friend.” On a page, someone is your “fan.”
  • With a profile, you can send messages to one or more friends, that go directly to their inbox on Facebook. As a page, you can’t do this–you can only send updates (which not as many people see).
  • Pages and Profiles can both post status updates, links, photos, etc. that appear in their fans’/friends’ news feeds.
  • Pages cannot “add” people as friends. However, your fans can suggest your page to their own friends to become a fan.

So, where do Groups fit into all this? Groups allow for more interaction between members, sort of like a forum or message board (BBS) system. Here’s what Facebook has to say about Groups:

Groups and Pages serve different purposes on Facebook. Groups are meant to foster group discussion around a particular topic area while Pages allow entities such as public figures and organizations to broadcast information to their fans. Only the authorized representative of the entity can run a Page.

So one of your employees might set up a “group” for your organization, and that would be fine. But only an official representative of an organization can set up the official Page for that organization (or at least someone who is willing to say that they are an official rep!).

So for example, for our client the Central Oklahoma Humane Society, we have set up a Page that is their official presence on Facebook. We post events, updates and other news. But we also have groups for specific volunteers within the organization, like Trap/Neuter/Return volunteers, clinic volunteers, foster parents, etc. That way those people can talk about subjects that are specific to their areas of interest.

Ready to create a page? Click here to get started.

So what the heck is a Community Page?

This is something Facebook has just rolled out. If you’ve spent much time on Facebook, you have seen lots of “unofficial” pages. These can be for celebrities, like unofficial fan pages for the Twilight movies, or for beers or sodas or sneakers or whatever. There are also funny groups like Tim Tebow Crying (sorry, Florida fans..this is just one of my favorites) or “Can this dung beetle get more fans than Glenn Beck?“(also a favorite).

These pages are becoming really popular, some having hundreds of thousands of fans. So now you have the option to choose to be a “community page” if you are creating a new page on Facebook. Now, if you’re making a page for your organization or business or brand, there is no reason to select a community page. Your page still definitely qualifies as a regular Facebook page.

What is kind of cool about the Community Page idea, though, is that Facebook says “If it becomes very popular (attracting thousands of fans), it will be adopted and maintained by the Facebook community.” What that means is that it will become basically the same thing as a Wiki. A Wiki is a web site or page that allows anyone to contribute content, much like Wikipedia. So if you create a community page that goes extremely viral, then it could evolve into something completely new on Facebook!

Again, for your purposes with your company or organization, you don’t really need to worry about Community Pages. Hopefully this has helped you understand the differences among the different ways you can represent yourself on Facebook. What other questions do you have about Facebook that we can answer? We can help you craft a social media strategy that will bring you business!

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