Facebook is an excellent medium for not-for-profits to utilise, but the first step can be a little tricky. You need to decide whether you want to set up your organisation’s account as a Page or a Group. Both options have benefits, it all depends on what you want out of your Facebook presence.
A Facebook Group is a forum for collaboration and communication between like-minded individuals. Groups can be public, closed (anybody can find the Group, but only members can see posts) or secret (the Group is unable to be found unless added by a current member).
Groups are much more personal, essentially an online community; they are excellent for facilitating equal communication between all members of the group. Intergroup communication is made easy with chat, wall posts, email and even shared documents. This makes them an excellent choice if looking to coordinate events with volunteers/group-members.
Groups aren’t without their limitations, a big one is that they must be created and administrated by a personal Facebook profile, and only friends of that individual can be initially invited to join the group. This can blur the lines between personal and professional Facebook use and make it difficult to spread to all the intended Group members.
A page is designed to act as a personal profile for a business or organisation, almost like a miniature website for your brand. A Page can be ‘liked’ by a Facebook user which means that posts of the Page will show up on their newsfeed much like any other ‘Friend’ profile.
Pages are much more useful than a group from a ‘spread the word’ marketing perspective because they are public facing and allow for more posting options such as videos, photos, events and various links. Pages also allow for customisable URLs and a large banner image which can help your brand create a visual impact. The key benefit of a Page is the Facebook Insights function, providing useful analytics on who is interacting with the Page.
It is very difficult to promote the organic growth of a Facebook Page without the help of Facebook Marketing Tools and Boosts which come with a fee, but can be very beneficial if used correctly.
One way that organisations can take advantage of both sets of features (Page and Group) is to create a Page to start for their organisation, then set up a Group for a specific target audience like alumni or an event planning committee.
Be warned however, effective Facebook activity, whether Group or Page, requires close monitoring and time. Pages are in the public eye and it can be difficult to monitor all ‘fan’ activity, so close attention is required. Groups require high maintenance to ensure that all activity is relevant and positive.
So take a minute or two to review your Facebook use and whether a Page, a Group, or both would be best for your organisation.