NEW Facebook Groups: Pros and Cons

Somewhere between the (estimated) 10th and 20th Facebook redesigns, I stopped using Facebook Groups. Well, let me clarify: I stopped caring about Groups. I very well could still be a member of the Groups I joined when I first registered for Facebook, which was back in 2005 when it wasn’t even available to all colleges yet (“Praise Urban Meyer and Eat Cake” was one of said groups, a wise decision on my part.)

So when Facebook came out last month announcing it was improving its Group features, it came as a shock. Facebook still has Groups? I thought Pages did away with that? I don’t even see which Groups I’m in on my profile page (I know it’s there somewhere).

I was flabbergasted. There are Pages about interests and Groups about businesses. So what is it about Groups that set them apart from being lumped in with Pages? In theory, Groups and Pages do the same thing: connect people with similar, dare I pun, likes. So, hoping to gain a little more insight, I did what any red-blooded journalist would do: I Googled. Well, in this instance, I Facebooked…

Groups

To start things, off here’s a good pretty demo of the new Groups from the Facebook press event back in October.

Main Purpose: Designed to create small clusters of friends (family, potential clients, existing clients, etc.)

Pro: Can communicate directly with all of the members by e-mail, chat, message or wall post. (Yup, that’s right, e-mail.) Upload and create shared document, similar to Google Docs.

Con: You can’t add any applications to Group, a key deference to their Pages counterparts, making it somewhat limited to what you can bring into Facebook from your existing brand.

Pro: When setting up an event through Groups, you can message all of its members, something that Pages doesn’t allow businesses to do.

Con: You can’t access Insights with Groups. If you’re using Groups on a personal level, that’s not that big of a deal, but for people setting up Groups of business-related clients, you may want to see just how active it is.

Pro: Since Groups are created by people, not businesses, you get a higher sense of personalization where you’re connecting directly with an individual, not an individual disguised as a business.

Con: No vanity URL

I could see companies and execs using Groups as a way to group people (employees and clients) into segregated areas on Facebook, putting out information that’s specific to them. Could this be the first sign of a drastic change in how companies communicate?

What do you think? What’s the biggest benefit for you when using Facebook Groups as opposed to Pages?

Erin Everhart is the marketing associate for 352 Media Group, a web design company, where she specializes in social media marketing, search engine optimization and content management, working with some of the company’s most prominent clients. She’s also a freelance reporter for multiple newspapers and online sites and a frequent blogger. She holds a B.S. in journalism from the University of Florida and has an unhealthy addiction to salt and EM dashes. Follow her on Twitter :: @erinever.

8 Comments

  1. Thank you, Erin, for the breakdown on Groups. Very helpful information.

    Regarding businesses using them to communicate with employees: Because of Facebook’s lack of commitment to privacy, I would think businesses would be cautious about posting any communication on there that they didn’t want to go public.

    • Thanks Katy. I definitely agree with you on that. Although Facebook has gotten better in terms of privacy, it’s still a little dodgy. Maybe just for more casual inter-office communication, like office events, it may come in handy.

  2. Hi Erin, great article, but one small point, you actually can message your following from a fan page. It’s called sending an update and you can find it under the page’s Marketing tab.

    • Hi Justin, You’re absolutely right. Although, the updates aren’t stored in your main inbox and unless you opt in, you don’t get an e-mail notification if you get a new update, only a new message. It’s a pretty ineffective substitute for a normal Facebook message. I’ve had updates sitting in my inbox for at least 6 months because I didn’t know they were there!

  3. I am waiting for Facebook to come up with a way for businesses (who made the mistake of creating their account as an individual) to merge to over to a page or group – without losing their followers. In the beginning, there wasn’t an option for “like it” pages and many businesses created FB pages – the only way they knew how. Sadly, many will be deleted by Facebook and have to begin again from scratch. There must be a way to merge the account into a page or group. Facebook, are you listening???

    • Good point! The only thing I would recommend is creating a Facebook business page and slowly make the transition, making sure your friends know that soon, you’ll only be making updates to your fan page so they should like you. I hope that helps some!

  4. I upgraded to the new format and have been entering new “events” for my rodeo group. One took, and the rest did not after multiple tries. This is very frustrating-any ideas.

    Also, are there was to post .doc or .pdf to the groups. This came in handy in the past for membership drives and other documents that require more than what the wiki-like “create doc” functionality offers.

    Thanks!

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