Facebook Page vs. Group: Which is Right for Your Organization?

Much has been written about the differences between Facebook Pages and Groups.  When I needed to decide which to use for a project, I looked online and found lots of sites listing the features of each, yet I felt they missed the essence of which to use in actual practice.  Furthermore, much of the info online was outdated (even from Facebook itself).  After doing some experimentation on my own, I decided to publish my results and conclusions here.  I hope this will help you decide whether you should create a Page or Group for your organization (or both).

The Quick Answer

For those of you who don’t want to wade through the details, let me try to sum up the essence of a Facebook Page vs. a Facebook Group in as few words as possible:

Facebook Pages are ideal for two-way communication: from you to your members and from your members to you (if you allow it), but not so much between members. They are good for companies and organizations who want to make announcements to large groups of people.

Facebook Groups allow equal communication between all members of the group: they are good for friends or enthusiasts who want to talk between themselves with no one person or organization dominating. They promote online community.

Having said this, neither is quite ideal and each has major disadvantages.  In practice, I wish I could take the best of both, but we can’t, so read on to see the details.

Joining

Visitors of a Page become members simply by “liking” the Page.  No interaction from you is required.

Visitors of a Group become members by “joining” the group and waiting for approval from a Group administrator.  Groups can be “open”, meaning anyone can ask to join, or “closed”, meaning only people who are invited can join.  (By the way, with Groups, you can “force” Friends to join by adding them yourself, whereas you can’t force anyone to “like” your Page).

There are two really huge implications of this.  Groups require action from your organization before people can join, even for “open” groups.  You’ll need to make sure that someone can spare the time to do this, or else you’ll have members in limbo.

Second, visitors to Groups can’t post to the Group wall until they become members (i.e., after an administrator has approved them), even in “open” groups.  This makes it impossible for new visitors to immediately post on the Group wall.  Let’s say someone has a question about your product or service.  Are they really going to click “join”, wait for you to approve their membership, then come back and post their question?  Probably not.  This can be a big disadvantage of Groups, depending on what your goals are.

For this reason and others, Groups are good for long-term repeated interactions between members but lousy for immediate spontaneous interactions from the general public (i.e., non-members).


Visibility of Members’ Posts

The visibility of members’ posts is really one of the most important core differences between Pages and Groups.

As I mentioned, Pages are fine for two-way communication: Members are only notified (through a post to their newsfeed) only when the Page administrator posts and the Page administrator is notified when anyone posts.  Groups are ideal for all-way communication: everyone is notified when anyone posts.

Let’s talk about Pages a bit more.  With Pages, your posts show up on members’ newsfeeds, but visitors’ and members’ posts do not.  Members don’t get any notification when other members or visitors post.

Instead, members’ posts end up squished into a box on the side of the Page in condensed form, not on the main wall. Thus, Pages are pretty handicapped when it comes to member-to-member communication and are not so great for promoting community among members.

However, this can be a pro or a con, depending on your situation.

It can be a good thing for a company or organization that wants to tightly control the message on the Page.  This minimizes the effect of disgruntled visitors who post bad things.  Posts can be disallowed individually or altogether, if you want pure one-way communication only.

With Groups, on the other hand, any posts to the Group will be sent as an email to all members (until they get annoyed and turn this feature off), and will show up as a Notification in the top bar of the members’ Facebook pages.  Thus with Groups, all members have an equal ability to communicate with everyone else in the Group.

Even if Group members shut off email notification, they will still be informed of posts to the Group by a number flag that shows up on the “globe” icon at the top of members’ pages.  If they click on it, it will show a condensed version of the post.  Thus, as long as they check this area, Group members will never “miss” a post, whereas with Pages, members can miss postings if they don’t happen to check their newsfeed after you’ve posted.

These are really the most important differences between Pages and Groups.  If you want inter-member communication, go with a Group.  If you don’t, go with a Page.

Neither is perfect however.  I wish we could take the best aspects of each!  For example, it would be great if postings appeared on members’ news feeds AND in the globe icon.  But, we have to take what Facebook provides.

Member Visibility

People who’ve “liked” you Page cannot see who else has “liked” the Page.  Members of Groups, on the other hand, can see who else is in the Group and click on their profiles to learn more about other members.

Repeat Visits

Once a visitor has either “liked” your Page or “joined” your Group, what if they want to visit your Page or Group again?

With Pages, there is no easy link to your Page unless you make a post which they happen to see in their newsfeed.  If you don’t post, members are unlikely to return to your Page.  This is a BIG minus of Pages!  You have to keep posting to maintain members’ attention.

With Groups, there is a link on the sidebar of members’ newsfeeds at all times.  They can simply click on the name of the Group to see the latest happenings.

I really wish there was an easier way for people to return to Pages they’ve liked!

SEO

Here’s one really important fact that could force you to a Page: Facebook Pages will show up in Google searches.  Facebook Groups will not show up in Google searches, even if they are “open”.

Sustainability

Groups can be self-sustaining.  It is possible for you to setup a Group, add a bunch of friends to it, and have it thrive from member postings, even if you never lay a finger on it again.

This is unlikely with Pages.  If you stop posting, people are unlikely to return to your Page a second time because there’s no link to get there.  You might get first-time visitors through Google, but they won’t ever see a link to your page in Facebook unless you post.

Branding

If you create a Page, you can post and do other activities on Facebook as if you were the Page.  For example, when you comment as the Page, a profile photo of the page will show up, not your personal profile photo.  This is nice to decouple the organization from any one individual.

Furthermore, Pages can have “apps”, a feature which I honestly haven’t found a use for yet, but it’s there if you want to look into it some more.

When you post to the Group, you post as yourself.  You can’t “become” the Group like you can with a Page.

Reach

Facebook has really put a damper on the visibility of posts by Pages in people’s newsfeeds. Posts to Groups, in general, will have greater visibility on members’ walls Moz SEO did a fascinating study by posting the same link on a Page and Group with the same number of members. The post on the Group got 15 times the traffic! Read the Moz SEO story here.

Paid Advertising

On the other hand, reader Alexander pointed out to me that you can’t do a paid “boost” to a Group post, and overall Group advertising is limited. I haven’t tried this myself so you might want to experiment if you want to do paid advertising on Facebook.

Analytics

Pages provide you with analytics on number of likes, shares, etc.  Groups provide no analytics.

Summary

These are the core differences between Pages and Groups. As you can see, there is no clear winner; both have advantages and disadvantages.

I hope this has helped you decide which is best for your organization (or perhaps you need both, as some organizations have!)  Please let me know your thoughts and experiences! – Brian



111 thoughts on “Facebook Page vs. Group: Which is Right for Your Organization?

  1. Hi Brian! This was a very informative article. I’m glad I found as it’s exactly what I’m trying to determine. I am chairman of a HS PTO group for our class that is the fundraising arm for our 2019 alcohol/drug free lock in Graduation Party. It’s a four year effort starting when kids Freshman. The woman who set up our page did so as a group. We only have 45 members and we have 600+ parents. Would take forever to add then wait for them to accept. Then have them complain at all the emails/etc they’re receiving. I want to use this as a vehicle to announce events, post pictures, articles, and promoting dangers of drinking and other related subject matter. What is your opinion on switching from group to page?! Or staying as a group? For corporate sponsors in future thought about them wanting more visibility also? Thank you so much!!

    1. Hi Stacy,

      There are a couple of advantages of a group. First, you can exclude people you don’t want in it, which may or may not be useful to you. Second, people can sign up for email notification (although you mentioned most people don’t want it).

      With a Page, there’s no guaranteed way for people to get all Posts. They can select “see first” for your page, but most people don’t know how to do that. They can also manually navigate to the Page, but most people don’t know how to do that either.

      If you are okay with not having a guaranteed way to get posts in front of your members, then a Page is less work because as you said, you don’t have to manually add everyone.

      So unfortunately, there is no perfect solution, but maybe you can pick one that is acceptable.

      Best,
      Brian

    1. Hi Ganesh,

      Neither has a way of being directly monetized, but you can post links to sites which are monetized. Which is “best” depends on your situation, but not knowing any details, I’d say a Page is better because it shows up on Google searches.

      Best,
      Brian

  2. I want to start a boat site for Vintage Rich Line boats. I have numerous brochures with multiple pages.
    The brochures have helpful information about each boat. Owners can use these brochures and videos to
    restore and old Richline. The company went out of business in 1972 so there are no owners. My Father stated the business in 1953 and sold it in 1957.
    “This site is for the owners, past owners and people interested in Richline Boats to post their pictures,tell their stories, and share information.” I have some videos and, how-to’s, and photos. I have Searched and have not found any “Page” or “Group” that have brochures that are loaded into albums for a model to work from. I actually am the administrator for https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Richline_53/info. I have 208 members
    I started it in 2006 but about 2 years ago they changed the format and lost a lot of my files; it has become a mess and there is no help. I have been waiting for them to fix the problem but after looking at information on Yahoo Groups it is clear they are not going to do any fixes; people are leaving them in large numbers. Do you have any suggestions on doing a group or page. I thank you for your time.

    George Schneider

  3. Hi Brian – how I wish I had found your article before I got myself in such a mess. I have 3 FB pages….at least I think I have. I have one which I set up to advertise my small charity fundraising enterprise (I make homemade preserves which I sell to raise funds). I advertise what is available and where I will be selling the preserves – fetes, markets etc. It doesn’t really work that well as it seems impossible to share the adverts with other pages.Apart from trying to put that one right I have been asked to set up a selling site for the members of my Slimming group where we can all advertise our clothes etc….should this be a group or a page. People need to go on there and get immediate access without waiting to join but it would be nice if we could have the boxes that are available on some sites to input the items for sale. Can you throw any light on these issues for me please?

    1. HI Maura,

      Sounds like what you need is a dedicated e-commerce website. You can post links from that on your FB page.

      I don’t think a group is what you want unless you only want to market to the members.

      Best,
      Brian

  4. Hello Brian, I am completely new the this although I do have my own Facebook page. I have been asked to set up either a page/group in facebook for a ladies section of a golf club. I want to post events, winners of competitions, photos etc. I do want it to be seen by a wider audience but need to maintain control of the account with only three or four people being able to put information on it, but obviously our ladies to have access to it. You can tell I am new!! Look forward to your comments.

  5. Brian,
    I’ve read your article, very informative. Still want o make sure a page is right for me. I’ve been asked to spearhead a ministry at church that will target 5 or more locations. It’s for events and spreading awareness about topics. Am I on the right path with a page? Just thought that if I did a group, it would keep others outside of the group from seeing it. I definitely want to reach as many people as possible, but without any negative comments or chatting between people. Help!

    1. Hi Melanie,

      I think a Page is best in your case, mainly because you want to limit the chatting between members.

      Groups can be public and can show the complete wall to non-members, but I still think a Page is most appropriate for you, as you can post as “the page”, which is what you want, whereas in a group, you can only post as a Facebook person.

      Best,
      Brian

  6. Thanks Brian for the detailed article. It was very helpful. I still need your opinion on my situation.
    I have a group with about 1000 members to support a community website. It’s a closed group where only administrators (a couple) can post. The group policy is that only members of a specific community are allowed to join the group.
    Now I feel like making a page sothat we are able to invite people from outside community as well to like the page and get the posts.
    Now the problem that I foresee is that all the members of the group will also be there on the page and they will get duplicate posts one from group posting and one from page posting.
    Can there be any exclusivity or can page and group be linked.

    1. Hi Manoj,

      There is currently no way that I know of to link a Page and Group in the way that you want.

      Note that postings by people who Like a Page are relatively hidden compared to on Groups. Not many people see those posts, because they don’t show up on the main Page wall.

      Best,
      Brian

  7. Brian, wonderfully explained. Is there a way to get my facebook page to be displayed on the right side of my website(designed by wordpress)

  8. Hi Brian
    Thanks for the article. I think Pages is the way for me to go for connecting with my clients ( I’m an artisan jeweler), however Im concerned about all the posts Im reading that you don’t have access to all your page likes anymore. Also, that if you post, it will only appear in the News Feed of a portion of your likes ( maybe only 10%), due to FB’s filtering algorithms. My primary intention is to reach all my ‘likers’, but it seems this is not possible anymore. Do you have any experience to comments on how to overcome this bid CON of Pages?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Clare,

      You can still sort of see who likes your page by using Facebook as your page, and clicking the people icon in the upper left corner.

      You are right about the limited reach of Page posts. There are two ways around this: create viral content which people like and share, or pay Facebook. Sorry, I don’t know of an easier way.

      One tip is that I always make sure there is an image associated with my post, because images get way more interaction than plain text.

      Thanks,
      Brian

  9. Hi Brian, Very informative article. I have a question for your opinion please. I am on the committee as the booking officer for a local hall. There are two things in particular that I would like to achieve. One being I would like to just advertise our hall with just general hall hire info. Does pages have the document facility, as it is a rural community close to other main towns that could hire the hall. Secondly we run community dinners and meetings that are for the local residents only and I would like the option of sending/creating events to locals only. Can I send invites through a page to select people. Do I need both a page for hall info and also a group for residents? What would be your opinion.

    1. Hi Katrina,

      To do exactly what you want, unfortunately you would need both a page and group.

      On the page, you can advertise and post general info. This page will appear on Google search results, so the general community can find it without even being invited.

      You can create events using your page, but you won’t be able to spcifically invite anyone other than your own friends, so that doesn’t really work for you.

      You would need the group to post event invites only for people in the group.

      Thanks,
      Brian

  10. Hey Brian, great post and probably the only one on the question that sums up pros & cons so well. I’m new to a fast-growing city and wish to start a community forum where everyone gets to share must-see, must-do, must-try of the city and guide each other on what is available/happening where. From your post it seems Group is the answer (not the best choice available though), since it allows for interaction among members. Hope that is directionally right?
    If my Group is successful, do you see any restrictions if I want to use the content someday to start a listings/city website…something like a TimeOut? Does the group owner have any content rights/restrictions? Please guide!

    1. It sounds like a Facebook Group would be the best fit for what you are looking for.

      I’m not an expert on content rights – you might have to pore over the Facebook terms.

      Thanks,
      Brian

        1. Hi Shawn,

          Yes, absolutely. Facebook also added a new feature where people can “subscribe” to your events, so they get automatically invited every time you make an event.

          Thanks,
          Brian

  11. Even with your post being from 2013, it has many valuable tips about the differences that I’m sure still apply in one form or another. Thanks for the information it was very useful in figuring out which way I am going to go!

      1. Hi Brian, thanks for your article. I still have a question – does it mean that people who have liked my Page do not see the comments posted by others? I want to be able to control comments before they appear live on my Page. Can I do that? Will appreciate your response. Thanks in advance.

        1. Hi Diana,

          People who have liked your page will only be able to see other people’s comments if they intentionally go to your page and click on the area to see other people’s comments. They will get no notification of other people’s comments.

          Thanks,
          Brian

  12. Hi Brian
    I wanted to ask. I was thinking on having a website created for ministry, but someone told me to use a fb group due to maintance of a website and the cost to keep them running. Could you give me some insight on this. I need for people all over the world to have access to this ministry if needed. Any suggestions would be helpful,
    Thank You Brian!

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Sorry for the very late response. A FB Group could do the job, but it depends on what features you need. Pros: it’s free and easy to set up. Cons: not everyone is on FB; it’s limited in what it can do. It takes about 5 minutes to set up a group and it’s free, so give it a try.

      Brian

  13. Hi Brian,

    I will be starting my first year of teaching in August and want to set up a Facebook page/group/something to keep my students and parents connected and abreast of what’s going on in school.

    The most important things to me are that the page/group/something is not affiliated with my personal Facebook account and that it is not open to the public. What is the best option for me?

    1. Hi Morgan,

      I don’t think either a Page or a Group alone will satisfy your requirements. With a Page, you don’t need to reveal your personal account (you can post as “the Page”), but it is open to the public. Anyone can “like” the Page. A Group can be private but you have to use a personal account of some sort to post to it. My advice would be to create a separate personal account just for this purpose, and use it with a Facebook Group.

      Anyone else with a better idea, please comment!

      Thanks,
      Brian

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