Ah yes, the age old question: Does it matter if you use Facebook Group or a Facebook Page?
Well, I am here to tell you that yes, it does matter since they serve two very different purposes.
Groups are meant for back and forth collaboration and discussion between a clearly defined group of people.
For example, at Cru we have a group for involved upperclassmen discussing where to have a last-minute prayer gathering and then there’s another group of Cru staff and students from a life group who check in with one another on how the group is doing and they share ideas and materials on that page.
Groups can be set up as either Open, Closed or Secret.
- Public means anyone can find the group in their “Search” and see the group, its members and their posts. Anyone can request to join.
- Closed means anyone can find the group in their “Search” and see who's in it, but only members can see posts. Members have to be added by another member or an administrator. Think of a Closed Group like you would think about an invitation-only gathering: It’s built around a group of people who are tied together in some clear way and provides a designated place for them to communicate with one another. It’s not open to everyone and is basically a Discussion Forum.
- Secret groups fare not found in non-members’ “Search”. Only members can see posts.
Pages are meant for broadcasting who you are to everyone: involved members of your ministry, not yet involved. If you work with students this is a place for the student, their parents, their friends and anybody else out there who happens to search for your page.
Anyone can view what’s on a Page at any time, anyone can post on a Page and anyone can join a Page by “liking” it. New people can easily find it and easily walk through the door without extra hoops to jump.
Some Best Practices for Closed Groups:
- Use them for internal communication and community feedback with involved members of your ministry.
- Use them to promote collaboration and discussion between involved ministry members. Start a conversation on a specific topic using the “Ask Question” feature at the top of the Group.
- Use them for file sharing using the “Add File” tab at the top of the Group to allow community editable documents from computer files or Dropbox.
- Use them to share and promote internal events.
- Define and limit the time period for the Group’s communication.
- Determine clear criteria for who is invited and admitted to the group (for example: all student leaders, all Life Group members). Sometimes it’s best to have more than one Closed Group for different groups.
- Determine who the gatekeeper is: The person or people who make sure the right people are being added to the Group. This person should be an Administrator of the Group.
- Change the Group Settings for Membership Approval from the default “Any member can add or approve members” to “Any member can add members, but an Administrator must approve them.”
Some Best Practices for Pages:
- Think of your Page as your public Billboard: it’s constantly broadcasting who you are and what you offer to outsiders.
- Share and promote all events you want the public to come to (Weekly meetings, Life groups, debates, speakers, parties).
- Share videos and articles with spiritual content, and spiritual-interest surveys to help people discover Jesus online, or begin many new spiritual conversations.
- Quickly engage new people by tagging them in event photos within one day of the event.
Bottom line, you don’t want to use an Open Group as your Public Billboard:
- Open Groups don’t allow much branding at all. They don’t allow a profile picture (usually your ministry logo) complementing a cover photo that represents who you are.
- Open Groups don’t allow other tabs and applications besides four default tabs. So you can’t set up a “Welcome!” page, an Instagram feed or run a contest.
- Open Groups don’t allow paid advertising to customized audiences. Paid advertisements from a Page is one of the best ways to boost your visibility on campus.
- Open Groups don’t allow promotional widgets like the “Like button” that can be added to your website or email content to gain more fans for your Page.
- Activity in a group doesn't show up in people's newsfeeds unless they're in that group. So if you really want friends of involved students seeing what is happening with your ministry, you need to put that on your Page. Use photos and tag the people who are being shown. Tagging photos on a Page will help those photos show up in any friends' newsfeeds and increases visibility really exponentially.
- Facebook will continue to enhance the features of its Pages to help organizations effectively broadcast to a wider audience. They won’t add those features to its Groups since that isn’t its purpose.