This article originally appeared on the Prime Design Solutions website.

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Facebook is a world unto itself, and it continues to evolve. In the relatively recent past, Facebook has indicated that it would put more emphasis on Groups as opposed to Pages. In this article, we’ll go over Groups and Pages, and discuss how you can make the most of both.

What’s the difference between a Group and a Page?

In Facebook, a Group is just what it sounds like – individual Facebook users who are interested in the same topic. Facebook Groups can be founded by any individual or by a company on literally any topic, official, casual, or anything in between. The Group’s settings can be adjusted for varying degrees of privacy and moderation, which we’ll explain in depth later. The key feature of a Group, though, is that it’s a vehicle for people to have a conversation among themselves – when someone posts in the Group, a much higher proportion of members receive a notification.

A Page, by contrast, is more for outward communication from a company, brand, celebrity, or other official entity. Facebook users who “like” the Page may see Page posts in their newsfeed, and can comment on the post – but if a user posts on the Page, virtually no one will see it except Page admins.

More about Groups

Group posts get far more traction on Facebook than Page posts do. The reason is simple – Facebook prioritizes people talking to each other, and Groups are expressly for that purpose. But there are significant differences in ways groups can be set up, and how you choose to do it depends on your purpose. It’s also possible for Groups and Pages to be “associated,” a relatively new but worthwhile feature.

In the recent past, Facebook rolled out Insights for Groups, which have many of the same features as Insights for Pages. They allow admins to see information about Group growth, engagement, members and more.

Privacy settings of Groups

There are three main settings for privacy, that is, who can see the Group and its posts. Admins can change the privacy setting of an established Group if you find the current setting isn’t meeting your needs – be aware that all members will receive a notification of the change. (The only exception to this is that Groups that have 5,000 members or more may not change to a more public setting.) From most to least privacy, the types are:

Secret: No one can find the Group unless they are current or former members, and only current members can see posts or Events created in the Group. I’ve seen people found secret Groups to, say, stay up-to-date on a loved one’s illness, plan a surprise birthday party, or to serve as a private chat forum among old friends.

Closed: Anyone on Facebook can find the Group and read its description, but only members of the group can post and read the posts in it. Closed Groups are appropriate for organizations that want to share information among its members while attracting new members, but that also want some degree of privacy in their discussions. One advantage of a Closed Group is that it gives the feeling of exclusivity, which (along with curiosity) can be a powerful motivator for people to want to join.

Posts made in a Closed group cannot be shared elsewhere on Facebook, which includes Facebook Events created in the Group. This means anyone who is not a Group member is ineligible to be invited to a Facebook Event created in the Group, and won’t even be able to see it.

Public: Anyone on Facebook can find the Group and read its description, as well as all the posts made in the Group, but only members can post. Public Groups are best when you want to share information with the group members and are actively promoting the Group and things discussed in it. For example, a booster organization might want a public Group so that Facebook Events (for, say, fundraising events) created in the Group can be shared across Facebook and to members’ friends who are not Group members. Regular member posts in a Public Group can be shared elsewhere on Facebook, too.

Membership in Groups

Regardless of the privacy setting you choose, all Groups require new members to join in order to post. Admins can set the Group so that an admin has to approve a membership request, or so that any member of the Group can admit or even invite new members. Which you choose depends on how much moderation you feel the Group needs – is your goal to limit the Group members to a certain population, or do you want it to grow like wildfire?

It is also possible for admins to set membership questions to ensure that people asking to join a Group belong there. For example, a Group admin for a youth sports league might set questions asking if people seeking to join are parents/guardians of players, volunteers, and so on. You can also set membership pre-approvals based on things like potential members’ email addresses, geographic location, or membership in other groups.

Any member of a Group (regardless of privacy setting) may invite other friends to join it, although depending on the Group’s settings an admin may need to approve the potential new member. After approval (if necessary), the invited person will have the option to preview the Group before deciding whether to accept the invitation. Members may leave a Group at any time.

In late September 2018, Facebook made it possible for Pages to join Groups and interact there. More discussion on this feature is below.

Group admins also have the power to remove or block members if needed. Removed members can request to re-join the group, but those who are blocked won’t be able to find the Group in searches or see any of its content, regardless of the Group’s privacy settings. Blocks can be removed by an admin.

Posting in Groups

Group settings can be adjusted in three ways:

Only admins can post. This, in my experience, defeats the entire purpose of having a Group.

Members can post at will. This is best for Groups where all the members know each other, and/or there’s no real need to moderate Group content.

Admins have to approve posts before they become visible to everyone else. This allows you to retain some degree of control over Group content and is often the best option for large Groups. Posting members will receive a notification that their post is waiting for admin approval, and then another notification when an admin approves the post.

Member-specific moderation tools are available too. As with Pages, admins can delete posts. But you can also turn on moderation for specific members. This can be useful if you don’t want to moderate a Group too heavily, but want to prevent specific members from posting inappropriate or spammy content. Click on the three-dots icon of an offending Group member’s post, and click on “turn on post approval for member.” You can also “mute member” entirely.  It is also possible for admins to allow certain members to post at will without approval, which can be a useful feature.

Any Group member can comment on a post, once it appears in the Group. Admins may turn off commenting for specific posts by clicking on the post’s three-dots icon.

It is possible for admins to change posting settings at any time you wish (no notifications are issued to Group members if you do make a change).

When admins post or comment on others’ posts, they do so under their own names, not the Group name. Further, a small star badge will appear by their names in any post or comment, signifying their admin status.

Users can also upload documents into the Group.

About Pages

The ins and outs of Facebook Pages have been covered elsewhere in the Learning Center (see here, here, here), so we will not cover them in depth here except as how they relate to Groups. For the purposes of this discussion, the key feature of Pages is that they are better-suited to officially represent an organization, company, or brand with outward-facing communication.

Facebook Events on Groups and Pages

Events are currently one of the most valuable marketing tools Facebook offers (for more, see here). A key and very valuable feature of Groups is that when an admin creates a Facebook Event in a Group of 250 members or fewer, all members will automatically receive an invitation. If there are more than 250 Group members, the Event creator can invite members on their own friends list. That’s a stark contrast to what happens when a Page creates an event – it simply appears in the newsfeed, and individuals can invite friends, but the Page itself cannot invite the people who “like” the Page.

An important note: when an admin creates an Event in a Group, it will not be visible to Facebook users who are not Group members unless the Group is Public – so it is impossible to invite anyone who is not a member of the Group. This is a key argument in favor of setting your Group to Public.

If you would rather keep your Group Closed or Secret but want to create an Event for both Group and non-Group Facebook users, you will have to create your Event outside of the Group, and then share it in a Group post. There are two ways to create a public Event: if you administer a Page, you can create it there (where all Events are public), or on your personal profile, making sure to set the Event to Public. Sharing an Event in a Group will not automatically issue invitations to all Group members.

Any Facebook Event shared in a Group will then appear under the Events tab in the Group, regardless of who created the Event. By contrast, public Events that were created by another entity may be added to Pages only by admins. To do so, Page admins can click on the Event and choosing “add to Page.”

How do Groups and Pages relate?

Depending on Group settings, it is possible for a Page to be a member of a Group and post in it, which can be a useful feature because all members of the Group receive notifications when a post is made in the Group – by contrast, only a fraction of the people who like a Page will actually see Page posts. To join a Group as your Page, go to the Group. Underneath your profile photo in the left column, there will be a box: “interacting as yourself” (if the box is not present, it means the Group is set so that Pages may not join). Click on the box, and choose the Page you admin — this will submit a membership request for your Page to join the Group.

Also, in 2017 Facebook made it possible to “link” existing Pages and Groups that are related to each other. You have to be an admin of both entities to do this, but the process is simple: simply go to the More button in your Group, click “edit Group settings,” and click the “Link Your Page” button. Multiple Pages can be associated with any Group, and vice versa.

It’s also possible to form a new Group from your Page. Simply click the three-dots icon on your Page and choose the “create Group” option. From there, Facebook will prompt you to create the name, add friends, configure privacy settings and so on. Your Page will automatically be an admin, but it’s also a good idea to add your personal profile as an admin as well – that way, you can post as the Page or as yourself.

Alternatively, you can also create a new Page from your Group. Click on the “More” button, “Edit Group Settings,” and then under “Linked Pages,” choose “Create New Linked Page.”

Using Groups for marketing

That’s the million-dollar question, right?  For any Group to be successful, you have to provide value for the members. How you do that will depend on your ultimate goal, but ideas include:

  • For citizen organizations, clubs, civic booster organizations, business association groups, trade associations, non-profits, political groups, or school/alumni/sports booster organizations, the potential benefits of Groups are obvious. Be sure to associate your Group with your organization’s Page, if you have one, and consider what degree of moderation for your Group would be most appropriate.
  • Provide advance notice of sales, coupon codes, exclusive content or information, or other preferential treatment. Groups are not appropriate for all businesses, but successful ones have managed to find a way to create value.
  • Create community and conversations. Establish your authority, answer questions, and let proponents of your organization explain what they know in a collaborative environment.