When I recently posted an article about Gwyneth Paltrow and Kabbalah on Facebook, a friend of mine commented on my post that he’s starting a Kabbalah-related institute in Florida next month.

I asked if he had a fanpage and he responded “Nope, no fanpage, I’m a FB neophyte. How do I do that?”

I thought about writing a blog post with step-by-step instructions on how to set up a fanpage, but then I realized that a Facebook group might be more appropriate.

To understand why, you’ll need to know a bit about each:

The Facebook Fanpage (aka the Facebook Page)

Facebook pages work best for bigger brands and established companies and here’s why:

1. ‘Likes’ for pages feel less committal.
People may be more willing to like a page than join a group, depending on the focus of the page.

2. It’s harder, however, to get people to ‘like’ a brand they’re not familiar with.

3. Page administrators cannot send direct messages to page ‘likers.’

4. The status updates of a given page will make it through Facebook’s News Filter onto likers’ friendfeeds as time goes on ONLY if that liker has interacted with the page’s posts, whether by clicking, commenting or liking.
This is the little we know about Facebook’s filter algorithm: more interaction breeds more action.

The same algorithm applies to our friends. Ever wonder what happened to all the Farmville and Mafia Wars posts your bored Facebook friends used to bombard you with? Facebook has weeded out the friend updates of those with whom you interact less. The same happens with pages. This means that people can like your page and be content without hearing from you ever again. Try clicking on “Most Recent” on the upper right hand corner of your facebook screen, and you’ll see all that you’re missing!

Margelit Hoffman: How to choose: Facebook (Fan)Page or Facebook Group?

The Facebook Group

Facebook Groups are better for smaller, newer organizations, and here’s why:

1. You, the administrator, can send direct messages to group members.
Facebook direct messages are very important when you’re trying to build your brand. The average open rate for emails is 20-40%, depending on what kind of business or organization you run. The average open rate for Facebook messages, however, is 80-100%! That is huge!
(You probably want to tell me that you never open your messages in Facebook; you just read the message content in your email inbox. Well, this, my friend, counts as an open!)

2. Being a part of a group that you have to join can have the effect of making people feel like it’s elite.
This can be a good thing! But it definitely feels more committal when you click the “join” button in a group than when you click the like button on a page.

3. The main drawback of a group is that the status updates will not show up in people’s friendfeeds.
That means every time you want people in the group to know something, posting an update is not enough; people wouldn’t see that unless they go directly to the group’s page. This makes the group a lot less casual, but perfect for a just-starting-out group of kabbalah enthusiasts, for example, who might meet in person and wouldn’t mind getting direct message updates about the next meeting once in a while.

4. If you create a group, it needs to be around a cause, not around your brand.
Facebook wants your business on a page, and your topical friends congregated in a group (or community page–more on that in another post). This may feel like a drawback in the beginning for a small business or nonprofit that’s just starting out, but it can be a plus in the long term. It can draw people into your group who may not know your brand, but who do support your cause or have interest in your topic. You can create group events, start a discussion, and invite your friends to join.

Margelit Hoffman: How to choose: Facebook (Fan)Page or Facebook Group?

As my dad always says, “It takes 15 years to be an overnight sensation.” Starting a group that centers on the topic your organization promotes, or around the target market that your business is looking to reach is what you’ll want to do.

The key to success in any social media foray, in the end, is not what you set up, but what you make of it. If you’re diligent in promoting your page, or your group, and make it an interesting place for people to hang out online, you’ll increase brand awareness and touch people’s lives. Whatever you choose for your business or nonprofit, make the most of it and don’t drop the ball. Follow-through is crucial to social media success.

Update: my Kabbalah friend went with a group, which I think it the right choice for his purpose. It’s got a catchy name, The Best of the Besht.

Also check out Shmuel’s fanpage and tell me, what are you going to create for your cause or business: a group or a page? Post your comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Follow me on Twitter @Margelit

Originally posted here.