It is seemingly the important question being asked by Resorts and Internet Marketing campaign managers; Facebook Group or Page?
There has been recent discussion as to benefits of Pages and Groups for Resorts wanting to increase their Facebook and subsequent online presence. Many social networking users are questioning the actual difference between Pages and Groups, asserting that these two products may be one of the same. Despite the division that is assured by Facebook, the two products seemingly overlap, and it is suggested that this overlapping will only continue to occur until both are no longer separate at all.
Facebook Groups are targeted towards collectives of people who want to connect, share, engage and collaborate on specific topics. Groups are also becoming a primary source for Resorts looking to market their properties. The main features of Groups is the ability to make them ‘invite only’, specifically tailoring the members to a particular idea or interest. Despite the features of the Facebook Group, we are beginning to see the Facebook Page being used for similar purposes.
The Facebook Page was originally created to “allow entities such as public figures and organizations to broadcast information to their fans.” Pages are continuously becoming the product of choice for businesses such as Resorts to promote and highlight features of their property to their Facebook fans. These Facebook Pages have become an asset in Resort Marketing campaigns, many opting to use the Page option to enhance their Resort’s Facebook presence and online personality.
Restrictions on Membership
The key benefit of a Facebook Group over the Page is the accessibility. Groups allow the option to restrict access. Groups can be in one of three catagorised; open, closed or secret. The difference between these is an open Group acts much like a Page, anyone can join and invite others to join, as opposed to a closed Group which will appear in Facebook search results, however access is restricted to approval by administration. The secret Group is one that only members can see and access and is not visible in Facebook search results.
The real major comparative element in this is that Pages can only be visible and open to the public. Their access cannot be restricted and cannot be kept a secret.
Connecting with your online community
One of the key features an Internet Marketing campaign would be looking for when using Facebook would be the ability to send out mass messages to Facebook members. This is one feature the Group has that the Page does not. The ability to send direct messages (that are private) to users is a great way to promote and engage with the online community. One of the downfalls of this feature is if your Facebook Group has more than 5,000 members this function is rendered inactive. This restriction is in place to prevent spamming of users. If your Resort is looking to ensure you can send out mass messages to your online community maintain your members under 5,000. The other alternative is to use the Wall function and encourage members to check your Group’s Wall as opposed to directly messaging your community. This may be seen as a less invasive and more inviting way to engage with your online community. Both Groups and Pages have active Walls which your Resort can utilise.
Search Engine Benefits
Despite the fact that both Pages and Groups generate great exposure to search engines, Facebook Pages provide more opportunities for the administrators of the Pages to enhance their SEO. Whilst Groups still given the opportunity to increase the optimisation of your content on Facebook, it has been considered to be slightly less effective than that of Pages. The optimization of your Facebook Group or Page is just one element that would be considered when deciding which is right for your Resort.
Publishing of Stories
Both the Facebook Page and Group provide the ability to publish stories and updates to users and members’ news feeds. What this means is that your Resort can use this function on either product to highlight important details about your property, promote an event or specific promotion, or even invite your online community to participate in an online discussion. Although these stories will not be visible to all users in your community, they provide the perfect way to communicate with a select number of your online community without being as invasive as sending them a personal and private Facebook message.
Target your audience
Whilst both Pages and Groups give you the option to stream stories, Pages allow you to target the members of your community who will receive a post. This is called targeted stream posts. These can be based on location and language spoken (as depicted by users’ Facebook profiles). This allows your content to be directed to those who will best use and understand it. This is particularly of use if your Resort has a global reach and following, including numerous languages and cultures. This feature allows you to tailor the information to them in the language and phrasing that best fits them.
The same can be done with updates on Pages. The targeted version of streams and updates is one advantage the Page has over Groups when it comes to marketing your Resort on Facebook.
The most significant difference between Pages and Groups on Facebook is a Pages’ ability to incorporate applications. Applications have a major benefit for Resort marketing, as they allow administrators to customise the Page to a greater extend. This also affects the SEO options and the overall individuality of the Page. A perfect example of of this is Resorts customising their Pages to allow users to perform additional functions. This allows Resorts to make their Pages both more functional, and more interactive.
Another great element of the Facebook Page is the ‘Page insights’ feature. What this feature allows is the information in regards to the demographic of users within your Page’s online community. This information is important when rating the success of your current online marketing strategy and looking at future marketing campaigns for your Resort. This feature gives information such as; number of photo views, likes, comments to the administrator.
The added bonus with this feature is that Facebook is continuously updating it to provide more information for administrators.
As Pages are created with the promotion of brands and companies in mind, they also incorporate what is known as username URL’s. The point of these username URL’s is to redirect users to your Resort’s Facebook Page. This allows for effective promotion of your brand via your Page. An example of username URL’s is one of our eTourism Facebook Pages www.facebook.com/goldcoastaustralia/. This URL is effective as it uses keywords to link “Gold Coast Australia”.
Plug-ins - Like
Facebook Pages additionally give you the option to use plug-ins or widgets to connect your Resort’s website to the Facebook Page. This allows users to externally ‘Like’ your Resort’s Facebook Page from the Resort’s website. This is one major feature that is making Pages the choice for Resorts as it is an external way to increase your Facebook presence without the hassle of having to navigate from one website to finding a Facebook Page. E.g. If a guest guest visiting your resorts website and uses the Like option, all of their friends in FB see that this guest Likes your Resort. This is great exposure and could potentially lead to new reservations.
Both the Facebook Group and Page have certain benefits that can assist your Resort. Majority of Resort Marketing strategies are focusing on the use of the Facebook Pages simply because they can target their users, they can customise their content and structure and can link their external website with their Facebook presence. The biggest feature being the ability to use the ‘Like’ button on external websites.
For numerous reasons your Resort may choose to use the Group function. Regardless of your choice the above provides a basic comparison between the two products and hopefully makes the decision process between the two easier. Whichever option you choose to use for your Resort, it is important to remember that Social Media is an integral aspect of your Online Marketing campaign, and the each choice you make should be given the appropriate consideration.