In this episode, you’ll learn…
- The difference between Facebook personal profiles, pages and groups.
- How to choose whether to start a Facebook group or a Facebook page…or both!
- What you can do with Facebook pages that you can’t do with Facebook groups.
- What you can do with Facebook groups that you can’t do with Facebook pages.
- The pros and cons of Facebook pages and groups.
- And lots more.
- Don’t forget to check out the Small Farm Nation Academy whenever you’re ready to GET GROWING!
So, I’ve got some more questions from farmers to answer about marketing a profitable farm business. If you’d like to submit a written or recorded question for the podcast, head over to smallfarmnation.com/question and ask away. Ask any question related to marketing your farm business or running your farm business and I’ll try to help you out.
Okay, this I’ll answer a listener’s question on whether it’s best to start a Facebook page or a Facebook group for her farm. I cover the pros and cons of each and describe what you can do with a Facebook page that you can’t do in a group, and vice versa.
Enjoy the episode!
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Hey there, thanks for joining me again this week. So, I’ve received more questions from farmers to answer about marketing a profitable farm business. If you’d like to submit a written or recorded question for the podcast, head over to smallfarmnation.com/question and ask away. Ask any question related to marketing your farm business or running your farm business and I’ll try to help you out.
Okay, so this week I’ll tackle a great question I received from Mindy in southern Virginia. She writes, “Just got done listening to your “Why You Must Start Marketing Before You Start Farming” episode and was surprised to see you suggest to start a business FB page instead of a FB group. Aren’t FB groups more effective at this point?”
Excellent question so let’s dive into that. We’ll start with exploring the differences between a Facebook page and a Facebook group.
Okay, there are 2.4 BILLION official Facebook users—that’s one out of every three of the 7.5 BILLION men, women and children in the entire world. So given that astronomical number I’m sure you know what a Facebook account is. So you probably have a personal Facebook profile. If you don’t—congratulations, and I want to be you.
But that’s a personal profile.
A Facebook “page” is a non-personal profile page for a business, brand, or organization. There are also lots of Facebook pages for public figures such as politicians and celebrities, like the pages for Lynyrd Skynyrd or my Pittsburgh Steelers.
Now, pages differ from personal Facebook profiles in that they can be managed by multiple people, or admins, and they can be either followed or liked by anyone with a Facebook account.
And if you control a Facebook page you can promote or boost your posts and advertise to your followers. Otherwise, it’s likely most of a page’s followers won’t even see the posts since their newsfeed will be cluttered with content from all the other pages and groups they follow.
Now, by comparison, a Facebook group is designed to be a hub for discussing and sharing information with other Facebook members who share an interest. For example, there are lots of farm related groups on pastured poultry, grass-fed beef, beekeeping, market gardening and so on.
Just as with Facebook pages, you must have a Facebook profile in the first place to create a Facebook group. And your personal profile will be visible to all group members and you will be the administrator.
So, Mindy, for your farm, what are the main differences between a Facebook business page and a Facebook group? Let’s start by looking at the objectives of each.
The primary objective of a Facebook page is to promote a brand and connect it with an audience. And since the goal is to promote and protect a brand, the content is controlled by the brand owner. So if you have a farm page, that’s you…you’re the brand owner.
But It’s not a unilateral discussion on the page since users can react to and comment on posts. But the page administrator does control what appears on the page, whether it’s timeline updates, photos, videos and so on. Followers have no ability to create content on the page—they can only comment on content. Of course they can also leave reviews about the brand, something that you can use for testimonials on your website if you get a number of reviews. By comparison, there’s no ability to leave reviews on a group page.
So that’s a Facebook page. Think of it as a branding tool to connect your business with an audience.
A Facebook group is much different. Its goal is to facilitate discussion and interaction between group members. So for that reason, any member can create a post, and posts from all members are visible in the group’s main feed.
Unless you want to aggressively censor the group, you have no control over what others post or say in this Facebook group. So, if you create a Facebook group about your farm, understand that you may have some posts that don’t exactly portray your brand the way you’d like.
Another big difference between pages and groups relates to privacy.
In terms of access and privacy controls, a page is always public. The only restrictions that can be added are who can post on the page, who can tag your page, and whether to restrict your page to certain countries. So if you don’t want a page to be viewed publicly, don’t create one. As a farm business I’m sure you do want the page to be viewed publicly, so this is really a non-issue. But maybe you want to create a CSA member-only page or something like that. In that case, you’d probably want to create a group, because groups have multiple privacy levels.
Whereas a page is always publicly visible, a group can be public, where anyone can view and join, or it can be subject to member approval or invitation-only. This makes groups just as suitable for large communities as it does small groups like family members.
You can also create secret or invite-only groups don’t even show up in search results. I have one of those for members of Small Farm Nation Academy. Since it’s only open to my paid members, I don’t want the group to be visible in a Facebook search, so it isn’t.
Finally, analytics are a main difference between pages and groups.
Facebook pages give you insights into audience demographics, post reach, audience engagement, and other analytics. So you can know age ranges, gender, post reach, post engagement and so on.
By comparison, groups have none of those analytic features. They only provide very basic information such as the member list and maybe a recent activity summary. No information on demographics, engagement, reach and so on.
Okay, so those are the big differences between Facebook groups and pages. Next, let’s cover the pros and cons of each so you can make the best decision for your farm business.
For your farm business, the primary advantages of Facebook pages is in their marketability and opportunity for reaching new fans. What I mean is that you have the ability to boost posts so that they actually appear in the feeds of, not only your followers, but of people who have never interacted with your page before. So you can promote Facebook page posts to attract followers and grow your brand.
You do this by promoting posts through Facebook’s advertising platform, and you can target very specific locations, interests and demographics.
Oh, and in addition to getting analytics for your Facebook pages, you can schedule upcoming posts to automatically publish at specific times.
And, of course, as owner of the page you control what appears in the main feed, so you don’t have to worry about off-brand posts from others. So, if your primary goal is to promote your brand, Facebook pages have the best tools to achieve this. So you definitely want a Facebook page.
Now, having said that—should you also have a Facebook group? This is something I’ve talked about before and encouraged other farmers to do. I definitely think all brands should have a Facebook page, but who should also consider a group?
Well, again, the main advantages of Facebook groups are their ability to facilitate community discussion. But, at least currently, you can’t monetize posts or boost the group’s reach with Facebook advertising.
Groups make sense when discussion is the main focus. A group wouldn’t really help you promote your local farm business in, oh, Provo, but a Facebook group for local food lovers in Provo, Utah could help establish you as a leading brand in that market.
So if your goal is to be seen as a local food leader in a market and there’s not currently an active group focused on that, you could start one. Since you set the privacy controls, you could open it up to all consumers, chefs and farmers, for example. Or you could exclude certain competitors if you wanted. It depends on what your goal is with the group.
If your goal is to stimulate interest in local food, you’d want to open it up. If your goal is to create discussion around, not necessarily your brand, but maybe around your core enterprise, such as pastured meats, then you may want to limit it a bit.
And if you want the group to be all about you you’d limit it more, but you’d also attract fewer members. And as I mentioned earlier, a Facebook group could be a good idea for CSA or other members of your farm products.
But remember this…if you start a group, you have to run it. Members will not just come and they will not do a good job of starting conversations. They just won’t. That’s your job. And it’s a lot of work to stimulate conversations in a Facebook group, because those 2.4 billion subscribers already belong to a boatload of groups.
Think about yourself. Do you belong to any groups? I bet you belong to a lot more than you think. And you follow even more pages than that. And those pages and groups are pumping out content all the flipping time clogging your newsfeed along with posts from your friends and all those Facebook ads.
So what happens? You forget you even belong to those groups, other than the few you may be active in.
That means, as a group owner, even when you create a new conversation in the group, most people won’t ever see it. And you can’t boost the post or advertise it to reach members.
So, as with all things marketing, start with the end in mind. Clearly define your objective. You asked if you should do a group or a page. My question to you is, what is your goal?
If it’s to promote your brand, do it with a page. You still need to create great content and do so frequently if you want engagement, but at least you can access Facebook’s advertising platform to help with engagement if you need it.
If your goal is to genuinely talk with a community and stimulate conversation…you can do that with both a group and a page.
If your goal is privacy and to limit who has access to your content and conversations, go with a Facebook group.
Anyway, just start with a clear goal and choose the best path for you. I really appreciate the question Mindy.
And if you have questions out there Small Farm Nation, just head over to smallfarmnation.com/question and tell me what you want to know. I’ll get you the help you need.
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