In the last few months I thought a lot about what is better to use on Facebook for personal branding as a marketing communications specialist – Facebook Fan Page or Facebook Group. I’d like to brand myself in social media, build relationships and networking with colleagues and experts to reach my career goals or at least to become much closer to their realization.
As many marketers know, personal branding is all about three core elements: value proposition, differentiation and marketability. There are a lot of online resources about it with more details, filled out with advice and tips which are sometimes quite confusing. As a starting point, I would suggest to visit Personal Branding Blog by a world renowned personal branding guru Dan Schawbel, and his expert team, as well as bookmark some useful blogs on the topic, listed in his article “The Real Definition of Personal Branding”.
I will write more about personal branding in my next blog posts, but now let us focus on Facebook opportunities, and first of all on functionality of its pages and groups.
Someone calls them “fan pages” because you can become a virtual fan of business or personality. But most people call them just “pages”. From the beginning the FB-pages directly positioned as for brands, ranging from large institutions, businesses and restaurants like University of California – Berkeley, Coca Cola, Starbucks, Red Lobster, Applebee’s and Bob Evans to celebrities, media personalities and politicians like Beyoncé, Katie Couric, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Here is an interesting infographic about major U.S. brands in social media. That is why people usually perceive pages as a place for something or someone big and renowned, but not for small businesses or local entrepreneurs. Such a perception is not actually right.
You and I can also have a FB-page. There are no prerequisites or restrictions by the social platform, except of avoiding an impersonation. The one and only prerequisite is your personal readiness and eagerness – to be able to offer a value for your clients and customers. The social media proudly promises that “by having a Facebook page, your brand can go viral, holding a spot on other people’s profiles and your page will rank high for your name in Google and you can use it for your professional career, while keeping your personal profile private”. In addition, many reviews say that pages are better for a long-term relationship with your target audience.
For sure, I would like to keep my FB-profile private and limited only to close circle of friends, relatives, schoolmates and acquaintances, for which I will hardly sell something like my skills, knowledge, experience and services. At the same time I would like to have a fully public page specifically for business networking and service promotion. Unlike groups, pages are visible to all visitors and are thus indexed by search engines, and this is an additional plus for online reputation management.
Among other pluses are nice short URLs, visitor statistics at “Page Insights”, extra applications, event creation and invitation, promotion with social ads, and targeted message updates (by age, sex, country, etc.). I would not argue about what is more convenient for audience – page updates or private messages, as in groups. Please, have some practice on Facebook and you, as a fan of any page will figure out how to be conveniently updated there with relevant information!
FB-groups have fewer features than pages, but they are important too. For example, group helps in bringing people together in your industry around your brand, service, products, initiative, blog, e-book or particular topic. It is nice for sharing common interests, discuss causes and topics, expressing opinions and creating online friendship. At the same time you, as an entrepreneur will have a bit lower status – you will be not a mentor or guru, but a valuable contributor to the group among others.
The major differences from FB-pages are the next. A group can be open (public), closed or secret (invisible). It will have an “ugly” longer URLs. You will have an option to send “bulk invites” to all of your profile friends, as well as do private messaging to all group members.
Social media marketing specialists say that groups are better for viral marketing. In other words, any group member can also send bulk invites to the friends of his and multiply the spreading of news about you in so-called geometric progression. As a result you will host a quick and intensive discussion and attracting quick attention (of course, it would be better to have some extra hours to sit in front of your computer and direct it).
At the end I would like to emphasize that going with both pages and groups might get your Facebook readers and consumers a bit confused about your brand identity, brand equity and brand positioning. So you will need a specific communication strategy for your group for constant reminding and assuring that your social media audience. Probably it would be better from the beginning to just choose one tool and stick with it.
But in the conclusion I have good news for you about pages and groups on Facebook. Once you get your group out there, grow it, and it gets to a decent size, you can convert it to your fan page! (Please, check Facebook FAQ for further instructions)
- Online Branding – If you don’t exist on Google, you don’t exist (jonmichail.org)
- So Long Elevator Pitch Welcome Personal Branding Statement (smallbiztrends.com)
- ‘I’ve got a name’ or personal branding 101 (waywardjourney.com)
- Take Control of Your Personal Brand – You Never Know Who’s Looking! (tommccollum.wordpress.com)