[The original version of this was a post to the AAUW webmanagers listserve, a mailing list that’s about to celebrate its 11th anniversary. If you want more info on that list, please let me know.]
I’ve seen three different ways branches and states start their presence on Facebook:
- Profile. Someone uses an e-mail address and registers the branch/state as an “individual” in Facebook. That entity has “friends”, posts show up on friends’ walls, and in general it behaves like anyone else on Facebook.
- Group. Someone creates a Group in the branch/state’s name and becomes the “administrator”. The Group has “members” who can see each others names. It can be configured with places for discussions, wall posts, uploading photos, etc. The Group administrator’s posts show up as coming from their “real” name.
- Page. Someone creates a Facebook Page in the branch/state’s name. The Page has “fans” who have said they “like” the Page. Fans can see a few other fans, but can’t browse through them all. The administrator’s posts show up as coming from the Page, not the individual. The Page can be configured to allow fans to post — or not.
I’d recommend against using a Profile for a branch/state Facebook presence. While this may no longer be explicitly counter to Facebook’s terms and conditions, there are just too many places where Facebook assumes that a Profile is for a “person.” It gets confusing to publicize a branch/state with a Profile. For instance, when you (as the branch Profile account) ask someone to be a friend, who, exactly, is doing the ask? Would you be apt to respond to such a request without being able to “see” the real person?
So should you use a group or a page? It depends –
- Pages are better for reaching out to new people and posting public information (say things that appear on your web site — or would appear there if you had a web site). “Liking” a Page is a low risk action for new people: they aren’t giving the Page any additional access to their Profile. However, it does mean that information posted on the page will get into the news stream that they see when they login to Facebook. They will also get messages from the Page — but these will go to the “updates” section, not the “normal” Facebook inbox.
- Groups are better for sharing information with a committed group of people who will “go” to the Group periodically to see what’s new. Group administrators can send messages to the Group members and these will go directly to the main Facebook “inbox” as coming from the Group. You may see your friends’ activities as they post to the Group, but, in general, things posted to the Group stay in the Group. It’s possible to control access to a Group so that only those with an invitation can join — so a Group could be used as, for example, a virtual yearbook where only members of the branch are allowed access.
So just as you wouldn’t set up a web site when you really need an e-mail list or vice versa, Pages and Groups can have very different niches in your social media strategy. You may want one or the other or you might have reasons to set up both. Multiple people can be named administrators of either: check them out and see how they can improve your AAUW communications both to the public and to current members.