Thinking of starting a Facebook Page or Facebook Group for your nonprofit, project, or initiative?
We all know that social media is a powerful channel for digital marketing and outreach. It is a particularly efficient channel since you can do an entire promotional campaign without investing anything into advertising.
For nonprofits with a limited marketing budget, this is a particularly attractive option.
(But- if you are ARE interested in using Facebook and Instagram Ads, I recommend checking out our free webinar, 5 Tips on How You Can Use Facebook And Instagram Ads To Boost Your Nonprofit’s Fundraising)
Facebook reigns as the king in this space. Over 5 billion people use Facebook every day! More likely than not, you are one of them. Therefore, most of us are familiar with Facebook for personal use. You sign up, you set up a profile page, and you are good to go.
However, creating a presence on Facebook for an organization requires a whole different playbook. For organizations, Facebook requires you to make a choice: do you set up a Facebook page or a Facebook group?
Many people get paralyzed by this choice. Not to worry, it is actually a fairly straightforward decision. The choice depends on the answer for this question: what is your objective?
Facebook Pages and Facebook Groups are fundamentally different. As such, they serve different functions and cater to different objectives.
Dive in to see if a Facebook Page or Facebook Group best suits the needs for your nonprofit:
What Is A Facebook Page?
Facebook Pages are similar to personal profiles on Facebook, but instead of focusing on an individual person, a Facebook Page focuses on your organization as a public entity. Once you have your page set, you post updates similar to how you would post updates to your personal profile.
Also similar to your personal profile, people may comment on your updates. Instead of being your “friends”, people follow your page by “liking” your page. Once they’ve liked your page, your posts will show up on their Facebook news feeds.
As you may have noticed in your personal use, not every post will show up on people’s news feed all the time. Facebook uses an algorithm to ensure that everyone’s news feed is always showcasing the most relevant updates. Posting regularly and enticing followers to engage with your posts is a good strategy for improving your placement with the algorithm. Creating thoughtful campaigns that highlight your work will make your Facebook page pop.
You can improve your odds by improving the engagement level of your content. Facebook offers Insights to help you with content optimization.
Videos are a particularly powerful way to drive engagement. Sharing even a short video will help drive your page to the top of the algorithm.
Of course it’s 2020 and Facebook has gone above and beyond to make pages effective. There are a few features available on pages that aren’t available in a personal profile.
One of the biggest benefits to having a page for your business is that it allows you to pay for advertising on Facebook. This opens up a huge marketing opportunity for your organization and is a good option to consider.
Additionally, using a page allows you to create stories for your organization. Stories is a new feature on Facebook, but has 300 million active users daily. That’s a big market for you to tap into.
You can even add a donate button to your Facebook Page and accept donations directly through Facebook.
For personal profile pages, only your friends will see your updates. Facebook Pages are intended for public figures or organizations, and, therefore, are accessible by the public at all times.
Whether you think Facebook is going to be a major part of your marketing strategy or not, it’s a good idea to claim a page for your organization to help protect your brand.
What Is A Facebook Group?
Facebook Groups are something entirely different. While Pages are essentially profile pages maintained and updated by the administrators, Facebook Groups are maintained by the community.
The administrators can set up a Group to have open membership to the public, membership upon approval, or membership by invitation only.
Once someone becomes a member of that group, they can start posting to that group. Posts will show up in members’ news feeds. This means members can share resources, events, ideas, and questions with each other.
Group administrators’ role is to moderate the members’ posts and to enforce the rules as needed, not just to create content.
The purpose of Facebook Groups is to connect your followers to each other. Keep in mind that it can be a lot of work to moderate and ensure a kind community. When you’re building your group it’s a good idea to lay out clear expectations for your members.
Facebook Groups work best if you have a lot of expertise within your community, and you would like to provide a forum for your community to connect.
One great example of an organization using groups effectively is the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois. Nancy Ramos managed the group during their Over the Edge fundraising campaign and used it to communicate with their peer-to-peer fundraisers.
“The goal is to keep them fundraising and give them different creative ideas,” she says.
Every week, she posted to a private Facebook group for fundraisers and also emailed them the content. She gave them graphics and text to share on social media, along with campaign updates and fundraising tips.
Participants in the challenge also posted their own questions, tips, stories, photos, and more, encouraging event participants to engage with one another.
For the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois, a Facebook Group was the perfect fit to help foster a community between their event participants.
Facebook Page vs Facebook Group
Whether you should start a Facebook Page or a Facebook Group depends on what you’re trying to achieve.
- Do you want to use Facebook to make announcements and updates about your organization?
- Do you want to primarily produce your own content and post updates?
- Do you want to establish an official, public presence for your organization?
If so, you may want to start a Facebook Page.
- Do you have a community who is yearning for a place to connect with each other, to have discussions with each other?
- Do you want your facebook to be mostly populated by member content?
- Do you want to establish a friendly image of your organization to your supporters?
If so, you may want to start a Facebook Group.
The best part? You can always do both! You may want to start by creating a Facebook Page for your nonprofit or project, and then develop a Facebook Group later to encourage your community to connect more with one another.
In either case, getting your nonprofit active on Facebook will put your name out there and offer your supporters a chance to engage with your cause and gain awareness about your newest initiatives.
So get started creating your nonprofit’s account, and get ready to see your supporters become your social media ambassadors.
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This post was originally published 1/12/16 and has been updated for accuracy on 1/7/21.