It should be both!
I was prompted to seriously investigate the whole Facebook Pages vs Groups aspect because of the ChurchMag post ‘The Benefits of Using a Facebook Group For Your Church‘. The key issue for me revolved around the 100% notification capability that Facebook Groups gives, against the limited newsfeed push that Pages gives because of EdgeRank.
But the issue is bigger than just whether everyone get’s to see my Church’s content. Rather, deciding on whether to use Facebook Pages and/or Facebook Groups is an issue of strategy; not just your Social Strategy, but also your Web Presence Optimisation (WPO) Strategy (that is your digital footprint) and your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Strategy (that is your online “findability”). It also has to do with Privacy.
This is the first post in a five part series where I’m going to share what I’ve learned as I considered key points that I felt impacted Church communications strategy the most. The first two points that we’ll be looking at are WWW Visibility and Branding.
Facebook Pages are visible to the WWW. Their content is also visible to and indexed by search engines. In simple terms, this means that search engines can find you. But it also means that other people can find you through them. Facebook Pages then have a direct (positive) impact on your SEO (search engine optimisation) and WPO (web presence optimisation) strategies. The implication of this is that people who are not linked to or registered with Facebook, can still read your Facebook Page content – they just cannot engage with it (like, comment, or share). This WWW visibility is super important if your Social Strategy includes evangelism (outreach) content.
Facebook Groups on the other hand, are not visible to the WWW. Whilst the content of open Groups are publicly visible to anyone on Facebook, they are not publicly visible to anyone on the web. Thus, to a large degree, you influence or reach only those who are members of the Group.
A Facebook Page allows you to have a “vanity” URL (i.e. facebook.com/churchmag). Besides the in-your-face benefit of having a branded URL, search engines love relevant search content contained in URLs. URL branding of course makes it easier for people to find you as they can kind of guess what it’s most likely going to be, and it usually is. Facebook Groups on the other hand, do not allow for vanity URLs. It will always be www.facebook.com/groups/and-a-very-long-number. So not cool!
We’ve all heard the real estate mantra “location, location, location.” Well the same is true for the WWW and your online presence. If people cannot find you and your “Church brand” online (your “online-location”) via search engines or social media platforms, then the reality is that they’ll most likely go somewhere else. This is not an issue of filling the pews with numbers, but rather fulfilling the reality that the local Church is the hope of the world. Online visibility and branding is key to achieving this strategic goal.
In part 2, we’ll be looking at the whole aspect of Facebook Notifications and how they differ between Groups and Pages.