Last week I attended the Triangle Social Media Club @SMCTriangle meeting at Calvert Holdings in Cary. The topic was Facebook and personal branding and the demo led by Jeff Cohen @dgtlpapercuts was excellent. The discussion centered on how FB groups and fan pages interact with users in different ways and the pros and cons of each approach.
I have used FB groups in the past to manage a small college reunion for about 25 people. It was a great way to quickly gather all the old classmates and get the meetup arranged. After our gathering we posted photos and some more discussions. However over time the group became stale.
I have stayed away from fan pages only because when I see the “become a fan” in the friend’s suggestion I feel that it’s the same as groups. However I soon discovered that fan pages allow users to interact with a brand, group, institution or whatever subject matter you want to write about.

Jeff noted that fan pages have change dramatically recently and demonstrated some of the new features using the Triangle Social Media Club group and fan pages as examples. I had not tried the FB tagging at this point, but I use it all the time on Twitter. Tagging on FB works very well with a nice drop down menu to select the person you want to tag. But tagging also works with fan pages. For instance I posted from my profile and tagged a friend that was also at the meeting and the group as well.

One of the interesting discoveries in doing this was learning that my post would show up in the fan page news feed. However it would not be visible to other users unless we are FB friends. This is due to my permissions which I had recently restricted to just friends. Had I posted it from the fan page then it would have been visible on the fan page news feed to all. This is dramatically different from Twitter where a basic reply to a person is public.

Both fan pages and groups have administrators to manage the content, users, permissions and other configurations. Users can add photos and other content and the admin can send messages to all fans. Jeff also stated that there are some limitations being the admin in that you have limited ability to interact with others on a personal level.

Fan pages do have a nicer layout than the group pages and have tabs to group information at the top of the page. There is even a custom tab that allows you to paste HTML code that is converted to Facebook Markup Language (FBML). A great example is Threadless T-shirts that used the custom tab to create a simple storefront for their fan page landing page.

As much as I hate to admit it these new features may be what FB needs to win the battle with Twitter. Twitter’s great for short messaging and conversations, but it’s getting clogged up with spam and junk these days. Many people don’t understand Twitter and there is a learning curve to it. FB’s clean and easy to use interface allows users to connect and communicate faster with rich media storage and integration. It is a platform more so than a toolbox that Twitter is along with add-ons for images, videos and links.

Brian McDonald

Brian McDonald started Square Jaw Media to document strategies and techniques he had used over his experience working in marketing and communications since 1990. During this time Brian wrote about many of the exciting Raleigh social media events where great knowledge was being shared and tries to share some of the tips and tricks. . Read Brian's full bio.