Facebook, Profiles, Pages and Groups. What’s the difference?

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It came up in conversation again today about the different ways you can use Facebook – profiles, pages, open groups, closed groups – and how confusing it can be to the casual user.

There is a lot of choices and not always a plain English way of describing what each of them are – or why one might me better that the other, so I’m going to give it a go here.

Profiles

Profiles are people – end of.  Profiles make friends with other profiles. Just like real life – you make friends with people – not places, businesses or brands. Friends can interact publicly and privately, and just like in “real life” this interaction can be initiated by either person.

Once you’ve made friends with someone, depending on your privacy settings, you will have mutual access to each others personal profile information, status updates and photos.  – This is one of the reasons I refuse to make friends with brand or businesses who have profiles. I don’t know for sure WHO has access to it – or if I do know – who will have access to it in the future I don’t want strangers accessing photos of my son. Businesses should have pages.

But just like all rules there is an exception, mine is my hairdresser – I have a relationship with the person that cuts my hair and she is a business.

Pages

Pages are set up by people – and they represent groups, businesses charities, community groups etc. They are run by people. People with profiles can “like” pages – which essentially means they are interested enough to follow the updates on your page.

Unlike making friends. This is not a mutual connection – Profiles can view a pages information, photos, status etc but pages can not view profiles. Pages updates will go into their fans news feeds. Their fans updates do not appear in a pages news feed.

Pages can add other pages to their favourites and receive updates from other pages – but again this is not a mutual connection.

Pages can receive private messages, and they can respond to private messages, but they cannot start a private conversation with anyone – contact with a page needs to be initiated by a person (profile).

When a page owner posts to their wall the content appears as the page in date order with the latest post at the top and this is pushed out to fans news feed.  All page owners content is given priority over all content created by fans – all posts to the page by anyone other than the admin stays on the page in a section called “Visitors Posts” – and is not pushed out to other fans news feeds unless the page owner share it.

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I know some people get iffy about running pages with their personal account but in my honest opinion they shouldn’t, for starters there is no link to you from the page unless you choose to put it there. and secondly running a page form your personal account makes life so much easier

I manage several facebook pages from my personal profile and unless you know me, and I choose to tell you, you’ll never know which ones. Unlike groups where you always post as yourself – the default is to post as the page, so there’s little chance for mispost mishaps.

 Groups

People with profiles can create and join groups – Groups can be for anything – they are a way of bringing people together with shared interests.  There are several types of groups  and I like to use  a pub analogy to try and explain them:

  • Public A public group is like a pub on a high street with it’s windows and doors wide open. Any one can wander by and hear the conversation, Anyone can enter or be invited in to join in and you can come and go as you please.
  • Closed A closed group is like standing outside a pub with locked windows and doors – you can see who’s inside but you can’t hear what they are talking about, you can’t join in and you have no idea if its the sort of place you’d want to go – you just have to knock until you are invited in and then decide….If you leave, you have to ask to be given access again.
  • Secret A secret group is like a private party in  a pub you don’t even know exists until someone invites you along.

Whenever something is added to a group it appears at the top of the group feed, if someone comments on something older this is then bumped back to the top so the order of posts is constantly changing giving prominence to the most recent thing posted or commented on. Unless something is “pinned” by an admin to stick to the top for awhile – anyone’s posts could be pinned.

Unlike pages, when a group admin posts to a group that content is adding as themselves.

All posts to groups don’t automatically appear in you news feed the way you receive group notifications can be set per group and deserves a blog post all of it’s own!

So that’s it, my plain English attempt at explaining the different ways to use facebook.