The Many Faces of Facebook
Facebook, the wildly popular social networking website, now has more than 175 million members. Already the most popular social networking site in several parts of the world, Compete recently reported that Facebook overtook MySpace in Unique Visitor traffic last month.
If you don’t yet have an account or page of your own, Facebook offers a number of different options. Whether you’re an individual, group, fan, or public figure, it’s easy for you to put your face on Facebook.
Individuals over the age of 13 can create a profile page for themselves. Your Facebook profile is the page other members see when they search for you. It is designed to reflect you and your interests. All you need to sign up is a valid email address. During the registration process you will be asked some basic questions about where you work, where you went to school and where you live. Once answered, Facebook will generate a profile for you.
Fan pages are more official in nature. According to Facebook, “only the official representative of a figure, brand, or organization is permitted to create a Facebook Page”.
As part of the fan page creation process, Facebook requires an email from an address associated with either the artist’s label or management group. They “need to make sure the person creating a fan page is an authorized representative of the artist.”
To create a Fan page, you first select your category (Local Business, a Brand or Product, or a Public Figure / Celebrity) and then enter more detailed information based on the category selected.
Fan pages are publicly accessible and as such can be indexed by external search engines.
Fan page messaging options are more limited than with Groups. Messages sent to your Fan page members appear not in their inbox but rather as notifications. There’s a separate notifications bar in the bottom right corner of your profile page.
Fan page content options are more flexible than with Groups. In addition to the familiar wall, discussion board, video and photo upload options, Fan pages also support RSS, allowing you to subscribe to a blog feed for updated content. Fan pages also offer better support of application allowing you to further customize your page’s content.
Another option for creating a Facebook presence is a Facebook Group. According to Facebook, “If a user isn’t an authorized representative of an artist and they would like to create a space for fans of a certain figure to share their thoughts and opinions, we suggest they create a Facebook Group.”
Facebook Groups are generally easier to set up than Fan Pages. You choose a Group name, a Category and Sub-Category types. Then add a brief description of your Group and you’re basically done.
Advantages of Groups include better messaging options and privacy controls. Groups allow you to send messages directly to your members’ Facebook inboxes as well as send out bulk invitations to prospective Group members.
While not offering as much support for applications as Pages, Groups offer better privacy controls. Groups can only be seen by registered users and can even be set to private for members only viewing.
The main disadvantage to Facebook Groups is in content creation. Posting photos, stories, or videos, all must be done manually. Groups also do not support RSS feeds if you wanted to syndicate content from your blog or other external source.
What types of pages have you created on Facebook?