Facebook for Political Campaigns - Why Pages are Better than Groups

Introduction

There are several major differences between a Facebook Page and a Facebook Group, with each having its individual pros and cons depending on what they are being used for.

Per Mashable, "one key difference is that Pages are indexed by external search engines such as Google, just like a public profile while Groups are not."

In 2012, I volunteered to be the social media assistant to a candidate who was running for Pennsylvania General Assembly and I learned a valuable lesson: if you want to dramatically widen your reach via social media, a Facebook Page is essential because Pages are indexed by search engines, and the content can be viewed without logging into Facebook. During the time I spent managing the social media accounts of the 2012 campaign, I posted content to both the Facebook Group and the Facebook Page, but focused primarily on the Page because the Page is visible to EVERYONE on the Internet, so not only do your established supporters see the content, but new people (potential future supporters) who may be researching candidates via search engines can also discover your Page and read about you and your campaign.

Screenshot 1

Screen from FB Page
Screen from FB Page

Accessibility of Information

In 2013, I ran for Borough Council Member and was in charge of maintaining the social media accounts for my own political campaign. I was able to take my experiences managing the Facebook Page of the General Assembly candidate in 2012 and apply them, on a smaller scale to my Facebook Page. I became increasingly amazed (through my experiences in managing the FB Pages for both campaigns) by the type of data available for free through the Page dashboard that Groups do not show at all. For example, after you reach certain milestones in the number of Likes your Page receives, demographic information, i.e. age and location of the people who are viewing your Page (see Screenshot 1, above), becomes available to the admins of your Page. Other information that a Page Admin can glean from available data includes how people are interacting with your Page, i.e. How many visitors are leaving comments? Sharing posts? Clicking on post links? etc. (see Screenshot 2, below). Ultimately, I chose not to use a Facebook Group at all and posted all my campaign updates on my Facebook Page. Because Facebook Pages are open to the public without logging into Facebook, your campaign may reach people who may not necessarily like Facebook (or have a Facebook account) but who may be interested in your message. A Group can only be accessed while a user is logged into Facebook, so people who do not have Facebook accounts are left out of the proverbial loop and are unable to access the information shared exclusively via Facebook Group.

Screenshot 2

FB Page Demographics - Age, Location etc
FB Page Demographics - Age, Location etc

Customization

Another key reason why Pages are preferable to Groups is the wide range of customization possibilities. Pages offer the option to rearrange the order in which the tabs are positioned and also to add or remove app tabs (see Screenshot 3).

Screenshot 3

FB Page - Customize your tabs, add and remove apps
FB Page - Customize your tabs, add and remove apps

Conclusion

Valuable analytics data, wider audience reach and customization are what Facebook Pages have to offer that Facebook Groups lack. Both Pages and Groups are free, but overall, a Facebook Page will better serve a political campaign.

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