Back in October I did a post outlining the utility behind Facebook pages. Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook. BUT, today was again another reminder of some consistent frustrations with the site.
I spent the afternoon helping out our building mates Imerman Angels with some social media strategy and tips (just FYI, this isn’t a client, but they are an incredible nonprofit, be sure to check them out). We started discussing which avenue was best to pursue in terms of utilizing a Facebook group, page or cause to organize Imerman’s supporters.
Though Facebook created all three resources for different purposes, issues arise in overall communication utility behind all three. I don’t want to rehash the excellent work others have done in laying out all the pros/cons of these tools but let’s take a quick look at the intended purpose and the major problem behind communicating with your supporters through each resource.
Purpose: Groups are a great way to quickly organize support around an event, niche focus or short-term actionable request. They allow for content sharing, event coordination and direct-to-Facebook inbox communication with members.
Communication Problem: Groups cap out their “message all members” feature after you reach more than 5,000 members. You have to respect Facebook for proactively guarding against a spam dilemma, but it poses an issue for groups that build up a big support base.
Purpose: Pages allow businesses and brands to have a presence on Facebook. They are of great utility in terms of the way they rank in search engines and are accessible for viewing by any Web user without requiring Facebook membership.
Communication Problem: The problems with pages are twofold. First, the event feature only enables you to invite your friends to an event as opposed to inviting all of your fans. Second, the only way to communicate to all of your fans is through the “update” feature. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m going to bargain to say that most Facebook users are probably unaware that there is even an update link on their profile to check fan page updates. A lost cause at best.
Purpose: Causes can be created by anyone and are intended to help organize people toward collective action and raise funds for various nonprofits or political candidates.
Communication Problem: I’ve personally had the most luck utilizing the cause communication tool. It enables administrators to send updates to all cause members and deliver that communication directly to a supporter’s personal email account. You lose the functionality of hyperlinks, but overall, I’ve found this to be the best resource for connecting and updating supporters. As far as I can tell, Facebook does not cap the email feature based on the number of supporters in your cause.
The problem arises in that the cause page does not offer an event invite tool. Thus, you would technically have to create an event through a group or page and include that hyperlink in an email update to your cause.
Personally, I think the easiest solution for Facebook would be to enable a direct-to-Facebook inbox message feature on their pages. I love that they allow you to target updates to key demographics, but no one reads updates! I have to believe there is a way that Facebook could auto-scan a message if it was being sent by a page administrator to more than X people to ensure it’s not spam. In addition, it seems it would be easy enough to incorporate open-rates and click-thru analytics into the page insights feature as well.
C’mon, we all love metrics, step it up a notch Facebook.
What’s your take? Have a favorite choice or suggestion for communicating with Facebook audiences based on these options?