Prologue: The Kenyan Facebook scene is notorious for Groups and not Fanpages.
@Wamathai asked me on Twitter which between a Facebook Fanpage and a Group is better. Without stating the pros and cons of each, I replied with Fanpage. In all honesty, there was nothing to think about, it was an open and shut case for me. When he followed up with a question asking why Fanpage? It took me back to the time I wrote I was researching to write this article Businesses with Facebook Fanpages in Kenya. While researching, I saw many pages and the majority are in all honesty wanting considering the possibilities that one has with Fanpages. After writing the post, @Sokoanalyst asked me why I had not included his business in the list and it was because his was a group and not a Fanpage.
When I consult for businesses, I hands down always recommend a Facebook Fanpage when Facebook is an option in the social media strategy. Given the state of Fanpages in Kenya and the obvious lack of knowledge about its possibilities, I figured that it is about time someone (in Kenya) wrote a post about the benefits of a Fanpage over a group.
First and foremost, Facebook created Fanpages strictly with Brands in mind. According to the Facebook Terms of Service on Pages,
“Pages are special profiles that may only be used to promote a business or other commercial, political, or charitable organization or endeavor (including non-profit organizations, political campaigns, bands, and celebrities).”
So officially, that is the position. Note: it does not say groups but rather pages.
A problem that has occurred and continuously recurs has been that of Brand Jacking. Unknown people on a whim decide to start a Fan Page for your company without your permission and use it as they please. While researching on Kenyan businesses with Facebook, I had a lot of problems trying to figure out which of the pages were official company pages. Many businesses including Safaricom have multiple pages claiming to represent them. According to the Facebook Pages T0S
“You may only administer a Facebook Page if you are an authorized representative of the subject of the Page.”
This protects Brands from Brandjacking. If someone starts a Fanpage with your company name claiming to be you yet they are not sanctioned by you, you can ask them to take it down or write Facebook and they will take it down, eventually. Or you may do what Coca Cola did…
What is a vanity URL? Well, most URL’s are usually pretty ugly. They have numbers, letters, symbols, and the same is the case when you create a Facebook Fanpage. The great thing about Fanpages is, you can really clean up your URL by claiming your vanity URL. For instance, instead of this http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nairobi-Kenya/Socialight-Media-Kenya/113121528733328, I now get http://www.facebook.com/socialightmedia. By the way, become a Fan just on the right sidebar.
In my research, I also found that most companies in Kenya have not utilized this feature. They probably do not know that it exists. To obtain a vanity URL for your page, you must have a minimum of 25 fans. Then, go to http://www.facebook.com/username, select pages and then add the username that you prefer. That will give you a neat URL that you won’t feel ashamed sending to someone. You can also add it on your email signature. Suffice it to say, with groups, you do not get such an option. You are stuck with the ugly URL.
Facebook pages can be customized to look and feel like an extension of your website. You can select the landing page for fans and non-fans; you can use Facebook Markup Language (FBML) to get a feel like this Twilight Fanpage. If you are a coder, you can use html or learn fbml and customize your page as you wish. Otherwise, you can spare a couple of dollars and have someone customize you landing page as you wish. Alternatively, you can use this just launched service called pagemodo which I have been trying out on my Socialight Media Fanpage. These customizations that give more life, more visual appeal to your page are things groups can only dream of.
Facebook allows you to promote your Fanpage in using a likebox like the one on my sidebar right now. In pretty easy steps, you can embed such a like box on blogs, in your website and have people like your page from anywhere without necessarily visiting your page. You can also advertise your Fanpage with Facebook which will show your page on the sidebar of Facebook users in your given locality (usually Geotagged.) You can also create a badge for your Fanpage which you can embed wherever you want.
Easily one of the best features for pages for me, notes allows me to import feeds from my blogs such that every post I put up on my blog is automatically republished on my page. Also, by connecting my page with my twitter account, I am syncing updates on my page with my twitter account therefore ensuring my content goes full circle through the key social networks.
There are many Facebook applications that have been and are being developed. If you want to embed YouTube videos on your Fanpage, there is an app for that. If you want to sell iTunes from your page, there is an app for that. If you want to embed Flickr photos, embed SlideShare presentations and customize your page in various other ways, you will be sure to find an application of sorts when you search applications and specify pages. However, what you cannot find are applications for groups.
Another thing, as an admin of a Facebook Fanpage, you get weekly updates on the analytics comprising the number of new fans, the page views of the page that week, and how you performed compared to the previous week. That way, you know whether you are growing or remaining stagnant.
If I have not won you over with the above, I will let time to my bidding for me. You will come back sooner or later.
Your thoughts are welcome…