Facebook "pages" versus "groups"

Dear Lazyweb,

Do any of you know a clue-enabled individual within the Facebook hivemind who would be willing to talk to me, and allow me to browbeat them into fixing a bug / design flaw?

DNA Lounge has a so-called "page" on Facebook. We post our events there. However, there is apparently no way for us to send event invitations to everyone who has friended ("fanned") DNA Lounge.

If this DNA Lounge "page" were a "group" instead, I could send event invitations to everyone who had friended ("joined") the group. But clearly "pages" are intended for businesses: they have build-in fields like address and hours of operation. "Groups" don't.

baconmonkey has a hunch that "pages" are a legacy thing: something that Facebook thought was a good idea once and have since abandoned. I'm not sure why he thinks that, since they still seem to be pushing them as the thing that businesses should use.

Maybe we should just delete our "page" and create a "group" instead. I don't know. I can't tell.

What I would like is for someone who actually works for Facebook to tell me their understanding of how a business like mine should use their service.

I want them to either fix this bug (the bug that you can't send event invitations to "fans" of your "page") or tell me the right way to promote my events to these people who have explicitly expressed their interest.

I'm asking here because Facebook apparently has no tech support and no way to contact them that is more direct than spitting down the gaping well of a web forum that no employee ever reads.

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24 Responses:

  1. lx says:

    There's nothing to suggest that "Pages" are legacy to me. In fact, when they allowed "usernames" (short URL names) they only allowed them for profiles and pages, not groups, so if anything it seems to have a more canonical status than groups do; they also make you agree that you are legally representing the "page" whereas the group seems more lax.

    Anyway, what you can do is click "Update fans of DNA Lounge" on the right side of the Events page (just above Share/Export/etc) which sends an Update to anyone that's become a fan of your page (a separate category). The Update will contain whatever you type in the body and title along with a link to the event you created.

    • jwz says:

      Yes, I know you can do that, but "updates" are useless. When you receive one, they don't show up in your news feed, they don't show up in your inbox, and they don't provide you with an "I'm Going" link to click. I contend that nobody ever reads updates.

      • lx says:

        I confess I tune them out too, though I also tune out event invitations, so...

      • skreidle says:

        I maintain that updates are useful (and I do read them), and that they are as attention-getting as friend additions, group invitations, and event invitations--but unlike event invitations, no, no RSVP link.

        • jwz says:

          I dunno, I never read updates because they don't show up in the feed and they aren't indicated as read/unread in any way. The main page says "you have 6 new updates" and then you go to the "updates" page and they show you every update ever, truncated to the first 15 words or so.

          And really, the RSVP link is the whole point of this exercise. An event invite with an RSVP link is so much more valuable than one without: when you click that link and your feed tells your friends that you're going to some event, that pulls other people in. That's the only reason that I'm paying an employee to spend 6+ hours a week tediously cutting-and-pasting our event descriptions into the top dozen social networks.

          • skreidle says:

            When I go to the updates page, the new ones are highlighted in bold with a tally--perhaps because I've been clicking them as they came in, so only the unread/new ones are counted.

            But yes, the RSVP/publicity is the important part.

        • maxmin says:

          I never read updates. Not so much by deliberate choice as I never even notice when i get them.

  2. baconmonkey says:

    The main reason I suspect pages are a partly-abandoned project is because they have virtually no documentation on them in their help section.

    this is the "Pages" help. it has 2 questions, and NO ability to ask questions.

    The Groups page has several questions in it's help section, as well as several user-forum questions AND the ability to post user forum questions.

    that feels like abandonware to me.

    secondly, pages are essentially useless. every other ting in facebook is designed to make it easy to spread it around and interact with people. Pages seem to be designed as a dead-end street.
    That or FB figures people with pages will then pay facebook for advertising, because there is really no other way to get people to receive information from a page. Given that there are so many other things on FB that make it easy to spread info to people, nobody in their right mind would pay to steer people to a dead end. Everything on FB floods the user with information, everything except Pages.

    There have been many changes and updates and tweaks to groups to make the MORE useful. Pages... not so much.

    I dunno, maybe someone here can explain why facebook would keep something as bafflingly useless as Pages, or some magical hidden use for them.

  3. papa_vova says:

    Apparently, alexmoskalyuk works for Facebook and might have a clue as to what people you should be talking to.

  4. gible says:

    I'm not so sure...

    I frequently get things from pages in my feed...I have one there now from Ford. It seems to have simply been posted to the Ford Wall by Ford - can't be sure, but if it included a link to an event I might click it. (well no I wouldn't, but I would if Ford was DNALounge and the event was local to me)

    • baconmonkey says:

      posting updates that show up in the feed seems to be the only way to actually reach people witha Page. due to the sheer traffic of it all, I rarely see posts on my feed that are more than 45 minutes old - and I make a point of hiding every single quiz that comes along.

  5. jwm says:

    The done thing is to get a user. The band Minuit do this, for example. Good things: shows up in the `Suggestions' box more often than pages, status updates in the news feed, you can uses the twitter->facebook app to run all updates from one interface, and you get events.

    • baconmonkey says:

      For a User, event invites have to be done manually, selecting each person to invite by hand. Events that are created by a group can be sent to everyone in the group via a single checkbox. the same is true for sending messages. Groups have a "Message all members" button.

      • giantlaser says:

        Unless you invite people, filter friends via a "Friends List" which you previously made (easy to manage) and click "All". So you could abuse the system by making a normal user and then a friends list.

    • jwz says:

      I looked at the first 6 pages of search results for "Minuit" and hit #2 is the band, and they have a "page", not a "user". If they have a user as well, I couldn't find it. I don't think "pages" can do status updates at all.

      • lx says:

        No, pages can do status updates, just like a profile. Whoever maintains the page can post in the "What's on your mind?" box on the wall, and it shows up in the fans' news feed like any other friend's status update. (Just confirmed this with one of my pages.)

  6. thrax99 says:

    I get the feeling this was originally a deliberate choice to reduce spam. And possibly to push businesses towards buying ads. (Pages debuted along with the now dead social ads.)

    Facebook has made it clear they prefer users to be actual people.

    One advantage of pages over groups is you might maybe get more support from Facebook if someone is using you copyrighted name and pretending to be you.

  7. jope says:

    Be aware that Groups apparently have a limit on the number of members to which a given message can be sent. My read on this is that it's the exact same limit imposed upon individual senders. Dunno why FB would choose to also impose it on Groups, but there it is.

    Best part: In the Pages FAQ, wherein the PTB are clearly trying to nudge admins from Groups to Pages, there is a mention that when it comes time to announce to your Group members that you are transitioning to a Page, that if your Group is too large, you won't be able to send that announcement to everyone. No workaround offered, just a shrug. Seriously. Boggles the mind, given that the recent expansion of Pages was touted as being an integral part of FB roping in businesses.

  8. jwz says:

    There's a fairly weaselly interview with Zuckerberg on Wired right now where he says:

    You should be able to connect to a business in the same way that you connect to a friend, or a person on the site, and then that business should be able to publish things in the same way that that happens for people you care about.

    So, that was a big part of this whole streams release on the homepage that we just did. Now, it's not completely there yet, right? People are still bi-directional confirmed relationships while Facebook Pages (those for businesses and celebrities) have to be these one-directional relationships. People can send messages to each other. Facebook Pages can only send these updates to all their fans.

    Over time we're going to see that those things are just going to converge completely, right? So a business or celebrity Page will be able to send a message to all their fans. At the same time they'll be able to send messages to individuals that they're connected to.

    So no matter who you are -- a person on the site or a store, or a big brand -- you'll be able to have the same options for how you connect to people. You could make it bi-directional, so you have to confirm each one, or you could make it so people can just connect you.

    To paraphrase: "We think it make sense for business and celebrities to be able to send messages to their fans. And maybe in a couple of years, we'll allow that. But today all you get is 'updates'."

    Which is idiotic, because if I use a "group" instead of a "page" for my business, I can send messages and invitations right now.

    • chromebishop says:

      I first set up an IndieFest Group, and could send a message t members inbox but not updates.
      Then set up an IndieFest User, to send out updates, and encouraged group members to move to the User, now Im thinking, like Bmonkey mentioned, the inbox postings are more like to be read then the updates in the feed that fall off the page more quickly.
      Still mucking about it, and also havent figured the best way to use FB for marketing.
      And the plus side, have basically abandoned myspace altogether. So much the crap.

      • shandrew says:

        I agree that setting up a User is the best way to go right now. Etsy does a very good job with their facebook user.

        The problem with going this route is that Facebook's non-human account removal process could delete the account, though i don't know what the likelihood of that is (probably decreases as friend count increases).

  9. honoriartist says:

    What fun. Do both facebook options (groups and pages) and post your experiences to all us old-timey livejournalisti who house our evolving identities in Russian and/or other diffused, dispersed, and cyberdiasporic oligarchies.

  10. evan says:

    Re-reading this later, it occurs to me that LJ has a similar thing: there were "shared journals", which is a single journal that multiple people could post to, and which gradually morphed into a "community", which is basically the same thing with different icons and tools for admins to add/remove/edit the member list. The shared journal support (which was only used by a few early adopters) kinda atrophied, which left some of the accounts (like evan_tech) in this weird intermediate state where it has some community features and some journal-only features.

    This is a long way of saying: your legacy-pages theory sounds plausible to me.