Why you shouldn't start a Facebook fan page

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Why you shouldn’t start a Facebook fan page

Alternatives to starting a Facebook fan pageA Facebook fan page isn't always the best way to use Facebook for your business.

What?! I know, as a social media devotee, maybe it surprise you that I'd say that. Facebook fan pages can be a great tool in your social media strategy. But the truth of the matter is, succeeding on social media is as much about picking your battles as it about fighting them well. And there might be better options on Facebook for your business.

Why a fan page might not be the best way to use Facebook for your business:

(I) It can be a lot of work to grow a fan base on Facebook. (Facebook ads can help with this, but that’s a topic for another post.) Building fan pages with lots of likes are easiest for businesses that already have a large audience to draw on.

(II) Facebook’s algorithm for deciding which posts should show up in your fans’ newsfeeds means your amazing, carefully-crafted content is probably only reaching, on average, about 16% of your fans. (You have to pay for a promoted post if you want to be sure to reach all the people who have opted-in to follow you.) This means if you have a small fan base (say 100), you are potentially spending valuable time creating valuable content that only 16 people might see… [If you want to know a bit more about this algorithm, often called ‘Edgerank’, check out this amazing infographic.]

But, that doesn't mean you should give up on Facebook all together (or that you shouldn't ever setup a fan page–especially once you have an audience to draw on).

Two other options on Facebook:

1. Let people “Follow” you on Facebook. (Used to be called Facebook “Subscribe”.)

By turning on Facebook followers, you allow members of the public to ‘follow’ your public updates on your personal Facebook profile. This means you can have and and use your profile for personal stuff with friends and family but any posts you make public, can also reach (and be commented on) by a wider general audience.

Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook

Facebook followers are used by many public figures and journalists on Facebook as a way to connect to their audience through their personal profile. (More on Facebook Follow.) (It’s also a great way to avoid those awkward friend requests from people you don’t really know!)

2. Create a Facebook group

Facebook groups are a great way to bring together like-minded people in a discussion forum setting. And, as opposed to fan pages, every member of a group receives notification of posts in the group (by you or by others) by default. Groups can be an invaluable way to create real connections between you and your audience because it can be much more interactive than just broadcasting updates on a page. (More on Facebook Groups.)

There are three types of groups, and choosing which type is best for you will depend on the purpose of your group:

  • Open groups are searchable and join-able by anyone.
  • Closed groups are searchable but people must request to join (to you, the group owner) or be added by another group member.
  • Secret groups are not searchable, will not appear on members' profiles and people can only be added by you, the group owner.

This range of options presents some great opportunities for you to engage with your clients and potential clients. (And closed or secret groups can be a valuable addition to your paid offerings, either around a specific program or as an bonus resource for your paying clients.)

Take action now

  • Follow someone interesting on Facebook /OR/ Join a group run by another business

The best way to get inspiration for your own social media strategy is to check out how other people are using these tools. (To get you started, I love Liz Heron, Social Media Director at The Wall Street Journal, and entrepreneurial writer Alexis Grant has a great group for people working on their business on the side at Rockin’ the Side Gig. But you can find lots of other suggestions by using Facebook’s own search or “the Google”.)

I’d love to hear from you

How are you using Facebook to connect with your community? What’s working best for you right now? What’s your biggest frustration?

Please share your strategy with us in the comments below. (I read & respond to every single one.)

If found this article on Facebook fan page alternatives useful, I’d love if you shared it with a fellow small business owner or solopreneur! Share it up on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ using the buttons below.

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5 Responses to Why you shouldn’t start a Facebook fan page

  1. Thanks Jackie!

    This information was really helpful!


    • Jackie Johnstone May 29, 2013 at 23:57 #

      Glad you found it useful, Sonja! Are you using Facebook for your business currently?

  2. Michele November 20, 2013 at 00:38 #

    Hey, I just created my first facebook page for my blog and I feel like a spazz. I have a decent following on twitter already. The main confusion I have is, do I have a newsfeed? If not, how do I follow others and share their content? Thanks!

  3. Nicole September 21, 2015 at 23:23 #

    Loved this, Jackie. So practical. I have a Facebook page but it often feels like more work than its worth. Thanks for the suggestions!

  4. Jenna August 31, 2016 at 05:55 #

    Hi Jackie,
    I just ‘found’ you and am really benefiting from your social media marketing savvy writing! I am a new solopreneur – life & communication coach & facilitator – and finding marketing more than a little daunting.

    I see this post is from 2013 and I also notice that you now, in 2016, have what appears to me to be a FB Fan page. Has your stance from this article – leaning toward Groups/Following vs Fan page – changed? If so, can you point me toward how? I’m really trying to make sense of all the tools and determine what is right for me at this fledgling phase of my business.


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