Facebook Fan Pages are great for marketing, and are typically used for public relations more than community development. Groups are usually a better option if you want to allow for more discussion, image and video sharing, and have more fine-grained controls over who can have a voice.
Many Catholic organizations are already using Fan Pages to great effect. For instance, the Archdiocese of Saint Louis' Facebook Fan Page has close to 1,000 members—all of whom are notified in their own information streams when the Archdiocese posts an update. Anyone who visits the fan page can click a button to 'Become a Fan' of your organization.
Some of the benefits of a Facebook Fan Page include:
- Fan Pages allow RSS feed importing (through Facebook's "Notes" application), so you can tie in the latest news and postings from your website if you are already utilizing RSS.
- Any story or status update on your fan page can be 'liked,' shared, or commented upon by followers, and when they do so, all of their friends have the opportunity to see the stories/status updates as well.
- Fan Pages have a feature that keeps track of metrics like 'post quality,' number of followers, and the fan page audience metrics (like male vs. female visitors), which can be very helpful in determining the effectiveness of your Fan Page use.