Facebook is changing – and the focus is on Facebook Groups
At the last count, I was a member of 72 different Facebook groups. Some of them are ghost towns, forgotten about by all except the occasional lost wanderer – others are thriving village communities, bustling marketplaces, even global metropolises. In fact these days I bypass the newsfeed almost completely, in preference for the groups where I know I will actually find news and conversation that I am interested in. I have never been a huge fan of Facebook from a personal point of view – too much oversharing and pointless updates from “friends” who I barely know – but Facebook groups feel like a different platform altogether.
Clearly, I am not alone in this – and Facebook is following the inclinations of its users. Going forward, Facebook has stated that groups are going to be “front and centre” of the Facebook experience. With the “FB5” redesign rolling out, Facebook has recognised the growing trend for its users to head away from the Newsfeed and into groups for content and connection. “There are tens of millions of active groups on Facebook. When people find the right one, it often becomes the most meaningful part of how they use Facebook. And today, more than 400 million people on Facebook belong to a group that they find meaningful.” according to a recent Facebook blog post. Facebook is responding by making groups easier to find, easier to interact with, and more prominent in the newsfeed:
Organic reach for business pages on Facebook is already notoriously low – as little as 1-2%. In other words, if you have 100 likes/followers on your page, perhaps only 1-2 of them might actually see your latest update in their newsfeed. The latest tweaks to the algorithm favour content not just from your wider population of Facebook friends, but specifically from close connections. Unsponsored content from your business page is likely to be almost completely hidden in the newsfeed.
However, content from groups that people are active in will still be featured in the feed. Combined with the “Groups” tab being given more prominence in the platform redesign, this means that groups could be one key to success on Facebook – at least for businesses willing to invest some time and effort in running them effectively.
All these changes mean that now, more than ever, starting up a Facebook group related to your business can be one of the best ways to grow an active and engaged following for your business on Facebook.
Tips for setting up a successful Facebook Group
If you are considering setting up a group, there are a few factors to consider first.
- Are you able to commit time daily to moderating and engaging in the group?
- Will you be able to create regular content for your group (graphics, blog posts, video, lives)?
- Perhaps most importantly, what are your audience interested in, and what would they like to talk about?
Create your Group
Before you can even get your group going, you need to establish a topic – and the clearer you can be on this, the better. Remember, the group is not a place to simply promote your products or services, although special offers and promotions for group members can certainly be a part of it. Primarily it should be a space for members to have conversations around a topic which interests.
Obviously, it needs to be related to your business, and something on which you can add value and demonstrate authority.
Facebook makes it simple to actually set up a group. Add a catchy name and image and invite a couple of initial members and you’re good to go. Most importantly, make sure the group is set to “Closed” so that it can still be found in search, but only members see its posts. You are then able to vet and approve (and, if necessary, remove) members.
Grow your Group
How do you start to get members of your group? One of the first and easiest ways is through your Facebook page. If people are interested enough to like your page, they are likely to be your prime targets for group membership. To effectively promote your group in the page, you need to make people aware of the awesome exclusive benefits of being a member – whether this means exclusive offers and promotions, content which they can’t get elsewhere (e.g. access to templates), or help – for example through offering Facebook lives and Q&A sessions.
Do you have an email list? Make sure you link to your group in your emails. Your other social media platforms are also a potential source of members. Perhaps you could link to the group in your Twitter/Instagram bio, promote it in Facebook/Instagram stories, or create an IGTV video about the benefits of joining the group and link in the description. Again, creating gated content, available only to group members, is a great way to motivate people to join.
If you can connect with influencers and get them to join your group, fantastic. But even if you only have a small group and can’t engage big influencers, remember each of your members will be influential in their own circles. Encourage them to refer and promote the group elsewhere.
Nurture your Group
It’s up to you to make sure that the group is a welcoming, enjoyable, engaging place for members to hang out. So make them feel at home! Welcome new members and encourage them to introduce themselves to the group. You could even pin an introductory video welcome for new members to the top of the group. You will need to devote some time to the group every day, at least while it is getting off the ground – not just posting your own content but responding to comments and questions and engaging with members.
As to content – what should you be posting in your group? It needs to be worthwhile for members to hang out there so ideally you need to create at least some exclusive pillar content for the group, and post value-added content such as videos and Facebook lives. Not all of the content needs to be long-form however. Remember, the number one aim of the group is to promote real engagement. This may be done just as well (if not better) by posting a short question which provokes thoughtful answers, as by posting a link to a long blog post.
Another thing which works really well in groups is challenges which encourage members to participate – for example by taking a particular action every day for five days. This is also a great way of getting some user-generated content to share, and help to promote the group.
Monitor your Group
The flip-side of making the group welcoming is ensuring that it doesn’t become a toxic environment. Particularly after the latest spamming scare [lnk] this is something which group admins have to be particularly alive to.
How to avoid your group becoming victim to spammers? Firstly, you need to be active in the group to ensure you are keeping an eye on what’s going on. Ensure that there are robust group rules which are prominently displayed at the top of the group – and remind everyone of them now and then. Ask the members to come on board with keeping the group a safe and positive place by reporting any bad behaviour immediately.
If people are not abiding by the rules, it is advisable to enforce a one or two strikes and you’re out policy – giving one or two warnings but then removing them before other members get fed up with the behaviour.
If the group gets very large and active, you may need assistance with monitoring it – there might be members who are willing to take on this role, or you could employ a social media manager, of course!
While they have huge potential, running a successful Facebook group does require a business to make a long-term commitment. Content creation, engagement and monitoring all take time, and growing a vibrant community is not going to happen overnight. But if Facebook is one of the key platforms in your social media strategy, then it is definitely worth giving some thought to. Of course, they are only one part of your social media strategy – for more general tips on social media success, check out Social Media Strategy for Small Businesses.
Get in touch with me for further information about how I can help with your social media – and please share this article on social if you have found it helpful!