Facebook Groups have become one of the hottest places to hang out on the world’s largest social media platform.
People love being able to share their content, thoughts and questions with others who have similar interests and in some cases values and beliefs. When it’s a private or closed group, they enjoy knowing that their comments and posts will not be showing up on their newsfeeds or timeline for their wider Facebook networks to see.
Until recently Facebook Groups have been largely the domain of non-profits, community organisations or simply like-minded people who want a space to discuss their particular thing.
But in the last year, there has been increasing encouragement from Facebook itself for brands to add a linked Facebook Group to their existing business page.
So the question is, should you or shouldn’t you?
Why are people using Groups?
1) More eyeballs equals more engagement
One of the main reasons organisations and businesses might choose to set up a Group linked to their main Facebook page is that Facebook itself is more likely to show Group content to your members than they are to show page content to followers of the page.
If you have a Group with say 1,000 members (who might be your existing customers for example), and you post in the group, a far larger proportion of your members will see that posted content than if you post the same content on your Facebook page (even if the same 1,000 people also follow the page).
And if more people see it, they are more likely to engage.
2) Setting controls
One of the real benefits of a Group from a member perspective is that they have a lot of control over exactly how much of the content they will see in their feeds. They can turn it right down to get no notifications and they only see content when they actually visit the group through to getting notifications every time someone posts (which in a large group can be pretty extreme.) People can also block or mute other group members if they don’t like them or want to see their posts or comments.
3) Highlighting important content
Within a group you can pin content to the top of the Group, which is usually where you would put a post with the group rules and what it is all about. You can also allocate posts as “Announcements” which means people can go to the Announcements section at any time to see what you consider to be the most important content.
Groups have a ramped up version of the polls function that you can use from a personal post.
Instead of just two polling choices however, you can add an almost unlimited number of choices for your poll.
Being able to poll your members can be a valuable way to gather information as well as help build your community as people get a clearer idea of who else is in the group.
5) Facebook live
Although you can do Facebook Live video from a page or your personal account, doing these within a Group setting can be an effective way to interact and communicate with your group members in real time.
You can promote Lives easily within a group, either by setting up a Group Event, or regularly reminding members when your Live is going to happen, and you can then add them to the Announcements section so people can find them easily later if they weren’t available when the talk was live.
6) Group events
If you want the members of your group to participate in an online or offline event, it is easy to create the event from inside the group. If your group is closed or private, only group members will see the event.
So for example if you have a health related group, you might want to run a 30 Day Challenge in your group by setting up an Event with recurring days. Or if you want to hold an offline event and only invite your customers – who happen to be Group members, you can do that very easily within the Group environment.
Or if you want to run a virtual seminar for example, incorporating a Facebook Live – possibly even with a guest, you might set that up as a seminar event in the group, enabling people to say they are going and be reminded the event is coming up.
Discussion can also be had on any event page, so people can put up questions there they would like answered during your Event, or simply connect with others who are attending.
7) Growing your group
One of the benefits of an open group is that members of the group can add their connections to help grow the Group.
For a closed or private group, you will need to approve people who request to join, but if you want an open group, anyone can join and anyone in the group already can add their Facebook friends.
8) Moderation and compulsory questions
One thing to take into account when you set up a group, especially if it is a closed or private group, you will need to appoint one or more people to administer or moderate the group. In an open group, people can be added without being approved, however in the other group formats the admins will need to regularly accept new members to the group.
Some closed groups are set up with a set of questions that new members have to answer before they will be approved to join. Other groups simply retain control of accepting members so they can reject members for any particular reason.
If your group is for clients or customers, you may wish to confirm they are in fact an active client, or that they have made a payment that then gives them the right to be part of your group
9) Group chats
Facebook is continually adding new functionality to Groups and one of the latest additions is Group Chats. They can be initiated by anyone in a Group and can be joined by any members of the group. This is a great way to have a real time, engaging discussion on a particular topic.