If you are like me, you already belong to more than one Facebook group. Why? Groups are a fun and easy way to stay connected with others who share a common interest. They also afford some privacy when it comes to sharing more personal struggles or questions.
In June, Facebook released a new mission statement declaring their focus on community – or more specifically groups.
Some of the neat changes they’ve added to groups:
Easy troll removal
Now you can remove a troublemaker, and all their posts and comments. This is a fantastic tool for groups that can get contentious or attract trolls.
We’ve been able to schedule in groups using tools like Hootsuite for quite a while. However, we didn’t have the option to schedule directly while in our groups until now.
If data around which posts do best and who is most active in your group are important to you, Facebook now gives group admins a way to see these insights.
You can also easily track growth, popular times and days, engagement, see which posts perform the best, who your frequent commenters are, and other demographic information.
Linking a group to a Facebook page
If you your group is an extension of your business, you can now link them together. This lets people in the group know who is behind the group and allows your page visitors to see that you have a group attached to your page (although they can’t see the group posts until they join).
You can now ask potential members questions before they join your group. This is a great way to eliminate spam accounts from joining, as well as learning a little bit more about members before they join.
Now that you know all the exciting options within groups, the next question is:
Should you have a Facebook group for your business?
The answer? It depends on your goals. Let’s look at the pros and cons.
Possible higher visibility
One of the reasons businesses are excited about groups is because they have a higher visibility than Facebook business pages since those posts are treated differently than Facebook business page posts in the algorithm.
A deeper connection to your customers
A private Facebook group can give your customers a deeper connection to you. You can ask questions, create polls, and otherwise work to engage your users to build your own community through your group.
Allows you to offer something special to select people
Within your own Facebook group you can run specials, discounts, and give members sneak peeks – since your group likely isn’t public, you have a little more control over who sees your offers AND you can make your members feel special since they get first looks and behind-the-scenes information.
You’re the boss
If you’re a part of Facebook groups already, you know each admin can set their own rules and guidelines. However, when you run your own group, you can decide what is and isn’t ok within your own group – you get to make the rules!
Choose your own adventure
You decide what you want your group to be! It can be just for VIP clients, open to anyone, or you can even use it to stay in touch with previous clients.
There’s no way around it. If you are including a Facebook group in your marketing plan, you’ll need to devote time to it to help it grow and thrive.
Depending on your group’s topics, you may have the added responsibility of settling issues between group members and dealing with other admin tasks.
More computer time
You may end up feeling more tied to Facebook, and you may feel “on call” more in your work since clients have easier access to you.
If, after reviewing the pros and cons, you think setting up a Facebook group is a clever way to get around Facebook’s business page algorithm, you may be right. For now. But you also need to remember that anything you do on Facebook is done on borrowed space – Facebook still makes the rules and may change the game at any time.
So, how can you use Facebook groups for your business? Here are four examples for made up businesses (and one real life example):
1) Craft related – use your group to encourage community among your crafters. Encourage users to share their projects while also sharing yours.
2) Health related – use your group to offer support and ongoing guidance outside of your business page or email list.
3) Fashion related – use your group to offer early access to new products, crowdsource information and opinions.
4) Food related – build and maintain interest in your product, share recipes, engage users and ask for feedback on new products.
5) Marketing consultant – use your group to share insights and educational links and ideas to help your clients with their marketing (this one is real – my group is called Adventures in Marketing).
A Facebook group isn’t the right option for every business, but if you are willing to put in the work, they can be a rewarding opportunity to create community.
Musings about marketing, social media, and small business.