If you’re anything like me, you’re a member of many Facebook Groups these days. And if you aren’t, you’ve definitely heard about them as Facebook advertised during this year’s Super Bowl. And according to Google, there are now 620 million Groups on Facebook. So, what are Facebook Groups? Remember chat rooms of yesteryear? They are basically an evolved version of those, where groups of people with niche interests can interact with one another. They are nothing new but have gained a lot of traction in the last year when Facebook allowed Pages to participate in Groups. So why Facebook Groups?
Organic reach on Facebook has been on the decline for years, with many calling it nearly dead as Pages reach only 5% of their fanbase (often less than that — like 1% realistically) organically. And with Facebook making more and more money from advertisers, it’s a no-brainer that paid posts are where it’s at. Facebook makes money, and advertisers meet their goals (and make money too in most cases). But smart brands should still consider alternatives to advertising, to really create a robust experience for their audiences (and get on Facebook’s good side to stay on top of the algorithm). How can they do this?
- Post good (and accurate) content, consistently
- Keep your audience talking to one another
- Link your Instagram Business Page to your Facebook Page to better manage them and get the most analytics
- Take advantage of new Facebook features when they push them out (think Watch Parties, Stories, videos, Messenger and just this week, Messenger Rooms)
- Start a Facebook Group
Facebook actually prioritizes content from Groups, so if you have a nice stream of paid content along with an organic Group, chances are the algorithm will notice and you’ll reach more people. Stay apprised of the latest Facebook updates by reading things like Social Media Today and the Hubspot blog (and following social experts like Matt Navarra, who has his own Facebook Group!) but let’s focus right now on Groups.
Back in the day, I used to get annoyed at people who post about very specific topics and questions on Facebook. “Why don’t they Google this or ask a better audience?” I would think. Today they have this option with things like forums and Reddit, and of course, Facebook Groups. Now you can go to places that are hyper-focused and targeted. Maybe you like wearing a certain kind of shoe…there’s a Group for that. Maybe you’ve always wanted to talk to people who yodel…there’s a Group for that.
The more focused and niche, the better brands can understand their audience. Plus with Groups, the goal is ultimately for your audience to start conversations and talk to one another. So in theory, you get all the credit but it’s really your audience driving the discussion (with you having the opportunity to moderate). It’s like a giant focus group. But you have to build it up first and start those discussions and rich conversations yourself. It takes work. Let’s talk about success stories.
Examples of Groups Doing it Right
Morning Brew’s The Breakroom: If you have followed me for any time, then you know I am a Morning Brew megafan. This is one email newsletter I read just about every day, with business news broken down in bite-sized pieces in a fun tone. Like many other newsletters, they offer an incentive for getting people to sign up using your unique link (spoiler alert: that link before is my referral link!) and one of their incentives is joining this invite-only Group with other Morning Brew readers. The MB team often asks us questions, too to help shape future ideas.
Canva: I LOVE Canva because it makes me feel like I can actually design. I can’t, really but the templates are so user friendly and beautiful. Its Facebook Group of about 15,000 people share design tips and tricks to help one another here. And Canva can drop in to share updates when they like. They also have the Canva Teachers Community and Nonprofits Community to get even more granular.
Moe’s: So many businesses have had to pivot due to COVID-19, and Moe’s was one of them. Its franchisees have been helping their local communities by giving meals to healthcare workers and first responders. They created the private ‘Moe’s Crew’ Facebook Group for these franchisees, as well as operators and crew members, and here, they share local stories, so the brand developed a campaign called ‘Moe’s Good Neighbor’ from this. It’s a simple way to engage with employees (especially during tough times) and utilize the content. So smart.
Facebook Groups are continuing to gain momentum, especially now as people are looking for more ways to connect online while stuck at home. As The New York Times said, the virus has ‘changed the way we internet.’ So if you do start a Facebook Group, here are a few simple things to keep in mind:
- Have a plan and calendar, at least in the beginning. People won’t start discussions unless they see others doing so, so you need to be the one to jump in at first and have a content plan, as you would any other social channel.
- Moderate, moderate, moderate: Now more than ever, real information and privacy are pivotal and top of mind for every tech company. Facebook has seen a lot of scrutiny for data mismanagement, and is now cracking down on misinformation especially after a lot of it has been shared across Facebook and WhatsApp. Keep a close eye on conversations and ensure anything wrong (or hurtful or spammy) is deleted and blocked.
- Provide a value add: As seen with the examples above, Groups need to provide value, or you’ll risk not engaging your audience, and then eventually losing them. This is a chance to be not super salesy but more of a fellow group member, listening and giving your audience something for being there. What will you add?