As you all know, social media is constantly evolving and as soon as you feel like you've cracked it, they go and change something and you're wondering what you did wrong... Well the latest move is all about groups and Facebook is keen to make groups a more central part of what they do. As you can imagine, everyone is jumping into the group space - so what do you need to do before you get started?
Launch groups with niche topics. Do not launch a Facebook group that is just a clone of your Facebook page. The incentive for someone to join a Facebook group is based on them getting to be part of a community around a central topic. We've just set up a new Facebook group Dog Owners of Warwickshire for our client Pawsitively Pawsome Pups Training and Behaviour. A group dedicated to dog owners, not training, not walking, not grooming, it's niche as it's about 'dogs' but broad enough to not isolate. Within 12 hours the group had 250 members and the questions members ask will provide content for Pawsitively Pawsome's own page and website.
Open. Closed. Secret. Which group setting should you choose? Open groups are completely public. Anyone can see the group, see who is in it, and can read any of the posts. Closed groups are visible, along with membership lists, but no-one outside of the group can see the content, making them a bit more exclusive. This is ideal for most groups, as it makes them findable, but not public. Secret groups can’t be seen by anyone at all unless they are in the group - mainly used by families or friends.
Setting the tone. Once you've identified your niche group, selected the right group setting it's now time to create some group rules before members join. When you set the group up, you can pin them to the top so people see them immediately upon joining. If someone violates them, you can ban them immediately.
Set questions. When members request to join the group, you can ask questions before they can join. Use this feature to identify potentially problematic members before they’re given access to the group. If a potential member can’t be bothered to answer a few questions, then there’s a higher chance they’re not joining for the right reasons.
Ask your members to say hello! Prompt your members to introduce themselves, it will encourage other members to say hello back and keep a regular flow of content after the initial launch day. With your group being full of people who are interested in the same topic, members should naturally engage with the posts.
Keeping a close eye on the posts. Sadly people will spam your group and what's even worse, people can be verbally abusive online. As a result, people will leave your group. As groups allow anyone to post (and for that person’s posts to appear in members’ news feeds), you need to be active. Ensure you have a panel of admins to be responsive to member requests and have a zero tolerance policy on spam and abusive comments.
Bring in experts. Having a group rallied around a common topic, you'll do well to bring in experts from the area to drive engagement. Your audience will crave a direct dialogue with a professional who works in the field of what the group stands for. Listen to what your members are talking about and reach out to experts in the area to support your members. Go 'live' for a direct question and answer session to add a new dimension to the group.
Have a dedicated promo day. Having a day a week where you allow businesses to promote themselves will prepare your members that the adverts are coming. It will also allow the businesses to refrain from spamming in the group. What you'll find is that your members will appreciate a dedicated space for recommendations and they'll be aware what day it's going to happen.
It's about your members. Not your business. If your page is gaining traction, it'll be all too tempting to promote your page - don't do it! Your members will see right through it. This is a space for them to talk about the topics they need advice on, not you forcing your own message. Listen to them and think how you can channel their topics into content for them on your business page or website.
Let go. Be open to members starting their own discussion and be prepared that they may link to your competitors’ content. As above, the Facebook group isn’t a one-way street for your business, and if you have this thought process from the beginning, the group won't last.
Ultimately groups are a space for people to network with other people who are interested in the same topic. By managing the group well the group will thrive and you'll naturally see a positive response. This is a virtual community of friends, treat them how you would treat your friends in real life.
Let us know any more words of wisdom you have and share your Facebook groups with us. We'd love to see what you're doing!