It used to be that a business on Facebook had a simple page to represent their business. A page is simply a place for your business to exist on Facebook. A place where people can get some information about your business, link to your website, find your phone number and hours, or see what kind of information you are sharing. These pages can be used for interaction with your customers, but are typically very one-sided.
But more and more businesses are venturing into Facebook Groups, which is a different thing entirely and requires a different kind of involvement from the business owner.
What is a Facebook Group?
A Facebook Group is a place to communicate about shared interests with certain people. These can be used for networking, shared discussions, to promote activities, and engage with others. Facebook pages are predominantly public. They are visible to everyone on the platform. A Facebook group can be both public and private.
In a Facebook Group, all members can start discussions, comment, and participate. A Facebook Group is better for fostering discussion and engaging with other people with shared interest.
Why would a business want a Facebook Group?
Facebook Groups can be a powerful marketing tool. Many businesses are using Groups to engage their clients and get insight into their customer base. With the ever-changing algorithm on Facebook activity, posts or activity on a page can easily get missed but activity in a group is much more likely to get seen and engaged with.
Facebook Groups can be used by businesses to increase their reach and build relationships with their clients. It allows a more one on one experience between business owner and customer, and allows other customers to communicate with each other as well. It creates a sense of community around the business.
Let me share a few examples of businesses that have Facebook Groups and how they use them:
- Business A: This business has a membership website, where you can pay a membership fee, login to the site for specific content related to the business, and with that comes membership in a Facebook group where you can communicate with other customers of the business as well as interact and get advice from the business owners.
- Business B: This is a business group for consumers of a specific product. The group allows users to ask questions to each other and the owners about the use of the product. Have a specific question about how to use one of their products, hop onto the Facebook Group and ask. You may get an answer really quick since the group is specifically about that product. (I’m a member of a few product specific Facebook Groups that are quite useful.)
- Business C: This is a marketing company, and their group is for people who may buy their marketing products to engage with the company pros and other consumers.
Types of Facebook Groups
When it’s time to set up a Facebook Group, there are three different kinds. Public, Closed, and Secret.
- Public: Anyone can see the group, its members, and the posts, whether they are a member of the group or not.
- Closed: Anyone can find the group and see who is in it, but they can’t see posts or engage unless they join the group and are admitted.
- Secret: Only members can find the group and see the posts.
For a business, I always recommend a Closed Group. A public group creates a nightmare scenario where anyone, including spammers, can come and join your group and post. For instance, I am planning a vacation and recently joined a Facebook Group that purported to be about the location I was visiting, but it was post after post that were spam and junk. It made the group worthless, and I left quickly.
A closed group lets you choose who can join so you can make sure your members are a good fit for engagement and will create the kind of environment you want to foster.
A secret group is for having a private place for discussion among a select group of people, since no one can find it unless they are specifically invited to the group. If your FB Group is a membership perk of your business, then a secret group might be the right avenue to pursue since people can only join by invitation. A secret group doesn’t allow people to request access.
Managing your Facebook Group
The main thing I want to talk about in this post is how to manage and moderate your group. I have seen plenty of businesses create a group, then go about their business without any kind of management for the group. What I can say is that the more members you have in the group, the more management it will need. Here are some steps I would recommend you take with your group from the start, but don’t be afraid to make changes down the road as you see fit.
- Create a list of membership requirements. A group should have some sort of center, something that brings the community together, otherwise it’s just a place for anyone to post anything. Membership in your group should pertain to your business. What do you think should be a minimum before someone can join? Are they a customer? A future customer? Have they purchased your product? You can set up questions that potential members have to answer before you admit them to their group.
- Create a list of rules for members to follow. It’s your group, and every good group has rules. You can’t keep a group on topic or well moderated without some basic rules to follow. Facebook has four basic rules they give you as examples that you are welcome to use as a jumping off point.
- Be kind and courteous: We’re all in this together to create a Welcoming environment. Let’s treat everyone with respect. Healthy debates are natural, but kindness is required.
- No hate speech or bullying: Make sure everyone feels safe. Bullying of any kind isn’t allowed, and degrading comments about things like race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, gender or identity will not be tolerated.
- No promotions or spam: Give more than you take in this group. Self-promotion, spam and irrelevant links aren’t allowed.
- Respect everyone’s privacy: Being part of this group requires mutual trust. Authentic, expressive discussions make groups great, but may also be sensitive and private. What’s shared in the group should stay in the group.
I’ve seen many Facebook Groups devolve over the years into places where people don’t want to spend their time, and if your customers show up and your group is filled with spam, they won’t stick around or engage.
Additionally, I recommend adding a rule that includes keeping posts on topic. If you are a professional beekeeper, and you have a group that helps hobbyists learn more about beekeeping, then they probably shouldn’t be making posts about politics, items they have for sale, or their other unrelated topics. The best groups are kept on topic.
How to do it
Now that you have a group, and have some rules in place, and hopefully some members, you have to manage and moderate the group. The more members you have, the more moderation it will require. If you are the only admin, that means you are the only person who can moderate the group. I highly recommend creating additionally admins who can help you manage the group and keep it on task. (And this includes interacting with the posts and creating new posts.)
At a minimum, if you are the owner of a Group, you need to be logging into that group everyday, reading what is posted, and preferably, engaging with the group. Members have probably joined because they think your business or product is valuable, and engagement from you is their goal. Sometimes it takes time to get the community engaged in a Group, and if nothing new gets posted, people will stop showing up.
Don’t be afraid to remove posts that don’t fit within the rules you’ve created, and definitely don’t hesitate to remove members who don’t abide by the rules. Some groups create a self-censored environment when members become wary or afraid to post due to the behavior of other members.
In many instances, a Facebook group can be a fantastic extension of your business, your brand, or your product, but it doesn’t come without investment of your time. Plan in advance on how you want to manage your group so the group can be a boon (and not a bane) to your business.
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