Facebook Groups are the most beneficial part of the platform for a lot of people. Members learn from, engage with, or are entertained by others who share their interests. It’s no wonder Facebook is making a push to give Groups more exposure and businesses are using them to grow communities within their industries.
Here is a list of Facebook Groups features for you to take advantage of as you’re growing your community.
The bigger and more active the group, the more time and attention must be given to administrative tasks; moderating posts & comments, digging into insights & analytics, approving new members, learning new strategies to keep members engaged, and fixing problems when they come up. Facebook is implementing new features to make life a little easier on admins so that they can focus on the important things.
Anyone who manages a Facebook Page knows how useful this tool can be, and now it’s coming to Groups. Group insights give you statistics in three different sections:
- Growth: Track membership growth and group membership requests
- Engagement: Measure posts, comments, and reactions over time. See the most popular days and times for member engagement. And review the top posts in the group
- Membership: See your top contributors
While you shouldn’t obsess over the metrics, they can be a really good guiding light for you to use to adjust your strategy, content, policies, etc. You can also use the data to easily identify and connect with top contributors and schedule important posts for peak days & times for maximum visibility & engagement.
Membership Request Filtering
Now you can require all new potential members to answer questions before joining, like “Why do you want to join?” or “How long have you been in the industry?” This is to ensure that the people joining are genuinely interested in what the group has to offer and it can weed out bots or people who probably shouldn’t be in the group.
You can now schedule posts in your groups, just like on your Pages. We’ve talked before about the benefits of using a content calendar to keep engagement high and content fresh & balanced. You shouldn’t “set it and forget it” with your scheduled posts but this can reduce the daily frustration of creating and posting content when you can do a lot of it in advance.
Simplified Member Clean-Up
It no longer takes multiple steps to get rid of a member and all of their content; now it’s just one easy process.
This one is still being tested, but it allows a group to recommend similar groups. The linking feature can be helpful to recommend more specialized or localized groups for your members to join. You don’t want members to leave your group, but encouraging them to join similar ones can benefit you both. This feature can also be helpful if you’re breaking down one large group into smaller, more specialized groups.
As anyone who has ever tried to contact Facebook for support will know, you’re more likely to get a friend request from Mark Zuckerberg himself than an answer to your support question. That’s changing as Facebook is prioritizing customer support for group admin and replying to inquiries within a single business day. This should illustrate how important Groups is to Facebook.
Facebook is compiling tutorials, case studies, and more information about how to better run your groups from experienced admins who have succeeded in doing it. This will be a valuable tool because there are so many groups that operate in different ways and you’ll be able to find the perfect strategy for your business. It’s likely that you’d be able to find a lot of the same advice on various blogs and forums, but Facebook’s initiative to consolidate all of this knowledge will be very convenient and beneficial to users.
Rule Violation Notification
Most groups have a list of policies, rules, or regulations for how members should behave. Until recently, violations of these rules were only enforceable if another member reported it or if an admin is on top of monitoring all of the engagement. Now, posts and comments are automatically scanned by Facebook and violations flagged for an admin to review. When the admin chooses to delete a post or comment, a note can be added and sent to the user to let them know what the problem is. You can then mute the member for up to a week (so that they can see posts but can’t comment) or immediately ban them from the group.
Activity Log Filters
Until now, the activity feed for Groups was a list of events that could be scrolled but not searched. Today, the group activity feed can be filtered to show memberships, removals, and other types of admin activity. The activity feed can also be searched by date and by specific members.
Membership is the backbone of Groups. You want your membership numbers to go up but it’s more important that you focus on getting members who are genuinely interested. “Small but mighty” is the best approach to building a great community. Here are some tools that will help you get and keep the best people.
This feature will allow group owners to collect admission when they admit or approve a new member. This will allow people to start and manage membership organizations completely within Facebook, significantly reducing the barriers to creating an online membership site. For instance, businesses that start a paid mastermind group must currently manage payments elsewhere and then invite members to a private group on Facebook, but a paid subscription model will make this easier for everyone.
Putting up a paywall goes against the recommended practice of making membership as easy as possible, but you know that anyone who pays to be in the group genuinely wants to be there and is ready to get and receive value.
People want to know that their contribution is making a difference. Badges is an optional feature that offers a way to help group members feel special and know how they and others are contributing.
When activated, unique badges appear next to someone’s name to recognize them as an admin, a new member, a founding member, celebrating membership anniversary, a conversation starter, a conversation booster, a storyteller, a rising star, and more.
The badges are available to groups with 50+ members. They’re visible to everyone in the group and, once assigned, stay visible for about a month.
Pages in Groups
This feature has had mixed reviews since its implementation. It offers convenience for any admin of a page to post in a group with consistency but it can also be off-putting for members to interact with a brand in a community of people.
The feature can be turned on and off but it can still be useful in certain cases. For instance, if you want to bring an expert into your group, they can represent their brand or business. This would give them exposure and could also back up their expertise. It can also be useful in cases where a person’s page is their name or personal brand. This offers the convenience of any page admin being able to post as the page but also that personal touch.
When Mentorship was first piloted, it was only available to people within select groups focused on parenting and professional & personal development, but it’s being made available to groups of any kind. Groups are great to learn from one another but sometimes you need individualized help.
Here’s how it works:
- Group admins create a mentorship program. Admins can choose from a variety of template programs, such as career advancement, skill development, or encouragement and support, and select the one that best fits their community’s needs.
- People sign up and are matched with their mentor/mentee. Group members can sign up to be a mentor or a mentee, then the group admin will pair people together.
- Pairs are introduced. Pairs can get to know each other and work through program steps in their one-on-one mentorship program on Facebook. They can share and comment on posts there or communicate through Messenger.
Mentors and mentees get step-by-step guidance. The pairs progress through a guided program that encourages them to check in with each other weekly.
Mentorship is built with privacy and safety in mind. All communication between a mentor and mentee is visible only to the pair. People can report issues to Facebook and they have access to the same reporting and blocking features available elsewhere on the platform. Mentorship is only available to people 18 years and older.
What good is having a group or community if you’re not talking to each other? Posts (and their comments) will be the most common form of communication within the group and should be approached with a plan. Develop a content calendar to make daily management & engagement easier and mix up the types of posts in order to keep things interesting.
Various Post Types
Facebook provides so many options to post more than just text, pictures, and videos. Use these features to provide more to and get more from your members.
- Watch Party
- Tag Friends
- Ask for Recommendations
- Check in
- Get Together
- Tag Event
- Support Nonprofit
Each one of these different types of posts is useful in a different way. You can use polls to get people’s opinions on something outside the group or to help you make decisions. Posting or replying using GIFs can be a lot of fun. You can organize a Watch Party to increase the sense of community within the group by everyone watching and commenting on the same video at the same time. Asking for recommendations can not only be valuable to other members, but it can provide exposure to other Pages or businesses.
Some groups require that posts be approved by admins before being published for the rest of the group to see. In certain groups – especially those where controversy may happen frequently – this is a necessity, but if your group is large and active, it can also be an enormous time drain on admins. Being able to pre-approve posts from selected, well-trusted members will save you a ton of time and keep your moderation where you’re needed most.
Groups also offer an Announcements section at the top of the page, which is essentially a pinned post with important information that everyone should see. You can use this for posts that won’t change regularly, like rules & regulations for the group, or you can change it every week depending on the group’s focus. The point is that it’s different and will get better attention, so use that to your advantage to get people to interact with it.
Groups allow admins to upload different types of files that can be downloaded by members. This might include e-books, workbooks, plans, guides, spreadsheets, brand assets, etc. This provides an option for groups to deliver extra items of value that they’ve created and can refer new members to or can refer back to at any point.
Not only is downloading these files a form of engagement, but they can also get their own conversations started. Members can engage with you or with each other to discuss these files (whatever they are) and talk about what they got from them, what they learned, maybe what they’d change, how they’d use them, etc.
During the recent Facebook Community Summit, Facebook announced that the ability to format using markdown (bold, italic, and bulleted text) in Facebook Group posts would be coming soon.
Such formatting will help you differentiate and accentuate the message that you’re trying to get across in a group post and pull attention in both the group feed and members’ news feeds, which draws more attention to your group and to individual posts.
Perhaps the best way to increase the sense of community within a group is to get people to do things together. With regards to sharing content on Facebook, it’s great for someone to share something for everyone to read or watch in their own time, but it has a compounding effect if a bunch of people can consume and comment together at the same time. Similar to how viewers communicate while watching a live video, this communal viewing experience will help foster a sense of community and build relationships.
Hosting a watch party is ridiculously easy. When you’re in your group, go to create a post. You’ll see the option to add a “Watch Party.” Next, you’ll be asked to select a video. Note that these don’t have to be your own videos, they just need to be public videos that you can share with your group. You can search for videos, and add multiple videos to your queue.
Right now, this is a very underutilized feature so it would be a good idea to announce the watch party in a post in advance, letting people know what it is, when it will be, and how to participate. If there’s a specific benefit, like you or another expert being available to answer questions or have a discussion live, let members know that to increase attendance.
This allows you to create course-like content structured in different units. To utilize this feature, you need to set your group as a Social Learning group which you can change in the group’s settings.
Once you create your unit, you can add multiple posts within it. Members will be able to comment on these posts and ask questions, and you can add media to them as well.
On the unit home page, you can add a description to the overall course section, and add more units. Note that you can create multiple units that are part of a set or have one unit for each different type of course. They can be interrelated or standalone. You can also pin regular group posts to a unit if they’re related to that topic and might have some useful info in the post or in its comments.
Admins will be able to see individual members’ progress as they move through the course, so if you use this for your business, you can see how many group members are engaging and get a sense of the quality, value, or difficulty of the material.
Groups have now become an important part of the Facebook experience for over 1.4 billion users – despite Facebook considering only around 200 million of them to be “meaningful” – so it’s no surprise that the company is constantly working on new ways to help admins better invest their time and energy into building and maintaining their communities.
Facebook has created a ton of features to empower admins and enhance the experience for members, group admins, and post creation for both.