Facebook Groups 101: Everything You Need to Know

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I’ve never been one for organized sports. At age five, I played soccer for an entire year without knowing that there was a ball (I thought it was an intense, really long game of tag). In my teens I joined a field hockey team and remember feeling relief whenever I got called off the field and could finally sit down. I also remember the deafening crack of bone after my teammate’s field hockey stick accidentally collided with my cheek.

While the playing of the actual sports was never my thing, being part of a group is something that I wouldn’t have traded. The closest thing in the social media world that replicates those feelings of camaraderie, shared experiences, and support found through a sports team are Facebook groups.

A Facebook group won’t ever ask you to “hustle” or “put down that tub of oranges, Dara.” They are a place for your customers and fans to come together “to organize, express objectives, discuss issues, post photos, and share related content.” If you don’t have a Facebook group for your brand yet, the following guide will help you understand why they’re a good idea and get you started with making the best group you can. Better start cutting up those half-time oranges.

Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to turn Facebook traffic into sales in four simple steps using Hootsuite.

Benefits of Facebook groups

Control

Imagine being able to have complete control over your social media audience and the people interacting with your brand or product. With Facebook Groups, you have this. You can build a group and keep it closed, meaning that members will need to request to join. You are also able to remove people from the group if needed. With a closed group, you can build your brand’s perfect community, and cater to the needs of this audience.

As the admin of the group, you can also approve posts. If you have a particularly outspoken brand ambassador, for example, you can approve or reject posts that they are attempting to share. To do this, Facebook provides the following instructions:

  1. Click “…” in the top-right corner of your group and select Edit Group Settings
  2. Click to check the box next to Post Approval
  3. Click Save at the bottom

You’ll get notified when there are pending posts for you to approve. Once there’s a pending post for you to approve:

  1. Click the check mark to approve the post
  2. Click the ‘x’  to delete the post
  3. Click the do-not-enter symbol  to delete the post and block the member

Keep in mind that any group admin can approve a post.

More organic reach

With more and more competition daily, you may have noticed your organic reach steadily declining. Using Facebook groups can help you get those numbers back up. Since your group will be focused on your brand’s demographic and target audience, the information you share will have a much higher chance of being clicked on and read. When you have a group of already engaged audience members, there’s a much higher probability of them interacting with your content. These are extremely valuable users for you, so ensure the content you are sharing is also beneficial to them.

With evidence that Facebook Groups offer more opportunities for the growth of organic reach, Moz’s Ryan Stewart saw 6,000 organic visits to his site thanks to his Facebook Group. He conducted an experiment where he took a link from his blog and copied it to both his Page (which had 660 Likes) and Group (which had 660 members). The link posted to his Group saw 122 visits to his site, while the link posted to his Page only saw eight visits. With 15 times the traffic seen through the Facebook Group, it’s apparent that the targeted and engaged audience of a group can prove beneficial for your business.

Finding leads

It’s fair to assume that if somebody is joining or requesting to join your brand’s Facebook Group, they have a level of interest in your product or service. On the other hand, if you are a part of industry relevant to a particular Facebook Group you also have the opportunity to share your content there (when appropriate) with interested users.

Some tips for finding leads through Facebook Groups include:

  • Join groups where your target audience is most active
  • Pay attention to the kinds of problems your target customers are voicing on these groups
  • Tailor your posts in these groups to answer these questions and address these pain points
  • Make your business’ contact information easily visible on your Facebook Group, Page, and personal profile
  • Create your own Facebook group for both your industry and your specific brand
  • Post helpful content that addresses your target customers’ needs within these groups (and use it as a customer networking tool, not a peer/colleague networking tool)

Facebook Groups allow you to share your expertise with a highly targeted audience—a surefire way of generating quality leads for your business.

Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to turn Facebook traffic into sales in four simple steps using Hootsuite.

Post-event connections

As a social media or content marketer, you probably attend numerous professional events throughout the year. While networking the old-fashioned way is alright, chances are you don’t keep in touch with most of the connections you make. A great way of ensuring you do keep in contact is by creating a post-event Facebook Group for everyone to connect.

This allows you to continue the conversations, learning opportunities, and networking, without pressure or the empty promise of “We should grab a coffee sometime!” Using a Facebook Group to engage with other like-minded people who you’ve encountered in “real life” is just one of many ways that Groups offer huge opportunities for meaningful connections.

Facebook Groups vs. Facebook Pages

As you think about the many benefits and uses of Facebook Groups, it’s important to remember that while there are definite overlaps, Facebook Pages are a different feature.

Facebook explains the differences between Pages and Groups by saying “Pages allow real organizations, businesses, celebrities, and brands to communicate broadly with people who like them. Pages may only be created and managed by official representatives. Groups provide a space for people to communicate about shared interests. Groups can be created by anyone.”

While Pages are definitely great for more general and far-reaching business and brand communication, Groups offer a more intimate and targeted connection experience for users. In the name of quality over quantity, Facebook Groups have an advantage. Facebook provides more details on how Groups and Pages differ with the following list:

Pages

  • Privacy: Page information and posts are public and generally available to everyone on Facebook.
  • Audience: Anyone can like a Page to connect with it and get News Feed updates. There is no limit to how many people can like a Page.
  • Communication: People who help manage a Page can publish posts as the Page. Page posts can appear in the News Feeds of people who like the Page. Page owners can also create customized apps for their Page and check Page Insights to track the Page’s growth and activity.

Groups

  • Privacy: In addition to a public setting, more privacy settings are available for groups. In secret and closed groups, posts are only visible to group members.
  • Audience: You can adjust group privacy to require members to be approved or added by admins. When a group reaches a certain size, some features are limited. The most useful groups tend to be the ones you create with small groups of people you know.
  • Communication: In groups, members receive notifications by default when any member posts in the group. Group members can participate in chats, upload photos to shared albums, collaborate on group docs, and invite members who are friends to group events.

How to start a Facebook Group

You now know some great uses for Facebook groups, but it might be a good idea to actually know how to create a group.

Facebook has a thorough guide on their site, and provides this set of instructions for creating your own group:

  1. From your home page, go to the Groups section on the left side menu and click Create Group.
  2. Click + Create New Group at the top of the page. A window will appear, where you’ll be able to add a group name, add members and select the privacy settings for your group.
  3. Click Create when you’re done.

Once the group is created, you’ll be taken to the group. To get started, click *  at the top right of the group and select Edit Group Settings. From here you can add a group description, tags, set a group email address and add a group picture.

Now that you have your own Facebook group, you’re going to need to customize your group profile to ensure it’s recognizable to your customers and prospects. Upload an on-brand header image, write an appropriate group description and include tags to make it more searchable. It’s also a good idea to write up a post that you can pin to the top of the group outlining rules and what your community is all about. Why did you create the group? What are you hoping people get out of it? Describe these things in your pinned post.

You can also play with the Facebook group’s privacy settings.

The different types of Facebook groups

When creating your group, you will have noticed that you were able to choose from three types of groups: Open, Closed, and Secret. Open groups are public, meaning they are discoverable and viewable by anyone. Anyone can also see who the members of the group are.

A closed group is one where any Facebook user can request to join or be invited by another member. For example, the deservedly popular Facebook group Cool Dog Group requires interested individuals to request access, as the admins want to make sure everyone applying is in it for the right reasons (cool dogs, duh). As the creator of a branded or professional industry-related Facebook group, the ability to manage the membership of your group is invaluable.

And a private or secret group is, well, secret. These groups are not discoverable through a regular Facebook search, and require members to be added or invited by another member. Only current and former members can see the group’s name, members, posts, tags, and stories about the group on Facebook. If your group is one that you’d like utmost control over, and which contains sensitive information, set your group as private.

While you can screen members, there’s always a chance that someone will misstep and act inappropriately. To keep the integrity and value of your Facebook group, one of the most important things you’ll need to know is how to remove disrespectful members. From their guide to groups, Facebook provides the following instructions:

Only an admin can remove or block a member from a group. To remove or block a member:

  1. Click Members at the top of your group
  2. Find the member you want to remove
  3. Click *  next to the member’s name and select Remove from Group
  4. Click to check the box next to Block Permanently to block a member you’re removing
  5. Click Confirm

Note: Only admins will see appear next to group members’ names. Keep in mind only admins can remove or block group members.

Removed members will have to request to join the group again if they wish to rejoin. Blocked members won’t be able to find the group in search or see any of its content, and they can’t be added to the group again by members.

If the user has redeemed themselves, you also have the option of accepting them back into your group.

To remove a block you’ve put on someone:

  1. Click Members at the top of your group
  2. Click Blocked at the top
  3. Click Remove Block next to the person’s name

Recognizing the basic admin features of Facebook groups, there are some best practices and tips that can help you actually make your group a valuable resource and community.

Facebook group tips and ideas

Engage consistently

You wouldn’t create a branded Twitter account and then abandon it, and a Facebook group is no different. Ensure you are creating and sharing valuable content on a regular basis. Pose questions to the group, offer your expertise, and facilitate discussions. Make sure you are sharing a variety of content including video, images, articles, and influencer posts to keep your group members engaged.

Respond quickly to any questions or comments posted in the group to build trust and prove the value. Show your members that you’re dedicated and truly care about the connections being made in the Facebook group, and you’re sure to see payoffs in the form of highly engaged audience and enriched business relationships.

User-generated content

A moderated Facebook group is a community. When members know they’re in a safe and regulated space, they’re more likely to share. Ask your group members to share their favorite relevant content, give you feedback, or spark discussions. Encourage members to upload videos and images they find interesting, and make sure that you’re commenting on and liking what they share.

There is also an area to create and upload documents within a Facebook group, which can be a great place for you to get your members to contribute important information. It can be hard to find content that was posted in the past, so the documents can be a great resource for organizing popular information and keeping it in a consolidated, easy-to-find location. Facebook group documents are also helpful for collaboration. Encourage your group members to create documents within the group and collaborate on projects, brainstorms, or anything else. This will further establish your group as a place where ideas can flourish, and connections can be made.  

Create polls

As a way of engaging your members and finding out their thoughts, try posting polls to your Facebook group. Choose questions relevant to your industry or brand, and pay attention to the responses you get. If your Facebook group consists of your customers, polls make it extremely easy to gauge their opinions on your product and the pain points they are experiencing. This is social listening—and a chance to get the attention of your group members.

Your Facebook group is only as good as the members it has, so keep this in mind when creating and managing your online community. Groups offer the opportunity for deep and meaningful relationships to form, and the benefits of this can be felt for years to come—without the pain of forced organized childhood sports.

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