Facebook announced earlier this year that they are putting ‘Groups at the center of Facebook’. Which essentially means that Facebook’s algorithm will be giving preference to Groups over Pages.
In the April 2019 F8 conference Mark Zuckerberg said: “Groups are now at the heart of the experience just as much as your friends and family are”. That means Groups may get equal (or almost equal) importance as the personal newsfeed. Which is a big deal, especially for an organization that wants to reach people on Facebook, but finds it so difficult with the newsfeed always being crowded with personal news and ads from sponsored posts.
With all this hype and news about Groups, everyone (understandably) wants to open a Facebook Group. (You should see my Groups invite list!)
Does that mean you should also focus on Facebook Groups?
- Have you thought about whether Facebook Groups fits with your overall plan?
- Are you wanting to be part of it because you don’t want to miss an opportunity?
- Are you being pressurized by the fact that others are doing it and you are not? FOMO (Fear of missing out) is a real thing.
Here is how I see it personally.
Any trend is worthy of consideration only if it aligns with my God-given purpose.
Otherwise, it is just good to know. I listen to it, acknowledge it, add it to my future projects, make a note of it (in case I need to come back to it) and I keep moving.
I recommend the same to you, do not focus on something just because everyone is doing it. On the other hand, do something if you think it works for you, even if no one else is doing it.
Coming to Facebook Groups, let us discuss the 5 factors that you need to consider before making an investment of time, effort and resources.
Factors to consider before setting up a Facebook Group
1. Audience: Is my community active on Facebook?
The two keywords here are ‘community’ and ‘active’.
You may know that your audience (or church congregation) is on Facebook, but do you know how active they are? Do you also know that if they would they prefer the community that you are planning to build, to be on Facebook or would they prefer it if it was on your own website? Would they want the privacy and comfort of knowing that it is not on a commercial site like Facebook? Think about that.
Even though Facebook is a powerful platform and building your community there has many advantages, as you can see in the article I have linked here, they are still an ‘external‘ site with a commercial interest. In many nonprofit situations, people prefer being in an environment or website that is under the control of the ministry or nonprofit that they have come to know, like and trust.
2. Purpose: How does a Facebook Group fit into my overall social media plan?
If you choose to build your community on Facebook, spend time discussing with your team on how this will fit in with your overall social media plan. What purpose will this serve? How will it benefit your audience? How will it help you accomplish your goal?
For example, Churches can use Facebook Groups very effectively to bring various communities with shared interest like Sports ministry, Men’s group, etc. Your church staff or admin can easily manage the activities of each group and minister to them.
3. Operations: Who will manage the group? How much time should I allocate?
Operational questions are crucial to the success of Facebook Groups. Unlike Facebook Pages, where people don’t expect much interactions, Groups are where people expect questions to be answered, problems to be solved and response to be quick.
So, if you do not plan well, in the early days, even if people join your group they will soon see the lack of response and leave or ignore it (which can impact your algorithmic ranking).
Think about who will manage the group? Is it going to be volunteers or staff? Will you provide them guidelines? Who will oversee it? How much time should they allocate for this activity?
4. Content: What is my exclusive content plan for the group?
You cannot post the same thing on your Facebook page and your Facebook group. Because in most cases, you will be sharing the same content to the same set of people. Even if they are a different group of people, you need to ask yourself, “why should they get this content from this closed group, instead of from my public page?“
I recommend that you have a specific content plan for your groups. To make it less overwhelming you can start with a weekly live stream of Q&A and then add to the content list as you go along. See my Q&A as an example.
5. ROI: What outcome do I expect as a return for investing in a group?
What is the outcome you expect out of the effort and time you are about to spend on Facebook Groups? And how are you planning to measure it?
Some of the outcomes you could expect are increased community engagement, solved support-tickets, better trust levels for your brand, etc. Building a strong community will also help you spread the word when you have events and launches. So that could be an outcome to expect.
Once you answer these questions, you will have clarity on how Facebook Groups fits into your social media strategy.
If you feel like it does not fit very well, then move on. Do not focus on something you don’t feel right about. There are many ways you can build your online community and Facebook Groups may not be for you.
And that is totally fine.
Let me know if you have specific questions related to Facebook Groups (or additional thoughts). Leave your comment below or ping me with a DM.
Stay connected. Stay blessed.