Facebook Groups: How to Build a Robust Online Community
Now more than ever, people need social media. Facebook groups is a powerful way for you to help fill this need while also building an online community that supports your brand and mission.
A Facebook group is different from a Facebook page—which you might already have to showcase your business or brand. A page is brand-focused and outward-facing and its core intent is to advertise and promote. A Facebook group is an interactive place where like-minded or like-motivated people come together to connect and chat. As a brand owner or Facebook business manager, groups are your key to building your online network while fulfilling people’s desire for online connection.
Why Groups Matter
A meaningful group can boost your organic reach. Mark Zuckerberg has been prioritizing the growth of the Facebook groups feature. In summer 2019, Facebook announced, “we have updated our algorithm to prioritize the pages and groups that we predict an individual may care about most.” That means if you have a group that your users engage with, Facebook will reward you by increasing your visibility.
Facebook is where people are connecting and networking. The Adobe Side Hustle Report found that Facebook is the leading social media platform for side hustling entrepreneurs. “Build a Facebook group and post in it one to two times per day,” suggested Roberto Blake, social media expert. As an example, “post in the morning and then again after working hours if you’re building a professional group.” Facebook groups have some of the biggest payoff in terms of engagement.
Create a Facebook group to place yourself at the core of a community. This can establish your brand or business as a trusted leader in your field. Be sure to use the Facebook Group Insights feature to tailor your activity and posts to your audience’s behavior. This ensures you meet the needs of your community (and get boosted visibility from the algorithm).
Types of Facebook Groups
If you’re reading this, you likely want to build a Facebook group that aligns with your brand or product. If you’re a small business or brand, consider what your audience cares about. Then build a brand-aligned group where you can add value to the community while also positioning yourself as a trusted thought leader. This may mean creating a group directly associated with your company, and it may mean creating a group for like-minded people to network together.
As an example, if you’re a small shop that builds custom mountain bikes, you might not get a huge group following if you create a group all about your bikes. However, if you make a Facebook group for gearheads and trail riders and encourage members to share bike hacks, tails they love, and biking tips, you’ll get far more traction. To start a group, follow the example of those who’ve come before you. Here are three groups that are leading with style.
- Group Admin: Adobe Spark
- Stats: 17,000+ members, created 2016
- Key takeaways: Build a group for highly engaged product users who provide you critical product feedback, while also serving as default brand ambassadors. Reward them with insider access and beta testing of features
- Group Admin: Condé Nast Traveler, a luxury travel magazine
- Stats: 151,000 members, created 2017. Post engagement is often between 100-1,500 comments per post. Highly engaged, member-created content and member-driven conversation
- Key takeaways: Build a brand-aligned group that sparks passion in your target audience and also positions you as a leader in that field
- Group Admin: Cat Howell Marketing Agency
- Stats: 137,000 members, created 2016
- Key takeaways: Build a group that offers help and education to a specific audience. Newcomers will find answers and industry vets will provide expertise
Need to Know Deets
Fortunately, it’s not hard to create a Facebook group. You can create your group from your Facebook page to keep your brand aligned. Or create a group as an individual. Whether you choose to create your group as an individual user or from your company page, it’s important to think through privacy settings and community guidelines before hitting publish.
Public vs. Private, What’s the Deal?
Similar to the privacy settings on your Facebook profile, your Facebook group has visibility settings. Group admins can only change group privacy settings once every 28 days, so consider your options before committing. There are two types of groups: public and private, and two types of settings for private groups—visible and hidden. Here’s what you need to know:
- Public = Anyone can search for, find, read posts, and see member list
- Private = Only group members can see posts and member list
- Private + Visible = any person can search for and find a group either through keywords, friends who are members, or searching for the group name directly. Only members can see posts and member list
- Private + Hidden = only existing members or people invited to join the group will be able to find the group, see posts, or see member list
Whether you have a public or private group, you can use admin controls to manage who joins your groups. One way to do this is to control membership approval in your settings. Group admins and moderators can manually approve or decline each membership request. However, if you have membership into the thousands, this manual process can be too time-consuming.
One strategy is to set up membership pre-approvals in settings by uploading a spreadsheet with all the emails you want to be pre-approved. Another option to keep your group public but filter out spammy behavior with pending member questions. These questions serve as a gate to let people in who take the time to answer and to keep people (and bots) out that do not.
Community Guidelines: Gotta Have ‘Em
We all know that Facebook can be a rowdy place, even when people have the best of intentions. To stave off potential drama, consider your community guidelines before starting a group. Community guidelines let people know how they can behave and they provide safe structure for all your members to engage. They also permit you, as the group admin, to regulate based on pre-existing guidelines. That way members won’t feel picked on or singled out if you ask them to stop doing something.
Community guidelines can ecompass how people should engage with each other, what members are allowed to post, and more. Here are some examples:
- No discriminatory language—only kind communication is welcome here
- Don’t promote your products or sell your services. This group is to share information and experience with one another. Links to personal blogs are welcome
- Please post related to our group topic of (bikes, travel, social media—whatever your group is about)
- We reserve the right to remove posts that go against the guidelines
- Members who consistently choose not to follow guidelines will be kindly removed
Any guidelines are okay! This is your group and you make the rules. That said, try to be friendly about your guidelines, you want people to want to be part of your community.
Get the Conversation Started
Once your group is set up, you want your members to engage. This isn’t about the admin posting content while members passively consume. Your group gets more play the more your members comment, post, and participate. Once you have 50 members or more, you can even award member activity with badges. Even better, when your group starts to blossom, you can select member superstars to help moderate.
Until your membership is really rolling, meaning they care about the group, they spend time looking at posts, they answer prompts, and create their own posts—it’s up to you to get the party started. Try using Adobe Spark to make graphic quotes, collage photos, and other eye-catching content. Here are a few ideas for conversation starter posts, keeping in mind they are for very different groups:
- Networking group: What business advice would you go back and give yourself 20 years ago?
- Freelancer’s group: Post a photo of your pet if you co-work with an animal from home
- Yoga group: What pose are you working on this week and why do you like it?
- Food-focused group: What’s your favorite tweak that you’ve made to a popular recipe?
- Photography group: What’s your preferred camera for shooting outdoor weddings?
- Travel group: If you could have a one-way ticket to anywhere, where would it be and why?
Ready to start your Facebook group? Hone your idea, determine the audience you’ll attract, come up with a name, outline community guidelines, then create your group. Be sure to tag #AdobeSpark when you post content creations to your members!