As Facebook Groups weren’t used that much back in the days, I’m just going to talk about them beginning with 2015. Even though it’s been only 3 years, I really feel there is a much higher level of attention directed to Facebook Groups. In 2015, as I remember and know (correct me if I’m wrong), people were not using Facebook Groups as a marketing tool. Or were not using it so much. Facebook started to really focus on groups just recently. So let’s see how things improved and which are the new Facebook Groups feature you can use.
Old Times – Facebook Groups
Remember how group post looked like in 2015? Here’s a screenshot:
Since I started using them, back in 2010, I didn’t even think that you can actually use Facebook Groups for marketing purposes. People were really into Facebook Ads and all of their new features. Facebook Groups were kind of left behind. And, at least in my area, people are still using them just to form communities of people (finding information about traffic, selling clothes, trading goods etc.).
Back in 2010-2011, there was no Facebook Messenger. So the only way to communicate more efficiently with a group of friends was by using a Facebook Group. Almost every birthday party had a Facebook Group. We were able to see exactly who’s coming, we were sharing photos, directions and all of that. Afterward, we started using Facebook Events for this kind of thing.
But we kept using Facebook Groups just for us, for small communities. I, myself, was an avid user of Facebook Groups; I was using them solely for school. All of my group classes had a Facebook Group (in high school and in college) in which we were announcing different news, sharing courses, asking details about classes etc. I don’t remember when this trend of using Facebook Groups for larger communities started; maybe just around 2015-2016 (I am referring to my area now).
Facebook Groups were very simple to use and didn’t have many features:
- receive notifications;
- pin posts;
- create events;
- upload files;
- create files;
- basic posts;
- group chats.
[Group chats was a feature that let you invite specific members of your group into a chat. I heard that this feature still exists, and only groups smaller than 250 members have it.]
Still, there are many groups created 3-4 years ago, that are now very popular. Check some of them here. Those were the early adopters; they saw the opportunity right away and they took it. Of course, some of them succeeded, some of them didn’t (and those groups look super disorganized, and have a lot of spam).
Features of Facebook Groups – 2016-2017
The new Facebook features and UX are implemented in Facebook Groups, too. This is the period when groups really started to evolve in terms of what you can do with them. More features added, meant more usability in every domain. Let’s take a look into some of the most popular ones, that are still present today.
One of the most important features of Facebook is that you can add photos to your post. It’s well-used in both personal profiles and in Business Pages. Visuals are great to catch people’s attention and to make them remember what they read. To make things a bit easier for everyone, Facebook added the feature of editing photos right when you are posting them.
They implemented this into Facebook Groups as well. Which for small group owner it’s a great feature. When they’re in a hurry, they can:
- add some text, and choose from 5 fonts; quickly write their announcement, a quote or just a short description of the photo they’re posting; they can also change the color of the text;
- add a filter;
- add stickers, to brighten up the mood;
- crop the photo;
- tag people.
This feature can actually be useful even for bigger groups. As an admin, you have to create some engagement and keep a happy and relaxed mood. Try to make use of this feature, and maybe create some funny posts? Or just save your precious time; you won’t have to use a special tool just to add some text or a filter to your photo.
Create Photo/Video Albums
Another feature is that you can create photo or video albums. For those who like things to be organized, this is nirvana (or almost)! From a marketer’s point of view, this can be helpful because it will make its Facebook Group look professional. Create albums based on the topic of the photos or videos. If you happen to be training your members with the help of videos, you can upload them all in one album, by subject; members and new ones will find them more easily.
Moving on, I mentioned above that you are able to upload files in your group, and even create ones right there. Want a successful Facebook Group? Use of this feature, too. Upload here whatever you believe it is important for your members. If you have e-books, guides or other resources, upload them here. Again, an organized group is a professional one.
Besides, uploading files just became easier: you don’t have to post the file whenever you modify it; just find the original file, and click on “Upload new version”. How about efficiency now?
There are a lot of uses for the files section. Many admins used this to write the group’s rules [Now you can use the special Create Rules section]. If you are organizing a contest, you can easily upload here the Terms & Conditions. Any kind of file you have and think it will help you members, upload it.
Besides, I told you that you can even create a file right in the Facebook Group. It’s super easy and it looks pretty good. You just saved more time!
Types of Facebook Groups
OK, so these were the old Facebook Groups features improved in 2017. Now let’s talk a bit about the new features that appeared in 2017. One of the features I enjoy the most is the one that lets you choose a specific type of Facebook Group. No, I’m not talking about the types based on privacy. I’m talking about the ones that can really help you to put a pin on what your group is about.
Selecting one of these will make your group more visible to the right people. Because this feature goes hand in hand with the “Search for other groups” one. Let me explain. These are the group types you can choose from:
- Buy and Sell (special features);
- Close Friends;
- Events and plans;
- Video Games (special features);
- School or Class;
- Study Group;
- Social Learning (special features);
This is the new search page.
As you can see, Facebook indexed all of the groups and separated them into categories. It’s mostly like searching on Pinterest: write a keyword, then select whatever category Pinterest suggests, to get closer to the result you want.
So isn’t this a good feature for a marketer? It is! As it helps you organically reach more members who are searching for a group to join. And maybe that group is yours!
Not to mention that there are three special types: Buy and Sell, Video Games and Social Learning. Each one of them brings new features to the group. You can’t find or use these features in other types of groups. I didn’t even see them in my personal profile if you were somehow wondering. I explained a bit more about each of them right in this article.
Another Facebook feature that also appeared in Facebook Groups is Live Videos. Everybody is doing them right now, and I don’t think they will disappear so soon from the “trend”. You can definitely use Live Videos to create more engagement in your group, therefore to have a successful Facebook Group. This feature can be a bit harder to use if you have a big group with all kinds of people in. But if you have a well-organized group, related to your business, and which has only people who are really interested in what you are selling/sharing/promoting, then I strongly advise you to use it.
It’s great that you can share these Live Videos through APIs, as well. This can help you reach more people, therefore potential new members.
You can find more about how to create Live Videos in Facebook Groups, here.
Linking Facebook Groups
Two cool Facebook Group features are linking your Facebook Page and linking other groups. It is obvious that if you have a business, you have a Facebook Page for it. If you link your Facebook Page to your group, your group will appear in your Facebook Page and vice-versa. Recently, I actually saw that on your Facebook Page you receive a small highlight, that encourages you to create a group for your Page (but this is a 2018 feature).
Regarding this subject, some have experienced some drops in post visibility after they linked their group to their Page. They said that they didn’t have so many members that saw the post in their group. Others said they didn’t experience this. I will leave this up to you; test and decide what is best for your Page and for your Facebook Group. Still, this can be related to something that I’m writing a bit later on.
So about linking other groups to yours, this can be very well interpreted as Facebook Subgroups. If your business is big enough, and you have enough subjects to tackle, you can create a big group (named after your business) and then create others (maybe smaller ones) that are more niche-based. You don’t have to be scared of managing that many groups; just have a moderator in each of them to help you with member requests, post-approval and so on. You just think about the content you’ll be offering them!
On the other side, people coming to your Facebook Page will see your Facebook Group. They could think that you are really involved and that you really care about your community of customers. Which is a great thought, that will make them join your group, and later even become a loyal customer.
New Facebook Groups Features in 2018
This year started out with some news regarding the Facebook Algorithm. Our news feeds were to start to focus on our friends’ posts, rather than mixing them so much with Pages’ posts. Facebook Groups would still be in front because they are community-based. Now hold on this idea and add the one I mentioned earlier (about admins who saw a drop in groups’ posts views). Could it be that Facebook thought this through? Well, it could be, of course.
Maybe they knew that some of the business will start to create Facebook Groups linked to their Facebook Page, just to be able to continue to post there; and to continue to appear in their followers’ newsfeeds. Most of the members of a group don’t have the group notification on; they see the posts right in their newsfeed. Perhaps this is why it is possible to see some dropdowns in post visibility if you are connecting your page to your group.
Mark Z. said that they will focus more on Facebook Groups, to make them more community like. That’s why they implemented this year some really cool features
The newest feature I saw is the Get-Together option. You can find it the Discussion Tab, right in the post input area:
This new feature allows you and your members to quickly arrange a meeting of all sorts. And that meeting will be face-to-face. I was actually mentioned in one of my last articles that you can create an event and actually meet your group’s members. Is Facebook reading my articles?! Of course not, they had it coming long ago. Back to where we were, now it’s a lot easier to organize a quick meet-up.
There are 4 things you have to do: click on Get Together, choose a date for your meeting, choose a location, and write something about it. This is how you will see it in the group:
This is how others will see it in the group (on a mobile device):
Everyone that wants to come to your gathering, will have to hit attend, as you can see it pretty much looks like an ordinary event (on mobile).
Brick and mortar businesses can make use of this feature by choosing a day when to invite its customers to their locations. They could see with their own eyes how is your business going. You can talk to them and find out great knowledge about how are they as customers: what do they like, how they think you should improve and so on. Especially if you have a B2B: you don’t own a shop, you just have your offices (and maybe a warehouse or a production area). Why not invite your group members to meet you in person? They will appreciate this kind of involvement, for sure.
I don’t want to limit your ideas in any way, so whatever type of event you think will work, do it! You can even organize more than one get together. Maybe all of the new customers (new members of the group) should benefit from an Office/Business Visit, while for those that already did this, you can do something else. Maybe a training, or some activities in nature.
Of course, other types of businesses can do some great togethers. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a shop or offices to bring your customers to. Invite them to the park, meet them at near-by events in your town. Maybe go to a book launch? Any activity that will help them meet you and vice-versa will bring you success. And yes, this means commitment and involvement from your part. It means that you should really have the desire to meet people and to communicate with them. If you are interested in forming a genuine connection with your group, you’re good to go!
Another recent feature is the Support Charity one. I’ve seen that people are using this kind of post more and more. They help other people by raising money, and they kind of help the society by bringing awareness about some issues.
The fact that you have this feature in your group, means that you can use it to let people know that you, as a freelancer/company, are also involved. Not for fame, just to let people know that you have a heart and you desire to do good. As I mentioned above, you can actually set your group type to Charity. But if this doesn’t go with your type of business, then you can simply choose the Support Charity in the Discussion Tab:
There is a catch, though. You can just choose whatever person you have in mind that you know needs help. You can only choose from acknowledged organizations, as you can see below:
This limits your possibilities, as maybe the organization or the person you want to help are not on the list. But still, there are plenty of world organizations that always need help from people. This type of engagement will bring only the good in your groups’ members. Still, try to not make those that don’t want to donate (or don’t have the possibility) feel bad about themselves, or feel obligated to donate. Emphasize that this is not your interest.
This is one feature that’s only for you, the admin of the Facebook Group. What can you do with this? It’s a way of knowing if your group is alive. You can find the Group Insights tab in the left part of your window. See the picture below:
So you can see the following 3 major metrics, with their own details:
- Number of new members in the last 28 days
- the chart to see the growth of your group in the last 7/28/60 days. You can Choose custom an go back almost 2 years ago;
- The number of posts, comments, and reactions in the last 28 days
- the chart to see the growth of posts, comments, and reactions in the last 7/28/30 days. Each of the activity has its own tab;
- Top Contributors:
- here you can see the most active persons in your group, in the last 28 days.
You can download the data for each metric, choosing from an Excel file (.xls) or a Comma Separated one (.csv). This is how it should appear (.xls file)
Now all of these metrics aren’t just numbers. It may take a bit of a time to do this, but try to check things out. Make connections and maybe write them in your downloaded file. For example, there is a bigger engagement on a specific day. Go in your group and search for the posts from that day. Write down what worked, and what didn’t.
Same for new members growth. Perhaps you promoted your group one day, therefore you had a spike. But maybe you didn’t. Try to find out what’s bringing out new members and when.
Regarding the Top Contributors, I can suggest you shout them out. Give them a prize, make them feel appreciated for all of the work there are put in commenting and posting in your group. Of course, verify (again) what they posted and commented because you don’t want to congratulate someone that just wrote an “Up” to a bunch of posts.
All of these actions will lead to a successful Facebook Group. You just have to stick with them and put a bit of an effort. Once you “crack the code” on what your community likes, your work will be far more easier and less time-consuming.
Mark as Announcement
Did you hear about this? Pin post has just evolved into Mark as Announcement. How will this help you? Well, pinning a post meant that you can only pin ONE post. So if you had more important things to pin down, you would have been able to pin them one at a time. Also, I myself have experienced this: in the Facebook app, in the group, the pinned post was hidden under the name “See Pinned Post”. So many members didn’t see it, causing confusion.
With the Mark as Announcement feature, you can mark down more posts.
They will appear at the top of your group, under the name Announcements. In this category, the post will be prioritized in this way: “members will see the most recent unread announcement at the top of the group”. You can still Pin the most important Announcement to the Top:
This is how everything will appear in the Facebook app:
This feature is now available for all group types. Here’s how to find it. Go to the Edit Group Setting, and scroll down to find the checkbox for Sections. This will enable the learning units. You can find more about them right here.
I’m here to say that I think you don’t have to have a teaching&learning business to use these. You can even have a B2B company or a website with graphic designs or a clothes store. These units will help you to better teach your community about specific things related to your domain. So if you have a Facebook Group for Clothing and Fashion, use the units to teach members about fashion.
Learning Units are like online courses. You can add files, add media, add a bunch of text. Each Unit represents a category, more so. In each category, you will write new posts, just as you would in the Discussion Tab. You will have all the features from normal posts (edit, mark as announcement, save, notifications etc.) along with some special ones (move up, move down, remove post from Unit, make post optional etc.).
After members have interacted with the unit (and posts within it), they can hit the “I’m Done” button. The admin will now know the status of each unit, by going to Group Insights. Enabling Learning Units will add something to Insights:
You can even see exactly the members that interacted and completed the units.
Helping your community learn will make them trust you more. Basically, everything you do inside your group has the biggest impact on your business. Providing helpful resources and letting them know that you are involved and you don’t just want to sell them something, will help you have a professional and successful Facebook Group.
So these are the newest features I wanted to talk about now, to show you how much Facebook Groups have changed along the years and how can you use these features to grow your business.
Yes, there is still some new features I didn’t mention here, but I’ll leave them for another article. I’m sure that next week/month there will be other new features available, so pay attention!
Finally, keep in mind that not everyone uses Facebook Groups for growing their business, so do it now until it’s not too late. Be the one that always uses the new features!
Featured photo is made with the help of Freepik.