“On January 11th, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would be changing its news feed algorithm to prioritize content from ‘friends, family and groups.’
As the changes roll out over the next few months, businesses will most likely see a significant decrease in organic reach.
According to Zuckerberg, “meaningful interaction” means comments, comments, and more comments.
In his announcement, he wrote that ’Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.’
This means brands should create quality content focused on sparking conversations between users. Try including questions in your posts, or write about timely, relevant topics that users are sure to have an opinion on.”
Facebook groups are a great way to combat Facebook changes to business visibility, whereby only paid business posts will be shown to new users.
There are three types of Facebook group:
- Public - anyone can see the group, its members and their posts.
- Closed - anyone can find the group and see who's in it. Only members can see the posts.
- Secret - Only members can find the group and see posts.
Aim to maximise engagement from the start
It’s much easier to get engagement on a Facebook group than on a Facebook business page, and the more engagement you get, the more people it will show to – playing Facebook’s algorithm to your advantage (and assuming the group is set to ‘public’). This will work over time to naturally encourage other Facebook users to join the group, as group posts will show to the friends and family of your current group members.
However, it’s important not to ask simple questions to get more engagement, as this can quickly become ‘spammy’. A typical example of this might be “let’s count to 1,000”, whereby members of the group then comment 1 – 1,000 below the post, trying not to comment the same number as the person before. Whilst this is a great way to build comments really quickly, it’s not quality engagement and won’t see Facebook user’s coming back again and again to engage.
Instead, it’s more about building a community that trusts you and interacts with you about a topic surrounding your business.
How do I start a group to encourage regular engagement?
To start a group, it’s important to regularly interact. Write a post - twice a day if need be - read the comments, and engage with the comments to build that relationship. It’s important to be consistent to encourage people to get into the habit of interacting with you on a daily basis – people are creatures of habit! Imagine you’re on a TV show and the people in your group are your audience. This will help to ask entertaining questions to the audience.
It’s particularly important in the early days to be the model member for your own group, starting conversations, setting the pace, interacting with members. You will need to jump on to what people are talking about, then offer advice and perhaps a video. The early days of starting a Facebook group are known for being an uphill struggle, but it’s well worth the effort once a quality group is established.
How big should my Facebook group be? Surely the bigger the better?
Research has shown that smaller groups are generally better than bigger groups, and you should aim to grow to group to ~5,000 in a year. No matter how large your group is, it’s worth noting that as a group admin you will need to educate the people in the group on how to interact as your numbers grow. You will also need to consider the size of the group in relation to what you’re trying to achieve.
To put it simply, it’s much better to have 1,000 fans than 100,000 people that’s aren’t interested. Organic groups that grow slower are, for that exact reason, more beneficial, and as you grow, you will need to grow the engagement as well. Be careful of growing a large group to become a ‘fire hose’ of activity without moderation - you will need to recruit admins, and you’ll perhaps need to start to approve posts before they appear on the group to ensure they’re the right type of content.
How can a Facebook group work for my business?
Example business – Online gardening retailer
Aim: To encourage repeat sales from current customers
- Invite people to the Facebook group by sending an invite in your email newsletter, putting the link at the bottom of every newsletter. You could also have a website address within your domain redirect to the Facebook group on the website.
- To move people from the current business Facebook page to the new Facebook group, there are a few tricks you can try. The most popular, and arguably the most effective, would be to start content on the page and finish it in the group. The Facebook business page can continue as it is, posting promotions and offers etc, but the group needs to be chattier, perhaps exchanging information, or perhaps the only place for Facebook live videos.
- Work on engagement, asking members to talk about their gardens, newsworthy related topics, tips and tricks etc. whilst always being ready to swoop in with helpful advice.
If the group is set to ‘public’, it could also encourage new customers by showing group posts to the friends and families of those already interacting in the Facebook group.
Example business – Paid subscription chat forum
Aim: Recruit new members for a paid subscription chat forum
- The group will need to be set to public.
- Paid Facebook campaigns can be used to get people to sign up to the Facebook group, especially in the early stages – targeting people interested in the type of chat forum the website offers.
- You will need to be your own best Facebook group member in the early days to set the pace for engagement.
There are plenty of successful examples for moving a free community (Facebook) to a paid community (chat forum). The idea is that you’re selling community to a community – so you already know the audience in the group is interested in what the website has to offer. It’s been shown to be a great way of getting new users to sign up to another site.
If you have any questions about Facebook Groups and how they could benefit your business’s social media presence, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.