We Can No Longer Ignore Facebook Groups
When Facebook changed its algorithm to prioritize meaningful interactions, it hit Page managers hard, to say the least. Since the change, some Pages reach around 1% of their fans and followers organically. Further, as Chase mentioned in a previous blog, “people are gravitating toward smaller circles of likeminded people.” They’re forming communities, like Facebook Groups, in response to privacy concerns, cyber bullying and more. As Page managers, our team knew we needed to start considering Groups as a new way to engage with CSU’s Facebook audience. The question over the last year has been: What does that look like for CSU?
Many brands have jumped onto “Grouping,” offering recipes, exclusive sales and tips from pros. But it appears (through my limited research) the adoption of Groups has been slower for universities. I have three theories as to why. First, many manager already created Groups before Facebook allowed Pages to create Groups, and those Groups are now thriving. For example, CSU has an active and engaged Group for parents and families of CSU students. Would it be a mistake to create a new Group that competes with this established Group? Second, universities don’t have as many recipes or exclusive sales for their audiences. Sure, discounted tuition would be an awesome offer for Groups but as we all know, that’s unrealistic. Third, university audiences are vast and diverse. It’s safe to say Yeti’s followers all love and have likely purchased their coolers. They would likely join a Yeti Group for the same reason: deals, tips, advice, etc. However, a CSU parent would have a much different reason to join a CSU Group than a student would.
Inspiration for Groups
Again, my research has been very limited and I’m sure there are many brands doing super innovative things with Groups. But, here are a few brands I think are “Grouping” well.
University of Michigan
Michigan was one of the only universities I found (during my quick search) who has created Groups. Recognizing that its audience is very diverse, Michigan created two separate Groups: one for parents and one for students. Segmenting the audience by their relationship with the university allows for deeper connection within the Group. Michigan’s Groups are also private, which protects the members from spam and non-students/parents.
I love how Denver7 utilizes one of its Groups, Our Colorado | Through Your Eyes. The Group encourages Colorado residents and visitors to post their pictures of Colorado. Both professional and amateur photographers submit pictures and Group members bond over their love for Colorful Colorado. The genius part, however, is that Denver7 incentivizes members to post pictures with the promise of sharing some of the photos on air and its social media accounts. Who doesn’t want a few seconds of fame on television? This is a brilliant way to gather UGC in a way that rewards your brand and its audience.
The cycling business has a huge Group (190,000 members!) limited to official Peloton members, and Peloton takes an innovative approach to managing the Group. Peloton has dedicated community managers within the Group who start conversations about instructors, fitness goals and gear. Starting a Group is somewhat daunting. (“Great, ANOTHER community to manage.”) But asking dedicated employees who are passionate about a brand to help manage the community is quite genius.
Peloton has also further segmented its audience by creating two other Groups: one for moms and another for its UK members. If you’re seeing a theme, you aren’t alone. Micro-communities in social media mean creating meaningful Groups based on interests and relationships with the brand. Groups are not just a subset of a Facebook Page. Offer Group members something new and beneficial. Don’t just create a Group as an attempt to beat Facebook’s algorithm.
Group Best Practices
Here are a few tips to maximize Groups:
If you manage social media for a brand, you know people aren’t always nice to one another. Set rules from the beginning, and share them with the Group. Let the members know that if the rules aren’t followed, they could be removed from the community.
Along the same lines, make your Groups private, or “closed.” Protect your members from spammers and others who don’t have business being in the Group. The closed status also might appear more exclusive to your audience and might entice them to join. FOMO is real, friends.
Facebook allows Groups to create a short form for people looking to join your Group. The form pops up right when they ask to join the Group, and you can ask them clarifying questions to ensure they belong in the Group. For example, if you create a Group for parents and families, you could ask if the member is the parent or family member to a current student. Pro tip: You can also include your rules/guidelines in the form and require them to read and agree to the Group rules before joining.
Join other Groups
Not only can Pages create Groups, but they can also join other Groups. This is a tricky situation and one you would want to have a solid strategy around. But the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital, for example, might join local dog-loving Groups to engage (in a non-spammy way) with members to potentially gain new clients through the engagement.
Posting frequency is not a new concept. Managing a successful Facebook Page requires consistent posting, and it’s the same for Groups. Don’t regurgitate the same posts from your Facebook Page, but create meaningful conversation. Offer insider information and share exclusive content. Remember to post information that the Group would care about. An alumni Group might not care about an Education Abroad Fair, but they would care about special discounts to the Homecoming game.
Don’t over-commit yourself
If you don’t have enough time to dedicate to a Group, then don’t create one right away. And remember, that’s okay. Though we do a million things a day and are kind of superheroes, we are human and there’s only so much we can do in a day. If you do have enough time to manage a Group, do so thoughtfully and develop a strategy. That’s exactly why CSU hasn’t created a Group…yet.
My research into brands who utilize Groups was limited. Know of a brand crushing Groups? Email me and I’ll add them (and YOU) to the blog! firstname.lastname@example.org