With organic social reach becoming scarcer than ever, now is the time to get creative when marketing to your target audience. There’s no question that Facebook is a powerful social media channel; as a result, Facebook expects businesses to pay if they want to reach consumers. For the time being, however, there is a loophole. Instead of making a Facebook Page, consider a Facebook Group. Or create a Group in addition to your Page. With better organic reach, businesses are increasingly turning towards Groups to get the word out. Social Report breaks down five reasons why you should create a Facebook Group, which we’ve conveniently listed below.
1. Facebook is Actively Punishing Pages
Over the past year, Facebook has been trying to bring the platform back to its roots. It has publicly stated that Pages will be less of a priority on user’s Newsfeeds, and that content posted by friends will take center-stage. This is to foster more “meaningful interactions” on the network.
There are some ways around this. For example, local news is given more of priority over mass news and other types of Facebook Pages—but this doesn’t apply for most brands.
The result has been devastating for some brands on Facebook. According to data from Parse.ly, publishers on its network saw a steady 25% reduction of referral volume from Facebook from February to October 2017.
The firm noted that there wasn’t a sharp, all-at-once drop after Facebook announced Newsfeed changes. Instead, the decline happened steadily over the eight-month period the firm surveyed. Because of this, we expect the trend to continue over the coming months.
So, put bluntly: the golden days of Facebook Pages for publishers and brands are over.
2. Groups Give Posts An Algorithm Boost
But don’t panic! Groups may be exactly what you need to regain lost impressions. In fact, it’s already filling the impression void left by Pages for some brands.
Facebook Groups are—in practice—ranking highly on Facebook user’s Newsfeeds. New York Times author Kevin Rose recently joined 100 different Facebook Groups as an experiment to see why brands are using Groups to promote content. His findings were pretty amazing.
The author found that Facebook was consistently putting Groups content at the top of his feed. Better, this was often at the expense of his Facebook friends and content from news pages that he followed.
This isn’t a one-off either. The author of this article is a member of many travel, technology, and marketing Facebook Groups. The most active groups consistently rank first on his Newsfeed, even if the content is identical to something posted by the parent brand’s Facebook Page.
This shows us that, at the moment, Facebook is giving some sort of intentional advantage to Groups. Facebook hasn’t spoken publicly about these advantages, but they’re worth capitalizing on while the iron is hot.
Facebook has also been holding events at Facebook HQ for Groups admins. Oftentimes, these events are a conversation with Facebook on how the platform can improve its services. This further shows Facebook’s commitment to Groups.
3. Facebook Is Adding New Groups Features
Facebook Groups have received a gradual facelift offer the past couple of years. We’ve seen the company add new analytics features, the ability to pin posts, and even document sharing options. Most importantly, Facebook allows Pages to post to Groups, letting you keep a consistent brand image.
Use these features to your brand’s advantage. Pin a call to action to the top of your Group. For example, you may have a link to your email newsletter or to the latest episode of your podcast. New members will see this as soon as they join your Group, and existing member will see this when they load your Group.
Facebook added a Group-to-Group linking feature last year. This adds a “Recommended Groups” section to each Group, and let’s you link your Facebook Page to others. You can link to other Groups by your brand or others that you like.
Further, Groups can also add a bio to their page that’s shown to new members before they join. Make this a hit, and don’t be afraid to self-promote a bit. This is shown to prospective members—and in turn, prospective customers.
These features show Facebook’s commitment to growing Facebook Groups. Utilize them to make the most out of your Group and expand your reach.
4. Groups Foster Conversation
Your followers may be reluctant to post on a public Facebook Page, especially if sharing an opinion. Groups solve this issue for many as oftentimes you need to be a member of the Group can see comments and engagements.
Take advantage of this! Encourage your Group’s members to interact with your page by posting calls for opinions, discussion topics, and surveys. This will keep your members engaged and your brand at the top of your member’s Newsfeeds.
One word of advice, though: keep topics somewhat neutral and related to your product. The last thing you want is to turn your flower delivery service’s Group into a political flamewar. Instead, foster discussion by asking what your following’s favorite flowers are.
5. Get a Better Idea of Who Your Customers Are
Facebook has three different types of groups: public, private, and secret. Public is simple: in short, anyone can join public Groups and non-members can view content. Private groups are listed and known to the public, but require administrator approval to join. Finally, secret groups are unlisted and require an invitation.
The most common types of Groups are public and private groups. Many brands default to public Groups, but private Groups have merits too.
For example, you must manually approve all members with private Groups. During the application process, you can choose to have all prospective members answer questions of your choice. For example, you can ask what someone expects to gain from joining the Group. Use the information gathered to better curate content (and maybe even your products).
Further—like stated earlier—private Groups help facilitate conversation. Only members of the group can view content, creating a feeling of exclusivity that encourages members to post, comment, and otherwise interact.
Choose Facebook Groups over Pages
There are a number of reasons to choose groups – from greater reach to greater conversation, there are plenty of perks. Further, through conversation, you’ll learn more about your customers, which can help you improve your marketing and products in general.
You don’t need to start deleting your Facebook Pages, but consider Groups as a supplement. Offer something special on your Group that you don’t offer on your Page to incentivize people to join. Encourage your biggest fans to join so they can actively interact with your brand. There are a number of ways to use Groups – take advantage of it.