How many Facebook Groups are you in right now? I bet most of you wouldn’t know the exact number and couldn’t list off every single one. I know I couldn’t.
You know what else I’d bet money on? That there are a few groups that you’d be able to think of immediately. Those that offer value to you, in which you engage and build relationships with fellow members.
This is the standard that all groups should aspire to uphold.
In this extended post, we’re going to go over every single thing you need to know about Facebook groups, including the new group updates, why you should be using them, how to create and maintain groups, best practices, and so much more.
Once you’re done the reading, you’ll have everything you need to get your group not only up and running, but thriving, too!
Here’s what plenty of businesses fail to realize: Facebook groups aren’t just for virtual garage sales and vague industry connections.
Businesses and brands of all sizes—including small one-person shops on Etsy—can create and moderate groups for their customers or target audience. These groups can have a powerful impact on the users and on your business.
Why You Should Create Facebook Groups for Your Business
If we’re going to take you all the way through the process of creating, growing, and monitoring your group, it only makes sense that we explain why you should actually make one.
Facebook groups are extremely valuable in general, but they can have a huge impact when used in your marketing strategy. Businesses who center a group around their brand—whether it’s part of a subscription service or not— can build a community around it.
This makes your brand and products even more valuable to the customers. And what’s better than getting a group of people together who love you and your products?
Groups also give you the chance to showcase your expertise and dedication to your customers, especially since many will be asking questions that are extremely visible to other group members.
By answering these questions, encouraging and requesting feedback, and generating networking opportunities, you can forge valuable personal connections with your customers that will keep them coming back.
Think about the digital sales funnel: you don’t just want people to purchase once and that’s it; you want to move them through loyalty and to advocacy. A Facebook group can help you do that.
Facebook Page vs. Groups: What’s the Difference?
I know this is one of the first thoughts a lot of people have: I already have a Page, why do I need a group? Or should I get a group instead?
Realistically, you need both.
- You need to have a Page, which serves as a touchpoint for users at all stages of the digital sales funnel.
Having a Page allows you to run ad campaigns for your business, get reviews, and have plenty of public updates that include blog posts, UGC, and more. It will show up in search engines, and provides valuable information like a map and contact information for your business. Users can also message you directly.
- A group, on the other hands, puts more of a focus on community.
When users post to your Page, it gets stashed away under the “Community” tab. When they post in the group, on the other hand, it pops up and stays in the feed, center-stage, for other users to easily see and engage with. Groups also naturally invite more continual interaction and discussions, because that’s what they’re meant to do and users feel more comfortable. This is especially true if you express the desire for users to ask questions or share insights in the group description.
Groups also offer more value, in general. This is especially true for subscription-style groups, like AdEspresso University, where members can get expert opinions and answers quickly.
Whether this is a “what type of fabric do you use and why does it shrink in the dryer” to “how can I scale my company with only $400 in my marketing budget,” the questions are meant just for you. And when you answer them, it provides value to all the other members, too.
So you definitely still need a page. A group will never take the place of that. But at the same time, you won’t be able to build the same kind of authentic, loyal online community without a Facebook group.
New Facebook Groups Features
There are several new group features that have just rolled out late June (and one of which is still in testing). These features are incredible, making it easier to monitor and moderate your groups. We’re going to dive deep into each one throughout this post, getting into a lot of detail of how to use them and the impact they have, but for now, we’ll just summarize what they are:
- Group Insights. I was really, really happy to see this. We have them for Pages, after all, and we know how valuable that those are. These insights can give us information on membership, growth, and engagement data.
- Membership request filtering. Now you can require all new potential members to answer questions before joining, like “why do you want to join” or “how long have you been in the industry” and also (this is what we do on AdEspresso University, that is a customer only group) “what’s your customer email address so I can verify?”. This can help weed out bots or people who probably shouldn’t be in the group.
- Scheduled posts. You can now schedule posts in your groups, just like on your Pages. This can help keep things moving along (though you should never assume your group can be left on auto-pilot).
- Simplified member clean-up. It no longer takes multiple steps to get rid of a member and all their content; now it’s just one easy process.
- Group-to-group linking. This one is still being tested, which allows a group to recommend similar groups. The linking feature could be extremely helpful if you’re breaking down one large group into different groups. As Paul Fairbrother explains:
You could break down one large group into different niches based on subject of interest, product use case, or even languages”.
How to Create a Facebook Group
To create a group, you can start on your personal page. Open the drop-down menu located in the top right corner, where you can also view your activity log or log out. You’ll see “Create Group.”
To get started, name your group and then invite some people. If your group will be for business purposes, keep that in mind; you want it to be easy for both existing customers and leads to find you (if you so choose). Great examples include “The Six Figure Freelancer” and, of course, our own “AdEspresso University.”
Next, add people to the group. You can invite people by entering in their names and finding them on Facebook, or by using their email addresses. For business purposes, it would probably be easiest to use the email addresses from your email list, and you should leave a semi-personalized note like “Congrats! You’ve been invited to join AdEspresso University!” You can wait to invite members until the page is set up (I actually recommend this).
Finally, choose what type of group you want to create. You can choose from the following:
- Public groups, where everyone can see all content and members
- Closed groups, where anyone can see the group and member names, but not the content from the group
- Secret groups, where you have to be invited to be added.
We’ll dive into how to choose a privacy setting/group type in the next section.
You also have the option to select an icon for your group. This will be the icon next to the group’s name in the Shortcuts area.
Setting Up Your Facebook Group
Once the group is created, you need to finish setting it up. Most of this can be done by editing sections on the right hand side of the screen, under the member names.
First, add a group description. This should clearly state what the purpose of your group is, and, if applicable, who is allowed to join or invite others. Any group policies should be placed here.
Underneath this, you’ll see the option to add tags, which are keywords. If you want your group to be public or closed, these keywords can help relevant users find you. You can add up to five tags.
At the bottom of this section, you’ll have the option to add locations for the group. For most businesses, this won’t be a feature that you’ll use, but it’s there if you need it.
Last, add a cover photo. This should be something that adequately represents your group’s interests and not a random picture of your dog, like this example (sorry, not sorry). If it’s a group centered around your business, you should absolutely incorporate your brand’s logo somewhere on it.
This photo will eventually become your group’s main photo, so keep that in mind.
To add members, all you have to do is enter their name or email address in the “adding bar” (as I so eloquently call it), found on the right-hand side of the group page. Other members can add new member addition requests.
What Type of Facebook Group Should I Choose?
We mentioned above that there are three different types of Facebook groups: public, closed, and secret. Public groups have everything visible to all Facebook users at any point, secret groups won’t even show up in searches, and closed groups are smack dab in the middle. So which do you choose?
In general, it’s best for businesses using Facebook groups to interact with their customers to choose closed groups. This way, the groups can be found, but users must request membership to get in.
Closed groups give you the opportunity to keep your group’s visibility up while also preventing users who shouldn’t be in the group (including bots and people who like to spam) from sneaking in. It also gives the group and its members some protection, along with a hint of exclusivity that never hurt. Whether your group is free or part a subscription, this is a good option.
Secret groups are ideal for small businesses using groups for internal teams.
If your group is just for your employees only, having a secret group can be a benefit. You won’t have an overload of people trying to get in because they’re a vendor or “they think it would be a cool place to work.” If your turnover isn’t high and it’s easy to add people manually, secret groups are perfect for this purpose.
I never recommend creating public groups for business or marketing purposes. They can easily spin a bit out of control and be too difficult to moderate. That’s fine for a general interest group, but it’s not something you want to be associated with your business.
Should I Establish Group Policies?
For some using Facebook groups for business or marketing, it’s helpful to establish group policies. These should be published in the description or placed on a pinned post at the top of your group.
Common policies of Facebook groups run by businesses include:
- No blatant self-promotion without running it by the admins or moderators first.
- Potential terms of service, like “you only have access to this Facebook Group as long as you’re a subscription member.”
- Respect other members, and don’t be abusive or get too heated (I’ve seen some groups say “no politics” given the current political climate).
- Don’t share any information, including screen shots or advice, from this group outside of it
- You can only be granted membership if [insert conditions here].
You don’t need to establish group policies if you don’t want to; some groups don’t. If you feel the need to, though, it can save you a lot of hassle later, especially when it comes to paid members. An example can be found below from the Sales Talk with Sales Pros group:
Should I Use A Questionaire to Screen Members?
Thanks to the new questionnaire screening feature, groups can decide if they want to require users to answer questions before they can be accepted for membership. And yes, you should absolutely always make users fill out a few questions.
After all, if someone is too lazy to answer the question “what’s your email log-in for the subscription” or “how long have you been in the graphic design industry,” they don’t deserve to be part of the group. Even if you let them in, they won’t be an active contributing member, which hurts the group in the long run because it inflates member numbers and engagement ratios look lower as a result.
To add a questionnaire, go to the Members section, and then Member Requests.
Here, you’ll see the option to “Ask Pending Members Questions.”
You can ask several questions, but keep them simple, because users only get 250 characters to answer each one.
How to Remove & Block People from Your Facebook Group
Sometimes, despite our best efforts to be selective with group membership, there’s still that one user who causes problems. You should absolutely not hesitate to remove people from the group (and block them) if they are:
- Violating group policies
- Spamming the group, including with self-promotion if that’s discouraged
- Being abusive towards other members
While you may not want to get involved in what seems like personal or political matters, remember that the group’s activity 100% reflects on you as a business. If you don’t weed someone out who is being racist, sexist or being insulting to other members for whatever reason, your group engagement will drop and people may think less of your brand.
If a member is warranting removal or blocking, find them under the members’ screen. You can search if necessary. On the opposite side of their profile picture, you’ll see a small cog. When you click on it, you’ll see the option to “Remove From Group.” Click on it.
If you remove someone from the group, they can ask to rejoin later. This can be used to “suspend” members. If you are certain you never want to see them in your group again, you can click to check the “Block member” box at the bottom of this page. They won’t even be able to view the group name or find it in searches if you choose to block them.
You can review blocked members at any time in the membership search area.
Facebook Group Moderation
Facebook group moderation can be a big task—I won’t sugarcoat that. And I think that you shouldn’t start a group until you’re really ready to take it on. This doesn’t mean that you need to be living on the computer, waiting for posts to pop up, but if users ask you questions or if there’s an issue, you’ll want to be available reasonably soon to resolve it.
The biggest tasks of group moderators include:
- Keeping an eye on content to ensure there’s nothing violating the group’s policies, that there’s no spam, and no major conflict
- Add (or remove) new members as needed; this includes approving member requests. To approve new members, you can go to “Manage group” and then “member requests.”
- Delete spam or other unwanted content from the group
- Reviewing content that has been flagged for review by other users. You can find this under “Manage group” and “Reported to admin.”
Other tasks may include posting every so often to keep engagement up, and replying to questions, concerns, and even general posts.
How to Add Facebook Group Admins & Moderators
There are two different types of Page officials: moderators and admins. Moderators have the ability to approve membership (and remove and block members), and review posts and comments within the group. They can also pin or unpin posts and view the support inbox.
Admins can do everything moderators can do and more, including adding or removing admins or moderators. They can also change the group’s settings, including privacy settings, tags, and the description.
To add a new admin or moderator, go to the member screen. Click on the cog next to the individual, and choose “Make Admin” or “Make Moderator.” You can change their status at any time.
Facebook Group Insights
Facebook’s brand new group insights are incredible and I’m so excited that we have them.
To access your group insights if you have them, you’ll see the tab on the left-hand side of the group’s navigation bar. Right now, only admins have access to group insights; group moderators do not have access to them.
(Side note: group insights don’t kick in immediately like Page insights do for new businesses. You either need to have the group established for a certain amount of time or hit a certain number of members. Facebook hasn’t released exact information on which yet, but over time this may change and insights may become available immediately like they are for events.)
When you first open the Facebook group insights page, you’ll see a quick overview of group growth, engagement, and membership details. The navigation of the insights is straightforward, divided into these 3 groups.
You can export the details of your insights at any time by clicking on “Download details.”
You can choose to download insights from one, two, or all three of the sections.
Under the Growth tab, you can see how much your group has grown in members.
You can also see how many membership requests you’ve accepted and how many you’ve denied.
This can help you evaluate several things, including:
- If your group is growing consistently
- The ratio of relevant vs. non-relevant membership requests you’re receiving
- If people are interested in joining and finding your group
I think the engagement tab is the most important to pay attention to; it shows you how much activity the group’s posts are getting.
You can see information like the number of posts being shared in the group (by you and other members), how many comments the posts are getting, and how many reactions (which include likes). Underneath this, you’ll see the number of active members currently in the group. This is a crucial number, so you can monitor the overall health of your group.
Beneath this, you’ll see popular days and popular times, helping you evaluate when to post to get the most visibility on your content. You’ll also see the group’s top posts, who posted them, and their reach and engagement.
Your members insight can give you some better insight into who your audience members actually are. Much like Facebook’s Audience Insights, this tab will show you member information like:
This information can give you insight into your audience’s demographics, and allow you to cater offers and content most relevant to them.
You can also see who your top contributors are overall.
How to Offer Value in Your Facebook Group
Your group is now officially set up and (hopefully) running. It’s now up to you to determine how you want to offer value to your members. You want there to be direct benefits that they get from the group that they couldn’t get from the Page, and you want it to be obvious.
AdEspresso University, for example, has a number of AdEspresso campaign experts on-hand (with Paul Fairbrother leading the charge) to answer any and all Facebook Ads questions that others outside of the group would have to pay consulting fees to ask. There are other experts and members of the AdEspresso team, including myself, who can all chime in when we have something to offer. Even other group members are often able to offer great insight and provide fantastic answers, making it a strong community. Ideally, you should have someone on your team able to answer questions every few hours. This alone is something people are willing to pay for outright.
Having group exclusive content is also a great way to make group membership a must-have. Whether you’re sharing insider news or giving them exclusive opportunities to weigh in new features you’re developing, this gives people a reason to be engaged in the group and actively paying attention to it. A great example of how to do this is to say “hey, we’ve got big exciting news coming, watch soon!” so people feel like they have an exclusive heads up, without you risking anyone leaking information too soon.
Most importantly, address all questions and comments. At least make sure the individual’s questions are covered fully by other users. Every user needs to feel important, and if you’re able to do that, the group as a whole becomes a lot more valuable.
2 Ways Businesses Can Monetize Facebook Groups
You want to be really careful if you’re trying to monetize your Facebook groups, because genuine connection and interaction should always feel like the absolute focus for the customers. I’ve seen paid groups go down, fast, when users felt like the business cared more about the financial transaction than their questions (which the businesses absolutely did, to be fair). This is still social media, after all, and people seem to take it particularly personally when they feel snubbed on social.
1. Offer Group Membership with a Purchase
One way to increase profits through a Facebook group is to include it with another purchase or membership, like AdEspresso University.
I took an incredible writing class last year, and once it’s over, all the instructor’s students are invited into her secret Facebook group upon completion. Here, the instructor offers the group exclusive job leads and answers questions as her past students have them. This group alone is just as valuable as the class, and worth taking the class for, to be honest.
Plenty of businesses can use groups in this manner, however, and promote them upfront to increase the value of what you’re selling, increasing more sales. You can even increase the price of the product thanks to the group add-on.
I’ve also seen some events that have specialized groups if you purchase a ticket. These groups can be great networking opportunities (and sometimes just as valuable as the conferences themselves).
2. Use the Group to Promote Paid Products or Services
If you want the group to be free and zero-commitment of purchase, that’s fine! It doesn’t mean that you have run out of opportunities to monetize the group. Instead, you can use the group to promote other products and services that your business sells.
AdEspresso University’s pinned post, for example, features information about AdEspresso’s other paid marketing services that users can purchase. This is done quietly and non-aggressively, so users know there is no obligation or requirement to use these services, but that they’re there if you want them. This is the perfect balance for social media, like a good salesperson—it’s there if you want it, but they’ll leave you be if you don’t.
Every so often, you can share new product or services information. Even the occasional “we have a last minute cancellation for our VIP consultation services, PM us immediately if you’re interested. First come first serve” can do wonders with users who are engaging with you on a regular basis.
Tips to Increasing Activity In Your Facebook Group
Part of keeping your group valuable (and membership up) is to keep engagement and activity high within it. There are several ways to encourage activity and keep it at a consistent level, outside of the obvious “offer value” which we covered above.
Some of the best ways to encourage activity and engagement in your Facebook groups include:
- Use diverse types of media. This can make a big difference, because no matter how great your posts are, they’ll likely still have to compete with all the other posts in users’ feeds. Toss in some video and pictures to increase visibility and engagement.
- Ask for feedback, making use of polls. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: people love to give their opinions, and in a group setting, asking for feedback shows that you really care about the members’ opinions. It also helps with that level of exclusivity: if only members get to weigh in on new features or panels at an event, who wouldn’t want to be in that group?!
Creating polls is a fantastic way to do this, and it’s visually interesting so users are likely to pay attention to it. You’ll see the option to “Create a poll” just like you’d see the option to upload an image on a regular post within a group.
You’ll ask your question in the box where you normally post a status, and then you can add different options underneath. You can also choose whether you want to allow people to add their own options, or to select multiple options.
- Be extremely responsive. If you’re responsive, sometimes your own engagement can help keep the group’s heartbeat going. Other users will see that you’re excited to be there, making them more likely to interact, too. People stay where there’s a lot of activity (never forget about FOMO).
- Ask open-ended questions. This takes feedback a step-further, and is more general at the same time. Open-ended questions can help give you new ideas for content and posts to work with, and they can also incite more discussion amongst you and other members than simple “yes” or “no” questions. The Blogging.org Facebook group leader Zac Johnson does an excellent job doing that in the site’s group, as seen here:
- Don’t be afraid to tag other members in posts. I’m in a group for women writers that lists freelance jobs, and one thing I love about it is that the moderators and other members will jump to tag each other so that the right candidate finds that job. Similarly, I’ve seen plenty of groups where members tag each other for expertise and opinions, even if it’s just a discussion. This is extremely valuable, and when you tag members, it shows that you remember them and value their opinion. It’s a good way to get them engaging more often. Just don’t get spammy with it.
Facebook groups have always had plenty of potentials that businesses could use to their advantage, and now with the new group features, they’re more effective and powerful than ever before.
While you shouldn’t choose between a Page or a group, you should use both to build awareness and a community around your brand. The group’s exclusivity and more personal interactions will help you do just this.
What do you think? Do you use Facebook groups for your business? Have you started a group involving or centering your brand? How do you increase engagement and followers within your group? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!