Remember the glory days? The ones where a meme or blog post shared on a Facebook page would attract thousands of likes, shares and comments? I miss those days.
These days however, no matter how long we’ve been on Facebook or how big our following is, we’re lucky to reach 2% of our audience organically.
In an attempt to compensate for the declining reach, some businesses have turned to Facebook Groups to increase engagement within their community and have more control over the visibility of their content.
What’s the difference between a Facebook Group and a Facebook Page?
Well Pages are what we all tend to have for our businesses. They operate as (mostly) one-to-many broadcasts where you pull the strings and others are watching and reacting to what you post.
In contrast, Facebook Groups can be created by anyone (including businesses) and the content in them can be driven by anyone who is part of the group. (In other words, anyone in the group can create a new post or share an image document.) They encourage discussion by building a community of members that are passionate about a given topic, niche or product. These members are more likely to participate in conversations, ask questions and lend a helping hand that adds value to the group.
So is the creation of a Facebook Group a good way to have better control of your business’ Facebook reach? Especially as it can feel like you are starting from scratch?
The three major benefits of operating Facebook Groups are:
- They attract only those who are genuinely interested in your product, business or niche and by joining your group they have provided consent to receive your content.
- They allow you to reach all your members in your group without worrying about Facebook curtailing your organic reach.
- They allow you to message all group members directly.
In groups, you can easily communicate with all members via chat, email, wall posts, messages, and even create shared documents. One other handy feature of Facebook Groups is that you can have a custom URL – just like Pages – so you can make the group more “discoverable”.
So what kind of business do Facebook Groups work well for?
Some of the best examples of successful Facebook Groups come from fitness communities that create a genuine sense of camaraderie, support, accountability and encouragement among peers that are also reaching for a goal.
Members can ask you (or each other) questions and you can update the group throughout the day, mentor people in the group and help members support each other throughout their journey.
Here’s a great example of community support inside a Crossfit group:
And here’s another example from the thriving Live Your Legend community, created by Scott Dinsmore:
These are real communities with people supporting each other, asking and answering questions. This is a lot more than what a business Facebook Page can do.
So… is it right for your business to ditch the fan page?
Well, it depends. Groups have a real community feel about them and address the organic reach problem, but on the flip side you lose out on Facebook’s powerful advertising suite of tools. Also, your content necessarily needs to be less promotional in the Group environment.
That said, in October 2014 Facebook reported that 700 million users participate in Groups every month, an increase of 200 million from January 2013. From the time Facebook announced that organic reach on pages was going to decline further, it became a matter of time before businesses were going to look elsewhere for a solution.
And currently, Facebook Groups are a solution that seem to be working for many!
What are your thoughts on Facebook Groups? Are you beginning to see the potential here? I’d love to hear how you’re dealing with the loss in reach and what other methods you’ve found helpful to keep your audience engaged.