Facebook Groups for Pages May Be the Best Thing for Brands on Social

Opinion: Groups for pages is a great start from the social network giant

A group for superfans of HBO's Big Little Lies
Facebook

Facebook’s rollout of groups for pages in July heralded a return to the concept of community and gave brands another method to engage audiences on a one-to-one basis, in a more controlled environment.

If brands follow the fundamental rules of community management—being authentic, transparent and adding value to the conversation—then Facebook groups for pages will quickly become a critical component of many brands’ social media strategies.

Take, for example, a few of the groups I belong to, which are essentially the things I am most passionate about: West Ham United Football Club, cycling and my local area. Groups for these passion points are full of like-minded people and are virtual spaces to discuss the latest transfer moves for West Ham, recommend the best place to get your car serviced and share war stories of bad customer service in local restaurants.

While groups have always been around, prior to this launch, brands themselves have never been able to set them up using their pages. Now pages can link to groups, encouraging fan discussion and, in some cases, fostering superfans and even customer advocacy.

In order to successfully capitalize on groups for pages, brand managers need to have resources in place in two important areas: moderation and content.

First, you’ll want to address moderation. All brands strive to be transparent and must accept that negative comments are a fact of today’s online society. However, there must be a balance between constructive criticism and content seen as bullying, abusive, offensive, threatening or illegal toward the brand or members of the group itself.

Currently, if you are an admin of a Facebook group, you can approve posts before they appear. Because that can be very time-consuming, often a full-time community manager would need to be assigned to manage the content.

However, similar to LinkedIn, Facebook groups provide two levels of moderation: allowing either everyone to post (any member, moderator or administrator) or only the adminstrator. If you are managing a LinkedIn group, you can pre-moderate individual posts or use the classifier queue to handle any flagged content.

LinkedIn groups also rely on self-moderation by members and its auto-moderation tool, which is able to identify promotional posts.

Going forward, we would hope that Facebook and LinkedIn will provide additional tools for administrators to control inappropriate content so that the essence of the group is not ruined. Currently, the only way to stop spam and abusive content is to delete the indidual post or remove the member from the group altogether.

The second piece to address when running a Facebook group for a brand is ensuring that you have enough quality content. As it builds members and excitement, your group will eventually have plenty of topics and issues to discuss. However, at the very beginning of any group for pages, it’s entirely up to the brand itself to drive the conversations.

Obviously these conversations should never be pushing product or sales-oriented. No one wants to join a group and be sold to.

You may want to have a dedicated content producer to initiate conversations around topics relevant to the group. Members not only need a reason to come; they need a reason to stay.

Also, consider publishing exclusive content when possible for your members. People want to feel like they are getting something of value if they are getting involved with the group.

By introducing groups for pages, Facebook is segmenting how customers interact with brands. Pages will now be for pushing key marketing messages and product information, as well as an outlet for customer support. Groups is a dedicated space for more in-depth, meaningful conversations and relationships between a brand and its fans and for fan expression.

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