Facebook Asking Users to Reengage With Groups, Possibly to Box Out Google+

Facebook is showing some users a module in the right sidebar that highlights one of the Groups they’re a member of and asks them to share something to it. The module, titled “Groups” displays the name of one of a user’s Groups, when it was last updated, and options to either post or leave the Group.

Facebook’s attempt to spur reengagement with its micro-sharing product could be a response to competition from Google+, which is centered around sharing to specific groups of people called Circles rather than sharing with all of one’s contacts.

At the product announcement for ad hoc group chat and video calling last week, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said that over half of Facebook population use Groups. He noted that part of the reason for decoupling group chat from Groups was that many wanted to chat with multiple friends at once, but not all users were sharing to their Groups.

The new Groups right sidebar module may be aimed at changing that. It appears to users as they’re browsing the site, similar to other modules Facebook employs to engage uses with products, such as “Discover New Games” and “Friends’ Photo Albums“.

Groups are usually accessed via small bookmarks in the dense left sidebar. By occasionally showing users larger, more prominent links to their Groups in the right sidebar, Facebook may be able to encourage users to post more often.

Since posts to Groups generate notifications for all members, reengaging one member can kickstart participation by others. The screenshot we received of the Groups module showed it highlighting a Group that hadn’t been posted to in two weeks. The sidebar module could be an effective way to awaken Groups that have fallen dormant.

The sidebar module could also remind users experimenting with Google+ that they have microsharing options within Facebook. Google+ requires that users choose a subset of friends to share each piece of content with. Facebook shares content with all of a user’s friends by default. It requires a long series of clicks to limited a status update to a specific friend list, but just one extra click to share with a Group.

If Facebook can get users more engaged with Groups, through this new sidebar module or otherwise, they may have less reason to join and become active users of Google+

[Thanks to Brittany Darwell for the tip]