Earlier this month, during the Facebook Communities Summit in Menlo Park, Facebook announced that it will be letting Pages participate within Groups.
That’s great news! But wait, didn’t this already happen?
Back in September, Facebook quietly rolled out the update to a few select pages (like Peloton), viewed by many as a response to offset losses brought on to businesses by algorithm shifts seen in early 2018.
Previously Pages could create Groups to build their own communities, but they did not have the opportunity to participate in Groups or join community discussions.
That was solely reserved for individual profiles.
This was tough for brands that were public figures, and forced members of their teams to use personal accounts to interact on behalf of their organizations. While this did help their personal brands, I’m sure, it didn’t do much for awareness of their companies or driving traffic to their pages.
Alas, the headache is gone!
Exciting right? Not so fast, just like Uncle Ben said, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.”
If you are a brand already managing a Facebook Group, the updates coming in the next few weeks will offer you additional access to conversations happening within your Facebook communities.
More Brand Awareness
While using your page identity, you will be able to join Group discussions and potentially raise the profile of your brand.
It’s likely that Group members will follow your brand and, in turn, send messages to your Page Inbox as opposed to reaching out to an individual (as previously allowed).
More Organic Reach
Having access to Groups gives brands a new “in;” n alternative way to connect with their audience on the platform without having to “pay to play.”
Facebook Groups by default deliver notifications to users when activity takes place in them. As the organic reach of Pages dropped thanks to Facebook’s most recent algorithm changes, this was one of the biggest selling points of creating Groups
Now, thanks to this new ability, Pages will be able to capitalize on the notifications and not feel like the only way to get in front of their audience is through Facebook Ads.
Ultimately, this may result in more direct engagement with your followers.
Sure, it sounds like your beloved Facebook Groups could start getting really spammy really quickly, and that may happen if Group administrators aren’t vigilant.
Administrators can turn off the option allowing Pages to join their Group. They also have the ability to ban Pages just like they were any other Group member.
But, the good may outweigh the bad in this case.
Public figures and brands that were once distanced from Groups now have the ability to interact with fans, supporters, or even critics. It opens the door for brands to interact on a more personal and intimate level.
It can also help Pages see an increase in likes as opposed to active community moderators receiving friend requests on their personal profiles from users they don’t really know on a personal basis.
It’s all a step in the right direction to making Facebook more user-friendly.
Advice for Marketers
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
This change has the ability to wreak havoc on Facebook Groups as we know them.
Stephanie Baiocchi, Director of Audience Engagement & Community here at IMPACT has some sound advice for marketers counting down the days until this change hits their pages:
“If the Wendy’s Twitter account replied to your tweet you’d feel pretty special, right?
There are a few special brands out there who have done an incredible job of building a personality online and building trust with their audience.
They are responsive, vulnerable, and consistent.
However, this is absolutely not true of the majority of brands -- the same brands that will likely abuse the ability to participate in Facebook groups.
If you’re a community manager, my advice to you is simple: treat pages in Groups just as you would treat individuals.
If you have a closed group, make them reply to screener questions before joining.
Make your rules clear and set the tone with a video.
Hold pages to the same rules and standard to which you hold everyone else.
Engage with them as you do with people. Most importantly, if they get spammy - kick them out. Zero-tolerance style.
If you’re the social media manager for a brand or individual with a page, you can absolutely benefit from participating in groups.
There are people who are more active on their “fan page” profile than their personal profile.
This is because either they’ve reached the friend limit of a personal profile or want to have a separate, personal profile active (but more selective) as well.
This is often the case for speakers, authors, performers, artists, etc.
Politicians are a great example of this - my local alderman can now respond to a question in my neighborhood group from her page instead of from her personal profile.
This means I can easily follow her if I want to stay connected and even message her directly without having to add her as a friend.
Pages that engage with their audiences in community settings and provide added value are poised to succeed.
Those who abuse the ability to be active in groups will turn away potential customers (existing ones too) faster than a cat video can go viral.”
The bottom line? Be responsible. It’s 2019, you know how to use Facebook like a human. If you’re operating under a brand name, the same rules apply.
Keep an eye out for these changes on your brand’s Facebook Page, they will likely be rolling out in the coming weeks.
Test it out! Take a proactive approach to actively engaging with your audience (like a human, see above) and take note of the results! Participating as your brand could immediate effects, like more messages in your Page inbox.