Facebook Groups provide you with the opportunity to create a private space for the groups you form in your life, whether that be in your personal or business life.
Many businesses are failing to capitalise on the important role that these groups can play in growing their business. I have joined various membership organisations and signed up to several courses that provide exclusive access to a private Facebook Group as an added bonus. I use this myself for my business. Everyone that signs up for my Facebook Business Success Online Training Program gains access to a private group where they are able to ask questions and share Facebook challenges and successes stories, as well as network within the private Impactiv8 Business Community. Feedback from people within this group indicate that this is an invaluable resource, worth the full value of the program on it’s own.
This posts provides an overview of how you can use Facebook Groups for Business.
- Open (public): Anyone can see the group, who’s in it and what members post;
- Closed: Anyone can see the group and who’s in it, but only members see posts; or
- Secret: Only members can see the group, who’s in it and what members post.
For business purposes “Closed” groups work well, as it enables people to search, find and request to join your group without them having to be friends with you first (you can only add “Friends” to secret groups), yet it provides exclusivity in regards to viewing and contributing to the content. The fact that people can find your group in a search may not be ideal, but this is not an altogether bad thing. You can use any requests to join as an opportunity to provide that person with the benefits of joining and the details of what they need to do to gain access (e.g. sign up and pay to join your program). You may create additional sale as a result!
Open groups work also, if your plan is to use groups to share, ask questions and collaborate with anyone that is interested in becoming part of your on-line community. One of the major benefits of Groups over Pages is that you can @tag people from within the group to draw their attention to particular posts.
Group URL & Email
Many people are unaware that you can actually create a URL for a Group in the same way that you can do so for a Page or Profile. This is a handy way for directing new members directly to your group to join. To achieve this, firstly you need to set up an email address for the Group. To set this up:
- Click on the “Settings” wheel at the top right hand side of the group;
- Select “Edit group”;
- Select “Set up group email”;
- Create a unique Facebook email address for the group in the pop up window (the name you enter will form part of the URL for the group;
- Select “Create email address”
You now have an address that people can send emails to that will be delivered as a post within the group that will be YourGroupName@groups.facebook.com.au. The URL for your Group will now be www.facebook.com/groups/YourGroupName. You should use this URL to direct people to your Group.
Each group has an “About” section that only the Group Admin can edit and there is no restrictions on what this section is used for. This is accessible at all times at the top of the Group. Types of information you may wish to include in this section are:
- Purpose of the group;
- Group composition;
- Guidelines (e.g. what is and isn’t permitted and what actions will be taken if someone breaches those guidelines); and/or
- A statement around how people should be treated (e.g. treat people with kindness and respect)
The banner image default is a collage of group member’s profile images. However, you can customise this image by hovering over the collage and clicking on the icon that appears and then selecting “upload a file”. You can brand this appropriate to your business and the community you are developing.
Sharing Within The Group
How you choose to use the group is up to you and the members within the group. Group members can:
- Post updates;
- Post photos/videos;
- Ask questions;
- Upload files;
- Chat with the group;
- Create shared docs;
- Schedule group events; and
- All posts;
- Friends’ Posts; or
- Turn them off completely
You do this by clicking on “Notifications” in the top right hand corner of the Group and then selecting “Settings”. You also have the option to change your notifications email frequency settings via this pop up box.
There is a group’s shared email address that can be set to enable people to connect with the group externally to Facebook.
- Friends; or
- Invite only
You also have the option to send an invite to all group members by ticking a box when setting up the event.
The photos section is a repository for all images uploaded within the Group, making it easier to find images. Images are stored individually and not in albums.
You can upload files and create documents within Groups. These are then stored under the “Files” tab within the group. Uploaded files can be downloaded by group members. I use this to house slides from presentations, example templates and eBooks that I want the Group to have exclusive access to. Whilst the document feature is limited in terms of formatting options, it is an effective tool for collaboration within the Group. Documents can also be used to create a directory of Group members to assist with networking external to the Group. Members can update the group directory with their contact details, such as website and social media platforms.
Group Insights & Metrics
One of the limitations of Facebook Groups is that individual posts within the group do not show up in personal newsfeeds of group members. Group members do get notifications when someone posts within the group, provided this feature has not been turned off. Regardless of whether or not the notifications feature is turned off, members will be able to see the number of unread posts within each group they are a member of alongside each group’s name. Once this number goes above 20 it will be displayed as 20+.
Groups don’t have an insights section. Until recently (other than by seeing interactions with posts), it was not possible to gauge how many people were seeing posts. Facebook has addressed this issue by including a “Seen by” metric under each Post within a group, which indicates how many people have seen each Post. This is a great way to see how active members are in reading the content shared in the group.
Another great feature of Groups is the ability to search content. If you have ever used a Group before you have no doubt experienced the frustration of trying to find a thread you remembered reading about sometime back, but it is buried as Facebook defaults the most recent commented on post to the top of the Group. What a lot of people don’t realise is that there is a search feature within Groups that can be accessed by clicking on the magnifying glass in the top right hand corner of the Page under the banner image. To search within a group it is as easy as:
- Clicking on the magnifying glass to display the search bar;
- Typing in any keywords you looking for;
- Review the results an select on the option that best represents what you are looking for.
Similar to any search engine, the results display a list of posts from within the group that include the criteria you have searched on, with a couple of lines of text from post. It also displays the date and an icon on the right hand side that indicates where the search term appeared (e.g. in the post itself, as a comment in response to the initial post or as part of a link). Results are displayed in order of recency and you can see the full post by clicking on the search result that seems most relevant to what you are looking for.
Do you use Groups for your business? If so, please share the major benefits you have found with using Facebook Groups for business in the comments below.