I recently highlighted the relatively new Facebook feature called Groups for Pages, or Brand Groups, in a recap of a Hootsuite webinar that highlighted social media trends for 2018. Facebook launched the feature this summer and Hootsuite predicts Groups for Pages are going to be a key marketing opportunity for brands on Facebook. You might be wondering how these groups are different from the Facebook page you’ve created for your business or from groups created by an individual. Let’s take a look.
Groups for Pages are associated with, and linked to, an already established Facebook brand page. They are designed to “build a community around your page.” Facebook suggests multiple uses for a page group, including:
- Engaging with people who share interests that are relevant to your page.
- Rewarding your customers with special updates and exclusive offers.
- Understanding your audience by creating a space for them to ask questions and share feedback.
- Interacting in the group as your page or as yourself (the administrator of the page).
As a page administrator, you can post content in the group that is only seen by group members. Group administrators can edit the settings so that only they can post content or they can open up posts to all group members, just like brand pages. The posts you and your group members share are only seen by other group members. However, you can make the group public so anyone can join it without approval and see who’s in it and what’s being posted without actually joining. Facebook offers three privacy levels for Groups for Pages.
- Public Group: Anyone can see the group, its members and their posts.
- Closed Group: Anyone can find the group and see who’s in it. Only members can see posts.
- Secret Group: Only members can find the group and see posts. Members have to be invited to the group by the page administrator(s) since the group isn’t visible to non-members.
Another Facebook group setting that administrators can use is a membership request question (or questions) that individuals have to answer when requesting to join a closed group. This setting allows up to three questions and administrators can customize them to be any question you want to ask potential members. The information can be used to get to know the new group member before they join or it can even be used as a sort of secret password for closed groups.
On a general brand page, a user comment or even a small discussion might get lost in the shuffle of other posts. But on a group for a page, there is a smaller audience and the ability to segment your fans into different interests or lifestyles. For example, a grocery store could create groups for different types of diets or dietary restrictions so those who have to avoid eating specific foods for themselves or a family member can share recipes, tips and even ask the store what options they have for this type of diet. Another benefit for group members is the ability to set up notifications anytime something is posted on the page. Facebook groups give you the option to be notified for all posts, highlights (friends’ posts and suggested posts), friends’ posts or none. Whereas Facebook pages don’t give page fans the option to be notified when the store posts. You can only edit where a post from a page shows up in your newsfeed.
Another option for retailers using these groups is to make it a place to offer exclusive deals. Many of our grocery retailers use loyalty programs, email marketing and text message marketing for this but a good way to test it out or do it on a budget is to offer the exclusive savings in a group on your Facebook page. This type of exclusive savings is way to build up a group of loyal customers who can even become brand advocates for your store.
Finally, a business can use Groups for Pages to provide even more transparency to customers by using it as a place to gather feedback from customers or even to have customers interact with employees if they have questions. For example, the head of the meat department can be available in a group to discuss what kind of meat cutting services your store offers. You can make these employees group administrators and they will be able to post and comment on members’ posts with an administrator distinction like this.
A few things to remember about Facebook groups: they require more nuanced content and more administrator moderation than a brand page. But like most things, you will get out of it what you put into it. If used strategically, Facebook Groups for Pages could be an important part of your successful marketing plans for 2018.