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Facebook Groups for Business: What You Need to Know

Updated on August 10, 2017
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Heidi Thorne is an author and business speaker specializing in sales and marketing topics for coaches, consultants, and solopreneurs.

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Now that we've had several years in the social media universe, I've noticed several trends, especially for business, come and go. Twitter chats? The'yre so 2010. Google Hangouts? Well, 2014 has come and gone.

Today, I see a lot of small business folk flocking like lemmings to create Facebook Groups in pursuit of the holy grail of engagement with customers and prospects. In theory, it's not a bad idea. But, like everything, in practice, it might not be.

Why the Interest in Facebook Groups for Business?

Leadership Positioning

Currently, I see the lemming rush to Groups particularly in the consulting and coaching space. The theory is to create conversation with current and prospective customers and networking referral partners. The Group's admin, who is usually a consultant or coach, assumes a leadership position which can help conversation turn into sales conversion. That, in itself, makes Facebook Groups worth considering as an engagement channel.

Exclusivity

Other coaches and consultants who offer group coaching often use Groups to create "exclusive" forums for their customers. That can be efficient and cost-effective since it leverages Facebook's complex and robust backend technology. As well, many are already on Facebook daily anyway. So it doesn't require customer members to visit yet another site to participate.

Notifications

As Group members post, a notification is sent to other Group members. However, whether the members actually get the notifications depends on each member's Facebook privacy settings. But Group admin leaders are hoping that members will want to receive these notices via their Notifications and news feeds and/or email. No special emails to create, no email marketing management. Cheap and efficient marketing at its finest on a platform members are already using. Brilliant!

The Reality About Facebook Groups for Business

After launching and closing a couple of groups, and being the member of many others, here's what I've found.

Duplicate Effort

Though I have a pretty extensive network online and off, I've found that the same people I connect with elsewhere on social media are also in the same Groups I am. Do I really need to connect with them in multiple Groups? So I may tune out the group chatter. If I'm doing it, I'm sure others are, too.

Conversation Clutter

If all Group members can freely post, there could be dozens of conversations going on at the same time. Then Group notifications can contain updates for every... single... comment. Ugh! Every time a Group member comments with a useless "I agree" type comment, a notification appears. Imagine if you have a few hundred people in the Group (I've even seen groups with 10,000+ members). Trust me, I've seen this happen and it's the reason why I join very few Groups these days and do an occasional Group audit to ditch those not worth my time.

Admin Overload

It is time consuming to monitor and manage Groups! Facebook must realize this because they allow the main admin to appoint additional admins to manage.

"Don't Bother Me!"

With the information overload that social media is, many users opt out of various notifications. So all those posts and conversation in Groups could go ignored.

Controlling Membership and Behavior

As of this writing, Group admins can set up the group as a public (anyone can join, invite, be added, or add members), closed (anyone can ask to join or be invited/added by a member), or secret (anyone can join, but have to be invited/added by a member). If admins don't require approval to join and don't set up limitations on posting and commenting activity, the Group can easily get out of control.

Keeping Facebook Groups for Business Manageable

If you think running a Facebook Group is right for your business goals, here are ways that can help make it a more valuable and efficient experience for everyone:

Invite, But Don't Expect Automatic Acceptance
Because of the plethora of Groups and people's information overload in general, don't be surprised or offended if even your closest Facebook Friends don't join your Group.

Understand and Monitor Group Privacy Settings and Issues

Facebook is noted for making frequent changes to its privacy policies and procedures. Keep updated on these policies and alert members as things change so they can adjust their posting or commenting behavior.

Keep Communication Uncluttered
If Group member posting is getting out of hand, you may choose to limit member participation to only commenting on posts the admin(s) create. You may even turn off that commenting on particular posts after a certain period. This does help keep things more manageable for everyone. But remember to clearly communicate your rules of engagement to members.

Don't Tire Out Your Members... Or Yourself
I have been in several Groups where the admins post every darn day and expect people to chime in every darn day. In one Group I ran, I limited my admin posting (I didn't let members freely post) to twice a week and even that seemed to be too much for the Group, resulting in some posts getting zero activity.

I think that some Group admins feel that if they just post something daily, that will automatically foster engagement. Sorry, more is not essentially better when it comes to Facebook Group activity. Always measure your social media networking ROI.

Disclaimer: Both the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparation of this information. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and both parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice and strategies presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional advisor where and when appropriate. Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential or punitive, arising from or relating to your reliance on this information.

© 2017 Heidi Thorne

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    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 2 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Thanks, Larry, for taking the time to stop by and read! Hope you're having some fun during the last week's of summer. Cheers!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 weeks ago from Oklahoma

      Very helpful!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Hi purl3agony! I certainly hope that as a result of reading, people will think twice about the Facebook Group strategy. It is time consuming for sure! Thanks so much for starting your week here! Make it a great one!

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 2 weeks ago from USA

      Hi Heidi - Thanks for another interesting and informative hub. I didn't realize that businesses were creating Facebook groups to foster client engagement, but I can see the appeal - and the downside. It seems like it would take a lot of time, thought, and energy to manage. I hope most businesses and managers think about the pros and cons you mention before launching their Facebook group.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Flourish, I think we all have better things to do! :) So anything that glues me to Facebook and doesn't help me build my business is gone, gone, gone. In theory, the Groups idea is sound; in practice, not so much. Thanks for sharing your experience! Have a beautiful week ahead!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

      I'm so glad you both expressed a thumbs down to the groups thing. No to groups for me, too, for all the reasons you listed. I barely use Facebook anymore because I just don't trust the security and don't like the terms changes that aren't communicated properly. But you won't catch me hanging out on Google or in groupchats or any of that stuff. I have other things to do.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 3 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      Billybuc, as you can see in the article, I've ditched the Group thing, too. After two attempts to get my own going, I measured the ROI of my activity and it just wasn't worth it. I'm not ruling it out for the future if the circumstances warrant it. But otherwise, I, too, love the solo life. Thanks for being part of my less formal "group" and for your always kind support! Have a great rest of the weekend!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I stopped the group thing about two years ago. I'm afraid I'm not a group kind of guy and never will be. I have a clear picture of what I'm doing and how I'll achieve it, and I like going solo so I only have one person to answer to on decisions. The lemming life is not for me, my friend.

      Happy Sunday to you!