Why businesses are relying on Facebook Groups to build engaged audiences

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company’ s first Communities Summit in June, 2017.

At the beginning of 2018, Facebook switched up its algorithm in an attempt to “ fix” the News Feed by promoting more posts from family and friends and demoting content from businesses, brands and media.

The move actively distanced brands from their followers on the platform by limiting exposure to organic content posted by businesses. At first glance, the only solution for brands was to invest more in their Facebook ad campaigns, but some businesses have found an alternative to connect with their audience by building vibrant Facebook Group communities.

Facebook Groups: “ A game-changer”

In 2012, Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa Heffernan launched their website Grown & Flown , an online publication for parents of children ages 15 to 25. Three years later, they started a Facebook Group for their website, and according to the co-founders, it turned out to be a key strategic decision.

“ We started a Facebook Page when we started the site as a way of putting the content out there, and then about three years ago we started a Facebook group which was a game-changer in terms of hearing more from a community of parents about what mattered to them, what was important to them, what they worried about, and keeping our finger more on the pulse of parents in that demographic, ” says Heffernan.

The Grown & Flown Facebook Group is a closed group – meaning members have to be approved before the can join – and currently has more than 320, 000 members. Harrington and Dell say their Group has a life of its own, with parents leading the conversations, which in turn informs them as publishers about the content the know will work on their website.

“ We know what parents what to hear about. We know what’ s on their mind so we can create content, find experts, find writers who will speak to what we already know our audience wants. That’ s a huge business goal because who wants to publish things that no one wants to read, ” says Heffernan.

Peloton, the exercise brand behind the Peloton Bike and on-demand streaming fitness classes, has experienced much success with their Facebook Team. The Official Peloton Member Page (which is the Groups name, and not to become confused with the brand’ s Fb Page) is a closed Group which was first started by a member at the begining of 2015. The brand began moderating the Group later that year.

“ Over the past three years, membership rights has grown from 1, 300 in order to more than 116, 000, ” states Peloton’ s VP of neighborhood Jayvee Nava, “ Membership development in the Group has far outpaced Bike sales, as existing Users invite their family, friends plus colleagues to join this positive plus supportive community. ”

The network effect of engagement

According to Nava, The Official Peloton Member Page, on average, sees three hundred posts, more than 5, 000 feedback and 20, 000 reactions every day.

“ Posts that will drive the most engagement are individual success stories like getting back on the bicycle after an injury, celebrating milestones for example completing their 250th ride plus starting a group challenge to hold on their own and other Members accountable, ” states Nava.

The VP of community for Peloton states the Group also sees increased wedding when the brand announces highly-requested brand new features.

“ We all notice that our posts usually ignite other conversations among Members, which usually creates a domino effect, ” states Nava, “ We continue to request our Members for suggestions for functions once a month via our #FeatureFriday content as well. ”

Cultivated & Flown’ s co-founders replicate the same experiences as Peloton. Heffernan mentions one post by a mother or father that received more than 2, 1000 comments. The parent had distributed a photo of an e-cigarette Juul container found in their child’ s area, asking if it was a flash generate.

“ She obtained 2, 000 comments saying, “ No, that’ s not a display drive, your kid is Juuling plus it’ s a discussion you might want to possess with your kids’, ” says Harrington. The Grown & Flown co-founders knew the post had handled on an important issue and instantly assigned a writer to write an informative item on e-cigarettes.

Monitoring Group performance

So far as measuring Group performance, Grown & Flown says they first obtained access to metrics for their Group final summer.

“ They will actually turned them on whilst we were at the Facebook Communities Peak event, ” says Heffernan, “ It was kind of crazy – i was really excited and I think all of the various other Admins we’ re really thrilled as well. ”

Harrington and Heffernan say they use their own Facebook Group data to determine in what times they’ re more than likely to see the highest engagement in the Team.

“ Because we now have that data now, we can utilize it to determine when to do a Fb Live video in the Group, ” says Harrington, “ It’ t pointless to do it in the middle of the day since everybody’ s at work – that could be self-explanatory, but we have the information to back that up. All of us aim for the best days, the best time period when we want to put ourselves around, or content out there that we really feel really committed to. ”

The Grown & Flown co-founders also say it feels like content material on the Group page lasts longer – that Facebook appears to be pushing Team posts into members’ News Nourishes over a longer period of time.

Facebook support for Group admins

Peloton’ s Team has been highlighted by Facebook among the most engaged, standout Groups amongst consumer brands. The brand seemed to be selected to be part of a pilot support system Facebook launched in-may, offering Groups Admins a system to report issues, ask questions and obtain responses within 24 hours

“ Facebook has been a great companion and is always willing to listen to our own feedback on ways to make the Team experience better for our Members, ” says Nava.

Cultivated & Flown isn’ t portion of the pilot support program, but it has brought part in a beta mentorship plan that Facebook is offering within the Team platform.

“ It is often fantastic for our Group because we’ re naturally set up for it. All of us match high school parents with university parents — with the college mother or father being the mentor and the senior high school parent being the “ mentee” – based on criteria of their current address and what they’ re interested in, ” says Heffernan.

Developed & Flown has also been able to profit from their group with the launched of the paid subscription Group for associates with college-age children needing recommendations about college admissions and other college-related topics.

Small Organizations see results too

Grown & Flown and Peloton are two brands experiencing the elevation of what a Facebook Group will offer in terms of engagement, but smaller Groupings are also seeing results.

Akvile DeFazio, the founder from the social media marketing agency AKvertise, says the girl client Indow Home windows , a window company located in Portland, Oregon, has created a niche Team on Facebook for historic upkeep society and organization members across the U. S.

“ The group is closed to this target audience and we share content and talk about ideas and obstacles faced within the historical preservation industry, ” states DeFazio, “ Many members furthermore share projects they are working on — wins, challenges and failures as well. ”

DeFazio states that while the Group members are not always Indow customers, they help advertise the brand to their network which usually later results in new customers.

Facebook’ s Groups focus

After opening Groups in order to brands and publishers in July of 2017 , the company has steadily released more Group tools directed particularly at brands.

Within July, Facebook rolled out Watch Party for all Groups, a video function that allows multiple users to watch plus comment on the same video in a Fb Group simultaneously. The following month, Fb opened up its ads pixel to some limited number of Groups, and said it was planning a broader roll-out in the coming weeks.

Grown & Flown’ s Heffernan said they learned a lot from other Group admins at Facebook’ s first Communities Summit event in Chicago last year. After the summit, Grown & Flown brought in volunteers to help moderate and act as admins for their Group and began using its Facebook Page to help grow Group membership.

“ We learned a lot of best practices. We learned a lot of what was working for other Groups. Our Group took on a lot of momentum after that experience, ” says Heffernan, “ If you looked at our statistics, you’ d see a big spike, but it was partly because we were learning from other Admins, which is the best way to learn in terms of growing your community and keeping your community close. ”

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is Third Door Media’s General Assignment Reporter, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs. com , SoftwareCEO. com , and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.

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