More than 1 billion people around the world use Facebook Groups.
For many people, groups are now the most important part of their experience on Facebook and this is only set to increase, with Facebook’s mission to: “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”.
In February 2017, Mark Zuckerberg said:
“For the past decade, Facebook has focused on connecting friends and families. With that foundation, our next focus will be developing the social infrastructure for community — for supporting us, for keeping us safe, for informing us, for civic engagement, and for inclusion of all.
Bringing us all together as a global community is a project bigger than any one organization or company, but Facebook can help contribute to answering these five important questions:
- How do we help people build supportive communities that strengthen traditional institutions in a world where membership in these institutions is declining?
- How do we help people build a safe community that prevents harm, helps during crises and rebuilds afterwards in a world where anyone across the world can affect us?
- How do we help people build an informed community that exposes us to new ideas and builds common understanding in a world where every person has a voice?
- How do we help people build a civically-engaged community in a world where participation in voting sometimes includes less than half our population?
- How do we help people build an inclusive community that reflects our collective values and common humanity from local to global levels, spanning cultures, nations and regions in a world with few examples of global communities?
My hope is that more of us will commit our energy to building the long term social infrastructure to bring humanity together. The answers to these questions won’t all come from Facebook, but I believe we can play a role.“
New Tools for Facebook Group Administrators
As part of its mission, Facebook has recently added new tools to help you build and manage your own communities.
These tools will enable you to better control requests to join your Facebook groups, manage existing members, make it easier to share content with a group and create focused sub-communities for specific interests.
Earlier this year, Facebook rolled out a facility to ask up to 3 questions to people when they ask to join a group.
This is a great way to find out more about potential members, such as how they discovered your group, why they are interested in your subject area and what they hope to gain by becoming a member.
Based on their response (or lack of response) to the questions, you may also get a feel for how likely they are to add value to other members of the group and if they are the right fit for your community.
Membership request filtering
Facebook has now added features that allow group admins to sort and filter membership requests based on gender, location and (perhaps most importantly) if they answered your application questions!
Managing existing members
As part of their commitment to help keep communities safe, Facebook have added some member ‘clean-up’ options. When removing a group member, group admins can now also remove all content posted by that member in a single step, including posts and comments. They can also remove any other people that member added to the group.
Have you ever wished there was an easy way to monitor activity in your groups? With the new Group Insights feature you now have access to real-time metrics about growth, membership and, most importantly, engagement.
Do you spend lots of time manually posting content in your groups? This just got a lot easier and less time consuming thanks to scheduled posts.
Using this feature, group admins and moderators can share content and schedule the post for a future date and time.
Note: you can also do this using some third-party scheduling tools.
Another new Facebook groups feature is group to group linking.
This allows group admins to recommend similar or related groups to their members, enabling you to bring communities and sub-communities closer together.
Having witnessed engagement in some Facebook groups drop as their membership has grown (and the group has lost some of its family feel) I believe this feature will be invaluable for grouping niches within a larger group to focused on specific topics or create an online space for people living in specific offline locations.
The importance of community
As Facebook itself is the world’s largest online community, I think it only right to end this article with these words from its founder:
“Communities give us that sense that we are part of something greater than ourselves, that we are not alone, and that we have something better ahead to work for. We have to build a world where every single person has a sense of purpose and community. That’s how we’ll bring the world closer together.”