Facebook has been making moves to shift from a ‘public square’ to private messaging for a while, announcing recently that that is their core focus into the future. They will focus more on Groups and smaller discussions (like group chats on WhatsApp) rather than the newsfeed over the coming months.
So if you’ve been thinking that a Facebook Group might be right for your business, I’ve pulled together checklist of what to do to build a group.
Now, Groups aren’t the same as Pages, and not every business page will translate to a group. But if you’ve considered your core values, and how that can translate to a community, then you’re off to a really solid start.
For example, a shoe store might have a Facebook page with the objective of showing off their shoes and advertising sales, but a group would be a community designed to help people keep their fitness goals or training for a marathon.
Some key points before launching a group are:
- you’ve pinpointed your audience
- you’ve got the time and resources to manage it
- you’re in it for the long game: you know that online communities take years to grow, build and bond.
But what is actually involved in setting up a Group from a technical perspective?
While Facebook makes the process easy and you can start a group in a few clicks, to have it looking professional and ready for your community is a different story.
Set aside an hour or two, and feel free to follow along.
Here’s everything you need to keep in mind when setting up a Facebook Group:
Set up the Group
Setting up a group on Facebook is a pretty simple process. To set up a group, simply head to the Groups Page on Facebook and hit the ‘Make A Group’ button in the top left-hand corner.
Give your group and name, and select if you want it to be Public (anyone can see all post), Closed (anyone can find and ask to join, but only members can see posts) or Secret (only members can even find the group – great for workplaces or similar super private groups.)
Closed Groups are often popular for business-based groups because people can confidentially discuss their needs and challenges, without it going all over the internet. This setting also reduces the chances of people joining just to spam it (a risk with all groups!).
Make it look gorgeous
Give your group a Cover Image. I love using Canva for this (affiliate link) – create a cover image which reflects your business or the community you’d like to build, and I’d recommend making it look similar to your existing business colours and fonts so if people find your group, they know it’s an extension of your brand or service.
It’s common for people to add a logo, or group hashtags to the cover image, too. Remember, this is public when people search for it, so it’s also a great tool to show off your group tone-of-voice before people join.
Add A Helpful Description
The group description is in the side-bar of your group. This is visible to people before they join, and permanently available for people after they join. For this reason, descriptions are often used in a few ways:
- to describe the group to potential members – what the group is about, the kind of culture you want to foster, and who runs it. This is helpful for people deciding if they want to join your group.
- the group rules – having a set of standards and rules which are easily accessible to everyone is a really important tool to have in place from the outset so you can set everyone’s expectations of what is, or is not, okay. Facebook does have a new Rules feature you could alternatively use for this, too.
- useful resources – you may also wish to put links to handy resources or hashtags you encourage people to use. Think of the description as the ‘welcome manual’ for people.
One other thing to keep in mind is that the description is really useful for people searching for your group. If you want to attract people from a certain industry, add in keywords about that job, job title, their common stresses or needs which they might search when looking for a new group.
Add a Pinned Post
Pinning a post as a welcome is a great way to welcome new people to the group, and highlight the rules. Not everyone will read the sidebar (especially on mobile devices!), so having a pinned post is a great way to ensure people see the essential information.
It doesn’t need to feature all your Group rules but adding a summary of the essential things you want people know when joining the group, such as the top three rules you’d like to encourage, and add it to the pinned ‘welcome’ post. You can also direct people to check out the sidebar for more information, too.
To create a Pinned Post, just create a regular update, then after posting, select the ‘Pin Post’ option on the top right-hand corner of your post for it to permanently stay as the first post people see.
Set the tone with content
In the same way that you wouldn’t launch a website with no copy on your pages, your Group should have some content, so that when people visit it for the first time, they can see what your group is all about.
Whether it’s engagements, tips, or articles, make sure your group has at least three pieces of content in there before you invite anyone along.
Remember that these initial pieces of content will set the tone for the group, and others will follow your lead and post similar content, so make sure it’s reflective of the kind of community you want to build!
Review your Admin settings
Heading to the admin section of your group will reveal lots of awesome features which aren’t immediately obvious when you first use Facebook’s Group-building wizard.
The “Manage Group” section reveals heaps of options. You can tags to help people find your group, customise your group URL, set whether any members can add people to the group (or just you), or whether you want to moderate posts. These are all important settings that help shape the culture of your group in terms of how open it is, or how private it is.
These are all important settings that help shape the culture of your group in terms of how open it is, or how private it is.
A nice feature that Groups have the ability to ask questions to new group members before they are approved to join a group. This is a great tool which you can set up to learn more about your members and their needs.
Asking one or two questions like how they heard about the group, what they want to know or what their role is, means you can learn a lot about your audience and then create group content and discussions around those needs.
Link your Facebook Page
If your business already has a Page, you can show that your Page also has an associated Group. It will appear in your Page sidebar and featured below the cover image.
To link your Page and your Group, head to your Page settings and activate the Groups tab (or follow the instructions here.)
So, let’s collate this all into one handy list. When you set up a Group, you need to:
- Create the group via Facebook Groups
- Add a Cover Image
- Add a Description (considering new members, and group rules)
- Pin a Welcome Post
- Create and post content to set the tone
- Review Your Group Settings (Adding screening questions, posting and member permissions)
- Link to Your Facebook Page
Now, the real work begins – and managing an online community!
For now, start promoting it your Group: invite your friends, run ads to fans of your Page, pop a banner ad in your newsletter or on your site. The next step is to build a community. Post every day to build a culture, start conversations and connect members together.
And remember: from little things, big things grow. Enjoy the adventure!
Article originally written in April 2017, updated in May 2019
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About Rachel Beaney
Rachel Beaney is an Australian freelance social media specialist with over a decade in digital media. She’s worked with global names like Microsoft, Samsung, News Corp and General Assembly, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping clients solve their business needs with creative and data-driven solutions. Get in touch today to jump on a free consultation call to find out how Rachel can help you.