For this episode of our podcast, Sarah, Ashley, and Aleks are going to tackle a very interesting topic – the idea of social Groups. You’ve seen these around. These are Groups you can join on places like Facebook and LinkedIn where you can connect to others with similar interests. Groups have been around for a while, but signs point them becoming an increasingly important part of the social media experience.

Typically, companies can use Groups in two basic ways: They can either join Groups already connected to their industry to learn more, network, and increase brand awareness – or they can create their own Group that’s more targeted toward customers or peer networks.

Let’s start by going over a few Group basics, and why you should really be considering getting more involved in Group activity.

The Rise of Groups

Social media is the opposite of school in this way: Everybody loves Group work! It’s a great way to keep up on the news, ask specific questions to get a variety of opinions, and find out what’s going on in a particular community. If those weren’t already reasons enough to get you interested in Groups, then keep in mind that social networks are also favoring Groups a bit more these days.

Facebook in particular has recently announced at its F8 conference that the redesigned Facebook (be ready for that, too) will have a new focus on Groups and Events. Groups will become a more integral part of the Facebook experience no matter what you’re doing, with a focus on finding more social contacts. You can bet that Facebook will also be encouraging users to sign up for more Groups as part of this initiative, making now a great time to get more involved in Group for preparation.

Trust

One of the changes that Facebook specifically has seen – and other social networks are encountering too – is that the average user is tired of seeing so much promotional material and not enough from friends and family, which is what they signed up for in the first place. As a result, recent Group activity has grown as people move away from the general News Feed and toward a part of Facebook that feels more trusted.

There are good things and bad things about this change, which raises questions about privacy, secrecy, and sources of information. However, for now the important thing to know is that Groups have been a much more effective way to reach new Facebook audiences, as well as keeping your current audience in the loop.

Additional Engagement

Groups are also great for creating even more engagement, due primarily to their natural barrier to entry: If people have joined a Group, then they are already interested enough in the topic to take action. That makes it a lot more likely that posts made in Groups will receive more engagement than posts outside the Group. In fact, some brands are already marketing their social Groups as a way to receive “exclusive” content or “inside tips” to get even more of their audience to take that step.

Take the latest Facebook updates as an example: If you compare the same post within a Group vs. made on a Facebook business page, the Group post is more likely to receive more activity simply because the new algorithm pays less attention to business posts in the general news feed. Keep in mind, while paid ads can’t exist within Groups, a Business page can indeed promote a Facebook group by sharing a link to the Group

Plus, Using Groups is Easier Than Ever!

Facebook is also adding a bunch of new features to Groups that we will be sure to talk about more later. For now, it looks like switching between different admin posts is going to become a lot easier (great for team-based Group management). Business Groups will have their own special features too, including the ability to join a Group as a Business Page, the ability to offer specialized Group subscriptions, and the expansion of mentorships within Groups.

We know that Facebook Groups can be a bit of polarizing topic! But we’d like to hear your take on it: What Groups are you a part of on social networks like Facebook? What has been your experience with those Groups? Would you ever consider creating a Group of your own? Share your thoughts with us on social media @21handshake.

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