Administrators of Facebook groups now have an option to allow pages – not just people – to join their group. This is important. Engaging with communities on Facebook has always been a challenge for companies, because one or more members of staff would have to join a group using their personal profile.
That’s tricky because a) staff often don’t want to use their personal Facebook to talk to customers b) for lots of organisations they may want to engage with a particular community to defend their actions of counter misinformation. That means a member of staff dealing with negative comments aimed at their profile, not their employer’s.
In theory, it’s now possible for an organisation to join a group and contribute to conversations, answer questions or defend itself using its corporate page.
Groups are a hugely important part of the Facebook experience. Joining groups gives people a sense of focus and a source of conversation on Facebook, that sometimes feels missing in a cluttered news feed.
There are hundreds of groups with more than 1 million members, but the really exciting opportunity for communicators are often smaller groups that represent a core audience, topic or geographical area. So, is now the time to try and join lots of your audience’s favourite groups, using your company page?
A credible approach to engaging with Facebook groups
- You need to research the groups that are most relevant to you and your audience.
- Introduce yourself to the admins for each, personally. So, you’ll still need to be able to utilise a personal Facebook profile to make that initial introduction.
- Assuming you are allowed to join a group, you will need to build credibility through relevance. More so than ever, because all your posts will appear from behind a corporate logo, rather than a real person.
- Whatever you post must be useful to the audience, not simply a copy-and-paste of whatever messages you’re putting out this week. groups for people living on East Java may be interested to know about jobs at your oil field, or how they might be affected by maintenance of a pipeline. They probably won’t want to watch your latest video on research in to alternative fuels.
- The same risks around reaction within the group apply. You must be prepared to participate in the group, not simply to lurk? It’s unlikely that a good admin will allow you to join if you’re not prepared to contribute, or they think you may simply be in broadcast mode.
Facebook groups are amazing spaces for credible engagement with defined audiences. Establishing the relationship and trust that’s required to be part of these is a lot of effort, but far more worthwhile than a ‘spray and pray’ approach to broadcast messaging on official channels.
Use groups to establish facts and reach people quickly
The ability for an organisation to join a group is also great opportunity for emergency or reactive communications. Rumouring and misinformation within groups leads to bad feeling, panic and sometimes fatal reprisals. Authoritative information within these groups at time times of worry could be invaluable for everyone.
Start by researching and finding the Facebook groups that are most important to your audience. Then build good relationships with the admins of those groups.