MORE COMMUNITY: What the big changes to Facebook groups mean for the public sector

There has been a big round of changes announced for the way Facebook groups operate if you’re interested in communicating with people you need to know what they mean.

Changes to the algorithm and extra tools for groups to make them work better are on the horizon.

The big changes were announced during the Facebook Communities keynote streamed live on the platform. As I’m fascinated with this stuff and I love you very much I’ve blogged them for you.

The TLDR summary: Facebook are putting more emphasis on groups and you’ll see changes in the coming months. If groups aren’t part of your Facebook strategy it even more needs to be.

“For many of us, Facebook groups have been an important place to find support share information or just be entertained. Last year, I talked about community as central to the Facebook experience as friends and family. I’m excited to share the new tools that will make groups even better.”

Mark Zuckerburg, facebook ceo, september 2020

The data says groups are flying

Data around groups is hard to get hold of so it’s fascinating to hear there are 1.8 billion Facebook users who use groups at least once a month. That’s 66 per cent of all users.

Overall, there are nine billion Facebook group memberships – that’s five each on average for everyone who uses groups.

Of these there are 70 million group admins and moderators. As a wild guess, I’d estimate there are around 30 million groups globally.

Facebook’s algorithm is going to reward public groups

The algorithm is the all powerful all-seeing eye that governs the direction Facebook takes so when Facebook give an insight into how they’re changing it it’s worth listening.

Content from public groups will be placed into your news feed if its relevant to things you are interested in. That’s a huge, huge game changing step. It turns public groups from niche areas to places where you can reach far wider than its audience.

For the public sector, it makes creating public groups around communities or topics more of interest. So, a public health page encouraging healthier living could reach a wider audience.

It’s clear that particular sunshine will be shone on public-facing groups. Facebook are going to actively allow sponsorships as way of making them generate cash for admins. That’s interesting. But it does raise the prospect that money will change things.

They’re also going allow collaboration with brand managers. I’m not sure what that looks like but this may have a bigger impact to private sector people than public sector.

New tool: Chats

This will be a tool where users can talk about a particular topic on an individual thread more easily.

New tool: Q&A

An admin can add a post that invites more discussion and a Q&A on a topic.

New tool: Admin

Extra tools for admins are going to be introduced to allow admins to run their groups. Applications to join public groups will become automatic but a limit can also be put on posting. So you can join. But there’s the option that you may not be able to post for a month. This will limit spam, potentially.

There’s also the option to limit the type of post. So, maybe during election time community groups that don’t want election rows can ban them altogether.

New tools: customise profiles in groups

As part of this, John Smith can join a Facebook group for gamers and change his profile pic to his gamer image and add his gamer tag to the group. He’ll still be identified as John Smith but he’ll also have a tag and a different pic.

This could work both ways in some community groups by encouraging the feeling of anonymity.

More policing of groups

The algorithm will be tightened up to clamp-down more on hate speech and individuals who consistently break rules won’t be able to set-up new groups.

Interestingly, a million groups have been taken down for violating community standards.

The bottom line

I’ve long argued that the data p[oimnts to Facebook pages on their own being of limited value. However, a page that takes its content to Facebook groups is hugely powerful.

Nothing in these changes has changed my mind about this.

Picture credit: Flickr / Documerica.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. This is really useful stuff, thanks Dan. Now just a case of working out what we do with this. As a council we’ve always stayed away from posting directly into groups – usually a group member will tend to do that for us if they find our content relevant and useful… perhaps there would still be ‘second hand’ benefits to us when they do this.

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