FACE TIME: Data says Facebook groups are booming in the pandemic

I’ve often said that the pandemic’s info wars will be won or lost on Facebook and fresh data has been released that support that view.

More data now supports that view.

A survey shows that 91 per cent of people during the pandemic got some kind of support around COVID-19 from their preferred Facebook group.

The data from Facebook commissioned from YouGov underlines the importance of the platform’s community groups to communicators trying to communicate public health messages.

Anecdotally, this is no surprise.

I see my Facebook timeline filled with comment and debate around the topic and with more than 40 million Facebook users it turns out I’m not alone.

I’ve written before about the importance of seeking out Facebook groups in your community to get your message in front of them. How to get your message into a patchwork of groups where people are is one of the topics I’ll be teaching in my new online learning programme.

But it’s the data, the data, that says this. Not me.

Elsewhere in the survey there is further supporting evidence.

86 per cent recieved emotional support through a Facebook group.

57 per cent gave emotional support.

77 per cent say the most important community group they belong to now operates online.

86 per cent say they plan to participate in groups at the same level or more.

98 per cent say they have a greater sense of belonging through groups.

Of course, its easy to dismiss the survey findings as they were commissioned by Facebook themselves. If they weren’t flattering we probably wouldn’t hear them. But they are and we have.

It’s also wrong to say that groups exist to spread cheer and goodwill. There are good ones and bad ones just as there are good reporters and bad ones. But they are absolutely part of the solution.

Facebook is one of the largest platforms in the UK and groups are how more and more people are using it. Facebook data released last month pointed to 66 per cent of users using groups. That’s a lot of people.

You can find out more about understanding Facebook groups and the other skills featured in the Essential Comms Skills Booster session running online here.

Picture credit: Flickr / Documerica.

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