Facebook Groups have risen in popularity recently. Does it make sense for you to use it in your business?
I don’t know about you, but recently I have seen a meteoric rise in the number of companies that are using Facebook Groups for customer community building. Coaches, software companies, consultants, online course creators and more are using Groups to bring their customers together.
Sometimes it isn’t the business but customers themselves make the group. This happened to us at LearnDash. One of our users decided to make an unofficial group to network with others and to share ideas. It wasn’t until a year or so later that we discovered this group and started to participate.
If you’re interested you can join the LearnDash Facebook group here.
After spending a bit of time in this Facebook group and others I have really started to think about the impact these groups have on a business. I see both pros and cons to using them. Below are my observations. You can use these to help decide if using a Facebook Group is the right decision for your business.
Let’s start with the good.
PROs to Using Facebook Groups
Creates community – Using Facebook might be the quickest way to form a community around your business. Customers can network and help one another. This can increase the perceived value of your offering(s).
Customers are already using it – Most everyone is on Facebook so joining a group is just a matter of a few clicks. No need to teach them about your own proprietary platform, which also means it’s one less site your customers have to visit.
You get ideas – A natural part of a community is to share ideas. As a business owner you can see exactly how people are using your product and get ideas on how to modify or improve.
Social proof – If someone is trying to decide whether or not to invest in your product and they stumble across a Facebook group with many users then they may be persuaded by that alone to join.
Makes you more accessible – Doing business with “companies” isn’t very engaging. People do business with people and having a Facebook group makes you and your products more relate-able.
There are other benefits to using Facebook groups but these are the ones that I find to be most relevant. However, not all that glimmers is gold. Let’s have a look at some of the cons.
CONs to Using Facebook Groups
You don’t own the platform – When you don’t have control over the tools you use for your business then you inherent some degree of risk. Policy changes can have a substantial impact and there is nothing you can do about it.
Poor organization – The comments in your group are essentially a stream of consciousness. Comments are disjointed and on virtually any topic which makes it hard to extract any meaningful business insights.
Not good for formal support – While groups are good for peer-to-peer support, it is a terrible avenue for offering formal support to your customers. Threads can go on in great lengths about very specific technical issues where it makes little sense to discuss in a public forum. There are tools built for support that are far better than Facebook could ever be.
Closed groups are a nightmare to manage – If you want to offer a group only to your paying customers then you can expect to spend a lot of time adding and removing people. Also, you will want to make sure you comply with Facebook’s terms of service so that your group isn’t suddenly shut down.
Managing expectations – If your Facebook group is an informal way to create a customer community (which is the case in most groups I see around products & services) then you have to spend energy setting expectations for that community in what is appropriate for posting and your policy towards the group in general. It’s possible that a group member misunderstands your policy and they form a negative opinion on you or your service.
So there you have it. Some good and some bad about Facebook Groups. If you are thinking about using them for your own business then I would encourage you to think about these things in detail. If possible, talk to others who have created their own groups to get a sense of the challenges and payoffs involved.