With its focus on encouraging more helpful, and involving, community engagement, Facebook has made groups a key point of emphasis over the last two years, which has included the company hosting its Facebook Communities Summit events, the first of which was held in June 2017.
Facebook's Communities Summits bring together Facebook group admins so they can share their best practices tips, provide feedback to Facebook leaders, and learn about what's coming next.
The latest Community Summit was held at Facebook HQ this week, and as part of the event, Facebook unveiled a range of new groups tools, which aim to provide additional options for admins, and encourage more active participation.
Here's what was announced.
1. Post Formatting
Facebook will soon provide group admins with a range of new post formatting options, including variable text sizes, bullet points and block quotes, to help make their announcements stand out.
As highlighted in the above example, the tools will make it easier for group admins to post relevant announcements and updates, in more easily digestible formats.
2. Brand Collaborations
Facebook's also looking to test a new brand collaboration options for groups, which will enable associated groups to offer relevant deals and/or partner with professionals for more specific industry insight and assistance.
3. Improved Group Communications
Facebook's also rolling out new options which will enable group admins to provide members with additional information on rule violations and why their posts are not being shared, along with updated tools for muting members.
4. Expansion of Mentorships and Subscriptions
Facebook's also expanding its Mentorship option to all groups, after first announcing the initial roll-out last August, while more groups will now also be given the ability to offer subscriptions, enabling them to create separate content for dedicated members.
In addition to these changes, Facebook's also looking to improve its social good features by adding new donation stickers for non-profits to Instagram Stories and expanding its Blood Donations tool, which enables people to sign up as blood donors and get notified when blood donation centers near them need blood.
Aside from providing new functionality, the changes further underline Facebook's focus on groups, and encouraging group participation as a means to facilitate engagement. Part of the reason for this is that users are increasingly engaged in Facebook groups, possibly more so than in the News Feed, while group discussions are also held within enclosed spaces, which could make it harder for more controversial content to spread through the network.
Then again, such discussion are still occurring, just in more enclosed communities, but still, it could help reduce the public sharing of questionable material, an added benefit to Facebook's broader groups push.
More than 1.4 billion Facebook users engage within groups each month, while more than 200 million Facebook users are members of what Facebook says are “meaningful” groups which have a significant impact on communities. And as users become more wary of what they share within the main, public feed for all to see, more discussions are switching to enclosed communities, a shift that Facebook needs to move with to maintain activity levels.
That's also a key consideration for marketers - over time, social media usage habits are shifting away from public broadcasting, which could make separate spaces a more active, relevant platform for reaching your target audience.
The new groups changes will come into effect over the next few months.