Facebook Announces New Groups Tools, Community Support Initiatives at European Summit
Could Facebook groups be the new Pages?
That seems to be the growing sentiment, with Facebook pushing its mission to improve person-to-person connection, and reducing the reach of Pages as a result. But then again, managing groups is a very different process – though one which could definitely help boost those engagement levels, which Facebook is so keen to see.
Continuing on its mission to re-focus on group interaction, Facebook this week held its first-ever Communities Summit in Europe. This follows last year’s Communities Summit in Chicago, in which Facebook invited "a few hundred group admins to gather, share and connect in real life."
The resulting discussions from their first event helped Facebook re-focus their efforts to improve groups, and at the Europe Summit, The Social Network announced a range of new initiatives which will further boost group engagement.
First off, Facebook announced a new set of functional updates for groups.
The most standout change is a new color option – Facebook will now enable admins to add a personalized color which will be displayed throughout their group, providing an extra sense of personal identity and place.
Facebook’s also making it easier for admins to find the various most-used options, by adding them all to one screen, streamlining the management process.
Another cool addition is the ability for admins to pin announcements to the top of the group page – you’ll be able to add up to 10 announcements which will be highly visible to all visitors.
That could make it easier to organize real-life meet-ups and events, while also ensuring all members are aware of any important updates or changes.
And the last update is the ability to create a dedicated rules section within your group to help better communicate the official expectations within your online community.
Given Facebook’s renewed mission to play a role in connecting people, it’s clear that groups are a key element – in fact, many users have commented that since Facebook’s announced News Feed re-focus, they’ve been seeing a lot more notifications from groups within their feeds, another possible indicator of Facebook’s groups push.
With the range of groups tools expanding, and the ability for Pages to create their own groups, they could present a great opportunity for businesses to augment their potential Page reach losses, while also better connecting with their audiences – though as noted, groups do take more work. And more time investment in Facebook means more reliance on their notoriously fickle shifts.
Community Leadership Program
In addition to functional updates, Facebook's also investing in a new set of programs to help ‘empower leaders from around the world who are building communities through the Facebook family of apps and services’.
The Facebook Community Leadership Program will offer:
- Residency and Fellowship opportunities offer training, support and funding for community leaders from around the world.
- Up to five leaders will be selected to be community leaders in residence and awarded up to $1,000,000* each to fund their proposals.
- Up to 100 leaders will be selected for our fellowship program and will receive up to $50,000* each to be used for a specific community initiative.
- Community Leadership Circles bring local community leaders together to meet up in person to connect, learn and collaborate. We piloted three circles in the US in 2017 and will be expanding globally this year.
- Groups for Facebook Power Admins, which we currently run with more than 10,000 group admins in the US and UK, are expanding to more members to help them share advice with one another and connect with our team to test new features and share feedback.
Underlining their commitment to group initiatives, Facebook's clearly putting its money where its mouth is, investing in new opportunities to help boost group engagement.
But that’s not the only funding they’ve set aside for group improvements.
Expanding Engineering and Safety Teams
Facebook will also aim to double the amount of staff working in its London engineering hub, with a focus on building technologies which ‘help keep our community safe and secure’.
The London engineering team – Facebook’s largest engineering group outside of the US – will focus on:
- Detecting and stopping fake accounts - Working to make sure Facebook is a community of people who can connect authentically with real people.
- Protecting people from harm - Reducing things like harassment and scams that can happen in the real world and on Facebook, by building better tools to spot these issues and remove them.
- Improving ways to report content - Making it easier for people to give us feedback about things that shouldn’t be on our platform, which works in conjunction with our automated detection.
These combined announcements represent a significant investment in Facebook’s community efforts, and underline the platform’s renewed mission to "give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together" – or “bring the world closer together” for short.
As noted, that focus may also provide a clearer indication of Facebook’s intentions with its coming News Feed updates, which could help Page managers better prepare and hone their strategies.
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