Facebook has been putting more emphasis on Groups of late, adding new tools and features to help promote increased use of what Facebook themselves have labeled an 'under-appreciated product'. Many don't realize it, but Groups has over a billion monthly active users, a milestone they hit ahead of both WhatsApp and Messenger, underlining their utility and value within the Facebook experience.
But more than that, Groups can facilitate a civic purpose. As noted by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his recent mission statement:
"We recently found that more than 100 million people on Facebook are members of what we call "very meaningful" groups. These are groups that upon joining, quickly become the most important part of our social network experience and an important part of our physical support structure. For example, many new parents tell us that joining a parenting group after having a child fits this purpose."
Based on this, Facebook has this week announced the first-ever Facebook Communities Summit, which is to be held in Chicago on June 22-23.
As explained by Facebook, the purpose of the Summit is for "a few hundred group admins to gather, share and connect in real life." At the event, attendees will hear from Facebook executives about new products they're working on for Groups, there'll be workshops where the attending admins will be able to provide the Facebook team with feedback on their experiences, and they'll get the chance to talk about building Facebook communities with others doing similar from across America.
The Summit is free, though seats are limited (you can apply for a spot here). Facebook's even covering the cost of hotel accommodation and food for attendees, all they have to do is make their way to Chicago - Facebook does note, however, that at this stage they are only accepting applications from US-based Groups.
Groups could become a much bigger focus in future, with Facebook, as noted, currently testing a range of new Groups initiatives, including filtering Groups by discussion topics and enabling Pages to post in Groups, and link to relevant Groups direct from their Page. With the Groups Summit scheduled for mid-year, we could see a new set of changes being rolled out in the second half of 2017. It's worth paying attention to what comes next.