Back in January, we reported that Facebook was testing a new application questionnaire feature for Facebook Groups to help refine and improve the group membership process. That test appears to have gone well - this week, The Social Network has confirmed that Group membership questions are being rolled out to all users.
As reported by TechCrunch, group admins will now be able to pose up to three questions for people requesting to join their Group to answer - this is what the layout of those questions looked like in the initial test phase.
This will enable Group admins to better manage the Group admission process, limiting infiltration by spammers and giving them additional control. For example, you could make the questions simple, or incredibly detailed, dependent on what you're looking for - this should then ensure that the people you do let in are actually interested and knowledgeable in the topic, and will therefore more likely become active participants.
The update's part of Facebook's bigger push on Groups, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself highlighting the importance of Groups in his recent 6,000 word manifesto on the future of the platform.
Over a year ago, Groups passed the one billion monthly active users milestone, beating both WhatsApp and Messenger to that status - but most users likely never heard about that growth, because Groups isn't a separate product, which means it gets less focus. Aside from Zuckerberg's acknowledgement, Facebook themselves have labeled Groups an "under-appreciated product" and have made a commitment to put more effort into improving the option.
We've already seen various updates on this front, including tests of discussion topics within groups to better highlight key conversations, member introductions to encourage more interaction, and most recently, some Pages being given the capability to post as Pages in Groups, and link to relevant Groups from their Page.
These new options offer a range of possibilities, both for general Group admins and brands looking to better utilize Groups. Sometimes (most notably on LinkedIn) groups can become a mess of self-promoters and spam, which application questions will give admins an opportunity to limit, and maybe even avoid completely. This, in combination with connection to Pages, could make Groups a great place for businesses to host brand-relevant conversations like frequently asked questions, community-based help, etc.
Not every Page is able to post in Groups as a Page as yet, but the option is being tested more widely - as noted by The Next Web's Matt Navarra earlier this week, some Pages are now showing up with linked Groups highlighted in the main header, another element of Facebook's Group/Page connection test.
Facebook now shows when a Page has a linked Group connected to it pic.twitter.com/193rkm2I4Z- Matt Navarra ⭐️ (@MattNavarra) May 12, 2017
If you haven't considered the possibilities of groups, the numbers don't lie - a huge amount of people are active in Facebook Groups, many of which, according to Zuckerberg, they would consider:
"..."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."
Aside from directly-linked brand Groups, these "very meaningful" Groups could offer significant opportunity for organizations to reach out and help in a non-intrusive way. Of course, the whole point of application questions is to avoid self-promoters and those looking to use Groups for unintended purposes, but you can still get involved in relevant conversations with a view to genuinely help - or even just to listen in and learn about common issues and concerns.
And more changes could be on the way - in June, Facebook will host its first ever Communities Summit in Chicago, bringing groups admins together to hear direct from them about how to improve the option. It'll be interesting to see what - if any - further refinements stem from that meet-up.
Facebook says membership questions are now available to all Group admins - the option is available in the Group's Settings menu.