Tag: groups

How Facebook is Enhancing Online Community Engagement During COVID-19

More than ever being part of a community is integral to navigating uncertainty. We continue to face unprecedented challenges and look to communities to uplift us and bring us closer together as we weather the storm. That’s why late last month Facebook announced its Community Connect: Navigating COVID-19 to help equip its community leaders with the tools and practices for success.

Roughly 200 million people are now members of “very meaningful groups” on Facebook. For many, these communities are the most important part of their social network experience with the number of users participating in Groups now exceeding 1.4 billion. Admit the current global pandemic, the relevance and importance of groups continues to grow with millions flocking to support groups to lend a hand, keep informed of the latest updates, and stay connected with family and friends.

On the heels of this shift and following its April event, Facebook is further supporting marketers as they seek to effectively manage their communities and establish relationships between community leaders. More specifically, the platform is unveiling a slew of educational courses aimed to provide guidance and pointers for those looking to make the most of their Facebook groups. Each will also include special guests (CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself made an appearance at the first Community Connect event) and product announcements relevant to facilitating group engagement including how to avoid the spread of misinformation and use the latest resources and tools to communicate more effectively.

Enhancing Online Community Management During COVID-19 Era

Each month will feature a different theme with workshops and guest speakers to lead the discussion. Here are a few highlights of the next five months:

May: “Community Foundations” will help managers return to the basics for setting up and maintaining a thriving community.

June: “Growth in Your Community” will outline ways to promote your community, manage growth and get the right people involved in your group.

July: “Engaging Your Community” will offer tips for getting your members to interact regularly and best practices for sharing productively including what to post and when.

August: “Managing Conflict” will take a deeper look at how to productively manage points of tension in your group and productively problem-solve solutions.

September: “Hosting Events” wetting your community together online and off.

“It’s times like this when strong communities are needed most….Even if not organizing directly around coronavirus yourself, your groups have provided an escape for people or a sounding board for people who need support and comfort during this time,” said Zuckerberg in a statement to TechCrunch as he reflected on the inaugural virtual event. In other words, in these trying times sometimes providing the space for people to be heard is an impactful solution in itself.

Regardless of our physical separation, we have never been more connected to each other than we are right now. We’re abandoning division, embracing empathetic instincts, and using social media to instill new value exchanges between brands and consumers. Leadership is taking a collaborative twist where learning from one another and being agile is integral to long-lasting relationships.

Check out the sessions from Facebook’s first Community Connect event here and stay up to date on coming education sessions here.

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4 Major Platforms Paving the Way for Private, Personalized Marketing Experiences

Privacy, safety, and security are all critical components of a trusted digital environment. They also offer a tremendous opportunity to innovate and build our businesses around private sharing and group culture that today’s audiences crave. By tuning into this important inflection point in our industry, we can begin to create a more human element to marketing.

Let’s take a look at some recent updates from four major platforms that are paving the way for a more permission-based future where users choose who they’re engaging with, how their information is shared, and have some say in the curation of their feeds:

Twitter Topics

As reported by The Verge, starting next week Twitter is offering the ability to follow topics in an approach to make the platform more accessible and approachable for newcomers and enhance the discovery of conversations and accounts for veteran users.

“We know that the main reason that people come to Twitter is to keep up on the things that they’re interested in,” said Rob Bishop who leads the company’s Topics team. “The challenge is that it’s really quite difficult to do that on Twitter day to day.”

With this feature, you can select from a variety of over 300 topics across sports, entertainment, and gaming that match your interests and are made clearly visible amidst the clutter of other conversations occurring.

Unlike the concept behind Twitter moments, there is a human element to the vetting with this update targeted to guarantee that topic streams remain relevant and stay on track. Above all, the goal is to emphasize the human behind the Twitter experience,

To follow a topic, simply follow the prompts from your Home timeline and enter the subject in the search bar. Tap the ‘Follow’ button and you’ll then be notified via a badge on tweets in your timeline that are being populated based on the topic you chose. You can unfollow topics at any time and make your account private if you don’t want anyone outside of your followers see your posts or what you’re sharing.

Facebook Messenger’s Privacy Hub

“We believe it’s critical to have spaces for private conversations where you have the freedom to be yourself and shared with loved ones,” Jay Sullivan, Director of Product Management for Messenger Privacy and Integrity stated in a blog post announcing a new privacy hub for Messenger.

The primary goal of this update is providing users with detail around their privacy settings and features including “Secret Conversations,” or end-to-end encrypted messages.

To make it simpler for users to avoid unwanted interactions, the site also provides detailed instructions for blocking accounts and reporting issues including people impersonating a friend or celebrity. In a similar vein, details for protecting your account from hackers via login alerts and safer browsing to avoid malware are also outlined.

Lastly, the platform is sharing the behind the scenes processes of removing reported accounts and how emerging tech like artificial intelligence is employed to identify harmful or inappropriate content and prevent the spread of misinformation.

WhatsApp Groups

WhatsApp has introduced an overhaul to its privacy settings and group and invite system to help users personalize their groups.

Here’s a breakdown of the new options:

  • Everyone: Any WhatsApp user is able to add you to a group.
  • My Contacts: Anyone in your phone’s contacts can add you to a group. If a user is not included in this list, they will not be able to add you to a group.
  • My Contacts Except: Anyone in your phone’s contact list can add you to a group with the exception of designated contacts that you specifically choose to exclude.

“As people turn to groups for important conversations, users have asked for more control over their experience,” the company shared in the official announcement.

LinkedIn Recommended Group Posts

After originally removing the messaging feature due to complaints around spam, LinkedIn introduced recommended group posts — a way for groups, owners, managers to share top content to keep everyone up to speed without the headache of sifting through unrelated content.

The steps to recommend are few and simple: navigate to your group’s homepage, click ‘More’ at the top of the post you’d like to recommend, then lastly, hit ‘Recommend this post.’ A quick disclaimer: you’ll get an error message if someone else in the group has beat you to the punch in recommending that given post or if you suggest a post too early. Only one post can be recommended per group every seven days — a LinkedIn rule to minimize notifications and focus them on the most value-adding content.

Learn more about Privacy Matters as part of our 2020 global theme: HUMAN.X and help us establish a human-first, experience-driven approach to digital marketing. Secure your early-bird discount today to save 30% on your full-conference pass to #SMWNYC (May 5-7, 2020).

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How to Bring Groups and Personalized Experiences Into Your Marketing Strategy

Marketing is grounded in authentic storytelling that aims to solve real-world problems for audiences. In an age of over information abundance, a very critical obligation for our industry is respecting people’s time and attention and delivering them tailored experiences that will shape their lives in meaningful ways.

Let’s take a look at how a few major platforms are incorporating updates to help users engage authentically and accurately.

Pinterest is looking to help its community in the content discovery space by making it easier to communicate with group members directly via a board.

New tools recently launched aim to achieve this goal include more reactions to elicit feedback, the ability to sort pins, and a central hub for communicating with group members.

“We spend a lot of time talking to Pinners, and whenever we hear from creative professionals — whether hair and makeup stylists, interior designers, wedding planners, or architects — one common theme comes up: they use Group Boards constantly to collaborate with their teams and clients,” the company stated in an official blog post.

New reactions

Pinners already have the ability to “heart” a pin they love. Now, with the addition of a pair of clapping hands, as well as thumbs down, question mark and lightbulb options, users have a much more specific and emotive way of engaging with content. These will display in a new pop up panel alongside a Pin once it’s tapped or clicked on.

Here’s a visual of what you can expect to see:

Sorting Pins

Also part of its slew of Group Board updates, Pinterest is giving users the ability to sort their Pins by “Most Reactions” and “Most Comments” so popular and unpopular ideas can be more easily traceable and differentiated. Ultimately, the goal with this move is to help projects move forward more swiftly. The company is also expected to launch a tool that would reveal the person behind the idea of Pin and the date it was saved as well.

Redesigned collaboration spaces

Finally, Pinterest is promising the rollout of a new space in which users can connect directly with contributors without ever having to deviate from the board. Users can already engage with one another via the activity tab, but with a new dedicated chat option with group collections, it’s clear the social network is eager to take their dedication to commenting even further.

Ultimately, the motive is to make the tool more engaging and maximize the time spent within the platform. To be clear, however, this isn’t for broader social connection, the emphasis still remains devoted to product engagement and discussion within smaller groups. “In fact, 98 percent of Group Boards have five or less people, and 77 percent of Group Boards are between two people,” the social network reported.

Yet another major platform making a push towards helping its users effectively sift between content that matters to them and posts that don’t map to their interests and needs is Twitter.

Multiple timelines

Twitter users are now able to add up to five lists as alternative timelines within the main app, enabling them to swipe between groups of accounts that they’re following directly from their home screen. In short, think of these as filters to your overall following base and chronological timeline where you can keep tabs on certain groups, perhaps old college roommates or coworkers, that you may not necessarily want to follow regularly.

On iOS, access Lists by tapping your profile to open the Home menu and select the ‘Lists’ tab. Next, pin or unpin certain profiles and create a List from the Lists tab.

Paired with this update, Twitter is adding a fresh landing page for newly curated lists, which, depicted below, incorporates a header image and more context about your customizable timelines, including the number of members and subscribers.

Per The Verge, as you build your multiple timelines, general platform rules and standards apply. Specifically, you can opt to make them private or public and follow any public lists created by other users. Lastly, a person can remove themselves from lists they no longer want to be a part of by blocking the list’s owner.

Facebook Watch Party

Finally, earlier this year Facebook launched Watch Party, a feature that allows members of Groups to watch live or pre-recorded videos together and comment in real-time.

“We’ve been focused on building new ways to bring people together around video, create connections, and ignite conversations; Watch Party is the next step in bringing this vision to life…If people can start a Watch Party directly from their profile or from a video they’re watching, the experience of watching video on Facebook can become even more fun and social,” the company shared in the announcement.

In this way, the Group becomes the TV station and the videos serve as the programs or lineup that can be viewed collectively with your friends.

Small groups continue to be the fastest-growing areas of online communication and it is important for marketers to understand that as they look to identify new ways for engaging their audiences, connecting privately in safe and trusted spaces is a dominant preference. As these examples demonstrate, group culture provides creative ways to encounter new ideas, interact with content with greater accuracy, and identify people with similar interests.

Looking ahead, marketers have a unique opportunity to innovate for a more personalized, curated future in a way that acknowledges a deeper respect for a consumer’s time and attention.

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As Facebook Pivots Toward Groups, Crossfit Forcefully Pulls Away

According to Facebook’s executives, the future of the platform lies in Groups. But after the deletion of part of their community, it is one that the fitness and nutrition brand Crossfit will not be a part of, the brand announced in a fiery release last week.

CEO Greg Glassman put it simply in his interview with CrossFit blog Morning-Chalk Up: “Facebook doesn’t comport with my community standards for privacy and decency, so we’re out.” The text of their departure release reveals far more intricate and deep-seated worries about the platform (including its photo-driven property, Instagram.)

In their departure letter, Crossfit writes of aiming to act in opposition to a number of “publicly sourced complaints” about the site. Among the grievances listed are its “poor security protocols,” “weak intellectual property protocols,” and the idea that “its business model allows governments and businesses alike to use its algorithmically conjured advertising categories as sophisticated data-mining and surveillance tools.”

Although many may be questioning their use of Facebook and its products for these reasons, there’s something else at play here. In a larger sense, Crossfit repeatedly names a feeling of being targeted for its status as “a contrarian physiological and nutritional prescription for improving fitness and health.” Their most detailed grievance speaks to Facebook and its properties as a “private platform that host[s] public content but retain[s] the ability to remove or silence—without the opportunity for real debate or appeal—information and perspectives outside a narrow scope of belief or thought.” The unexplained deletion of a South-Africa based group called Banting 7 Day Meal Plan, comprised of 1.6 million users who support one another in a low-carb, high-fat diet frequently accompanied by Crossfit-style workouts, was the final straw for the company. Although the group was eventually reinstated (similarly without explanation), the damage had already been done.

Crossfit’s contrarian status, they believe, is at odds with Facebook, a company who by its dominance, gets to “host and oversee a significant share of the marketplace of public thought,” and “thus serves as a de facto authority over the public square.” In Crossfit’s eyes—and many users and individuals would likely agree—”this mandates a certain responsibility and assurance of good faith, transparency, and due process.” Whether you agree with Crossfit’s stance or not, these concerns over responsibility and transparency are central to many current debates over the platform. And it seems unlikely that the brand will return to Facebook or its associated brands until these issues are better resolved. In the meantime, they appear to still be active on Twitter and YouTube.

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Move Over, News Feed: Facebook’s New Redesign Puts Groups Front and Center

Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reported at the company’s annual F8 Conference that 100 million people were heavily active users of the platform’s Groups function. This year, he took the stage to report that 400 million people could be counted as that type of user. Given the massive growth and importance of these venues, a redesign toward these gatherings felt inevitable. And last week, we learned that the next iteration of Facebook – called FB5 inside the company – will do precisely this.

“There are tens of millions of active groups on Facebook. When people find the right one, it often becomes the most meaningful part of how they use Facebook,” the company wrote in a recent blog post. Given that fact, their latest aesthetic and algorithmic update puts these thriving and vital micro-communities “at the center” of their new strategy. It aligns with the company’s push for more privacy, a move in turn driven by user behavior that shows increasing prioritization of private conversations and less permanent content.

In addition to redesigning the platform, the company’s latest advertising push supports this all-in mindset on groups. Led by new Facebook CMO Antonio Lucio, the new brand campaign is called “More Together,” and aims to “focus on people coming together on Facebook Groups over shared interests and experiences, whether it’s tacos or sci-fi.” The pivot toward groups will also make Events more prominent, another move seemingly geared toward the most popular features of the current platform…and moving away from those which have been most problematic.

An added benefit to this strategy for Facebook executives and engineers, is a natural de-emphasis on the highly scrutinized News Feed. It was there that issues of misinformation and polarization thrived, and has been blamed for several of the company’s latest image challenges. Aiming to get ahead of these critiques as they pertain to groups, the company has already pledged “to take measures to ensure that it is not recommending users to join Groups made for the purpose of spreading misinformation.”

Ultimately, this significant realignment for the frequently embattled company serves two masters. The user, who frequently flocks to these spaces anyway, can now do so with ease of navigation and a means to find new groups of similar interest. In the redesign, the platform is “improving [Group] discovery, making it easier to share from groups, and introducing a slew of new features built specifically for group type, like an anonymous posting option for health-related groups.” And for the company, who faced increasing pressure around (among other things) the perils of their prominent News Feed, they can structure their pivot around a new look and structure for their flagship product.

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The Complete Guide To Facebook Groups

We’re all part of Facebook groups. Sometimes we’re active members. Other times we join a group and never look at it again. It’s the one part of Facebook that lets us meet people with similar interests and establish a community outside of physical boundaries around a specific topic, geographic area, or both.

On a social media platform that is increasingly pay-to-play, groups are the one aspect of Facebook that the company hasn’t monetized yet. (Facebook has tested fees for subscription-based groups, so it’s only a matter of time before it’s implemented.) Currently, this doesn’t affect many groups.

Why Would I Consider a Facebook Group for My Brand?

A Facebook group will help you identify your core group of fans and cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship with them. Bands, such as Tsunami Bomb with its Tsunami Bomb Squad, are particularly adept at providing safe spaces for fans to share stories and memorabilia.

Facebook groups give brands a faithful captive audience that ideally will interact and provide feedback on what it loves about your brand, things it doesn’t like, and ways to improve your brand. Another perk is that often Facebook will alert active members that there is a new post.

If your brand is big enough, such as Fender guitars, there may be a fan group already dedicated to your brand.

If you find a fan group, don’t hijack it for your own purposes. It’s wiser to let it be. The last thing you want to do is anger your biggest fans. However, you can start a group associated with your Page that gives fans things they can’t get from other fans. These can be special offers, exclusive Q&As, or contests. Your imagination and budget are the only limits.

Is a Facebook Group Right for My Brand?

It’s important to note that Facebook groups don’t work for every brand. A local ice cream shop isn’t going to find a Facebook group sustainable unless it sponsors a group dedicate to the town it’s located in. However, a personal trainer will because there is the possibility her business will grow outside a specific geographic area. She will also always have new exercises and diet tips to share, whereas the ice cream shop only has so much material to work with.

How Should I Manage My Facebook Group?

There are some basic guidelines every Facebook group should establish.

1. Establish Who You Are
Facebook allows you to choose your group name and post an “About.” Choose a relevant name that is easy to find and make good use of the “About” section.

Answer the following questions:

  • Who would be interested in your group?
  • What can members expect from the group?
  • Are there any perks group members get, such as exclusive coupons or previews?
  • Why would people want to join this group?

2. Make Your Rules Clear

Most groups with stringent guidelines pin a post with details of what is allowed and will get a member banned. Usually, these are fairly straightforward, such as don’t abuse other members or sell in the group.

3. Decide Who Should Be Able to Join

You don’t want your group to be overrun with spammers, which is why you need to establish some form of gatekeeping.

Facebook makes this easy. You can ask potential members up to 3 questions as to why they want to join and what they plan to contribute. If you find that questions take away from the spirit of the group, you can allow everyone to join and booting the disruptive members.

Another way is to only allow members who are paying to be in the group. This only works for organizations or programs that charge fees. For example, Toastmasters International maintains private groups only accessible to those in the organization and the band Icon For Hire’s Icon Army Headquarters is for the band’s Patreon subscribers only.

While Facebook groups won’t work for everyone, there’s nothing stopping you from experimenting with them. As long as you’re willing to show fans you care and let them be honest in a closed environment you have control over, you will find Facebook groups can be very rewarding.

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The Complete Guide To Facebook Groups

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