The announcement that Facebook is testing a new feature that would see Page posts moved out of the main Newsfeed and into a separate feed called Explore has caused a fair amount of panic recently and many businesses are looking for a solution that would allow them to still reach their followers if this is rolled out more widely.
If you haven’t heard the news, you can find a full update here: Is it really game over for small businesses on Facebook?
The first thing I want to say is that it’s best to avoid knee-jerk reactions.
There have been many times in the past when the Facebook algorithm has changed and people have panicked that organic reach will disappear and it will only be possible to reach people via Facebook ads. When changes happen we do need to adapt our strategies, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a complete U-turn. It’s never clear how changes will actually impact until they roll out and we’ve had a chance to assess the data so, whilst it’s a good idea to start thinking now about how you might adapt if the changes do roll out, there is no need for any rash or rushed decisions.
Is it a good idea to open a free Facebook Group?
A number of people have asked me if they should create Facebook Group now and ask their Page followers to join the group so that they still have a way to reach them.
This is a decision that needs to be thought through and rushing off to open a Facebook Group with no real plan or strategy as to how you will utilize isn’t likely to help. In fact, it could make things more difficult in the long-run.
Here are a few of the things you should consider before you create a Facebook Group:
- Do I have the time to manage a Facebook Group effectively? As well as creating content, you would need to manage member requests, monitor posts in the group and invest energy into creating a thriving community.
- What time and resources will I need to promote the Group? In order to grow your Facebook Group, you will need to use some of your marketing bandwidth. Is this feasible and will it leave less time and space to promote your other offerings?
- How will you attract new people to your group so that you continue to build your audience? Initially, you can promote the group to your existing Page followers but what happens next? How will new people find out about the group and is this going to create a barrier between you and people who don’t yet know about your offering?
- How will your Facebook Group compliment and not detract from your Facebook Page? Right now the changes are only impacting in the six test countries; they may never roll out or they may not impact Pages in the way people are predicting so think about how you would be able to continue nurturing an engaged audience on your Page as well as growing a Facebook Group.
- Where does a Facebook Group fit within your mission? Groups provide a more private forum for people to engage but the flip side of that is that your message is less likely to be shared and the conversation will effectively be taking place behind closed doors rather than in public. Does that fit with your mission or will it make it more difficult?
There is no right or wrong answer here but the important thing is that you consider all of these points and create a plan for the future of your group before you dive in and create it. Base your decision on your overall marketing strategy and your mission in business, rather than changes to social media that may or may not happen, and you will be better placed for success in the long-term.