7 Facebook Group Tools and Tips to Build an Engaged Community

Facebook Groups are getting a lot of attention lately, especially as organic reach on Facebook Page is declining.  In this post I share Facebook Group Tools and Tips to Build an Engaged Community.

This Post was Updated on 25th September, 2016

Facebook Groups can be a great way to grow an engaged community and generate more traffic, shares and sales.

I have been the admin of a number of groups, some with a dozen members, some with thousands (You're welcome to join our Visual Content Creators Group right here).

I have seen Facebook Groups work in dozens of scenarios.

I've seen them build thriving communities.

So,  I am definitely an advocate of Groups and have a few Facebook Group Tools and Tips to share with you.

But, with so many people jumping from Facebook Pages to Groups, it's worth knowing a few things about Facebook Groups.  Firstly,

  • They shouldn't replace your Facebook Page, but instead, provide another way for your community to find you and engage with you (and each other).
  • Facebook Groups take time to set up, manage and moderate.  Which is why you should consider the tips in this post before starting one!
  • They can become a very important part of your business, building engagement and community, driving traffic, shares and sales to your website… so treat them with the respect they deserve.  Don't just start a group because it's the “thing to do”. Start one with a strategy in mind.
  • Facebook Groups can be a great place for people to come together around a combined subject or cause. Groups can be built around:
    • a topic or subject in your industry
    • a mastermind
    • a community cause
    • a group of paid members for a program or service.
  • There are 3 different levels of Facebook Groups – Public, Closed and Private (we will discuss them below) and you need to choose one that suits your goal and your audience.

 

7 Facebook Group Tools and Tips

#1  Type of Facebook Group

As I mentioned above, there are 3 main types of Facebook Group. These are:

  • Public or open (anyone can see the members and their posts and can join)
  • Closed (anyone can see the members but they can't see posts and have to request to join or be invited by an admin)
  • Private (only those in the group can see that it exists. You have to be invited or added to join). It's secret squirrel stuff.

Facebook Group Settings - 7 Facebook Tools and Tips to Build an Engaged Community
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The type of Facebook Group you choose will depend on your purposes for setting up the group in the first place. And you can change the type of group in your settings.

Generally, a Public Group is great for a common cause or discussion where you want people to discover the group easily.  When someone posts in this group, their friends may see a notification “Donna posted in ____ Group” with a link to the post so people can see it.

If you don't want your posts to be public, then consider one of the other group types:

  • Closed Groups allow you to check who you are inviting or accepting into the group – it gives you more admin control. These also work well as bonuses for paid programs whereby you can allow someone access to the group as a member of your program or membership site.
    • Please note that it is against Facebook's terms of service to “charge” to use Facebook features, including Groups.  So it needs to be a bonus or some other arrangement. Do not charge a fee for someone to be in a Facebook Group. 
  • Private Groups are great for small groups, family members, friends or projects you want to keep secret.  You can always make them “Closed” or visible later using the Privacy Settings in your group, as in the image above.

 

#2  Pinned Posts

This tool I love! It is especially great for group admins like me. The reason?  It allows you to “pin” a specific post to the top of the feed, so it is the first thing that shows up.

You see, there's one thing that can be a little hard to get used to with Facebook Groups. Posts are not just chronological.

This is how it works:

  1. In a group, the last “post” that has had any activity sits at the top of the group “newsfeed”. This means that if someone posts a post, it will go to the top.
  2. If someone comments on a separate post, that post will jump to the top. And so on. In a larger group this means that the posts move thick and fast, and new posts are intertwined with old posts.

It can be great for seeing the latest comments but somewhat frustrating for a Facebook Group Admin. What if you want to give certain posts priority to be seen by the group members?

By including Pinned Posts in groups, Facebook have solved the problem of how to keep the important information “up front and centre”.  Just like the pinned post on your Facebook Business Page, this is how it works:
  • To pin a post simply choose the drop down menu on any post and choose “pin post to top” – you will be asked to confirm if you want to replace any old post.

Here's what a pinned post looks like (see.. it says “pinned post” at the top)… and it sits at the top of the Group Newsfeed:

Pinned Post - 7 Facebook Group Tools and Tricks to Build an Engaged Community
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The pinned post will stay pinned to the top of the group page – fixed in position regardless of who posts afterwards.  Some things to remember:

  • Unfortunately, you can only pin one post at a time, so make sure it counts.
  • Another thing to bear in mind is that the pinned post will not show automatically on mobile view and users in your group may not realise that they have to click on “View Pinned Post” to see it, as follows:

Pinned Post on Mobile
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Therefore, If it is something really important and you don't want mobile users to miss it, it may be easier (if it will get a lot of engagement) to post it freely on the wall and let it “float” at the top of the feed.

And yes, I wish Facebook would bring back multiple pinned posts for this reason!

It would be nice to have one “welcome” pinned post and one spot you can pin another post to show something important, an event or announcement.

But for now, we have one Pinned Post, so use it wisely.

#3  Facebook Group Admin Files

This is one of my favourite Facebook Group Tools.

It's actually a group of tools or resources you can use within your group to help members understand the group, what it is about, the group rules and more

When it comes to admin documents, the main Facebook Group tools you will want to know about are:

1. Group Description

This is where you can add a blurb about the group, including basic group rules.  Make sure you add this at the time you start your group. You have a decent amount of space to add a description and you can link to other file documents.

Whenever you update this, it will appear in the newsfeed too, so it's a great way to keep members up to date with any group or rule changes.. and it will go out on the newsfeed to group members (if Closed or Secret) or group members and their friend (if Public).

Facebook Group Rules Update - Screenshot - 7 Facebook Group Tools and Tips to Build and Engaged Community
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2.  Files – this is where you can add files and documents about the group for group members.

I use this feature a LOT. For example, in our Visual Content Creators Group we have documents for:

You can add documents for anything you wish!

The native Group document creator actually looks pretty nice (it has the same builder as the new Facebook Notes feature). Or you can upload a PDF if it is a document you don't want it edited by anyone else.

Here is a screenshot of the documents or Files we have in our Visual Content Creators Group at present:

Visual Content Creators Facebook Group Admin Files
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3.Photos – this where you can find Group Photos.

Photos works like any other Photo manager on Facebook – it keeps a records of photos posted on the newsfeed by you (the Admin) or by members and you can view them in categories of Photos, Albums or Videos.

 

#4  Search

Have you ever been in a group and seen a great post, link or comment and you think “I must come back to that”?

But then you lose the comment in the group posts when you come back to it?

Or perhaps you have been looking for your own comment in the group but can't find it in all the posts?  You need to use the Search function!

It's one of my favourite Facebook Group Tools.

Go to your favourite group. Let's use my Visual Content Creators Group as an example:

Facebook Group Search
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Take a look at the image above.  See the little red circle? That's it. The search function.  Here is what this great little tool can do:

  1. You can search on the name of a Group member.  All of their posts will come up. Brilliant!  Especially if, like me, you often see a post and want to return to it but then forget what it was or you can't find it!
  2. You can search on any word.  So, if you want to find all the posts that mention a particular topic, you can just type it in!  Posts containing that word will come up in the search results.
I use search ALL the time when managing a group, and in groups I am a member of too. Don't forget to use it!

 

#5  Events

Another of the Facebook Group Tools you might want to check out is “Events” within your Facebook Group.

These can be handy if you are having a meetup or a webinar.  Like a pinned post, they help to highlight something important.

This will allow you to reach more group members as well.

You find the Event tab at the top of your group and you set it up like any other event.

Create a Facebook Event in Your Group
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#6  Video and Live Video

A great thing about Groups is that everyone can add video and even go live in the group.  This can be great for having guests present to the group or doing mini-trainings.

You can do the following with video in Facebook Groups:

Just make sure you are very clear about the rules for video in your group if it is a large group.

Many large communities have a rule about no-live streaming in the group (other than admins) to allow for moderation of content.

However video and Facebook Live can be a HUGE asset for a group so be sure to consider creative ways you can use it, especially as an admin.

 

#7  Grytics

I have discovered this awesome tool recently called Grytics – a tool specifically designed for Facebook Groups Analytics and Marketing.

And if you are a Facebook Group owner or Admin, it will become your best friend!

grytics-tool-for-facebook-groups
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Grytics helps you achieve a number of things.  With Grytics, you can:

  • Get insights on the group, posts and members – you can find out key statistics about your group including who your new members are, and who are the engaged members  (and whether they are a “publisher” “commenter” or “reactor”.  You can also see which posts perform the best, and the time of day that members are most engaged.  The detailed reports also allow you to compare the performance of your group over different date ranges to see what is working (or not working) in the group.
  • Get to know your members better so you can keep them “on board” by reaching out to them, acknowledging them and engaging with them. For instance, you can download a spreadsheet of new members and then use the list to welcome them into the group.  Grytics will also publish a Wall of Fame leaderboard for you to share in the group to showcase the most engaged members.
  • Publish in the group – Grytics is great for publishing your posts.  You can post your group posts “now” or schedule for later (up to 60 days in advance).  No longer are you a slave to your group – you can think ahead!
  • Easily locate your active, inactive, new, current or former members and engage with them as appropriate.
  • Print detailed reports to track the progress and engagement of the group.

Check out Grytics – it starts at just $12 per month and if you have a Facebook Group, it's worth it.

I doubt that I will want to run a group again without this tool and I am sure you will feel the same!

BONUS:  Admin Tips and Tools

There are a few tips you can benefit from when acting as an admin for a group:

  1. Have more than one “Admin” member. This helps if you can't access your account but also if your group grows, it's handy to have a back up person to moderate the group.
  2. Get very clear on your Group Rules as they make it much easier for you to grow your group of moderators (and moderate the group) if you are clear from the start.  Many a large group has been abandoned because it became too hard to moderate.  Post the rules up in your files and in the description!
  3. Encourage your group members to report posts they feel are outside of the group terms. This will save you loads of time rummaging through every post and helps members to feel that they are truly part of the community. In a larger group where you can't vett everyone thoroughly, you will get spam. Let your members give you a heads up about it.
  4. If you're lucky you may be able to show your group posts in chronological post order. But fair warning, this may be being phased out by Facebook as it currently doesn't work for everyone.  Check if it worksf or you. Type * in the search bar. If it works, you'll see the group's posts in chronological order!  Apparently “*a*” also works for some people.  Just bear in mind that this does not 100% work for everyone, and in bigger groups it won't necessarily include all posts.But hey, it's worth a shot, right?
  5. Get very clear on your settings – decide if you will allow members to add people, if they need admin approval, who can post on your group wall.  These are all in the “settings” section of your group. For example, here is ours:

Facebook Group Settings Example
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Want more information about Facebook Groups?

For more information about Facebook's FAQs on Groups, they have a page you can go to:  Check it out here.
It includes loads of questions and information about how to join groups, how to set up your own group… how to share and contribute to groups and even how to leave a group!
Are you using Facebook Groups? In this post I share 7 Facebook Group Tools and Tips to build an engaged Community.
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Are you using Facebook Groups? In this post I share 7 Facebook Group Tools and Tips to build an engaged Community.
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Over to You!

If you are a member of a Facebook Group or you have your own that you are an Admin for, use these Facebook Group Tools and Tips to get a better experience (and results) from your participation in the group!

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Donna Moritz

Visual Social Media Strategist at Socially Sorted
Donna is a Visual Content Strategist and founder of Socially Sorted, listed by Forbes as a "Top 5 Social Media Blog You Need to Know About". Donna helps brands leverage the power of visual storytelling and content strategy in their business. Her content has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Inc. & Entrepreneur and she is a speaker and trainer on visual content for the marketing and tourism industries internationally.
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