I used to be a big fan of Facebook Groups for supporting previous customers. These were a great way to give your customers access to the latest specials, stay in touch, and encourage reorders. However, when Facebook changed the Group format, eliminating the opt-in (when you add someone to a group, they’re in whether they want to be or not, and immediately start receiving a barrage of emails from your Group), I could no longer recommend them for this purpose. Opt-in is important.
However there’s another use for Facebook Groups that is still viable, and something you may want to consider if you’re a leader. I’m talking about the Team Group.
What is a Team Group? Essentially, it’s a central communication hub for your team. Rather than relying on emails getting through to everyone, you instead (or also) provide all messaging in a Facebook Group. Your team can go here to find the answers to Frequently Asked Questions, the schedule and access information for Events, view photos and training videos you’ve provided, and also network with one another.
When managed well, a Team Group can promote retention for your team, helping people feel more connected to one another. This is especially important if your team is spread out geographically. You can also ensure that people get the answers to common questions 24/7, instead of waiting until you’re available. This helps them to be more productive.
The new Facebook Groups product has some pretty neat features.
- Post team announcements on the wall of the group (Post)
- Share a Link to an interesting article or training piece
- Share Photos from your latest team or company event
- Share Video messages welcoming new team members or doing simple training such as inspirational messages or new product demos
- Post Events for training calls and upcoming company events. (The added benefit to putting these on Facebook is that Facebook provides reminders when your team members log into Facebook.)
- Create simple text-based Docs with important information such as incentives and promotions, as well as your list of FAQs.
Another nice feature of the new Facebook Groups is that you can set up a Group Email that allows you to send a message to the entire Group from your email account. (Access this feature by clicking the Edit Group button after you’ve created your Group.) You can also schedule live Chats within your Facebook Group, so you can all log on at the same time to discuss the answer to a question, for example.
Groups can be Open, Closed, or Secret, just like before. For a team group, you may wish to have a “Closed” Group. This means that people on Facebook can see the Group and its members, but they have to request to join. This way, if you’re not friends with someone on your team on Facebook, there’s still a way for that person to find your Group and join it. To send a direct invitation to join your Group, you have to be Friends with them.
Your Groups are shown on the left side bar of your Facebook home page. To see the entire list, simply click “More” under the Groups that are showing. This is also where you can find the “Create Group…” link that allows you to set up your own Group. Just remember to let people know BEFORE you add them to the Group, so they’re not surprised and overwhelmed when they suddenly start receiving emails about everything that happens in your Group.
If you plan to set up a Group for your Team, keep in mind that you can’t just set it up and walk away. Successful Team Groups require ongoing community management. This means that you need to check in regularly on the Group, and make it useful for your team members. Answer questions there, reference the Group in other communications, and reward participation in the Group. You should also encourage people to answer each other’s questions in the Group, run incentives through the Group, and generally make the Group a fun place that people want to go. This helps the Group to become a place that people connect with each other, and not just get information. This is what helps you promote retention.
The advantage to setting up a Team Group in Facebook as opposed to an alternate service is that so many people are already on Facebook. They go there naturally. They don’t have to remember to go to another site where you host your Group. It streamlines the process for your Team members.
Do you have a Team Group (on Facebook or elsewhere)? What benefits does it bring your team? What advice would you give to someone considering a Team Group? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.