Opt-In is Important (a Major Change with Facebook Groups)

As a business person who is marketing your business, it’s important not to annoy your customers and prospects.

Even though we want to get messages out about our businesses, we don’t want to do so in ways that will make our customers upset.  This is one of the reasons we avoid spam by only sending email marketing messages to people who have opted in for them.

Up until now, Facebook Groups have been opt-in.  This means that people have had to decide whether or not they want to join.  But the newest change to Facebook Groups has changed all that.  Now, anyone on Facebook can add anyone they want to a Facebook Group.  And as soon as they do, every message posted to the group is sent by default to a person’s email.

Now on the surface, this seems like it fixes an inherent problems with groups in the past…people are now notified of what happens in groups.  But in reality, this is incredibly annoying.  Imagine being added to a group, and suddenly having your inbox fill up with marketing messages you haven’t asked for?

Because of the change in the Facebook Groups product, I can no longer recommend that direct sellers use Facebook Groups.  When the first thing you have to do is advise people to opt out of notifications, it’s not a good tool.  Even though Facebook Pages bring their own set of challenges, at this point I think they’re better for direct sellers.  Opt-in is important.  We cannot be using social technologies in a way that will annoy our customers.

This week I’ll be talking about making the switch to Pages, and ways to keep Facebook Pages in perspective, so that they don’t become all-consuming and a waste of your time, should you choose to use them.  And if you have an old group, you’re still OK (at least for the moment).  It’s only groups created since Facebook announced the change last week that are affected.

But get educated on this!  It’s important to understand what’s going on so you can make good choices for your business.

Your thoughts?

18 Responses to Opt-In is Important (a Major Change with Facebook Groups)
  1. Kate Percival
    January 12, 2011 | 3:39 pm

    When I first brought my direct selling business onto FB, I created a Page. Based on an article that you had previously written, I changed over to a Group, and now FB has gone and changed things to make them worse! I think I can still send invitations and people can opt-in to my group. Should I change back to a page or should I stick with the opt-in group? I only have about 50 fans, but I don’t want to confuse anyone! Sometimes I wish FB would just let things be and stop trying to “fix” things.

    Thanks for all your research and articles to keep us informed.
    Kate DeForest

  2. Ralph Gauthier
    December 6, 2010 | 9:08 am

    I agree with most of the talking points in your article. I love the facebook platform and in general I think that facebook tries to enhance their users’ experience with most of the changes that they make. when I saw your ‘anybody can add anyone to any group’ claim I had to go check that out because in my opinion that would be a platform killer for a lot of people. The only link that I could find on any of the groups that I admin or am a member of is one that allows you to invite someone to a group. This is not the same as adding someone to a group. If I’m missing something I would appreciate it if someone would set me straight.

    • Jennifer Fong
      December 6, 2010 | 10:23 am

      Ralph,
      It depends on whether you have the old group format or the new one. The old group format allowed you to invite. The new group format allows you to add. That’s a big difference! If you’re using an old group (set up before the change) you can test it for yourself by creating a new group.

      Jennifer

  3. Martin Burt
    October 20, 2010 | 4:04 am

    Hi Jen,

    Great article and yes I think you have got it spot on, our customers are precious things to us. We certainly don’t want to spam them to death.

    Martin

  4. Cooky
    October 19, 2010 | 10:48 pm

    Jennifer,

    I was just reading your post, and so if your facebook group is private and I send out invitations for people to opt in then it is still ok.

    Cooky

    • Jennifer Fong
      October 20, 2010 | 10:01 am

      Depends on when your group was created. If it was before the change, folks can opt in. After the change, people are automatically opted-in when you add them. This doesn’t work as well for customer situations.

  5. David
    October 19, 2010 | 8:49 pm

    Great article and here’s the kicker. If you’re a group admin and you go and add a bunch of people into your group, if they opt-out, Facebook notices this and they may ban you from inviting people to future groups. So be very cautious when placing people on your group list and only add people that you know will be interested in your group. David

    • Jennifer Fong
      October 20, 2010 | 10:02 am

      Very good point David. I didn’t even think of that, but you’re right. I’m sure Facebook is paying attention to that. I think this whole structure is a nightmare!

  6. Karen Austin
    October 19, 2010 | 2:52 pm

    What an amazing source of information this is. Thank you for helping us get through the maze of social media so we can sort things out and make good business decisions! Eagerly awaiting your next post.

  7. Tisa
    October 18, 2010 | 11:21 pm

    Great Call!

  8. Alesia Jackson
    October 18, 2010 | 1:50 pm

    Thank you for this newest recommendation and for your efforts to keep us continually informed. When I first subscribed to your blog I printed out all of the articles I was interested in and made a reference notebook for myself. I had a Facebook Page that I was building at the time and considered switching over to a Groups page but was wary about it. Maybe I didn’t fully understand the “benefits” at the time, but I just didn’t feel compelled to investigate the time and resources towards it (glad I didn’t now!) Meanwhile, my Facebook page has continued to grow steadily as has my friends base and I am excited to post to my interested readers everyday! My gut feeling is that having my Page allows me to better cultivate a “following” better than Groups ever could. It’s working for me and I love it!

  9. Julie Anne Jones
    October 18, 2010 | 12:59 pm

    Thanks, Jen. Well said and I appreciate you educating us on this important change.

  10. Cheri Semple
    October 18, 2010 | 11:15 am

    Thanks for your research Jennifer. I’ve had a page for quite some time and like it. I was considering a group but will leave my page as is for now. What I keep wondering is why FB continually changes things are working fine? I’m sure I don’t have all the background facts but it seems the “improvements” they seem to make are not beneficial in the long run and confuse the issue. I’m really not thrilled with the picture icons on the Chat list versus names. The pictures are so tiny! And, what purpose did that serve? Not sure. Anyway – thanks for the updates on this ever-moving target!

  11. Amy Polk
    October 18, 2010 | 9:36 am

    🙁 I just moved from a Page to a Group about a month ago based on your recommendations, which I highly value BTW. I have been having trouble getting people to join the group and the Page “likes” continue to grow… Looking forward to seeing what you recommend this week! Thanks for your commitment to this!

  12. Allison Mesa
    October 18, 2010 | 9:32 am

    Thanks, Jennifer, for your honest feedback on Groups and posing a Page as the next best option. I didn’t do the Group and went right to the Page a couple of months ago and enjoy posting on it to my family, friends, customers, and prospects. I’m looking forward to hearing from you how to USE my page and NOT inundating them with posts, getting across company and product specials information, possibly getting some new customers as well!

  13. Sharon Mayers
    October 18, 2010 | 9:25 am

    Thanks so much Jennifer for focusing on this. This is equivalent to being added to someone’s email list without permission. It is very annoying and I look forward to reading your suggestions for Facebook Pages.

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  1. Facebook Groups Can Help You with Team Building | MLM.com
  2. Facebook Pages: What to Do First | Direct Sales and Social Media
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