Facebook recently conducted its 2021 Communities Summit, which will bring together group administrators from across the network to meet, share experiences, and learn about new tools that will help enhance group engagement.
Facebook has also revealed a number of new group tools as part of the event - here's a rundown of all the new options being added to further simplify and enhance its community offerings.
To begin, Facebook is introducing new custom color and post background options for groups, as well as admin-selected font styles.
Admins will now be able to select new colors and format options for posts, as shown in this example, and looks quite fascinating.
Additionally, admins will now be able to choose the emoji defaults that users in their group will use. This won't stop people from using emojis, but it will allow admins to focus on specific emoji images that are relevant to their group. For example, the 'Avocado Lover & Growers' group may want to make the avocado emoji the default, while others may create their own answer emojis that are more thematically appropriate.
Admins will be able to use feature sets to choose from pre-made collections of post styles and badges, and Facebook will also include an automated greeting message option, allowing group managers to lay out crucial rules and norms for new members.
Welcome posts will be redesigned to give admins additional opportunities to engage with new group members, and the tagging limit for welcome posts will be increased to 500, allowing admins to connect with more newcomers at once.
Facebook has officially introduced its new Community Awards, which allow group members to assign 'Insightful,' 'Uplifting,' or 'Fun' labels to posts and comments that they think beneficial in the group.
According to Facebook:
“These awards encourage engagement, make the content more visible to members and help demonstrate the group’s content at its best.”
As a result, the rewards are more than just a simple engagement cue; they also increase post/comment visibility, which might be a simple approach to better uncover the most relevant conversations and answers, as well as improve interaction by emphasizing these contributions.
The Community Awards prompt has appeared in some groups over the last few months, but Facebook is now making it available to everyone, providing another engagement choice to explore. And perhaps focusing more on the finest material is another approach to model group participation and encourage the greatest contributors to keep contributing.
Facebook is also experimenting with a new subgroups option within groups, which will allow admins to categorize areas of group discussion.
This would make it easier for each user to discover the talks that are most relevant to them — for example, if you collect cards, the group may be divided into sports cards, Pokémon, MTG, and so on.
In some respects, it may appear that if you're creating a subgroup, you should just create a separate, more dedicated place for each section, but there are also advantages to being a member of a larger community and having the ability to connect with each piece.
Admins will also have the option of making their subgroups a distinct paid feature.
That might open up a new revenue stream for your most devoted group members, while also increasing the FOMO factor for others who aren't a part of this more private community segment.
Community Chats, which will be available on both Facebook and Messenger, will provide an immediate, engaging connection option in groups, while recurring events will enable frequent meet-ups and discussions in your groups via audio, video, or text.
Another connective consideration will be the new 'Columns' option for longer-form entries.
Admins will also be able to pin group announcements and control the order in which they appear in a new 'Featured' section at the top of their group, while 'Community Chats' will let admins and moderators work together more effectively.
Also, worthy of note:
“To help make your groups more accessible to those in the broader community, we will be testing the option for admins to extend community access to those without an existing Facebook account, enabling them to participate in a single group.”
As a result, non-Facebook users are on Facebook. It's fascinating to see Facebook stepping back on this need just a little, however it'll be interesting to watch whether this has any ad targeting repercussions, especially with the creation of separate Work accounts, which eliminates the need to utilize a personal profile.
Additional group monetization and fund-raising opportunities, such as community fundraisers to showcase charity causes and merchandising displays to highlight group-related and made products, are also on the way.
The new features add to Facebook's growing toolkit of revenue options for creators, and given how much time group admins spend administering their groups, it's a key component of the company's long-term growth aspirations.
Finally, Facebook is working on a new merged Group and Page experience that will make it easier for both management to coordinate their activities.
“For admins of Facebook Groups, the new experience will allow them to use an official voice when interacting with their community. For admins of Facebook Pages, the new experience will help them build community in a single space for members to participate and engage. Admins of Pages will also be able to take advantage of the moderation tools that Groups have today. This new experience is in early testing over the next year, before it becomes more broadly available.”
Groups are still an important part of Facebook's success - in fact, it's perhaps the most important factor that keeps many users coming back, especially given recent findings that reveal that Facebook engagement has been declining in many ways over the last several years.
With 1.8 billion monthly active users, Facebook Groups are a central social element for many people around the world, and as local news publications close due to advertising pressures, groups are becoming an even more important tool for keeping up with local events and maintaining connections with neighbors and friends.
While groups can intensify more negative movements and bring dangerously similar groups of individuals together, the larger good of such connectedness is also obvious.
While Facebook can do more to protect against the former, the latter is critical to Meta's ongoing objective.
Matter of fact, in his speech to the Communities Summit, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg mentioned the metaverse:
“Groups and communities on Facebook are going to be an important part of [the metaverse] vision. Nothing beats being together. But when we can't be together in person, the metaverse will help get us even closer to feeling that sense of an in-person connection. So, we're focused on building bridges from our apps on 2D screens into more immersive virtual experiences. Facebook, and your groups, are going to be central to this.”
Meta may be looking to the future, but in order to achieve its goals, it must retain the relationships of existing communities.
Groups will continue to play an important role, and these additional tools will expand the number of options available.