One big trend I see accelerating in the social media world in 2019 is the move to more “community” and less “let’s go viral”. It’s something I talked about in my trends presentation I put together that I’ve given now to five different groups in the Twin Cities.
Facebook is pushing Groups now, as exhibited by the promotional videos like this.
And, we know, anecdotally, that more people are tiring of the Facebook feed each day. Sure, Facebook may say numbers are up and things are good, but everyone I’ve talked to lately talks more about the vitriol and political rantings than they do productive conversations. This is why groups are emerging as a place people want to spend time.
I’m seeing more of it, too. In my research for one client last year, I came across the Dental Hacks Facebook Group.
It’s an extension of the Dental Hacks Podcast, one of the more popular podcasts in all of dentistry (podcasting in dentistry is a big deal–just Google “dentist podcasts” and see for yourself!). And, it’s an ACTIVE group. I’d say there are 15-20 posts a day and many posts get 40-50 THOUGHTFUL comments (not emojis, spam or one-word comments). Nope, this is a true COMMUNITY in every sense of the word. And, like I said, I think we’re going to see even more of this as we head into 2020.
Which begs the question: How can brands be a part of this shift to groups on Facebook?
Sure, the easy answer is for brands to start groups of their own. And, that will happen. In some cases, it will make sense, too.
I could see brands developing groups for loyal super-fans as a way to facilitate customer service and innovation. I could see academic institutions developing groups for alumni groups (many already have!). There are going to be opportunities for brands to create and facilitate groups.
But, one approach I don’t hear too many people talking about yet is enabling key employees and influencers to participate in target groups on your brand’s behalf.
Here’s what I’m talking about.
Let’s use Spredfast as an example and keep things in our industry. Spredfast could certainly create their own group of power users and use it as a chance to listen to concerns and feedback from its more loyal users. That would make sense, and they might even see success with that approach.
But, what if they also enabled 1-2 community-manager types to participate in key groups across Facebook on behalf of Spredfast? Groups like this Social Media Manager Group that has more than 30,000 members. The idea: the Spredfast community manager would ask to join the group and check-in with the group 1-2 times per day. Listen to what members are talking about. Identify trends other social media managers are talking about (this could enable innovation at Spredfast). And, when members have specific questions about Spredfast or social listening tools, that Spredfast employee could jump in and answer those questions (without being salesy, of course). In this way, the Spredfast employee is simply a community member adding value on behalf of the brand.
This is how I see brands participating in Facebook Groups effectively.
It’s not sexy. It’s certainly not “scalable” (one of the most over-used buzzwords in our industry). But, in this new, emerging world of what social media could look like in the next decade, I believe it can be a smart move for brands.
What do you think, social media friends?