Facebook Groups are broken, but sort of in a good way if you’re trying to sell stuff.

The Context

Right now, with some variability dependent upon page size, the typical organic reach of a Facebook page is 1-3%. That means 1-3% of the people who like your Facebook page are going to receive an unboosted piece of content from your page. That might seem a bit ridiculous, because it kind of is, but that’s the nature of Facebook pages today. Facebook’s current mood is to put more of an emphasis on real, personal connections between people instead of the connections between people and the publishers or brands they follow.

They say this is their philosophy because it makes for a better Facebook experience and keeps the focus on a social experience. They do not say that this is their philosophy because it makes them a ton of money on Facebook ads because brands have to boost their content to get more reach on their pages, but that’s because Facebook has enough PR savvy to not talk about how their benevolent “morals” just happen to also align with massive profitability.

The Groups Situation

So we’ve established that Facebook Pages are currently being victimized by Facebook’s emphasis on personal connection—the assumption by Facebook being that Facebook Pages are more likely to be impersonal publishers/brands rather than people.

This is where Facebook Groups come in to the picture.

Facebook seems to be of the mind right now that if you are in a group with people, you are more likely to know them personally. Facebook is prioritizing personal connections right now and because they (wrongly) assume that Groups tend to be more personal connections, Groups content does not get the page reach treatment

Right now, organic reach for content posted in a group is 100%. If you are in a group on Facebook, you see 100% of the content posted to that group by default. You can change the settings to just see “highlights,” just friends’ posts, or see none of the content. But, the default is to see all of the content.

How Groups Are Broken

On top of all of that, you can add anyone to Facebook Groups that you want. This is where Facebook Groups are broken, but sort of in a good way for marketers.

If you are a woman who uses Facebook, the chances are high that you have been involuntarily added to a Facebook Group for someone selling a multi-level marketing product like leggings, essential oils, or other such products. I’m sure it happens to men, too, but I know this is much more common among women.

How violating is that? You’re just going about your day and BOOM, you’ve been added to a group of people clamoring about high-priced oils or makeup products. And now, unless you take action, you’re going to see 100% of the content that is posted in that group!

As violating and intrusive as it feels to be added to a group like that, people don’t leave them as quickly as you’d think. The strategy is working and it’s becoming more and more common.

I think if you manage a Facebook page and you’re trying to sell a product or service, you should leverage this current Groups situation. But don’t be too intrusive about it.

Leverage Groups for Good…Until Facebook Fixes Them

I am not advocating that you create a Facebook group for a new product and add everyone you know to the group. That can feel really violating and ultimately end up being a net negative for your brand. You could do it, but this is not me telling you to do it. 🙂

What I would advocate for is a sort of targeted approach to this method. I wouldn’t add a bunch of people to a group willy-nilly. But, I would suggest that you create a Facebook group tied to your Facebook page and tell everyone you can about the group. I would advise you move as many people into the group as you can, perhaps even monitoring who likes, comments, and shares the content on your page and adding them.

Use your group, then, to offer valuable content to people over a long period of time before you start marketing to them hardcore. If you add a bunch of people to a Facebook group without asking them and then start marketing to them right away, everyone’s just going to leave.

Add people to a Facebook group and provide value to them over time. Then, once you’ve built up a healthy culture of mutual value in the group, start marketing to the group. This provides a way to reach your target audience on Facebook without being hurt by the lack of organic reach.

Surely, enough marketers and salespeople are going to abuse the current state of Groups that Facebook is going to fix them. But, until then, use the current situation to your advantage.

Chris Martin
Chris Martin is the Co-Creator and Chief Content Officer at LifeWay Social as well as an Author Development Specialist at LifeWay. He and his wife Susie live outside Nashville, TN.