The last thing you may want is another social media account to manage, but Facebook groups can help shelters and rescue groups do things Facebook pages can’t — or at least, not as easily.
Facebook groups are typically organized around an interest, theme, or project. In animal welfare, they can be used to work collaboratively with team members, coordinate rescue or transport arrangements, or plan an event. But as groups have grown in popularity and pages have seen diminishing returns as Facebook restricts organic reach, it may be time to consider whether a group will help you reach the general public as well as more tightly-focused audiences.
Why is a group potentially better than a Facebook page?
You’re in control.
While Facebook pages are always public and represent part of your organization’s public face — somewhat like a website — they are also subject to all the usual perils of public conversation and posting. People can disrupt your page, take it wildly off-topic, or post spam.
Groups can be used by the public, but you can also set their privacy to be by invitation only (best for internal use, such as event planning), or to approve all membership requests.
Posts can be made by all group members, but you can control this in the settings, so that only administrators can post (probably not the best idea for a group intended to engage the public), or simply set them so you have to approve them in advance. Or take a chance and trust your community — you can always engage tighter controls if it doesn’t work out!
Group members are a core audience.
This doesn’t just give you the opportunity to control the conversation, however. It also allows you to focus on your most dedicated audience, people who have to make an investment greater than clicking “like” on your page. That means they are the people most likely to get involved in your projects, volunteer, foster, donate, and give you feedback and input that’s of great value because it’s coming from someone more deeply allied with your organization.
That doesn’t mean you want a bunch of “yes-men” in your group. It means when they tell you something’s a bad idea, they’re more likely to be both credible and constructive.
Sharing isn’t always caring.
The power of the social share for fundraising and pet adoption can’t be denied, so the fact that you can’t share group posts might seem to be a mismatch for the goals of an animal organization.
But there’s also power in making people feel they’re part of an elite group of allies, and making your appeal to them directly. Because they’re more engaged supporters, and because everyone likes to feel they’re special, this outreach has the potential to be far more effective than the scattershot public appeal (although you should do both).
This same principle might even work for adoption — while it’s not a model we’ve seen in use at this time, it might be worth trying to create a Facebook group and inviting potential and past adopters to be part of it. You’d want to have a staff member in charge of guiding the conversation and helping people find the right pet for them, but if it worked, you’d not only find more homes but would cement a lot of lasting relationships with your adopters. (And if you try it, be sure to let us know how it worked!)
The big reach.
Tired of posting to your Facebook page and having only a tiny percentage of your followers see your messages? Facebook group posts are currently shown at or near 100 percent to members who look at their feeds. What’s more, members can receive the posts via email, making engagement both easier and more likely.
Greater engagment pays off in more actions taken to support your organization’s goals. For example, one digital marketer ran a test where he shared a post to his Facebook page and his Facebook group. Each had 660 followers/members. His goal was to drive traffic to a page on his website. The post to the Facebook page got 8 people to click over. The group post got 122 website clicks. (Get more information on his test, plus a lot of tips for using Facebook groups, in his post on Moz.com.)
Also of interest:
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