When it comes to brand presence on Facebook, we often counsel that less is more. Typically, that means one brand page to streamline conversation onto one page where you can more easily monitor for feedback and engage with your fans. For brands with certain audiences, however, secret Facebook groups could be a real benefit.
What is a secret Facebook group?
Facebook offers three levels of privacy for groups: public, closed and secret:
- Public groups, such as this public Denver Broncos fan group, can be searched, seen and joined by essentially anyone on Facebook.
- Closed groups can be searched by anyone and the list of members is public, but posts are only visible to those who have been granted access by the group administrator(s). Neighborhood groups often fall into this category.
- Secret groups are not searchable and the member list is only visible to those who belong to the group. Individuals can join the group only if they are proactively added or invited by a member.
Why create a secret Facebook group?
Secret Facebook groups provide a closed environment in which members can discuss topics that aren’t otherwise appropriate for public consumption on Facebook. For example, a hospital might create a secret group for patients with a specific medical issue, allowing for members to share personal experiences and ask sensitive questions. Secret Facebook groups, like the one we keep for GFM and CenterTable employees, can also be strictly functional by moving conversations out of overflowing inboxes. We use our secret group to recognize team members’ birthdays or celebrate new business or client-related wins, for example, and everyone can chime in to celebrate as a group without having to use the dreaded “reply all” function in email.
How do I set up a secret Facebook group?
The above are just a few examples of how a private or secret Facebook group might be beneficial. If one of those, or a totally different need, make it seem as if a secret Facebook group might work for your brand, we suggest a few steps to get started:
- Develop and distribute a Facebook group policy for your brand. Whether the group is public, closed or secret, items to consider before creating a group include the purpose, intended audience, rules and expectations for group members, etc.
- Determine who will be responsible for day-to-day management of the group. This includes vetting and approving group members, and monitoring for and engaging in conversations, if appropriate, both of which can be labor intensive.
- Identify who from the brand’s social media or marketing team will be an administrator of the page. Even if the group will be run by employees or volunteers, it’s key to have a brand steward on this team, too.
- Ensure that the group is appropriately branded. This includes designing the cover photo and drafting the group description to meet the needs of the Facebook group and outline the official connection to the brand.
- Determine how you’ll raise awareness of this group. At least in the beginning, awareness is important but depending on the sensitivity of the group you’ll want to be careful how you curate its initial members.
Of course, the team at GFM and CenterTable are more than happy to help as you consider how or if to leverage Facebook groups on behalf of your brand. If you’re already using groups, we’d love to hear your experiences, too!