What Are Facebook Groups

 What Are Facebook Groups and Why Are They Important?

September 26, 2006, is a somewhat important date in the annals of internet history. On that day, Facebook became available to anyone over the age of 13 with a valid email address.

Originally designed as a centralized website where the students of Harvard University could connect for academic and social reasons, Facebook soon spread like wildfire.

The idea the connectivity inherent in internet technology could be used to connect disparate people in real time was not new. Various other platforms were available that did this is one form or another, e.g. chatrooms and instant messaging provided by AOL, Compuserve and others. However, no one had yet integrated a way to combine chat and integrated visuals into one smooth package.

This is what made Facebook a game changer. Within hours of being started, Facebook had 1500 users on the Harvard campus. In less than one month, half of the graduate and undergraduate population of Harvard were Facebook users. Three months later, Facebook had expanded to include the populations of Yale, Stanford and Columbia Universities. The remaining Ivy League schools were next, followed by nearly every university in the United States and Canada.

Universities in the UK and Europe were next, followed by the rest of the world. This phenomenal growth did not go unnoticed by the media. By the time September 26, 2006, rolled around, the non-academic members of the general public were lined up, eager and ready to give Facebook a spin. So when Facebook did open it’s doors to the public at large, what was, until then, a phenomenal growth rate quickly became unprecedented. In eleven months, Facebook experienced an extraordinary monthly growth rate of over 178%. By August of 2008, Facebook had 100 million worldwide users. In the coming years, that growth rate continued
unchecked. By July of 2010, Facebook exceeded 500 million users.

In September of 2012, there were 1 billion people worldwide who used Facebook regularly. Today, Facebook’s numbers continue to be impressive. The site has, on average, 1.86 billion monthly users and 1.23 billion users who are active on a daily basis. No matter how you cut it, that’s a whole lot of traffic. The number one billion gets tossed around a lot, so much so that it becomes meaningless.

So, here’s a quick stat that will help you to pull Facebook’s enormous reach into focus – if Facebook’s average daily users were a country, that country would be the most populous nation on Earth. That’s a lot of people, which translates to a lot of eyeballs that could be looking at what you’re interested in promoting. That last sentence puts what makes Facebook so valuable when it comes to marketing and promotion.

Nearly a sixth of the world’s total population gathers in one place each and every day. If you have a Facebook presence, then a portion of that enormous population will invariably see your presence and take note of what it is that you’re promoting. In short, a Facebook presence means awareness, engagement and, ultimately, conversion.

So, how do you get an active Facebook presence? One of the best ways is by starting, promoting and maintaining a Facebook group. A Facebook group is primarily a place where people who share a specific interest, hobby, problem or concern can gather and exchange information, tips and connect. Members of the group can ask and answer questions, post photos, and videos and follow conversations that interest them. A Facebook group is sort of like a private club. Interest drives membership and interest keeps the individual members engaged.

As a Facebook group owner, you are the proprietor of the club. You, more or less, run the place. You can decide who gets into the club. You can lead the discussion within the club, and you can remove any members who you find problematic. More importantly, a Facebook group allows you, the group owner, to connect directly with the membership of the group.

Every time you post content, a message regarding the content, as
as well as link to the content, is sent directly to every member’s email inbox. Having the ability to connect at will to a relatively captive audience is the key to understanding the importance of a Facebook group.

Facebook groups matter because they tap into the tremendous amount of traffic that Facebook generates on a daily basis. Month after month, Facebook’s traffic beats the next three most popular social media platforms combined. Facebook usage accounts for one in every six minutes spent online. This constant flow, while slightly intimidating, represents tremendous potential.

All demographics are represented in a cross section of Facebook users. For example, people of every age use Facebook on a regular basis. 82% of 18 – 29-year-olds, 79% of 30 – 49-yearolds and 56% of 50-year-olds and up are regular Facebook users.

Even more importantly, Facebook use is intergenerational. 83% of parents with a child between the ages of 13 and 18 are friends with their child on Facebook. Other demographic statistics show an equal amount of penetration by Facebook. The gender split between Facebook users is relatively even. 44% of all users identify as women, and 56% identify as men. Marital status is also even, with 39% of users reporting themselves and married and 39% reporting themselves as single.

It’s when we come to education that Facebook’s demographic begins to show some disparity. 62% of Facebook users report some level of college education. On the other hand, a much smaller 30% report state high school as their highest level of education. The remaining 8% report some level of postgraduate education. As a Facebook group owner and administrator, your primary responsibility is to identify and understand your audience.

The fact that Facebook’s traffic reaches broadly across so many demographic boundaries increases the chances that you will be able to meet that responsibility. In a bit, we’re going to be getting into the specifics of how to start and promote a group. At the risk of getting a little ahead of ourselves, Facebook provides group owners with free analytics that help owners understand
what attracts and engages an audience.

By digging into these statistics, an owner can narrowly focus their efforts on exactly the type of content that is guaranteed to resonate with their target audience. The analytic tools will also help them to define who their primary audience members are. This is invaluable when you are attempting to dominate a very narrow and defined niche market. In the end, Facebook is still the top dog when it comes to social media platforms.

It is true that there are now far more competitors on the scene than there were when Facebook first started out. It is also true that a few of these platforms are beginning to see relatively large average monthly traffic figures. However, despite the increased competition, Facebook remains a proverbial institution.

The advantage that it continues to maintain over the competition comes mostly from the fact that a vast number of people use Facebook instinctively and reflexively. It is the social media platform that is a habit, like a morning cup of coffee or tea. This type of institutional behavior allows Facebook to continue to generate increasing rates of traffic while weathering challenges from other platforms whose audience is not habitual and reflexive.

All of this means that Facebook will remain somewhat immune to the vagaries of internet fad and fashion, at least for the foreseeable future.

The media will always tout the latest social media flavor of the month as the next big thing. However, up until this point, no one social media platform seems to be able to give a user experience that attracts a wide demographic diversity.

What appeals to hipsters and tech heads invariably does not attract a broader swath of the population. So while the reports of Facebook’s imminent demise will still be used in the 24-hour news cycle as a particularly juicy piece of click bait, it will not change Facebook’s continued dominance of the social media field.

August 1, 2017