Pst. It’s time we told you a little secret. Facebook Groups are gaining popularity and not just among users. Changes to the omnipotent news feed algorithm this year prioritized groups over pages, allowing brands to change their strategy to include groups.
Groups are centers of interaction. More than 1.4 billion of Facebook’s 2.2 billion monthly active users check groups each month. But the group that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg calls “meaningful groups” has only 200 million users. In the near future, Zuckerberg expects this number to rise to one billion.
Many of these “meaningful groups” are secret groups. Hidden from cybertrolls, spammers, and dissidents, secret groups offer members a space for like-minded individuals to seek advice, share ideas, and organize. Because secret groups offer more privacy, members are generally more friendly and more active.
Here’s information on everything you need to know about Facebook’s secret groups.
What is a Facebook private group?
There are three types of groups on Facebook: public, closed, and private. General groups are basically considered general. Anyone can find and view the group without needing approval to join.
Closed groups are more private. Like public groups, anyone can search for and view a closed group’s name, description, and list of members. However, users cannot see the group’s content until they become members. To join a closed group, you must be approved by an admin or invited by an existing member.
Hidden groups offer the same level of privacy as closed groups, under the cloak of invisibility. No one may search for or request to join secret groups. The only way to get in is to get to know someone who can invite you. Anything shared in a private group is only visible to its members.
How to join a Facebook secret group
Because hidden groups are by definition unsearchable and hidden, i know to let you in. Here’s how to join a secret group:
Stage 1: Ask an existing member to invite you. You must also be friends on Facebook for this to work.
Step 2: Check your notifications or inbox for the invite.
Stage 3: Read the group guidelines. You’ll often find group guidelines pinned to the top of the page, in the group’s description, or in a shared document.
Step 4: Watch out for a new member post. Some administrators will ask new members to confirm that they have read and accepted the guidelines.
How private are Facebook secret groups?
It’s no secret that nothing is truly private on the Internet. Facebook, of course, has access to all content on its platforms and can review the content of a private group for various reasons.
Private groups may have their own guidelines, but they must also follow Facebook’s Community Standards. Groups or users reported as violating these standards, such as hate speech, harassment, violence or nudity, may be investigated and removed. Facebook may also have to provide confidential group information if requested by the government.
Following the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal, Facebook has announced plans to restrict third-party data access to groups. Currently, third-party apps require permission from an administrator to access group content for hidden groups.
Group settings can also change. In 2017, Hulu created a secret group for “The Handmaid’s Tale” fans. In anticipation of the launch of the second season, the group executives decided to take the group public to bring it to a wider audience. The decision upset many members who did not want their previous posts to be public. Facebook currently does not allow groups with more than 5,000 members to switch to less restrictive privacy settings.
Why are you using a Facebook secret group?
There are many reasons to use a hidden group.
During the 2016 US Presidential Election, Hillary Clinton supporter Libby Chamberlain founded the secret Pantsuit Nation group for like-minded progressives. According to Chamberlain, the group, which reached 3.9 million members in a few months, includes members who do not want to post their political views on their personal Facebook communities. Of course, staying away from Pepe trolls and Russian bots probably wouldn’t hurt either.
If it takes a village to raise a child, then why not create a secret virtual village, especially for dads who feel awkward asking for help. Or maybe you’re a really hardcore potato chip lover who founded Gettin’ Chippy With It because you only have time for people who love their chips as much as you do.
The cat may be out of the bag in these secret Facebook groups, but remember, you still need to know an insider to get an invite.
Frankly, a really good reason to create a secret group is if you want to keep something a secret. Maybe you want to plan a surprise party for a friend or colleague. Make a pregnancy announcement with your family and close friends. Create a support group for someone suffering from an illness. Or gather the attendees of a reality show that hasn’t started yet, like what Facebook offers. (If there’s a secret group for Queer Eye out there, know that I want to be included.)
Secret groups for brands
Often times, brands aim to reach as wide an audience as possible, but going off the radar can have its advantages. Secret groups can be used to create buzz and brand intrigue, be a safe fan forum, or provide exclusive access to content or promotions.
By creating a formal and private environment, members can express themselves more comfortably. Plus, moderators won’t have to worry about spammers or taking over third-party companies.
Last year, Facebook launched Groups for Pages so page owners could create branded groups without using personal profiles.
If you’re considering using a group for your business, here’s everything you need to know.
How to set up facebook private group
Step 1: Get started.
Click the “Create” button in the upper right corner of the page title and select “Group”.
Step 2: Fill in the basic information.
Add a name and several members to create your group. For an extra touch, you can personalize invitations to members and explain the purpose of the group if you wish.
Step 3: Choose privacy settings.
Select “Secret Group” from the Privacy drop-down menu.
Step 4: Personalize your group.
Start by adding a cover photo and description. You can also add tags and locations.
Step 5: Edit your settings.
Click “More” below the cover photo, then select “edit group settings”. Here you can choose your group type, check membership approvals, send approvals and set different group permissions.
You can also link to pages that are ideal for brands that want to connect with their brand pages.
Pro tip: If you’re not sure what privacy level you’ve set for your group, go to the group’s page and look for the group name in the upper left corner. It will say public, closed, or private under it.
Changing Your Group’s Privacy Settings
If your group is not set to private and you want to change your settings, go to the “edit group settings” form. Go to privacy and click “change privacy settings” and select “private”.
Note: When you change your group to private, you only have 24 hours to change your group settings back. After that, if your group has more than 5,000 members, there is no going back to the closed or general settings. Facebook only allows admins to change groups with more restrictive settings.
Each time you change a group’s settings, members receive a notification.
Tips for managing a Facebook secret group
Managing a private group can be more difficult than other types of Facebook groups or pages. Follow these steps to ensure best practices.
Step 1: Create clear community guidelines
This is where you communicate the group’s purpose, community standards, and guidelines to group members.
You can pin directions in a post to the top of your page, put them in the group’s description, include them in a document, or all of the above.
Here are some things you might want to include in your guidelines:
- Who can join the group. You may also want to share instructions on how to add members.
- With whom information about the group will be shared and with whom it will not be shared. If you have a strict no-disclosure policy, you should include reflections to “exclude” the group.
- Policies regarding hate speech, racism, uncensored content, harassment and other undesirable behavior.
- Do’s and don’ts. Do helps members understand the best ways to interact with the group. Do not clarify the group’s goals and policies. For example, invites, ads, memes, etc. You may want to deter.
- Frequently Asked Questions. If you find that members repeatedly ask the same questions to moderators, it might make sense to add a FAQ.
- Where to find group resources and documents.
Step 2: Invite trusted moderators
This is especially important if you think you have a large number of members. Extra help moderating comments, approving new members, and answering member questions will be key to running a successful group.
Step 3: Identify daily responsibilities
Once you’ve identified trusted moderators, create a schedule so it’s clear who is expected to take on responsibilities at specific times. If it makes sense, make this schedule public so group members know who to contact on any given day.
Step 4: Review and update
Make sure you keep your guidelines fresh. Facebook policies may change, new questions may arise, or new developments may need to be addressed.
It’s also always good to leave a timestamp so members know when the directives were last edited.
So the secret is out. Secret groups are great. Sure, they may require a little more moderation than in a public or closed group, but members may be more inclined to engage more intimately and more often.
Check out our in-depth guide to Facebook groups to see where groups can fit into your company’s overall Facebook marketing plan.
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