Last week was absolutely crazy for Facebook™ groups. A massive spam attack hit many popular groups, with malicious users infiltrating and posting abusive and pornographic content. As a result, Facebook™ shut down several groups, before being aware of what was really going on. Now, they are working to restore these groups.
Why are we discussing this topic? Because, more and more businesses have a Facebook™ group associated to their page. And in view of the plans the Facebook™ team has for the future of its platforms, groups will become more important than ever. As we disclosed in a recent post, the desktop platform is in the process of being redesigned, putting groups and Stories at the top of the page, while the news feed will be relegated to a secondary position.
Time to Start a Facebook™ Group and Learn to Keep It Secure
Thus, if you don’t have a Facebook™ group for your business, it’s time to create one. There are many advantages of having a group – one of them being that you can post as your business page, not with your personal account.
Secondly, people who join groups are really interested in the topic of that group. After all, why should they get disturbed with so many notifications, if they weren’t really keen about what other members have to say?
Plus, a Facebook™ group is a great place to get to know your customers. People share very personal and meaningful things in groups: their problems, their needs, their interests, their wishes, etc. Instead of paying for market research or focus groups, listen to what your Facebook™ group members say and you will gain useful insights.
Not Everyone Is Welcome
Now let’s get back to the key problem we started this article with: spammers infiltrating groups. As last week showed, it is extremely easy, especially if the group doesn’t have a tight privacy setting.
Facebook™ allows group admins to set one of three privacy settings for groups:
- Open – anyone (even without a Facebook™ account) can see the posts of the group and its description; Facebook™ users can see the list of group members; new members are usually approved quickly, with minimum background checks;
- Closed – anyone can see the group name and description; only members can see the list of members; admins usually check a person’s profile before approving them as member;
- Secret – this kind of group is visible only to its members – name, description, list of members; new members are invited to join by other group members, pending approval by the group admin.
As a result of the spam wave (identified as originating from Indonesia in the meantime), many groups switched their privacy setting to Secret. As a business trying to find new customers, this is not a great option for you. Your group would have zero visibility among prospects.
However, there are ways in which you can protect your Facebook™ group from being infiltrated by scammers and getting shut down. Some of these are:
1. Create an Onboarding Quiz for Prospective Members
Ask them a few simple questions related to their interest in the topic of the group. For instance, if you are selling baby products and have a group associated to your Facebook™ page, ask prospective members how old their baby is, whether it’s a boy or a girl, etc. Spammers usually do not spend time filling in quizzes – they only want to do a quick hit and run.
This works great for lead generation, as well. You can add a final (optional) question to your quiz, asking new members for their email address to receive a welcoming gift – a lead magnet, a product sample, etc. However, you must not condition group membership by giving the email address.
2. Opt to Review All Posts before They Appear on the Page
If you run a small Facebook™ group, you will be able to handle incoming posts by members. As your group grows larger, assign social media management duties to several employees.
Apart from setting your group privacy status to Secret, this is the safest method to keep spammers away from your group.
3. Remove the Rotten Apples
A wise saying is: better safe than sorry. If you notice that some of the members are there to create trouble, antagonise the other members and post negative things, remove them from your group. They may be good customers, but they are not a healthy presence on your Facebook™ group.
Remember that the reputation of your business is at stake – if word goes out that you allow abusive members on your Facebook™ group, many potential customers will change their mind and view your brand in a negative light.