Should I have a Facebook Group *as well*?


(Hilary Barrett) #1

So… I have a nice solid old-fashioned vBulletin forum, including a private area for paying members.

And I’m working on engagement and retention…

…and thinking that, while forum software is still a much better platform for real conversation, it’s a lot easier for me to engage with a Facebook group than with - say - this forum, because I visit Facebook anyway, but I have to come here specially. And the same is presumably true for my people. (I just had someone tell me on FB that she ‘missed’ my site! It hasn’t gone anywhere!)

So I wonder…

  • should I offer my paying members access to a private Facebook group?
  • and if so, what’s the relationship between that and the forum? (This could also be a techie question: any way to get things to post from FB into the forum? vBSocial may sell something for that, or maybe they don’t any more - I’m trying to find out… - anyway, suggestions welcome.)

As a first step, of course, I’ll ask members how many of them are regularly on Facebook and see what I hear. But I would welcome any thoughts on how best to integrate with the behemoth in the room.

(Alessio Fattorini) #2

Which kind of challenge are you trying to tackle creating a FB group? Why your forum fails to engage and retain?
Is it just gut feeling? Or you did some kind of research?
We’re on the same boat, I have a legacy forum for my customers/resellers and I’m torn between starting a new group on facebook or insisting on the older one

(Hilary Barrett) #3

Just gut feeling so far - in my next email to the membership I’ll ask people to click a link if they are active FB users.

The challenge - people not using their membership, and then cancelling. If they log in and use the forum they will stay, but of course you do have to go ‘out of your way’ online to find a forum. I do ask for feedback when people leave, and several say they ‘don’t have time’. But even if you don’t have time to visit another website, checking FB might just be a normal part of your day - not an extra ‘thing to do’.

There’s no question for me of replacing the forum with a FB group. For one thing, some of my members are furiously anti-FB and all its works and wouldn’t join if you paid them. Also, I don’t want to put my relationship with my members at FB’s mercy. (Heard recently about someone who paid for a product with a FB group included, and then had her FB membership suspended. What is the person who sold her the product to do??) And also, I find the conversations people have via forums are just better: longer, more in-depth. FB is really set up for people to share things and comment on them, not have full conversations, or so it seems to me.

But… if people are on FB anyway, then it would be good for them to see an ‘outpost’ of their membership there. They could post questions - wouldn’t be much more work for me to monitor that - and I could post links back to the forum. Ideally I would like some kind of automatic integration, but I could do without.

Oh, and I am a bit concerned (again, just gut feeling) about potential ‘leakage’ of members from my forums to other people’s FB groups. Hopefully this might plug the leak.

Has anyone run forum and FB group in partnership?

(Sarah Hawk) #4

What platform is your forum running on @hilary? Is it easy to use with good notification options?

(tophee) #5

Here’s my two cents on this:

  1. If your aim is to make it easy for people to be in touch with you/ your brand, then it’s probably good to be active on as many social media as you can handle, including FB. But if your aim is to build snd sustain a buzzing community, then there should be one single place for this: your forum. The purpose of all your social media channels should then be to bring people (back) to your forum. Everything else, I would say, is futile.
  2. If people don’t come to your forum because they are on fb anyway, then your forum is not attractive enough for them and I’d work on engaging them there (not on FB). It’s undoubtedly hard work, but that’s what we do, right?
  3. I could probably add a few more technical reasons against using fb groups (like that all fb content is not indexed on search engines), but I’ll spare you that, cause you’re probably already aware.

(Hilary Barrett) #6

vBulletin 4, so yes, very easy to use and notification isn’t bad. It doesn’t have @ tagging natively, though there’s an extension for that.

(Hilary Barrett) #7

Thanks for the 2c! So with regard to point 1… are you thinking that if I divide activity between two places, I’m siphoning people off from the forum, and reducing the activity level there?

Re-SEO - this is a private group, so one of the selling points is that it’s ‘Google-proof’.

(Sarah Hawk) #8

Heh, arguable. :wink:

(tophee) #9

Yes, that is the quantitative part. But there is also a qualitative part: you are not only splitting the total amount of activity but you are also creating two communities rather than one, because if you accommodate the people on fb, they will certainly never come back to the forum. One could even argue a third point, namely that you are not only splitting the total number of activities in two, but you are also reducing the overall amount of activity because a bigger community provides more opportunity for interaction than two smaller ones of the same combined size.

Yes, if you want to be hidden, that minus is gone. But it does not become a plus because you I’d assume you can have private groups on your forum too. I don’t know about vBulletin but on discourse it is entirely possible.

You might also be interested in this topic:

(Hilary Barrett) #10

It’s plain, old-fashioned and inelegant, and everything is pretty intuitively obvious. The only thing that’s really rubbish is the full search. But vastly more intuitive than Discourse. (And now I shall go back to trying to work out how to make a reply to this thread as a whole as opposed to replying to an individual post… :wink: )

(Hilary Barrett) #11

Thank you, these are all really good and interesting points! I am encouraging people to go back to the forum for the ‘meat’, ie in-depth help. Facebook is better for sharing small things quickly, but our topic is mostly one that needs long, leisurely conversations. I will have to look out for whether people who visit FB also come back to the forum. (There will always be those who stick to the forum because they can’t abide Facebook.)