June 13, 2012

Facebook Groups: An effective, overlooked tool

Remember Facebook Groups? A screenshot from the FirstGiving for Runners Group.

Groups is where real community engagement is happening

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, educators, Facebook members.

Debra AskanaseAfriend recently asked me: “What are you excited about now in Facebook?” Without hesitation, I replied, “Facebook Groups.” Yes, Facebook Groups, not Pages. Written off and abandoned by almost every organization I knew once Pages beefed up its functionality three years ago, Groups is where the real community engagement is happening now.

Groups give you notifications, document uploads, group chat, threaded commenting, email messages about group events and mass messaging to in-boxes

I’ll admit that I, like so many consultants, advised clients to close their Groups and focus on Pages a few years ago. With good reason: Facebook came out with the Like button that tied Facebook Pages to websites and almost every Web interface. Facebook poured its time and promotion into Pages, making them even more robust with deep analytics, applications, and utility. There was no “join” button offered to join a Facebook Group, only a poorly adopted “send” button.

In late 2010, Facebook revamped Groups entirely and they began to take off. The “new” Group features include notifications of group actions and activities, document uploading, group chat, threaded commenting, inbox messaging about group events, and mass messaging to inboxes (described in more detail here). This was when everyone I knew began to explore Groups once again.

Why am I so excited of late about Facebook Groups? Why now?

The answer lies in what I’ve begun to realize that Facebook Pages cannot offer: real community and deep engagement. Continue reading

June 1, 2011

How your nonprofit can make the most of Facebook groups


Mass notifications remain a key selling point of Facebook groups

Debra AskanaseIlove Facebook groups. Really. They can be the center of great community engagement and a campaign if used correctly and strategically. Facebook groups serve a different purpose than Facebook pages; groups are great for encouraging niche topic discussions and action, while pages are generally more focused on general agency communication and general community engagement.

One Israeli organization, NATAL, so effectively used Facebook groups that Facebook featured it on its own Nonprofits page. NATAL, the leading trauma center for victims of terror and violence in Israel, created a highly successful Israeli blood donor awareness and registry campaign that successfully leveraged Facebook groups.

One of the most urgent needs in case of emergency is quickly locating blood donors, and NATAL wanted to find a way to both convey that need for blood donors and solve it at the same time. They created a website, bloodgroups.co.il, to publicize the campaign and offer information about who should give blood and why it is needed and launched the campaign in April 2010. The most prominent feature on the site is a call to action to identify your specific blood type by clicking on a blood donor type on the left side of the page (screenshot below).


Once you click on your blood type, the Facebook Group for your blood type opens in your browser. NATAL created eight Facebook groups, each one with the name of the blood group. In marketing terms, this is brilliant, because NATAL is now closely linked to the marketing keywords “blood donor.” According to the  video that NATAL created about the campaign, “we used groups and not pages because of message-all-members function is only available in groups.” (I have been saying for years that this is the unique selling proposition of Facebook groups.)

About 4,000 people, mostly Israelis, have joined the groups. Whenever the Israeli Red Cross sent NATAL a message with an urgent request for blood, NATAL used the message-all-members function to ask for donations from group members.


It didn’t hurt that the campaign received a lot of exposure in the Israeli press, or that they were awarded free coasters to distribute to pubs throughout Israel with information about the campaign. However, the most interesting thing about the campaign is how they took advantage of Facebook groups and how the groups are being used.

How NATAL rocked Facebook groups

One thing that NATAL understood at the time was Facebook groups’ message-all-members feature, which Facebook pages does not offer. Facebook no longer offers the message-all-members option. However, groups launched a similar feature, which shows new group postings as notifications and sends emails to members with links to new postings. (Of course, members can choose to turn off the email notifications through their settings.) Continue reading

March 1, 2010

The differences between Facebook Pages and Groups


The ultimate cheat sheet for nonprofits

John HaydonYou may be curious how Facebook Groups can complement the work you’re doing with your Page. Or, you may have a Group and want to move your fans over to your Facebook Page. Or, you mistakenly created a Facebook Profile for your organization and now realize that you should have started a Facebook Page.

If you’re confused by all the moving parts within Facebook, you’re not alone. Recently I presented a webinar for a small group of nonprofits and wasn’t surprised that the most popular slide was a cheat sheet on Facebook Pages and Groups.

Difference between Facebook Pages and Groups

The best way to think about the difference between Pages and Groups is to consider the users they serve.

Groups serve the needs of individuals just like you and me. Pages on the other hand, serve the needs of celebrities, businesses, brands and nonprofits. If you keep this basic framework in mind, Facebook will make a lot more sense. Continue reading