Facebook has a new plan to pitch brands on creating groups, but scale and limited resources hold back marketers

Business Insider | May 1, 2019, 08.15PM IST

Facebook F8

Facebook F8

CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during Facebook's F8 conference.

  • Groups are a core part of Facebook's new privacy-oriented products.
  • Big marketers like Airbnb and Adidas have created successful groups over the past two years, but the strategy requires a different mindset from the one they employ on Facebook's news feed.
  • Brands are testing out a pixel with groups that tracks what someone did after someone saw a post.

After years of training marketers to understandthe massive and sometimes volatile reach of its news feed and algorithm, Facebook wants brands to think small.

Facebook says that under its new focus on privacy, private groups are about to become a lot more important to marketers and publishers. This week, Facebook is rolling out a huge redesign of its flagship app that puts a big focus on groups and stories.

Facebook is making it easier for users to find those communities and let them share posts there from the news feed. Groups are getting more promotion in tabs like Watch, Marketplace and the gaming section.

Read more: Facebook's bet on privacy may threaten advertisers' sophisticated targeting, and it could 'dramatically change' its relationship with brands

"Wherever you go on Facebook, you should see opportunities to join groups," said Katherine Woo, director of product management of Facebook Groups, during a talk explaining the changes at Facebook's annual F8 developer conference. "We're starting to see brands leverage Facebook groups to build authentic connections with communities."

Airbnb is one brand that Facebook highlighted. The company uses its group to connect hosts in 59 cities to help share tips and tricks for running Airbnb properties. Facebook said 62% of Airbnb's posts receive at least one reply.

Another is Adidas, which has a Facebook group called Adidas Runners with 300,000 participants in 60 cities, said Emily Maxey, Adidas' VP of global marketing. They use them to find fellow runners in their cities. Adidas also has a global Runners Page on Facebook that unites all the local groups.

Adidas is testing a pixel that places a piece of code on its website to see if people come to the site after clicking a post in groups. Facebook has been testing the program with brands since the fall.

"Admittedly, we are still at the very beginning stages of our journey with the Facebook pixel for groups, but ultimately our mission is to quantify a correlation between community members and commerce," Maxey said. "We're also looking at things like brand loyalty and affinity."

Breaking up with the news feed is tough for marketers

While Facebook is pushing brands on groups, these communities have less reach than the news feed. According to Facebook, 1.4 billion people use groups while 2.4 billion people visit Facebook every month. Groups also require significant resources. Marketers need people to monitor comments and posts within groups, said one social media manager at a large brand. And with brands already cautious of giving Facebook too much control over data and setting their strategies, marketers are reluctant to follow Facebook's advice to shift into new platforms, this person said.

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