• Facebook Groups are a great tool for building online community, offering value, and encouraging true social media engagement.

    However, life in Facebook-land means responding to ongoing changes to Facebook’s algorithms, including those that govern groups.

    As a simple explanation, the algorithm is a process that ranks all available posts that can display on a user’s newsfeed based on how likely it is that the user will have a positive reaction.

    There are other factors that regulate the algorithm, as well. Over time, Facebook tweaks have limited the free reach of both business pages and personal profiles.

    Well-administered and responsibly moderated Facebook groups have provided an alternative to pages and profiles as online spaces for those with shared interests to gather and engage, whether as private, secret or public groups.

    Recent changes to Facebook groups are causing consternation among administrators resulting from a January 2019 Facebook update that changed how member lists in groups are managed. Facebook began displaying a message in the new year, titled ‘Changes to Your Member Lists.’

    It goes as follows: “We want to make sure that people are joining groups that are relevant and meaningful to them. Today, we’re moving people who have been added to a group, but never visited it, into the invited section of the group’s members list. In the members list, you can see your group’s updated member count and send a reminder to invited members.”

    This message does not mean that all inactive members in any given group will be deleted, a misunderstanding which is causing some alarm among group admins. It refers to members who have been automatically added to the group by other members, but have never participated.

    This is most common in open or public groups where anyone can be added by a member or an admin. Personally, I find this aspect of Facebook groups annoying, preferring not to be added to groups I may not have an interest in.

    While this is a tactic most often used in groups focused on sales or multi-level marketing, most credible and well-moderated groups have clear parameters for membership that discourages the automatic adding of members.

    If you are running a group, you need not be too worried about this recent change. Only people who have been automatically added but have never visited the group will be moved to the new “invited” list. You are not losing worthwhile members who may simply be less engaged than others.

    In a sense, Facebook is simply decluttering the member space.

    There are plenty of rumours circulating online about the changes to the groups feature. Your best bet, if you are concerned about the impact of the recent changes to your group, is to visit resources and pages for group admins in Facebook help, or simply Google ‘recent Facebook group changes’ and you can research bonafide Facebook announcements and communicate them to your members.

    As a result of the current Facebook changes, the people you will be communicating with will be members who are genuinely interested in your product, service, or cause. And, for my money, that’s a good thing.

    Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article first appeared in the Maple Ridge News.