Creating a Facebook Group that’s hidden from the general public may seem counterintuitive to public relations and marketing pros intent on increasing brand or cause awareness. But many social media experts tout the benefits of Facebook secret groups.
Facebook offers three types of groups. Its public groups can be found through online searches and are open to everyone. Closed groups can be found through online searches but require permission of the group administrator to join. Secret groups cannot be located in searches. Facebook users can join only if a current group member sends an invitation.
The groups protect members from spammers and trolls and allow them to converse with like-minded people. With enhanced privacy, members feel free to share ideas and true feelings. Secret groups can create an aura of exclusivity or intrigue. They’re especially useful for product launches and special promotions. The groups can help generate buzz, create a safe forum for fans, or offer exclusive access to content or promotions. They’re ideal for hardcore fans of a particular product.
In the Gettin’ Chippy With It group, members share photos and commentary about potato chips. Such groups are immune to the political rancor that’s typical on Facebook. “The only thing the group cares about is answering one simple question: ‘Is this a good chip?’” food writer and editor Helen Rosner told Mel Magazine.
Some social media experts recommend opting for a closed or secret group instead of an open group. Those settings provide admins greater control and the feeling of exclusivity makes the group more enticing.
Secret Groups Recommendations
Experts offer these tips to create and moderate Facebook secret groups.
Establish clear community guidelines. Guidelines explain the purpose of the group, community standards, who can join, and how members can invite others to join, says writer and photographer Katie Shehl. Remember to keep guidelines updated.
Solicit or hire a moderator. Trustworthy moderators are especially important for large groups. “Extra help moderating comments, approving new members, and responding to member inquiries will be key to running a successful group,” Shehl notes.
Focus on members. Members want interesting discussions, industry news and updates. Don’t confuse groups with the company’s Facebook Page. “The biggest mistake many businesses make is creating a group and then just spamming members with links to their website. This is not what a Facebook group should be about,” writes social media expert Jessica Wade in Social Media Today.
Stand back. You don’t need to get involved in every conversation in the group – and probably shouldn’t. “Let people talk about the topic they’re passionate about,” advises Lucy Hitz at Sprout Social. “If the conversation is going strong and doesn’t include a question you can immediately answer, stand back.”
Follow Facebook’s rules. Secret groups are not secret to Facebook. Facebook can take down groups that don’t meet its community standards regarding hate speech, nudity and other rules.
Consider changes carefully. Admins can change group settings but may wish to think twice. Hulu created a secret group for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale in 2017, but it upset many members when it made the group public to reach a wider audience before the program’s second season. Facebook currently does not allow groups with more than 5,000 members to change to less restrictive privacy settings.
Bottom Line: Secrecy may seem at odds with public relations and marketing goals, yet many social media experts recommend Facebook secret groups. The invitation-only groups, which cannot be found in online searches, create an atmosphere of exclusivity and a safe forum for fans.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.