So you’ve got something important to start, you want to get a group of people together for some reason, and you’ve probably come to the same conclusion a lot of people do:
“Hey, we could start a Facebook group!”
After all, Facebook groups are free, a lot of people have a Facebook account, and it’s tempting to think that you could pretty easily get a thriving community together.
A lot of people go through this thought process and launch the group, but they realize pretty quickly that Facebook groups have some issues for just about anything you’d want to do with them. And many end up deleting that Facebook Group.
In this post, we’re going to talk about the disadvantages of a Facebook group for hosting any kind of online community. We'll also share some features that true membership site platforms have, which make them a way better option!
If you want more support in building your online community, come join OUR Mighty Community for free and meet other new and established community owners! We’d love to meet you. Join for free!
10 Major Disadvantages of Facebook Groups
1. The algorithm
Many creators or community leaders have shared a link to their Facebook group on social media and watched as people flooded in.
10 members. 15 members. 100 members. It’s so exciting to watch a group grow!
And then they hit publish on their first post: “Welcome to the group! Introduce yourselves and tell us all why you’re here!”
And nothing happens. No likes. No comments. No happy people saying, “Hey, thanks! We’re glad to be here!”
A lot of creators would blame themselves at this point, but they shouldn’t. Chances are, the lack of engagement isn’t their fault. It’s the algorithm.
When you create your content in a Facebook group, people often just don’t see it. This is in part because of the notification system that we’ll talk about below. But it’s also because you’re fighting with the Facebook algorithm that only has one goal: show your members as many ads as it possibly can without having them abandon the platform.
2. The distractions
You’re trying to create a Facebook group for people to enjoy. And, in theory, they’d love your posts.
But they also love the funny GIFs, the videos, the “Which Disney princess are you?” quizzes, and the pics of their ex with their new SO on vacation (ok, maybe they don't LOVE those).
This is Facebook. There’s a lot happening. And, as we already mentioned above, to top off all the distractions, Facebook monetizes your members’ news feeds by plugging them full of all the ads they can possibly handle.
How is this a place where people are going to have the bandwidth to focus on being members of a group?
It’s way better to grow your group in a place where your members come specifically to interact with your content, and not one where you have to hope they stumble on it.
3. The lack of monetization
Facebook makes monetization almost impossible--at least natively. While there are a few features like "paid online events" and subscriptions, they really haven't taken off in a way that rewards creators.
On the other hand, a community platform creates a private social network that lets you build a real recurring revenue business around your passion.
4. The limited features
Another disadvantage of using Facebook Groups is that a Facebook group is basically just a shared Facebook wall. You can post content, create polls, and even live stream. But compared to major community platforms, that isn’t much.
The best alternatives to Facebook Groups will let you build thriving communities with sub-discussions, tons of options for engagement and membership, hosting virtual events, and even teaching an online course if it’s your jam.
5. The notification systems
This is connected to the algorithm. But the notification system in Facebook Groups is tough to balance. Unlike communities built for a specific purpose, where your members log on BECAUSE they want to see news from the community, a Facebook Group is one of many things on your users’ feed.
This means that for some, there will be too many notifications. For others, there won’t be enough.
Users can choose their level of notification. But, by default, they’ll only see highlights. This means Facebook chooses what to show them.
If your users are in 20 groups (which a lot of people are), Facebook will decide when they get notified about yours.
6. The privacy issues
Even if you can get past the stuff above, one of the biggest disadvantages to Facebook Groups, that’s becoming more of an issue with each passing year, is the privacy issue. After it was discovered that Facebook was being used for disinformation in an attempt to sway election campaigns, people were understandably upset.
After everything from disinformation to whistleblowers talking about the negative effects of the platform, more and more people are boycotting Facebook.
If you’re trying to bring members together, and you’ve got a platform that people refuse to use, that’s a huge disadvantage. Even if 5% of your members refused to join because a community was on Facebook, would it be worth it to lose those people–especially when there are much better alternatives?
7. The lack of branding options
So you launched your Facebook group, and you’ve added your image or logo to the profile pic and an image at the top.
Congratulations, you’re done branding your group. And it still looks like… well… every other Facebook page and group.
While it might not be a dealbreaker to some people, the ability to add your own custom branding to a group you host is really nice to have. This is even more important if you’re a business and you’re trying to build a customer community that fits your brand.
Here's what a branded community looks like on a community platform:
8. Lack of ownership
At the end of the day, when you build a group on Facebook, you don’t own it. If you get hacked, you’re out of luck. If Facebook decides to shut you down or change its rules, you’re at their mercy.
And way too many people have spent a lot of time building something on platforms like Facebook only to find themselves thrown out because of a hack, then trying desperately to get their access back.
9. Not searchable
Have you ever tried finding old content in a Facebook Group? It's almost impossible. The cascading posts with a too-limited search function means that it's really hard to find old posts, conversations, or even posts by keyword.
10. Not search-engine friendly
Finally, your Facebook group won’t show up in search engines. This might not be a big deal to people who are searching for a place for an existing community or running a closed membership group.
But if you’re trying to grow your group and add members it’s pretty annoying that people can’t even find your group by searching for it.
Pros and Cons of Facebook Groups
- Some basic analytics features
- Free platform
- Lots of people have it already
- Good native mobile apps
- Fighting the algorithm
- Limited features
- Too many distractions
- Poor notification systems
- Privacy issues
- Lack of branding options
- Lack of ownership
- Not searchable in search engines
Why membership sites are a better option
Membership sites can solve the problems Facebook Groups create, letting you not only reach your members, but also build a thriving business around your brand!
Here are some of the things a dedicated community site will give you that Facebook won't:
- Better content organization: The Facebook wall is a terrible way to engage with content. A running list of posts is hardly good for community engagement. The right community platform should have a Discovery Feed to show you different types of content and organize posts.
- Better member connections: On Facebook, connections between members are limited to comments and messaging (with Facebook's DM). Real member engagement comes when you add different ways for members to connect: member profiles, "members near you," connection suggestions, and more.
- A business platform: A platform that lets you run a community business lets you charge for membership, build bundles, sell in different ways, and easily see what's working and what isn't. Facebook isn't the place to build a real community business.
While the free price tag on Facebook Groups is tempting, that comes at a cost. In this case, the cost is less member engagement, less privacy, and some users who won’t join because of it.
That means that the disadvantages of Facebook Groups outweigh the advantages for many groups looking for a home. If you’re looking for a better alternative, we’ve created an elegant, white-label membership site platform that lets you do everything Facebook does and more.
Come try Mighty!
It gives you an amazing, brandable, and PRIVATE community space for your members, and you can post every type of media, live stream, host integrated events, teach a course, and charge for admission if you want.
Now Read: The 7 Best Facebook Group Alternatives