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.
In this post, we’re going to talk about the disadvantages of a Facebook group for hosting any kind of online community. Whether you’re trying to use it as value-added for an online course, whether you want it for your religious community, or whether you’re looking to get a group together who share similar interests and passions, this post will walk you through some of the challenges of starting a thriving Facebook group.
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8 Major Disadvantages of Facebook Groups
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.
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.
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 subdiscussions, tons of options for engagement and membership, hosting virtual events, and even teaching an online course if it’s your jam.
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.
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.
And in 2022, after everything from widespread pandemic 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?
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.
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.
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 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
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 platform that lets you do everything Facebook does and more.