NOTE: I live in the U.S. Some of Zoom’s loudest critics live in the EU. The EU has strong protections when it comes to consumer privacy. Residents of those countries have different expectations than we have here in the U.S., where our lawmakers still struggle to understand the online world well enough to regulate it.
On August 7, 2023, I woke up to an email forcefully urging me to cancel my Zoom account due to a change in its terms of service related to customer content and artificial intelligence (AI).
The sensational tone of the email made me immediately discount it and its sender. But by mid-week, the forwards started. At first it was a tweet here and there expressing concern. Then it was video commentary on the tweets, and eventually commentary on the commentary without any of the pundits showing they confirmed the information for themselves.
It took me 10 minutes to review Zoom’s terms of service (which had already been updated), their team’s response to the public outrage and the original Stack Diary article that “broke” the news, which actually wasn’t new at all. The changes occurred unnoticed back in March.
I don’t expect you to dive down this rabbit hole with me, but if you choose to, here are my sources:
Stack Diary article — If nothing else, read the timeline summarized at the beginning for context
The Verge article — The screenshots of Zoom’s in-meeting notifications provide a practical example of what the terms of service are talking about
Vergecast — Start at the 45-minute mark for brief thoughts on how Zoom handled the situation
Zoom’s current Terms of Service — As boring as watching paint dry but if you don’t read the actual language for yourself, how can you trust everyone else’s interpretation?
Though most of the uproar centered around Section 10.4, you need to read all of Section 10 (Data Usage, Licenses and Responsibilities) to get the full picture.
Stack Diary’s timeline is the perfect recap of how the situation related to Zoom’s updated terms of service unfolded.
Here are snippets of the terms that set folks off:
Data, content, communications, messages, files, documents, or other materials that you or your End Users generate or provide in connection with the Services or Software, together with any resulting transcripts, recordings, outputs, visual displays, or other content, is referred to as Customer Content. (10.1)
You grant Zoom a perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license and all other rights required or necessary for the Permitted Uses. (10.2)
Telemetry data, product usage data, diagnostic data, and similar data that Zoom collects or generates in connection with your or your End Users’ use of the Services or Software are referred to as Service Generated Data. Zoom owns all rights, title, and interest in and to Service Generated Data. (10.5)
“Zoom does not use any of your audio, video, chat, screen sharing, attachments or other communications-like Customer Content (such as poll results, whiteboard and reactions) to train Zoom or third-party artificial intelligence models” was added to 10.2 on Aug. 7 in response to the outrage.
Though I agree with The Verge’s Nilay Patel, who said Zoom handled the situation in the most “ham-fisted, stupid way possible,” I also find myself surprised that so few of us understand how software as a service (SaaS) works.
The only way Zoom can record your meetings, save the chat, or offer transcription is by assuming a license to the content. You’ll find similar terms for every social media network and other popular online services, such as Canva, Descript, Riverside, MailChimp, etc. Even Google has to claim a license over your content for your website to come up in search results.
And though it surprises me that people who use these services for professional reasons don’t understand the legal requirements attached to these convenience features, I also understand the reality.
In 2023, these services are as much a part of our lives as electricity. We don’t think about everything that is required for glass globes to illuminate when we flip a light switch. We’re just grateful for the light. And now that AI is all the rage, we appreciate AI-supported meeting summaries, transcripts and outlines without thinking too deeply about how they come together.
Recognizing the trade-offs that come with modern conveniences is part of entrepreneurship. As community leaders, helping our clients and customers understand this falls under our duty of care. To quote good ol’ Uncle Ben in The Amazing Spider-Man, “with great power, comes great responsibility.”
Work with service providers who consider the responsibility a privilege, not a burden.
Ever since announcing the closure of my social media membership in March, I’ve been the go-to person for other membership owners who are considering closing theirs as well.
“It seems memberships have reached their peak and are now declining,” one peer said. In all the conversations, the big question asked is: Are memberships dead?
I don’t think so. But I do think the membership model is changing. This is important for community managers, strategists and owners, because community makes a huge impact on membership retention and churn.
I have some strong opinions based on both experience and observation when it comes to memberships:
By their nature, memberships put you in a never-ending cycle of production. Whether your model is a subscription box or membership service, you have to produce something tangible for your members or subscribers each month. Some people love this. Others do not.
The traditional membership model relies on only a small percentage of members taking advantage of their benefits each month.
Though retention stays high in memberships that ensure consistent transformation, there is always a hole in the bucket. Attrition is normal, and you have to refill your bucket regularly.
The market is shifting. Gone are the days where people happily paid $27-$118/month for several programs or services they might not consistently use. Quality trumps quantity. People are gravitating toward low-ticket memberships ($9/month seems to be the magic number these days) or high-ticket ($200+/month), and they aren’t collecting them like Pokémon anymore either.
The Production Hamster Wheel
A never-ending production cycle isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not for everyone. Obviously, what you produce depends on the scope of your program.
Missy Helderman’s Find-Your-Fit program is a subscription box that sends perfectly sized bras to your mailbox every month. Owner of The Bra Market in Indiana, Missy already stocks an inventory of bras in her shop. Find-Your-Fit allows her to leverage that inventory to build a customer base throughout the nation.
Dachelle McVey’s Literary Adventures for Kids Clubhouse gives members unlimited access to online book clubs that can be used either for enrichment or homeschool curriculum. Historically, the membership has required Dachelle and her team to create an entire book club, a curricular unit around a specific book, every single month.
As you can imagine, Dachelle’s membership requires a lot more time and effort than Missy’s. Dachelle loves the work and the book clubs she creates are sold separately as well, so this pace works for her. Missy, on the other
Community connection:Be intentional about how much content you promise for your community. Understand that not only do a lot of deliverables put pressure on you and your team, but also on members. A hefty load of content and resources in memberships sounds like a value-add, but often overwhelms members and causes them anxiety driven by fear of missing out (FOMO). More is not always better. Sometimes more is just more.
The Business Model of Memberships
Everyone who teaches memberships as a business model sells clients on the ideas that memberships are the fastest way to passive income. You create something once and it serves hundreds to thousands of people each month.
But almost all profitable memberships make money because a small percentage of members are using them at any given time. Even in memberships with 1,000 or more people, you’ll have 50 to 60 on your live calls and a handful of customer service emails each week from people using other features. Bigger memberships might have more actively engaged communities, but participating in discussions is not the same as using your membership benefits.
But even if people aren’t using everything, you still have to give them what you’ve promised. Think of it like a gym. Certain items are expected at every gym — treadmills, elliptical cross-trainers, stationary bikes, free weights, weight machines, etc. Even if most members don’t use the treadmills, you still have to have them. And some members might never touch a single piece of equipment, choosing only to use the sauna, pool or locker room showers.
This reality appeals to a lot of business owners, but some entrepreneurs don’t like the idea of collecting money each month from people who aren’t doing what they signed up for. And it can be frustrating to show up for calls with just a handful of people, which is often the case in all memberships.
Community connection:Measure success through objective data points, not by how active conversations are in your membership community. Your most active members might not be doing anything with the membership content. Build in feedback loops based on the transformation your membership promises to measure how far your members are progressing on their journey, and which membership benefits they value most.
You Need to Always Be Selling
Memberships are great for cashflow, providing regular revenue each month with injections of revenue also coming quarterly or annually from members who made long-term commitments. But even the best memberships have attrition, or as I said above, a hole in the bucket.
There are lots of strategies that support retention, many of which I use with clients, but you can never keep 100% of your members renewing year after year. It’s normal for people to come and go.
To keep the revenue from your membership reliable, you have to either have an evergreen model where your membership is always open for enrollment or a closed model where you have specific launch periods throughout the year. In either case, you need to sell to offset the loss of members and you need to sell a lot if you want your membership to grow year after year.
If your membership is a key pillar of your business, you can standardize your sales process and allocate most of your time to promoting the program and enrolling members. If the membership is one of many offers, you might find yourself feeling stretched too thin.
Community connection:If you’re delivering a high-value membership experience, your members could be your best publicists. Consider how to enroll them in the growth of your membership. Several low-ticket membership owners give every member the opportunity to become an affiliate with the goal of having their membership fee covered through referral credit. This motivates members to invite their friends and the more friends they have in your membership, the more likely they are to stick around.
Shifts in the Market
If we were inside The Three Bears, this is when I’d tell you Baby Bear ran off with Goldilocks. For years, when I worked with memberships, $27-$118/month was just right. Now, everyone is leaning hard toward Mama Bear or Papa Bear with little in between.
Though $9 memberships are popping up left and right, I’m also seeing some in the $10-$15 monthly range. And at the other end of the spectrum, I’m seeing memberships going for $200-$1,000/month.
I’m gleaning two bits of information from this observation:
Membership owners are either banking on thousands of members at a can’t-say-no low price or focusing their efforts on a committed few who are investing too much not to actively participate.
Consumers are tired of feeling the pressure of “getting their money’s worth” and choosing low-dollar memberships with the belief that even if they only use three to four benefits in the course of a year, it’s money well spent. Consumers are also tired to being in memberships with people of varying levels of commitment. High-ticket memberships don’t just provide a higher level of service, they tend to attract members who are more consistent.
Community connection:As pricing shifts according to market expectations, so will community. You might see shifts in activity in your membership community and a drive to be seen and known. Consider individual outreach with your members to assess what is working and not working for them. Changing your pricing isn’t usually necessary, but understanding your members’ perspectives is useful.
Why I Closed My Membership
I loved leading the Success on Social membership. I still have the sticky notes with the names of every founding member and I believe I provided a lot of value to my members over the past two years. Sales were strong when the membership was $27/month and slowed waaaayyyy down when the rate increased to $47/month.
When I first announced SOS was closing, I wasn’t really able to articulate the reasons but I can now:
It’s time. Social media has drastically changed in the past two years. Though the content calendars provided in the membership are still as valuable today as they were when we started, everything else got stale much faster than I predicted. What I’ve found this year is that social media is still a great vehicle for visibility and authority but how you do that is nuanced. Best results require individual recommendations, not generalized ones.
I’m not made for the mass market. I do my best work with small groups and individuals in environments where I can go deeper than surface level in our work together. Our membership was perfectly cozy at 36 members and as attrition happened, I found myself so in love with the remaining members, I wasn’t driven to refill the bucket.
Community connection:Closing a membership can feel like a failure. If you are invested in your members, there’s a natural period of mourning and a desire to ensure they are able to transition well. Be as honest as you can for the reason you’re closing the membership, be as generous as possible during your sunset period, and — if it makes sense — provide members with a next step if they want to continue working with you.
Memberships to Consider
To prove I don’t hate memberships, or think they are useless, I’m going to share some of my favorites here.
Liz Wilcox’s Email Marketing Membership(affiliate link) — $9/month; you get a written template each week for your email newsletter, plus a video overview and access to courses on email marketing. My creative well runs dry like everyone else’s, and it’s nice to reach into Liz’s vault and pull out a prompt or two to help me when that happens.
Lizzy’s Club — $9/month; Lizzy’s club is a potluck of training, recommendations and live documentation of all things online business. Elizabeth Goddard is the person who first introduced me to Voxer coaching, and I’ve been following her ever since. She’s also a fan of super-low-ticket offers.
The Collab Club — $21/month; Nicole Batey specializes in collaborative audience growth strategies. I’m brand-new to this membership, and I’m looking forward to learning to better leverage collaborative opportunities that come my way.
Her Mastermind — $47/month ($11.75/month through May 31); Sabrina Victoria’s membership is centered around a weekly live networking call on Zoom. No fluff. No recordings.
Clutter Free for Life — $24.99/month; I helped Kathi Lipp to design this membership four years ago, and I still love every part of it. Members get a monthly decluttering plan, challenges, weekly coaching and support through a Facebook group and membership portal.
Red House Writers Collective — $760/year; If you’re a Christian writer, whether you want to sell to the Christian market or not, this is an encouraging place to work on the business of writing. The membership includes workshops, coaching and accountability focused on writing, marketing and systems to support your writing career.
Profitable Pipelines — $400/month; If Facebook or Instagram is how you get clients, this membership will help you increase your productivity and your results. You need to be a GroupTrackCRM(affiliate link) customer to qualify, but the program provides an end-to-end plan for attraction, conversion and retention of clients through social media.
Now that you know what I think about the current state of memberships, it’s your turn. Have you made similar observations or are you seeing something different?
And though the answer can be found fairly easily by searching through Meta helpdesk articles, it’s really a question within a question:
The surface question asks to understand the difference between these two key Facebook properties.
The deeper question is which properties make sense for you given your stage of business and the goals you want to achieve.
To further confuse the situation, Facebook recently launched professional mode, which gives personal profiles some benefits historically only available to pages and makes it even more confusing to figure out what is what on the world’s largest social network.
In this article, you’ll discover the key differences between Facebook groups and pages, so you can make an informed decision about which is best for your needs. Then you’ll be able to leverage one or both effectively for business success.
If you want support in figuring out the best way to build an online community to support your business, we are here to help! You can join our free Facebook group to meet other new and established community owners and managers, or fill out the form below to talk with a member of our team.
What is a Facebook Profile? Understanding the Basics
Facebook is still the world’s largest social network. As such, it’s evolved several times throughout the years. Launched from a college dorm room in 2004, it first became available to everyone with a valid email address in 2006.
Facebook’s early goal was simple: Connect friends, past and present, through status updates displayed on a centralized wall. Since then, we’ve seen the debut and retirement of countless features.
Profiles are where it all began. Pages and Groups (as we know them) launched in 2010.
How Do I Identify My Profile vs. Page or Group?
Your profile is your initial entry into Facebook. This is what you set up when you first join the network. If you’re abiding by Meta’s terms and conditions for Facebook, you have set up your profile using your real name (or the variation you use in daily life) and accurate information about yourself (age, location, etc.).
You are only allowed to have one account, and you’re supposed to use it for personal purposes. This is why you might hear someone refer to a Facebook profile as a “personal profile” because it’s designed to be your personal property on Facebook.
Whenever you log into the Facebook app via web or mobile device, you will enter through your profile login and password. The first screen you see will be your News Feed or timeline. If you have a traditional profile, you will connect with people you know through friend requests.
In recent years, Facebook has allowed people to follow accounts to see public posts without being connected as friends. When you look at your profile, you might see a mix of friends and followers next to your profile image under the cover image. Most people who use Facebook have a curated summary of their lives on their profiles: work history, educational background, photos, videos, interests, and shared content from other accounts.
As a personal property, profile access should be limited to one individual. It’s a violation of Facebook policy to share your login information with others or to knowingly allow others to use your profile on your behalf.
What is a Facebook Page?
A page is your business’ Facebook property. A Facebook page enables organizations and individuals to promote themselves online. Pages have many of the same options available as profiles. They also allow you to create an official fan base for your business or organization. You can interact with fans, post updates, and send out invitations to like your page.
Creating a page also gives you access to Meta Business Suite. This is a tool for analytical data, post scheduling, and advertising. Pages can be managed by teams, and employees or consultants can be given varying levels of access to page management. Pages also have access to auto-responder tools in Messenger to facilitate lead generation and customer service.
What is a Facebook Group?
A Facebook group is a space for people with shared interests to connect and communicate.
Groups can be large or small, public or private. Group members interact and share content with each other in a container separate from their News Feeds and profiles. Depending on your settings, you’ll automatically receive notifications when new posts or comments to posts are added to the groups you are in.
Key Differences Between Groups and Pages
Each property on Facebook was designed for a specific purpose. Key differences between groups and pages are expectations of privacy, functionality, and connection. Knowing these differences will help you decide which to create for your business and how to manage them well.
Difference #1: Expectation of Privacy
The biggest difference between these Facebook properties is the level of privacy you can expect.
Groups are designed to be communities of like-minded individuals. Depending on your goals for your community, you can make the group public or private.
If a group is public:
Anyone, on or off Facebook, can see what members post, comment, and share in the group
Any Facebook user can see the group’s list of members
Any Facebook user can see the group’s admins and moderators
If a group is private:
Only current group members can see what members post, comment, and share in the group
Only current members can see the group’s list of members
Any Facebook user can see the group’s admins and moderators
When members invite friends to join a private group, the invited individual will see the group in preview mode for 30 days or until their invitation is accepted or rejected.
As a group owner, you can choose to either block pages from joining your group or allow them in. Be aware that a page can have several admins. If you allow pages in your group, any admin can act as the page to see group content, post content, or interact with posts and members of the group.
You can also set the group to be visible or hidden. A group’s visibility determines who sees it on Facebook.
Anyone can find visible groups in search or other places on Facebook. Hidden groups can only be found by current, invited, and former members. Public groups are always visible; hiding them isn’t an option. Only private groups can be hidden from non-members.
Facebook pages are set up for maximum visibility. Your page can often be found via online searches, even by those who don’t have a Facebook account.
However, pages do have privacy settings that can be adjusted according to your preferences and goals. Page admins can:
Restrict who can see and like your page based on their age and location
Control whether visitors can post on your page or comment on your posts
Set up filters to block certain words or profanity
Manage what happens when others tag your page in their posts
Hide or delete comments
Limit who can comment on your posts
Block/ban individual users from your page
Difference #2: Functionality
Another key difference between groups and pages is how they are designed to function for those who own them and those who encounter them.
How Groups Function
Groups are designed to function like communities on Facebook. They allow members to interact with each other, the group’s leaders, and the content shared in the group.
Depending on the purpose of the group, you can organize content in sections labeled Guides and Files, allow for video and Reels, as well as host events exclusive to group members. Other functions that are possible in groups include:
The only limitations to group size is that set by group leaders. However, when your group gets beyond a certain number of members, you can’t make changes to key structural elements.
How Pages Function
A page functions a bit like a billboard in that its main function is to provide a place for customers to visit. Created as a business’ Facebook storefront, pages are set up to promote sales. You can host events for your customers and prospective customers, and offer deals or discounts. There is no limit to the number of followers a page can have.
Pages get access to Meta Business Suite. Within Business Suite, pages can plan and schedule content, manage their Messenger inbox, and run ads. Business Suite also offers analytical data to support tracking, measuring, and evaluating key performance indicators (KPIs) on the page, its content, and its audience.
Difference #3: Connection
Throughout Facebook’s evolution, one thing hasn’t changed: The social network has always focused on connecting people. Groups and pages both allow for connection, but connection doesn’t look the same on each property.
What Connection Looks Like in a Facebook Group
Groups are the Facebook property most set up to facilitate connection. Part of what drives connection in groups is that they are a smaller segment of Facebook. They make the large world of Facebook a little smaller and more focused.
The average Facebook user actively participates in five groups each day, and they consider the people in those groups to be closer friends than the people they know in real life. That’s the power of connection provided by groups.
What Connection Looks Like on a Facebook Page
Pages, on the other hand, are set up for visitors to make the first move in connection. You can’t send messages through Messenger to just any user. They have to make the first move by either sending you a direct message or commenting on one of your posts. When it comes to growing your followers, you can invite your Facebook friends to like your page or send follow requests to people who have already interacted with your page.
It’s a bit easier for pages to connect with other pages, thanks to the addition of a page-specific News Feed in the New Pages Experience.
Which Gets the Best Reach and Engagement?
Comparing reach and engagement between pages and groups on Facebook doesn’t make sense. Because pages are public, anyone can what they post — followers and non-followers. Page posts can also be easily shared throughout Facebook. Groups, on the other hand, are more private. Even in a public group, you have to join it to be regularly exposed to content posted there. Most groups, though, are private and that means nothing posted in the group can be shared outside the group.
For these reasons, reach will always be higher for pages than groups.
Engagement rates, though, are much higher in groups than in pages. We usually see pages have engagement rates around 2% to 4%. Active groups will have engagement rates around 20% or higher. But this doesn’t mean pages are better than groups. It means they are different.
Groups have higher engagement than pages for the following reasons:
Most groups have fewer members than pages have followers. The bigger the audience, the lower the average engagement rate.
Being in a group requires a higher level of commitment than following a page. The act of following a page is passive. Joining a group requires a few extra steps, which usually means members have a higher level of interest in the group.
Group content is interest-specific. Because groups are usually created to meet a specific need, the content is targeted to the interests of members. Page content is often more general.
Group members see content based on their notification settings (user-driven). Page followers see content based on Facebook’s algorithm (AI-driven).
If you don’t have a group or want to see what’s truly possible when it comes to amplifying the reach of your page content, you can run ads from your page. Posting ads or even boosting posts will increase both your reach and engagement over a page’s organic performance. Ads take time, though. If advertising is something you want to try, keep your budget small (up to $5 per day) and test it for six months before judging its effectiveness.
Facebook Page vs. Group: Which is Best for You?
Pages and groups serve different purposes on Facebook. A page is like the front porch of your house. Anyone who drives by your house can see your porch. If your porch looks inviting, or if they are driving down your street specifically in search of your home, some people will stop and walk up to your porch.
Of the people who walk up to your porch, some — like the Amazon delivery driver — stay just long enough to drop something off for you to pick up later. Others ring your doorbell or knock on your door in hopes of catching you at home. When you open the door, you might have a brief conversation before sending the individual on their way. Or you might chat with them for several minutes on the porch.
A few, though, get invited in.
If a Facebook page is your front porch, a Facebook group is your living room. A group is made up of the select few who aren’t left to just hang out on the porch. These are the people who want a deeper relationship with you, and you want a deeper relationship with them.
You don’t mind if they see a brown half-eaten apple on the coffee table or have to move the laundry pile to sit on your couch.
Group content is often customized to the members and their desired outcomes, whereas page content is more general in nature. You tend to have a closer relationship with people in your groups, and they have stronger relationships with each other compared to page followers.
Choosing the best one for your and your business comes down to goals. You might choose one over the other. You also might decide you need both to fully serve potential clients at every stage of the awareness journey: from awareness and consideration, to purchase, retention and advocacy.
Goal #1: Getting Clients
Pages and groups can both help you get clients on Facebook.
Promotional posts with “buy now” calls-to-action can work on pages, though they don’t seem to get seen as much as other posts. One way around that is to leave links out of your captions. Instead, ask people to comment with a codeword if they want more information. From there, you can follow up in response to the comments or by sending a direct message.
Making money from your group requires time and intention. You want growth strategies that attract the right members, an onboarding process that diagnoses what stage of the buyer’s journey they are in, and systems for education and sales so they can make informed purchasing decisions when the time is right.
Groups can help get you clients because they provide a central location for past, present and potential future clients to gather. Being part of your closer network exposes them to what it means to be in your ecosystem, which warms them up to working with you even without direct pitches.
Goal #2 Connecting with Ideal Clients
Connecting with ideal clients on a business page requires enough familiarity to understand how their needs intersect with your offers. Posting polls, market research questions and broadcasting video livestreams are all tactics that help identify how many ideal clients are following you. If your page content resonates, followers will share your posts and extend your reach to their networks as well.
There are two types of groups that business owners can create to connect with ideal clients: prospecting groups and customer/client support groups. A prospecting group is usually free and welcomes anyone who is looking for solutions you provide with your products or services. For example:
Customer/client support groups are for paying customers. Some businesses, like those listed above, have separate communities that provide a higher level of service for paying customers and clients. Other businesses only host communities for paying customers. Examples of these businesses include:
The Style by Color Closet Outfit Planner community – Style by Color has communities for each of its products. The Closet Outfit Planner is their signature style program. Other products include digital color connections, color academies, image consultant certifications, and a VIP membership.
Team EBG’s Party Pad with Lizzy and Emma – Open to anyone who has bought anything from Elizabeth Goddard.
Some companies host both types of groups, while others only have one option available. In either case, you are gathering people together who you know want what you have to offer. The perception of privacy in groups leads to stronger connections and conversations that go deeper.
Goal #3 Connecting With Business Associates and Collaborators
If you’re using Facebook to grow your business, you’ll want to use your business page to connect with associates and collaborators. You can post authority-building content on your page, but the real connection happens when you engage with the content other businesses post on their pages. By being a good follower, you can elevate your relationship with other professionals. Today, you might be commenting back and forth on each other’s posts, and tomorrow you might successfully make a DM slide that doesn’t come across as creepy or predatory.
If your business has an affiliate program, you might want to create a Facebook group for your promoting partners. The features available within groups make it easy to share promotional assets, timelines, and incentives. You can also use the group to facilitate relationships among your promoting partners, and as a forum for them to share how they are sharing your products and services within their networks.
When a business associate or collaborator becomes a true friend, send a friend request. Establishing friendship through Facebook is also smart when you know you’ll want a seamless way to send private messages back and forth.
How to Effectively Manage Multiple Facebook Properties
There are only 24 hours in each day. After you account for eating and sleeping, you don’t have a lot left over for work. You have to be wise about how you spend your social media time. Every property you have on Facebook has to earn its keep by having a specific function within your business model. If you don’t know why you have a page or a group, it’s time to reconsider whether you need them.
So before you think about how to manage a page and group together, first decide whether it makes sense to have both Facebook properties or if one is sufficient.
Quality beats quantity when it comes to content, but consistency is important. Aim to post three to five quality posts on your page each week designed to attract your ideal client. In your group, where members can keep conversations going with or without your input, aim to post two to three times per week.
Content that performs best usually includes a mix of conversation-starters, educational resources, tips, trends, relationship-builders, and offers. If you’re looking to drive engagement in your group, certain types of posts can help you achieve that goal while staying true to your group’s purpose.
Moving Forward with Facebook Groups and Pages
The right time or case to use a Facebook page or group depends on who you’re trying to reach and what you’re trying to accomplish.
Pages are designed to build awareness of your business and attract clients. Getting sales directly from a page isn’t impossible but takes a focused strategy. Groups gather together people from all corners of Facebook who share interests. You can use groups to build deeper connections with members or to sell specific products. Again, you’ll want a focused strategy that guides your members through the customer journey according to their needs.
In Conclusion — Make a Decision!
Understanding the difference between Facebook groups and pages is a matter of knowing the intent behind each property and how it applies to your social media goals.
From there, you can create a strategic plan for how you’ll use each to achieve the business results you desire. Put together the right pieces in the right format based on your target market, industry, and products or services. Test and evaluate, making adjustments as needed after three to six months.
This listing of resources for online community managers contains affiliate links, which means we might make a small commission from any purchase you make at no extra cost to you.
If you’re running a group, you’re going to need help. Though hiring help is nice, it’s not always necessary. There are essential tools and resources for online community managers that save so much time, it’ll feel like you’ve hired help – even if you’re a one-person show.
Whether you’re leading a forum, social media group, or any other virtual gathering, your active management of the community is vital to fostering healthy engagement, a positive culture and connection among members.
But you only have 24 usable hours in each given day, and the online world changes at a rapid pace. Whether you’re running your group all by yourself or you have a team of volunteers or contractors, there are tools and resources that make the job easier.
In this article we’ll explore the top tools and resources for online community managers.
From content scheduling and analytics to community-building strategies and beyond, these resources will empower you to create and maintain vibrant, successful online communities without devoting every minute of your day to life online.
StreamYard makes livestreaming into groups and across social media platforms easy.
Video Resources for Community Managers
Video is an amazing tool to connect with your online communities. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but nothing compares with video when it comes to building meaningful relationships with people you have never met in real life.
If you love video, you probably already have a favorite app or software program. But if you’re looking for recommendations, I have two platforms I can’t live without.
Live video is my favorite way to connect with community members, but most social media platforms don’t have the most user-friendly technology in place. StreamYard is a browser-based live-streaming studio our community management team has been using since 2019. If you’d like a stable streaming service that allows you to broadcast to multiple platforms all at once, customize your show with banners and frames, interview several guests and easily navigate between views, StreamYard is worth exploring.
The joke around here is that I speak fluent Loom, because I send so many videos using Loom. I’ll send direct-to-camera videos in response to emails I receive, and I record a lot of tutorials using Loom because the service is so easy to use. To date, I’ve recorded and shared almost 2,200 videos using Loom. Whether I’m offering feedback to a client, providing a tutorial or starting a conversation, Loom makes it easy to do from my phone and my computer.
Loom hosts your videos and tracks views while allowing viewers to leave comments as well. You can trim, edit and embellish your videos – all within the app. And, you can download your videos to upload to various platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.
Email Marketing Services
Email marketing services allow you to send professional mass emails to your community members in compliance with anti-spam laws. Services like this are critical if you’re sending out newsletters, sales emails or are trying to build up an email list for business purposes.
But they are also a powerful way to connect with your online community members outside of your group, which is important if the community is hosted on social media. You never know when Facebook, LinkedIn or a similar platform will go down or be unavailable. I value having email access to my group members. In The Secret to Thriving Online Communities, we even have a specific email onboarding sequence that goes out to new members and establishes that direct line of communication.
ConvertKit has been around for AGES but has made significant advances in its level of service recently. I started using ConvertKit in 2016 when I had only 45 email subscribers. I was frustrated by MailChimp and looking to make a switch. Even though they didn’t have a free plan at the time, ConvertKit’s customer service and stability made them worth the investment. I’ve never looked back.
Nowadays, they have various tiers that work at just about any stage of business. The freemium plan is fully functional up to 300 subscribers. Lately, ConvertKit has been expanding features to benefit creators. I’m seeing a lot of authors, podcasters and livestreamers go all-in on using ConvertKit to connect with their audiences. It’s just as valuable for product-based business. They have great starter templates and a variety of features to allow you to customize your subscriber experience. They also have a brand-new Creator Network that facilitates collaborative list-building efforts.
I don’t LOVE Mailerlite, but many of my clients do. It’s not the most sophisticated email service but few business owners need sophistication if they are just starting out or enjoy having delightfully tiny email lists. Mailerlite has a free plan that is fully featured up to 1,001 subscribers and allows you to send 12,000 emails a month.
What I appreciate most about Mailerlite is the investment they’ve made in visually appealing templates for just about any industry you can imagine. Unfortunately, they no longer offer templates on their free plan. However, the block editor is easy to use, allowing you to truly create a custom experience with every email you send.
Social Media Scheduling Tools for Community Managers
I’ve used at least 100 social media schedulers over the years. Between my work as a social media manager for a university, an agency owner and a solopreneur, I put every tool through its paces. I believe most schedulers do one thing best or work with one platform best and do everything else “meh” — so make sure you know what your priorities are before committing to a paid plan.
As a people-first community manager, I have a different perspective on social media schedulers. I don’t use them so I can “fix and forget” my social media plan. I use them to publish content when my audience is most apt to see it, so that my time is freed up to develop meaningful relationships on social media. By scheduling my posts, I can spend more time responding to comments and commenting on other people’s posts.
Meta Business Suite
Meta Business Suite has finally integrated all content creation and scheduling tools to provide a pretty good level of service for scheduling to Instagram and Facebook, and moderating your comments. Best part? It’s still free.
The cost of free in this case is basic functionality. Meta will recommend posting times based on your followers’ activity, and even schedule Stories. However, you can’t schedule the first comment in a post, and the hashtag research isn’t very reliable.
I switched from SmarterQueue to Metricool in Fall 2022 because I love the integrated dashboard that combines analytics from my website with all connected social media properties. I also find its scheduler to be more reliable, while still allowing for posts to be recycled on a loop.
I use the paid plan, which allows me to schedule to my LinkedIn profile. Unfortunately, analytics are only available for company pages on LinkedIn. I like that I can schedule both my post and the first comment on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. If you don’t have graphics or images of your own, you can access their image library to illustrate your posts. Recently they even added AI copywriting to help improve the quality of posts.
The plan I have (the lowest) only allows you to connect one property per platform, which means you can connect Metricool to your Facebook page OR Facebook group (not both). I’m hands-on with my community and don’t schedule much content in my group, so I’ve chosen to connect Metricool to my page instead of group.
If Instagram is your primary social media platform, Later is the scheduler you need. It has good features for visual planning, scheduling Stories and Reels. Later is fully functional and supports scheduling to other platforms as well. The analytical data provided is pretty good, especially if you’re tracking hashtag performance.
At this time, Later doesn’t support scheduling to Facebook groups.
If Pinterest is part of your marketing strategy, you need to take a close look at Tailwind. No service is better at executing an effective Pinterest strategy. I don’t care for how it manages scheduling to other platforms but if your brand is Pinterest-forward, it makes sense to fully embrace Tailwind as your social media scheduler. Tailwind scheduling isn’t compatible with Facebook groups.
Productivity Tools to Support Community Managers
As a service provider, I have a lot of experience with productivity tools. I’ve tried several personally and professionally. Whether they are tools my team and I use in our business, or tools our community management clients use in working with us, the choices are numerous.
I believe you are your most important system. The best productivity tool for you is the one that plays nicely with your brain. You may have to try a few to find the right fit for the work you do, but once you make a decision, the time saved is exponential.
News Feed Eradicator
If you find yourself distracted by the overwhelming amount of content on your social media timelines, News Feed Eradicator will be your best friend. This free Chrome Extension wipes your news feed clean, so you can focus on the task at hand. It works on every major social media platform, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Reddit, LinkedIn and more.
You can turn on the eradicator for a limited amount of time if you’re doing deep work on social media, or keep it on all the time to take control over your news feed.
My people-first approach to community management is made possible at scale thanks to GroupTrackCRM, which works on both Facebook and Instagram to keep track of conversations, ensuring nobody falls through the cracks.
We use GroupTrack for our high-touch member onboarding experience in The Secret to Thriving Online Communities, and I also use it to keep track of people I connect with all over Facebook (friends, page followers, peers, etc.). The bulk messaging feature allows me to stay in touch with people via DMs without landing in Facebook jail. GroupTrack is a great tool for anyone who wants to tighten up their process for cultivating leads via social media.
Basecamp is a web-based project management and collaboration tool that our team uses to manage work and communicate with our clients and each other. It offers a variety of features that can increase productivity, including task management, communication (direct messaging, group chats and message boards), file sharing and scheduling. Customize Basecamp by integrating it with other parts of your tech stack, like Proposify, Toggle, Timeshift Messenger and HoneyBadger.
Having one service to manage internal and external communication and project management has saved hours for my team. We’ve been able to eliminate weekly meetings and can now successfully achieve our goals by working asynchronous to one another. The functionality of the mobile app is just as convenient as the web app, critical for anyone who conducts business on the go.
Asana is a web-based project management tool that is designed to help teams organize and manage their work. Though you can view tasks as a kanban board, Asana is great if you’re a list person. It’s a great service for creating to-do lists, assigning tasks to team members, setting due dates and tracking progress.
Asana has been around so long that it integrates with most popular tech tools online business owners and community managers rely on. Slack, Microsoft Teams, Vimeo and Google’s suites of services are just a few. If you’re going to use Asana for project management, I strongly encourage you to add on Slack for internal communication. Otherwise, you’ll end up buried in meetings or email when you need to brainstorm ideas.
Slack is a cloud-based team communication and collaboration tool that provides real-time messaging, file sharing, and group chat features. It is designed to improve team productivity and streamline communication. Slack makes work easier by including all members of your team in discussions, regardless of locations.
The best remote teams I’ve been on use Slack for internal communication. I’ve also used Slack as a community platform. Not everyone likes Slack’s user interface, but if you take the time to organize your workspace in a logical manner, teach your team to use it effectively and hold everyone accountable to using it as designed, you’ll quickly come to love it. Slack integrates seamlessly with Zoom, Google, Asana, GIPHY and Loom (along with hundreds of other software resources).
Liz Wilcox’s Email Marketing Membership makes it easy to connect with members of the online communities you manage.
Courses, Memberships and Programs
Community management isn’t just a matter of running a Facebook Group or two. To have a thriving online community, you need a variety of other skills: building and nurturing your email list, graphic design, video production, and an understanding of search engine optimization (SEO), online learning and content management. You can hire service providers to do these things for you or enroll in programs that help you do them yourself.
This is not an exhaustive list of the programs I credit for helping me to get to where I am, but they are programs that solve what I think are some of the biggest problems facing community managers.
Liz Wilcox’s Email Marketing Membership (EMM)
If you’re using your community for lead generation, you need a way to connect with them outside of the group. Email is the best way to reach your members. Getting their email address is the first step but once you have email addresses for your members, what’s next? Ideally, you’ll start emailing them regularly so they get used to hearing from you in both places. But it can be hard thinking of what to say in those emails.
Enter the Email Marketing Membership (EMM) by NSYNC-loving Liz Wilcox. For only $9 per month, Liz will send you an email template and video explanation of how to use it every week. Her membership portal has a variety of workshops on how to grow your email list and turn followers into friends and clients. The membership includes a private Facebook community for team and peer support.
Viral Content Club
Design is not my gift but hiring a designer for social media content isn’t practical. Professionally designed graphics average $14 apiece. That means a package of 15 images would cost $210. That’s a steep price tag for social media posts with an average shelf life of a few hours.
So how do you get compelling graphics to slow the scroll on social media without breaking the bank? The Viral Content Club, a Canva template subscription, is my solution. I’ve been a lifetime member of VCC since 2019 and still find myself relying on these templates for everything from Facebook cover images and Instagram posts to YouTube thumbnails and infographics.
Aside from the Canva templates, members also get bonus resources each month. Recent benefits have included a 0-30K TikTok case study, Notion content database, and 10-day social media launch plan.
This video membership is helpful if TikTok, Reels or YouTube Shorts are part of your marketing strategy. OnVideo is Elise Darma’s membership focused on short-form video content.
Every week, you get five short-form video ideas and caption templates for TikTok, Reels, Shorts and Idea Pins. They are adapted to a variety of business models, whether you sell coaching, services or products. These video ideas are also great if you’re looking for quick videos to post in your community.
Attract & Activate
I’ve been working with Meg Casebolt and the Love at First Search team since 2020. I’m an Attract & Activate alumna and I hire the team each year for an SEO Roadmap.
Attract & Activate, delivered live twice each year, is the first course that made search engine optimization and keyword research make sense to me. Once I understood how SEO worked, I also understood what a beast it can be to do well. Hiring Meg’s team for my annual SEO Roadmap means the heavy lifting is done by professionals. The team does the keyword research for me based on my goals for the year, and provides me with a list of keywords to target and articles to write to support ranking for those keywords. If you found this article from an online search, you have the proof of the Love at First Search team’s success.
Additional Resources for Online Community Managers
Canva is a web-based graphic design platform that allows users to create a wide range of visual content, including social media graphics, presentations, posters, flyers, videos, and more. The interface is user-friend and the template options are vast. Even with no design experience, you can create professional graphics quickly and efficiently.
Canva was one of my earliest business investments, and it gets better every year.
When I launched my first online course in 2018, I looked everywhere for an easy, affordable learning management system. MemberVault caught my eye because it was the first to offer a marketplace dashboard that displayed free and paid offers side-by-side.
You can use it for coaching, consulting, courses, memberships, digital products, and even podcasts. I’ve tried other LMS platforms over the years but keep returning to MemberVault. Nothing compares to the value at this price.
Want Help Choosing Community Management Resources?
Team Kubo specializes in online community design, development and growth. Whether you need help with strategy, training your admin team or day-to-day management of your group, we can help. The first step is to complete our no-cost community health assessment, so we can identify your needs and customize a plan to get the results you desire.
Not only are we seeing a renaissance in online community-building, we’re seeing disruption in the marketplace.
Consumers are tired of emotionally manipulative marketing tactics.
Whether you call it “dude-bro marketing” or “bully marketing,” the sentiment is the same: We’re all tired of being convinced that a one-size-fits-all solution is going to make us money while we sleep.
I first saw the shift among consumers.
First, people started to question the free “trainings” that taught the “what” and “why” of a problem but dangled the “how” like a carrot with a very juicy price tag attached.
But they still handed over their credit and debit cards because what choice did they have?
This is how business was done.
Offer after offer was snapped up. During the pandemic, aspiring entrepreneurs hit the “buy” button like never before. Online marketers had their best year ever, some launches tripled their revenue projections.
And then what happened? Not much.
Pre-pandemic business tactics quickly floundered in our post-pandemic society.
On the other side of the fence, online business owners felt the shift as well.
As the market flooded with online programs and “make money while you sleep offers,” it was hard to ignore the predatory messages.
I compare it to death by a thousand paper cuts. After the first 50, you no longer feel the sting. But they all bleed just the same.
A steady flow of funnel-based marketing emails here and there don’t attract much attention. But when your inbox is suddenly filled with hundreds following the same “problem-agitation-solution” framework and adrenaline-triggering “act-now” bonuses, you can’t help but see all the blood pooling from those thousand paper cuts.
And though I can’t speak for others, my business besties all had the same observation: People who invest in programs with regulated nervous systems tend to have more success than those who buy when in the midst of fight-or-flight mode.
For the past year, I’ve been actively looking for others who see what I see and seeking those who are ready to do something different.
One of the leaders who have emerged is Sophie Lechner, a LinkedIn strategist who believes you can be successful at getting clients without becoming a salesy weirdo in anyone’s DMs.
That’s why I’m participating in Sophie’s Marketing Mutiny, a month-long conversation on LinkedIn about doing marketing differently. Specifically, the 10 business owners participating are sharing values-based marketing tactics that are working right now.
Obviously, I’m talking about online communities. Others, though, are talking about intentional one-to-one conversations, free office-hours sessions and other approaches that are on brand, heart-centered and – most importantly – get results.
Because we all know there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution, my hope isn’t that you’ll walk away from Marketing Mutiny with 10 new strategies to explore. My hope is that each participant choose one that either layers on top of what is already working or replaces what’s not.
Click here to find out more about the program, which runs the whole month of April.
I love cats. I’m one of those people who can lose myself in an endless loop of videos featuring babies, animals, and Starbucks hacks. No. I don’t ever try to make the copycat drinks myself, but I enjoy watching other people do it.
But as someone who “Facebooks for a living” I can’t afford hours of doom-scrolling. I need to get in, do what needs doing, and duck out to focus on other things.
Whenever someone asks how I can manage multiple communities on multiple platforms at the same time, I always say I am forced to focus. Especially on Facebook, where there are hundreds of notifications and updates vying for my attention every time I log in.
So yes, I do focus my time on social media. I also have help.
My help is in the form of a handy Chrome extension called the News Feed Eradicator. You have to see this tool in action, especially after the major updates made over the past two years. It’s my best ally in making social media a distraction-free zone.
The video above is 9 quick minutes, but you can always speed it up if you’re running short on time. After you watch it, leave a comment sharing which feature impresses you most. I can’t wait to see what you think!