How to Use Secret Facebook Groups to Enhance Your Business
October 6, 2011
One of the most underutilized features of Facebook for businesses is the Secret Group.
A Secret Group is easy to create and manage, and it is perfect for small-group interaction.
Keep reading to discover powerful ways these groups could help your business.
Facebook originally created Secret Groups for people to have small, intimate interactions with family and friends, but Secret Groups are also perfect for small businesses, coaches and professional development, like mastermind groups.
Why Secret Groups?
Most people think of <a href="http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/is-your-business-maximizing-facebook/-10829″ target=”_blank” style=”padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; border-top-style: none; border-right-style: none; border-bottom-style: none; border-left-style: none; border-color: initial; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(194, 90, 15);”>Facebook Business pages when they think about Facebook, but businesses sometimes need private spaces for working, coordinating schedules and developing marketing and advertising ideas with a small group of people.
There are three types of Groups on Facebook.
It’s true that G+ (Google+) has created a system of Circles that allow for private conversations, but there are some nice features that Facebook has embedded within Secret Groups that are not as easily utilized in G+ as it currently stands. I’ll explain those Facebook features in a moment.
There are three types of Facebook Groups:
- Public (Open): everyone can see the Group, find it in a search and make posts
- Closed: everyone can see the Group, but only members can see (and make) posts
- Secret: only members can see the Group, see and make posts
But how secret is a Facebook Secret Group?
When you create a Secret Group, no one, except the members of the Group, will be able to find it in a search and no one will be able to find any trace of it on your personal or business Facebook profiles. And Secret Groups are not indexed by Google.
Even if you send someone the URL of the Secret Group, they will not be able to see the Group page. It’s that secret. I have even posted a Secret Group’s URL on a post in another Secret Group and no one could see the actual link at all!
You will get Facebook notifications (and/or email notifications—more on that in a moment) for each post from any member. And those posts will show up in your news feed, which can be a bit confusing until you notice the little lock icon next to any Secret Group post. So no one can read those, unless they are looking over your shoulder!
And if you choose to receive email notifications of posts to the Group, you will be able to reply to those emails and have your reply go directly to the Group comment for that post.
You will see posts to your Secret Group in your Top News Feed.
Features of Facebook Secret Groups
There are several features that I have enjoyed with my Secret Groups that any small business could use. They are:
- Group Chat: everyone in the Group can use the Chat feature at the same time. So you can have a conversation around complicated subjects to work things out without having to pick up the phone or back-and-forth emails. As far as I know, you can’t use this function on a mobile device (mobile browser or app) at the moment, though.
- Shared Document creation: the whole group can have input on one document and be able to edit what other members have put on it. This feature is similar to using Google Docs, and can be used to refine promotional text, press releases, responses to controversy, etc.
Create a document that all the members can edit.
- Private photo sharing: members can post photos that no one else on Facebook can see. For example, Secret Group members on an advertising team can discuss which images to use on an upcoming campaign. They could create albums with the name of their upcoming advertising campaigns and put several images in them to discuss in the comments or in the Group chat. You can tag the photos, but only with the names of the members of the Group.
- Shared email address: Facebook lets you create a custom email address you can use to email posts to the Secret Group page. You can email text and images. I’ll show you how to create that special email address in a moment.
How can a small business use a Secret Group?
Looking at these features, how can small businesses and coaches use a Secret Group? Here are few ways:
- If you’re a manager with staff who live on Facebook, you can create a Secret Group to keep in touch about hours, shift substitutions, emergencies and all sorts of things that a manager would normally use email or text messages for. Everyone can check the Secret Group posts for morning updates and these messages won’t show up on someone’s personal wall.
- If you have a remote virtual team working on a marketing project, you can use the Group Chat feature to work through ideas that come up randomly through the day that only need a couple of minutes of attention in the same way you would use Google Chat or any IM system.
- If you have a crisis management team using a Secret Group, you can take photos on your smartphone and send them directly to the Group using your private Group email address. You completely bypass the upload and tag process you normally use for Facebook photos. You can create group documents for how to handle a particular crisis for ready reference and be able to announce a group chat time that immediately shows up in the member’s Top News Feed.
- If you are a personal development coach, using the Secret Group system is great, even if it is a bit convoluted to get a fully Secret Group, as you will see. First you need to create a Closed Group. That way you can give out the Group’s URL and then they can click the Ask to Join the Group button (top right of the Group page). You don’t need to be personal Facebook friends with potential members for this to work. Then once everyone is a member of the Closed Group, you can change the Group setting to Secret (how to do that coming up).
Assuming you already have a personal Facebook account, follow these steps to create a Secret Group:
- Go to http://facebook.com/groups
- Click the green Create Group button.
- Give the Group a name and choose the icon with the dropdown arrow.
- Add any members who are your Facebook Friends by typing their names. You’ll see their account pop-ups; select to add them to the member box.
If you will be including members who are not your personal friends, make sure you create a Closed Group first, then change it to Secret once all the members have joined.
- Select the Privacy Setting and click the Create button.
There are only four easy things to do to create a Group; choose an icon, give the Group a name, select members and choose the privacy setting.
You can choose from a standard list of icons for the Group.