In June 2017, Facebook took big steps towards improving the sense of community on its platform by hosting their first ever, Facebook Communities Summit in Chicago. The event saw Facebook group power users and admins from around the world meet up to collaborate on new ideas for the platform, whilst being introduced to useful new features by Zuckerberg and his team. Since June, the Summit has also landed in Europe allowing Facebook to continue to collaborate with its existing global communities to help make the future of Facebook Groups a bright one.

Facebook is currently dedicated to making improvements that benefit the mental health and wellbeing of its users, after facing backlash from mainstream media and healthcare professionals. Facebook aims to shift its focus to community over advertising messaging for users in recent algorithm changes. A huge part of this focus shift will be seen in the expansion on the Facebook Groups feature.

If you’re not already using Facebook Groups, you’re missing out. There’s a Facebook Group for pretty much every niche. Following on from the old school vibe of the forum, Groups are a great place to engage with a community and get advice. From a brand point of view, Facebook Groups can be a great place to research and connect with your audience on a one-to-one basis or as a way to aggregate fans around a related topic or theme. Whatever your past experience with Facebook Groups, there’s a number of new features that are super-charging these community building spaces that you just have to check out.

One of the most welcome additions to Facebook Groups, live right now is the access to Analytics. This suggests that Facebook has cottoned onto the fact that brands and business have been using Groups to their advantage for quite some time, are Facebook preparing to take a piece of that pie from Facebook Group Admins and Owners? Perhaps this is in preparation for some new Group monetisation features? Maybe, Facebook genuinely wants to help Facebook Group Admins create better content, we will have to wait and see.

Admins will also breathe a sigh of relief when they spot the new integrated dashboard, which conveniently places everything in one place.

The new dashboard also includes a streamlined version of the member requests panel, allowing admins to batch approve/decline request by filtering them by parameters like locations and gender. Group announcements, colour personalisation options, post scheduling, group-to-group linking and new section rules options have also joined the Facebook Group Admin panel.

At the Facebook Communities Summit Europe in London earlier this month, Facebook’s Head of Groups and Communities, Jennifer Dulski, also announced the arrival of the Facebook Community Leadership Programme. The new programme from Facebook promises to “commit tens of millions of dollars” to initiatives aimed at building communities on Facebook, so if you have a bright idea this could be your opportunity to get funded by Facebook to make it happen. You can visit the Facebook Communities microsite to find out more about applying for a residency or fellowship with Facebook or get involved via Community Leadership Circles. There’s big money on offer for great ideas, so one to check out for any enterprising community champions!

For many people, Facebook Groups are a welcome escape from the algorithms that make other areas of social media a challenge. Groups create an online destination targeted at engagement and interaction rather than just the scrolling through a stream plagued with shameless self-promotion and adverts. With this in mind, it makes total sense that Facebook would shift its focus onto improving Facebook Groups in a bid to retain users and reward them with a real sense of digital community and the social element that is essential to a positive future of the medium.

We shall look forward to seeing what big ideas the Community Leadership Program will sow.