If you’re looking into Facebook Group alternatives, you’re not alone. More and more people are choosing to move away from relying on Facebook Groups to grow their community.
Whether your community group is for people switching to a vegan diet, motivating people to up their fitness game or a space to grow a mastermind for an online course, there’s no denying the incredible power and value of community.
Facebook Groups used to be the easiest way to build and engage an online community and it makes sense that you may have previously wanted to host your community there.
But times have changed. Constant algorithm changes, numerous distractions, spammy content, trolls, zero monetisation options and the increasing lack of trust in Facebook with data scandals like Cambridge Analytica has made it much more difficult to build a buzzing community.
8 Reasons why people are looking for alternatives to Facebook groups
Whether you’re a brand, creator or entrepreneur there are numerous reasons why you may be considering ditching your Facebook Group.
We’ve listed the most common reasons below:
Reason 1: Reach is at an all-time low
It’s getting harder to reach your audience on Facebook. News Feeds are filled with so much clickbait, fake news and ads that it’s almost impossible to connect with your people. When you’re relying on a Facebook Group to grow your community, you’re at the mercy of Facebook’s algorithms to decide what your users do and don’t see.
Not only this, but Facebook is increasingly becoming a pay-to-play platform that prioritises ads – meaning that what may have once been a buzzing community that was full of engaging content now disappears further down a users feed or worse – doesn’t even reach a users feed at all.
Facebook’s algorithm is constantly changing. Just recently, Facebook changed the way its algorithm prioritises and delivers content to groups. As a result, community managers posts are only reaching 1-2% of their Facebook audience, making it really difficult to deliver engaging content or messages to their audience.
Reason 2: No monetisation options
There’s no denying it, Facebook Groups are quick and easy to set up but they also offer zero monetisation functionalities. There is no way to charge for access to a Facebook Group.
Facebook doesn’t offer any built-in options for subscriptions, eCommerce or donations. If you want to monetise your community or you’re a charity that relies on donations to sustain your community, it means you have to look for alternative solutions for a paid membership space.
Reason 3: You can’t add online courses or mastermind groups
If you want to add value to your free community by launching a paid online course or mastermind group for people who may want or need more attention – Facebook doesn’t provide the functionality or flexibility to achieve this.
This is incredibly frustrating as not only does it limit you from streamlining your offering or making a passive income, it also means that you’re having to disperse your time and energy on multiple different platforms. This isn’t only confusing for you, it’s also incredibly confusing for your audience.
Reason 4: You’re not in control
It’s really important to remember that Facebook is owned and controlled by someone other than the users. And that leaves you with very little control and makes you vulnerable to any changes Facebook decides to make to its platform.
When you can’t control the platform, you’ll fall into a number of problems. If Facebook suddenly decided to get rid of the group feature or ban you from your group – your entire community and all of the content you’ve created could be lost virtually overnight.
It’s also vital to remember that you don’t own your audience’s personal data on Facebook – this not only stops you from taking that information elsewhere and reaching your audience via other platforms. It also stops you from fully understanding your community.
Reason 5: Lack of organic growth via web
Since Facebook Groups are completely limited to Facebook’s platform – it means that search engines aren’t allowed to crawl any content which is posted in your community.
This means you’re losing out on driving valuable traffic to your community as there is no way for bots to discover content, index them or send any organic traffic your way.
Reason 6: Minimal customisation
Other than the name of your group or having an enticing cover photo, Facebook is incredibly rigid and gives you no room to customise your community to fit your business or brand.
You’re not able to host your group with a custom domain (e.g. fitnessgoals.domain.com) and a Facebook Group doesn’t allow you to change the look and feel of your community space with colour combinations or designing your community in a way which would better reflect your brand style.
Reason 7: No sub communities or sub groups
One of the greatest things about having a community is the number of sub communities that can be created from that single community. For example if you have a photography community, there are multiple sub niches within it which could be created e.g. portrait, wildlife, event, food etc.
A Facebook Group limits you from building smaller sub communities that branch off your main community – this means if you’re relying on using one group to cover everything it can make your community feed look messy – and can limit people from creating strengthened bonds or relationships as not everything within it will be relevant to everyone.
Not only are you limited in terms of building niche sub groups, this also ties back to the point made about Facebook not having the capability for monetising your offering, online courses or masterminds because Facebook doesn’t have the capability to allow you to create them.
Reason 8: Full of distractions
Facebook is a distracting place. There’s notifications from multiple groups, business pages sharing their latest product updates, friends and family members sharing selfies or photos of food, pets and holidays, people ranting about the latest news headlines and ads about everything we should be buying being shoved down our throats at any given opportunity.
We’re bombarded with a huge volume of information on our Newsfeeds on a continuous basis – not only is this absolutely mental for our sense of sanity – it’s also an absolute nightmare for entrepreneurs, creators and businesses whose goal is to build an engaged and loyal community.
If we’re being distracted, imagine how much your audience is being distracted! Not only is your audience being distracted by the same things you are, they’re also getting messages from your competitors who are trying to win their attention or from Facebook suggesting more ‘related groups’ they can join.
3 Things to consider when choosing a Facebook Group alternative
Now that we’ve covered the top 8 reasons why people are choosing to ditch Facebook Groups, let’s talk about 3 things to think about when considering which option will be the best fit for you and your community.
1. Can you brand it as your own?
Your brand is the lifeblood of your community. It’s what drove people to you in the first place. It represents everything you’re trying to achieve, who you’re trying to reach and what problems you’re trying to solve – so it makes sense that you want a home for your community that aligns with your brand.
When you’re selecting a community platform – don’t overlook having this option available to you. You want to be able to use your own branding and domain name on whatever platform you choose.
2. Is it available on both web and mobile?
It’s 2020 – yes it’s been a crazy year but it’s also made access to technology even MORE important. You want to make sure that any alternative to Facebook Groups you choose is instantly available to you and your members on iOS, Android and both desktop and mobile. Checking that these options are available to you from the outset will ensure yours and your community members lives are much easier.
3. Will your community members like it?
One of the most important things to consider when selecting a Facebook Groups alternative is whether your members will like it too. Is it intuitive to use? It is user-friendly? Does the provider offer good support?
Considering all of these factors as well as whether you can use your alternative to monetise your offering should all be musts when you’re weighing up your options.
Top 10 alternatives to Facebook Groups
Groups.io is a forum style platform that provides web based communication tools which are built around its core email group system.
- Admins can edit posts and comments
- Dated look and feel
- Have to go through an approval process to set up group
- Groups.io can delete posts as they see fit (same as Facebook jail)
- Reddit is completely free to use.
- Open source.
- Easy to use.
- When you have a large community on Reddit, you’ll run into difficulties in terms of moderating the content.
- One core issue with Reddit is the high risk of spam.
- Cliques can bury content they don’t agree with.
- If you want to use live streams or video chats, you’ll have to use third-party software.
Although not an actual social network, WhatsApp groups is an instant messaging platform that is often used to collect like-minded people together in the same group.
- Private community.
- Can broadcast messages to lots of people at once within your group chats.
- Free to use.
- You need people to give you their personal mobile number to join group chats.
- Can be difficult to go back through messages.
- Lack of privacy settings as everyone’s numbers are public.
- Most people use Whatsapp groups for conversations with their close friends and personal connections.
Slack is a channel-based messaging platform that is mainly used for team communication and collaboration amongst businesses – all within a secure environment.
- People are comfortable using Slack because they may already use it at work.
- Slack is available on web and mobile apps.
- Slack is good for small groups that already know each other.
- You can’t brand Slack with your own branding.
- There’s no monetisation features.
- There are no online courses or sub-group functionalities in Slack.
- It charges per member, so it can get expensive quickly
5. Open-source Discourse software
Discourse is an open-source internet forum software that can be used to build discussion forums and long-form chat rooms..
- It’s open source which means you can modify it
- It has built in forum solutions as well as useful features around notifications, SSO, integration and plug-in systems.
- You need to find resources for hosting and maintenance
- Has a dated older forum-style design
- The main focus for discourse isn’t community building or deep-interest networking
6. Telescope Nova
Telescope Nova is a free, open-source platform. Nova provides simple components such as posts, comments and forms.
- Open source
- Modern technology
- The hosting, maintenance and technical details needs to be handled by you
- You need engineering resources to build the platform as its base solution only provides the building blocks
7. Kajabi communities
A Kajabi Community allows members to interact with one another. You can set topics for discussion or post into a community feed.
- Can create topics of discussion with Feeds
- Can customise to own branding
- More expensive in comparison to alternatives
- A mix of reviews about the customer support
- Can be a steep learning curve
Telegram is a multi-platform app, usable from any device, PC, Android, iOS, MacOS, Distro Linux and via browser.
- You can create group and channels of various type, private with link, private without link, public username.
- You can customise (Group Name, permissions, add administrators, get a blacklist)
- Confusing to use
- Requires constant optimisation
- Compatibility for each new update can make the app slow and not free of bugs
Humhub is an open source solution that works well for enterprise social networks.
- Suitable for larger company intranets
- The standard feature set only includes activity stream, groups and member profiles.
- The hosting, maintenance, and upkeep has to be done by you or your company
- You’ll require engineering resources to develop new features
Disciple is a customisable white-label community platform available on web, iOS, and Android.
- Customise with brand colours & logos
- Segment audiences by interest, location & demographic with unlimited sub groups & content feeds
- Promote physical and online events
- Structure and store content with an easy-to-use content library and folders
- Monetise with online courses, memberships and subscriptions
- Invite members to create their own profiles and find, friend and message each other
- Data is owned and managed by you
- Great customer support
- Intuitive and easy-to-use interface
We really can’t think of any, but don’t take our word for it. Check out some case studies from happy customers below.
Disciple provides a Facebook group alternative that’s feature-rich, puts moderation decisions in your hands, and piles on the monetisation options. Here are just a few examples of community building done right with Disciple:
Battered Black Book – BBB needed a single space where their high net worth clients and their brand Partners could interact without all the noise and distractions of the gigantic social media outlets. They discovered Disciple community building and management software and never looked back. Whereas before BBB, their clients and Partners were spread thin across multiple social network sites, today they have one central social media platform to call home, and their online community is thriving like never before.
Softball Connect – Got 1’s 6 is one of the most popular softball brands in existence. They had been pinning their hopes on creating a robust brand community via their website and Facebook. It didn’t take long for them to sour on Facebook and their website efforts just weren’t producing the type of engagement they had hoped for.
Got 1’s 6 discovered Disciple’s one-stop-shop approach to community building and soon after launched their own app called Softball connect. Softball Connect became an instant hit and in just a matter of days drew in more community members than years of effort on Facebook produced.
Cerebral Palsy Alberta (CPAA) – CPAA serves the cerebral palsy community of Alberta and, like many organisations that deal with medical conditions, found Facebook’s refusal to allow comprehensive community engagement to be stifling. CPAA needed a way to bring together patients, families and, crucially, the medical professionals that could help. They found that way with their Disciple app “Flutter”.
Today, thanks to their Facebook group alternative, Flutter, CPAA is able to provide a full array of useful services and offer members of the Alberta community a single place where they can meet others, discuss matters important to cerebral palsy sufferers and their loved ones, and get expert advice.
Monetisation Beyond Facebook
Another thing about Facebook that drives many community builders to distraction is their monopoly on monetisation. Sure, they host your group for free, but as soon as you go live they begin to aggressively mine your community for their own enrichment while preventing you from doing the same.
There has to be a better way, and with Disciple’s Facebook group alternative there is. Instead of removing monetisation options from you, we’re always looking for new and better monetisation options to build into our community management software. That way, you can raise the money you need to maintain a viable community going forward. Those monetisation options include:
Paid Subscriptions – Disciple provide you with the option of offering Freemium (free membership with some paid content) or Premium memberships (everything is accessible for a monthly or yearly fee). Of course, you also have the ability to offer totally Free basic memberships if you wish.
In-app purchases – You can’t charge for online courses on a social media platform like Facebook, but you can on Disciple. You can also leverage Google Pay or Apple pay to enable the purchase of physical products, or you can offer paid digital downloads or exclusive in-app only product offerings.
Paid-app download – Some people creating a Facebook group alternative opt not to go with paid subscriptions, instead they simply charge everyone a modest flat fee to download the app. This is an excellent option for instructors and others with an obvious value proposition to offer.
Sponsorships & Advertising – If Facebook allowed either of these they’d probably have twice as many groups as they do. But they don’t. Fortunately, Disciple does and many who build their online community with Disciple wind up garnering a tidy income from sponsorships and ads.
Store Links – If you have an existing online store you can link to it through your Disciple app and ramp up conversions. It’s synergy at its best and you’re the one who benefits.
Paid plans, in-app purchases, donations, affiliate links, sponsorships and more are all in play when you use Disciple to create your Facebook group alternative.
There’s no denying it, Facebook is no longer what it once was. If you’re serious about building a thriving and successful long-term community, there has never been a better time to look for an alternative to Facebook Groups.
If you want to have peace of mind knowing that you own your data, that your users have privacy, that you have the option to easily package your knowledge into something you can monetise AND that you can customise the look and feel of your community into something that replicates your brand then a community platform is for you.