Facebook Groups - Zuck is coming for us

(Chris Beach) #1

I’ve been concerned for a while that local community forums like mine are dying out on the open web.

They’re being superseded by Facebook Groups, and Zuck is now dedicating further effort to this feature:

Luckily Discourse still has the edge, technically, in a multitude of ways. And, of course, our forums are out on the open web, so are indexed in search engines and are linkable from other websites. :thumbsup:

Facebook threatens our model, though, and I’m pleased to see renewed effort from the Discourse team on the “Groups” feature - an important battleground in the war vs. Facebook.

A more social Discourse layout
Discourse vs Facebook Groups
(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #2

Yeah, I highly doubt Facebook is ever going to change on that. Group conversations are also inherently ephemeral, as there’s no easy way to find/resume old conversations. Any interests-based community with timeless information to share with peers and the world wide web will still be much better served by Discourse. :muscle:

(Robin Ward) #3

I don’t hate Facebook but John Gruber’s recent post, F*ck Facebook has some great points and is worth a read if you are worried about Facebook taking over open forums.

(Derek Au) #4

Agreed on all points. But no matter how good Discourse’s software gets, the issue I’m having is actually getting Facebook users to visit our Discourse site and discuss issues there. Even our discussions about our Discourse site are STILL happening in Facebook! There’s just too much inertia & familiarity. People automatically log in and check Facebook all the time, but very rarely visit our Discourse site.

(Christoph) #5

You are not alone:

(Sam Saffron) #6

It strongly depends on who is in charge, if you are in control of the community you can excert force and move people. Shut down an existing group, move it to read only at Facebook and so on. If you are not in charge, all bets are off, it is very very hard to convince people that sugar is bad for them.

Perhaps @carlfranklin could let us know a bit more about how they made the switch, https://www.ketogenicforums.com was a spectacularly successful Facebook groups move.

(Carl Franklin) #7

We had a closed Facebook group that reached 14,000+ Members. We discovered that FB search within the group doesn’t work. Richard, my co-admin, wrote a post with very particular scientific words in it. 4 hours later, a search on that term yielded no results. We found people were mean to each other. Worst of all, people are unwilling to read through existing comments to find answered to their questions. So, we found we were spending an inordinate amount of time answering the same questions over and over again, and playing whack-a-mole with troublemakers. It was like being a middle-school teacher. What you guys have done with Discourse is amazing. People search. Comments are mostly respectful. Big difference.


Was Richard’s post the value proposition that prompted members to move? What actually caused the migration to Discourse?

(Carl Franklin) #9

Actually, it was Kelly, my wife (kellyj@franklins.net) who suggested a forum. I knew Jeff from the .NET world. He had told me about Discourse at a Microsoft MVP summit, and the rest is history.

(Derek Au) #10

YES! This is so infuriating!

Recently Facebook has been adding silly group features but search is still completely useless. Even IF search worked correctly, the same questions would get asked over and over again because a) past group discussions “disappear” with time and b) people are accustomed to just asking questions without searching, first. (Perhaps because they already know search is useless.)

We have set up our Discourse as a wiki, where each Topic is a Wiki Topic. There is only ONE wiki topic for every possible issue. Any repeated questions are directed into the existing topic, and any new information is added to the original wiki post. It is a GREAT system and solves our issues with repeated questions. It BUILDS knowledge. We just don’t know how to get people using it.

I’m thinking we will need to start putting new, original content only on Discourse, as well as the best support people. If people want help, they will have no option but to visit Discourse. As @tophee’s link shows, splitting users between the two is not a viable solution.


Very true Sam. What I’ve found, is that anyone in this situation has a fairly unique story to tell.

We have a large independent community on Facebook that we would like to reign-in. I’ve had pressure from various orgs to move these customers off of Facebook and onto our new Discourse platform. Because most conversations on our Facebook group were Support-related (How do I…?), I decided instead to focus my efforts on beating the channels that I can influence directly - our phone and chat support lines. If I can provide more insightful (crowdsourced) answers that are as easy and fast to find as calling or chatting in, I feel that I can beat all these channels in the long run…including the popular Facebook group where…[quote=“erlend_sh, post:2, topic:64437”]
conversations are also inherently ephemeral, as there’s no easy way to find/resume old conversations.

This is a great observation! Here is an excerpt of my original Community Strat Doc that details the problem:

We have a unique opportunity due to the thousands of [people] participating in various ?-themed Facebook groups. Many of the conversations regard sharing knowledge to help each other achieve success in their small business by leveraging tools available within the ? ecosystem. These groups are loosely organized, overlap each other, are difficult to manage, but most importantly do not share a common purpose or cohesive structure. Adding to the problem is the fact that these conversations are ephemeral due to the nature of Facebook - insightful conversations get buried in our timelines never to be seen again.[quote=“dau, post:10, topic:64437”]
I’m thinking we will need to start putting new, original content only on Discourse, as well as the best support people.

I started by providing community members with direct access to CSRs with the caveat that CSRs need to allow time for other members to contribute in order to grow the community organically…this strategy conflicted with a goal to reduce “time to answer”, but I felt that is was important enough to disregard as we grow the community. That strat is paying off. Pay close attention to the most active organic members and nurture them individually. Remember the 99-9-1 rule and focus on the 1% while you grow your community. I’m also partnering with Customer Marketing to help provide interesting content to drive TOFU.

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #12

Does Facebook groups allow you to disable comments? Then you could keep posting updates from the forum, but participating would require going to the forum.

(Derek Au) #14

This was exactly my next move. Periodically post notices & descriptions of new content in Discourse to the Facebook Group and immediately select “Turn off commenting for this post”

(Christoph) #15

So you can’t turn off commenting by default?

(Simon Cossar) #16

It seems that comments can only be turned off for individual posts after they’ve been created. That’s unfortunate. If comments could be turned off for all posts, connecting a Discourse RSS feed to a facebook group could be a good solution for creating facebook notifications for new Discourse topics.

Maybe some kind of incentive could be created for people who visit a Discourse topic after seeing it on facebook?

(Christoph) #17

I thought I had seen a post where some described how they pushed posts to fb via another method but I can’t find it now. In any case, it might be worth to check if the “turn off commenting” option is available via zapier.

I was unable to check this for Facebook pages and Facebook Groups because I don’t have any but I checked with “ordinary” fb and there the option is, unfortunately, not available.

(KajMagnus) #18

@carlfranklin Ok but, if you have time, how did you convince people to move from FB to Discourse?
— “the rest is history” … but what is the history? :slight_smile:

Did you for example make the FB group read-only? Disabled comments, like some people mentioned above?
Or you posted a message, like “FB is problematic because […] go here instead: …” ?

(Jeff Atwood) #19

Well, Carl is famous within his area, so the crowd is going to follow him :wink:

(KajMagnus) #20

@ codinghorror Ok, thanks for explaining :- )
(I live far away from the US so there’re lots of well-known people I don’t know about)

(Matt Palmer) #21
if request.referer =~ /facebook\.com/
  user.badges << "refugee"