Facebook is rolling out a new feature called “Groups for Pages,” which allows people who run Facebook Pages to create sub-groups within them. These groups will let dedicated users chat to one another, and to the owners of the page directly. They’ll provide a space for discussion of niche or specialized topics, with Chris Cox, chief product office at Facebook, comparing them to fan clubs.
“If you are an artist, a business, a brand, or a newspaper, you can now create fan clubs and groups centered around your super-fans,” said Cox in a Facebook post.
Cox says the feature came about when The Washington Post’s digital and comment editors, Terri Rupar and Teddy Amenabar, started a group called PostThis – from The Washington Post. The group allowed reporters to speak directly to passionate readers of the paper and explain how stories came together. Cox compares this to a “digital version of letters to the editor, but with ongoing real-time discussions.”
The new feature also means that brands can create their own groups without having to use employees’ personal accounts, which helps protect their privacy.
In a separate post, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said he hoped the new feature will help more people join meaningful communities. He highlighted one page, AddictionUnscripted.com, which has a separate support group for people affected by addiction. It already has a membership of 45,000 people.
“In today's world, we all get support from a few sources: our family and friends, our communities, and our social safety net,” wrote Zuckerberg. “In our civic discussion we most often focus on our social safety net, but I've found that our communities are often just as important for taking care of us, and we need to focus just as much time on building them.”
Facebook says there are currently 70 million pages that represent artists, businesses, brands, and newspapers across the social networking site. That’s a lot of potential groups — and a lot of discussion to be had.