Many Facebook Group admins have woken up to find that their membership numbers have suddenly dropped.

If you’ve found yourself in this boat, it’s natural to be alarmed but I want to start by saying you haven’t done anything wrong and this is unlikely to have a negative impact on your Group. It is all down to changes that Facebook has introduced this week.

Respecting people’s choice

One of the biggest grumbles that people have with Facebook Groups, and one that Facebook has been made well aware of, is the fact that an individual can be added to a group by a friend, without any pro-action on their own part.

It’s probably happened to you before – you’ve logged into Facebook and found that you’re a suddenly a member of a group that you’ve never even heard of. Although this happened by your friend using the “invite” button (and, in more cases, believing with the best of intentions that this was an invite and nothing more) the button actually functioned as an add button more than invite. The person being invited had no opportunity to say yes or no, they simply became a member of the group.

At a time when we are more aware than ever of the importance of giving people a choice about how their data is used and what they do and do not want to be a part of, it was absolutely time for Facebook to make a change and respect people’s right to choose which communities they wish to be a part of.

What has changed & how will this impact groups?

changes to facebook group members list

Here is a summary of the changes that have taken effect:

  • People who were added to the group by a friend (in other words, they never requested to join themselves) and have never visited the group have been moved into an “invited” list.
  • This means that they no longer count towards the total number of members in the group.
  • They’re not gone entirely though – admins can see the invited list and have the option to send a reminder out to each individual which asks them if they would like to join the group or not. This is rolling out so don’t be alarmed if you’re not seeing the option to send reminder currently.

This does not mean that someone who has joined your group of their own accord – in other words, they requested to join as opposed to being added by invite – but haven’t liked or commented on a post in the group that they will be removed. Those people chose to be part of the group.

It’s also worth noting that the Facebook algorithm is way more sophisticated than people give it credit for. Of course, there are people in groups, and also following pages, who are interested in the content and take the time to consume it but, for whatever reason, they don’t publically engage with a like or comment. The amount of time an individual spends looking at a post on Facebook is one of the vast multitude of signals that the Facebook algorithm takes into account. It’s not all about likes and comments.

Are inactive likes being removed from Facebook Pages?

The short answer is no.

There is nothing to suggest that “inactive likes” are suddenly being removed from Facebook Pages.

Unfortunately, whenever Facebook rolls out an update there is now an inevitable wave of exaggeration and scaremongering. This kind of distortion causes angst and upset amongst people who are working damn hard to grow their community on Facebook, and that makes me bloody angry to be perfectly honest!

What’s more, even if Facebook were removing “inactive likes” from Pages (again, they are not) that’s likely to be much more positive than you may think.

Having inactive likes on your page (which are often inactive accounts, fake accounts or spam accounts, and NOT just people who prefer to read your posts but not hit like or comment) only makes it harder for you to reach your real followers i.e. people who are actually interested in your posts and might eventually become customers. So if Facebook did roll out a similar update to pages (again, they haven’t) it could be a positive change.

The same goes for Groups! If you have hundreds or thousands of members but many of them have never visited the group then it’s only going to make it more difficult for you to reach your interested and engaged members.

Social media is NOT a numbers game.

It’s about genuine, meaningful connections and relationships – the numbers mean nothing if they don’t equate to those real connections.

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