Facebook Community Awards: An answer to group engagement October 13, 2021
The Facebook community sees over 2.8 billion monthly active users, with 1.84 billion users visiting the social networking site on a daily basis. Facebook’s mantra has been to bring the world closer together and that has been the case for much of the 17 years since its launch.
However, in recent years it has been hit with negative publicity and is well underway in trying to rectify the tone of engagement on the platform.
In order to do this, Facebook is testing a new way to boost positive contributions in groups, with a new feature called ‘Community Awards’. With this new feature, group admins can reward active users on their pages and groups.
The goal of this new feature is to encourage group engagement, activity on the social networking platform and arm brands/companies with the tools to keep customers interested and rewarded for their interactions.
People want to feel like they’re being heard, and social media provides users with the means to connect with a wider audience. Community managers must use this new feature to keep their consumers active.
Awarding ‘Outstanding group comments’ in a Facebook Community
With this new feature, group admins will be able to give awards to ‘outstanding group comments’. The thinking is that by rewarding engaging and beneficial interactions, you encourage individual users to interact often.
The awards also highlight to other group members what types of comments and interactions you want to see – this will help improve the overall engagement in the group as other users begin to take up meaningful interactions that spur a wider discussion in online communities.
77% of Facebook users state that the most important group they are a part of now operates solely via Facebook Groups. It is important to give these groups ways to maintain, reward and encourage engagement or they will find another, more welcoming service.
Previous Facebook community engagement initiatives
This isn’t the first time Facebook has tested features to encourage engagement. Previously, they have used ‘badges’ that can be assigned to users and even a ‘Top Fan’ feature for users that are very active on groups and pages.
Facebook even introduced a ‘Group Expert’ feature. With this, group admins could designate highly active members as group experts, thus indicating to the community how one must interact to become trusted by admins.
There are over 70 million admins and moderators running active Facebook groups. The platform isn’t just made of users. Facebook adding these features rewards users yes, but it also gives admins more tools to manage their communities with.
Why is Facebook doing this?
Facebook has been receiving a lot of flak over the last few years for the hostile misinformed social network it is threatening to become.
The Wall Street Journal posits that recent division caused by political content on the app has led to an overall decline in user activity.
Community Awards are being added to make Facebook into a more positive, welcoming environment. These awards, if used correctly by admins, will encourage correct and fact-checked posts and comments rather than misinformed fake posts, which will be ignored and cast aside.
Community Awards counter the misinformation trend as Facebook looks to boost interactions and model behaviour in the app.
Reducing political content on Facebook
In regards to lessening the political content on the platform, Facebook says: “We’ve seen positive results from our tests to address the feedback we’ve received from people about wanting to see less political content in their News Feed. As a result, we plan to expand these tests to Costa Rica, Sweden, Spain and Ireland.”
Perhaps the biggest indication that Facebook will be doing even more regarding positive community interactions comes from what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in February 2021: “One of the top pieces of feedback we’re hearing from our community right now is that people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services. So, one theme for this year is that we’re going to continue to focus on helping millions more people participate in healthy communities and we’re going to focus even more on being a force for bringing people closer together.”
Changes will be made to reduce online traffic reaching news publishers on the platform. At the moment, this space is dominated by conservative outlets like Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire due to Facebook’s algorithm pushing extreme and partisan content into the 10 top-performing posts feed.
New community features and algorithms are being added to stimulate positive discussion, re-align user behaviours and shift the outlook of the social platform from a negative one to a positive one.
The success of TikTok as a joyful and entertaining platform has also prompted Facebook to try and change their trajectory. When users go online, they want to be met with a welcoming and enjoyable platform, not one mired by lies, shock posts and political division. Facebook is and will continue to adapt to reverse the negative PR they have been experiencing for the past few years.