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Is Authenticity Lost In Larger Facebook Groups?

In my Facebook Group Virtual Service Provider Odyssey I asked members what they look for in a group, one thing particularly stood out to me and that is that authenticity is sometimes lost in larger groups.
 
Is authenticity lost when a group size is bigger?
 
This is my assessment after moderating groups as one of my service offerings for over 5 years.
I think what some see as a loss of authenticity is the result of a broken dynamic-people taking and not giving back.  Yikes, the elephant in the room is being talked about. 

GROUPS are communities so to speak. Imagine your neighbor coming to your house parking on the couch and just people gazing as your family goes about its daily affairs.  Just lurking…watching and moving about with stealth. Okay, that’s extreme but it’s the feeling some group host may be experiencing.

Some of the magic of the group should be happening laterally from member to member in the community.
The group host is a guide and shouldn’t be the person doing all of the interacting.

No one enjoys robotish auto posted sameness content, a group definitely should not be on auto-pilot.
Sometimes it is painfully obvious the group host has gone missing in action.
Let’s just put it out there, hosting groups is hard work. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a small group or a large one, it’s still work. Some host are simply burned out.
They bear the goal of providing engaging and informative content, providing a safe place for group members (maybe) and keeping the group going. It’s work. 
 
The dynamic is broken, especially for free groups.
There is no investment or buy-in for the members in free groups.
Statistically only 2-5% will ever purchase a product or service offered by the group host.
The thought of stealth movement (that’s my politically correct way of saying lurking) is just broken.
Many of the virtual service provider groups are free and broken.
People hide in group shadows, they won’t engage. If they engaged the sense of community and authenticity in  (especially larger) groups would likely be stronger.The group host could avoid burnout from constant engagement and activity if there were more lateral engagement.
Then, there is the thought that the group host must be the one that promotes lateral engagement too. Sigh.
 
The fact that people hide in groups and won’t engage is the catalyst for the broken dynamic.
If you have a group you come to expect a certain number of what’s commonly called “lurkers”.

Lukers lurk, no mystery there!
For the purposes of this post Lurk is defined as stealth movement.
Stealth movement is that thing that says “I’m here but you don’t see me do you?”  It’s woo-woo-ness. 

 
Lurking is multi-dimensional.
There are lurkers that participate with group content by absorbing it, eventually they emerge from the shadows.
There are lurkers who are in groups for the sole purpose of getting info, they have no intention of being a part of the community.
There are lurkers lurking because they don’t get it but they aren’t going to get it if they don’t ask questions.
I understand many people are checking groups out, they are introverted, they are afraid, they are feeling like they have nothing of value to contribute.
This is the start of the authenticity issue –EVERYONE has something to contribute.
Even contributing a simple “hi, my name is so-n-so is engagement”.
Some people (business owners) never even introduce themselves.
As a person looking to be a business owner or a person who is already a business owner a simple first step to authenticity is “hello”. 
 
I think the minimum giveback for business owners huddled in a place to get information so that they can use that information to generate revenue is engagement.
I can’t think of any reason that a person looking to start or grow a business can’t take authority of their engagement quota and engage. Engagement is a part of adulting right?
I mean we all have to engage with our clients, why can’t we engage in groups?

Is authenticity lost in larger groups?
I’m not certain authenticity is lost due to group size, at this point I think it is lost due to business owners (startups and seasoned ones alike) not stepping up to forge community within groups.I also think authenticity is lost because some group host and members just aren’t authentic.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with having a group for the purpose of promoting your products and services. If you’re a host that has a group for that purpose members notice when you auto post. Auto posting isn’t bad. I mean you have to have a life too and you didn’t start doing what you do to be plugged in all day. But you or your team or your ambassadors have to plug in at some point.  People notice if the only time you engage is to talk about your next launch, product or service. That is what many refer to as not being authentic.

It’s probably ineffective marketing to say “hey, I only have this group to sell my stuff!” but you’re saying it with your actions so why not just say it!  If more people made it plain and were authentic (genuine) about it fewer people would have the expectation that such group leaders wanted to have relationships and build a real tribe.

It’s not just group host, some members are in groups to cherry pick. It’s okay, every group host knows there are cherry pickers but don’t expect all-the-things for free. The minimum thing a group member can give is the payment of value-add engagement.
Lurking is behavior from group members that must be changed to have healthier groups dynamics overall.
Or to up your authenticity factor when you join a group just say you’re there to cherry pick, be authentic (genuine).

I’m not an anti-lurker
Don’t misunderstand, I have and do lurk. But not forever! I don’t suggest continuing benefiting from the group in some way and not giving back at least the minimum which is engagement.

We shouldn’t expect to go in groups and learn information to help us generate revenue and not invest in it in some way.  Being in too many groups and being overwhelmed is one reason some lurkers don’t engage. Get tips for managing your groups here in my free Quick Start Guide.

Comment below, do you think authenticity is lost in larger Facebook groups?

2 Comments

  1. I like this post.

    lol I’m happy I was able to stir up something for you to write this post. I agree that a part of authenticity is lost due to members lurking and not engaging, however just like any business, the group is influenced by the ways, methods, style of the leader, owner and appointed team members (moderators, admin and such).They set the tone. Let’s use you (NJ) for example because you are so engaging, real, caring and all these things it moves the members to be the same. If there were uncaring, “unengaging”, unreal people in the group, they would stay quiet and maybe leave the group eventually.

    It’s a lot of responsibility as the owner of a FB group especially if the group members are mostly newbies. The Group Leader is the face of the Group. In Jamaica we say “the higher monkey climb, the more him expose”. I’m not saying it’s ALL on the group leader but they do set the tone. If the group owner/leaders are always missing in action, what’s the purpose of engagement between the members only. In that case after I have met the members of the group then I can friend request them on FB and leave the group. I would get the info I need from my new found FB friends and the group would not be necessary anymore. if this all makes sense

    1. We’re in agreement. I agree group host set the tone and the vision for groups. Group members are typically those who resonate with that vibe and that’s why they are members. As members who enjoy the tone of the group and presumably the value they get contributing to the engagement is a part of the return on the investment the group host is making.

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