In January 2019, Facebook made a significant change to Facebook groups. The change caused many Facebook groups to lose hundreds or thousands of members overnight—or at least that is how it appeared at first.
Rumors and speculation swirled about what exactly happened. Did Facebook remove inactive members from groups? If so, why? After all, Facebook group members fall into several categories. Some are active, regularly posting and interacting with other people’s posts.
Others are less active. They like to be in groups to read posts and get access to shared resources, but they do not post regularly. As much as group admins love when members regularly engage with content, removing people who prefer to stay less active seems unfair. And why would Facebook care if people are inactive within a group?
It turns out, most of the speculation was untrue. Facebook released a statement explaining what actually happened, followed by what it means for the dental community.
2019 Facebook Group Changes
Until January 2019, people could join a Facebook group in one of two ways. They could either request to join a group or be invited to join a group by another member or admin.
When someone requested to join a Facebook group, a group administrator would receive their request. The administrator would then approve or decline their membership. If they approved them, the person would be added to the group, and the group’s member count would increase. If the group administrator declined the request, the request would be removed, and the group member count would not change.
When an existing group member or administrator invited the member to join the group, on the other hand, the person was immediately notified and added as a member to the group. They were not given the opportunity to approve or deny the request.
While many group members and administrators only invited people they knew wanted to become members, some abused the process, adding hundreds or thousands of people to groups they were not interested in.
This caused group membership numbers to skyrocket. But many of the people in the group had never wanted to be in the group. Many of them never engaged with the group content. Some had never even visited the group. They had been added by someone and never bothered to visit or leave the group.
In January 2019, Facebook changed the process by not automatically adding invited people to the group, emailing group administrators the following explanation:
We’re making some updates to how members are invited to your group, and we wanted to share these changes with you. To help ensure people join Facebook Groups that are relevant and meaningful to them, you’ll see the following changes:
Updated Group Invitation — Now, when people are invited to a group, they can accept or decline the invite. Before, people could be added to groups by friends who thought they might be interested in them, and they’d immediately become a member. Some people may have been added to your group but have never visited it.
Invited Section — In the next few weeks, people who’ve been added to your group — but have never visited it — will appear in the Invited section of your Members list, which only admins and moderators can view. They won’t be considered a member until they accept their invite. This means they will no longer be included in your group’s total member count, so you may see a decrease in your group’s total member count.
Reminder Notification — Because you’re an admin, in the next few weeks you’ll be able to send one notification to invited people to remind them to accept or decline the invite to your group.
At first, it was thought that Facebook was removing inactive people from Facebook groups. To members who are not group administrators, the change made it appear as if the group lost members.
The truth is nobody who had visited the group was removed. The only people who were removed were people who had been added to the group but never visited it. Those people were removed from the public member count and added to a separate list that only administrators would see.
Administrators can now send these people a reminder notification, giving them another chance to join the group.
What the 2019 Facebook Group Changes Mean for the Dental Community
The dental Facebook community boasts several active Facebook groups, including Nifty Thrifty Dentists, The Business Of Dentistry, Trapped in an OP, and the Delivering WOW Dental Hangout. Those groups have thousands of members, each having more than 14,000 members.
With so much value being exchanged in the dental Facebook communities, many practice leaders invited team members and others to join.
With these new changes, if you did not yet accept your invitation, you may have been removed from the Facebook group by this change. If you have invited someone to join a Facebook group, that person may have assumed they were in the group. And if you run your own Facebook group, you may have seen your membership number impacted by this change.
Here is what to do if you have been impacted by the 2019 Facebook group change.
First, if you receive an invitation or a reminder from a group administrator, accept the invitation to confirm your membership. Join the group, introduce yourself, and receive the full value from each group. Engage with posts as you feel comfortable to give and receive support from your peers.
Second, if you have invited someone to a group, attempt to invite them again or reach out to them to remind them of the invitation and let them know the value they will receive by accepting.
Third, if you run your own Facebook group and have noticed your membership number drop, click the member count on the right side of your group. You will then see an option to see a list of “Invited” members. If you click that, you will be able to send reminders to the people who were invited but never visited the group.
The Dental Facebook Community is Growing and Here for You
Be sure to let them know they will need to accept the invitation to receive the full value and connect with other growth-minded dental professionals.