Facebook Group vs. Online Community

Facebook Group vs. Online Community

What the Differences Mean For a Barber Shop Owner

Facebook Group and Online Community may appear the same at a glance, as they offer one similar basic function to help people connect and communicate with each other via the Internet. Beyond that particular likeness, however, there are all sorts of differences in nearly all aspects including but not limited to member invitation or acceptance process, administrators’ job description, topics of discussions, how the discussion rolls, and even the nature of the conversation itself. Such differences may not matter much if you use either of them just for the fun of it, but unfortunately it does not apply to more serious users such as business owners.

Each has its own unique characteristics:

Facebook Group Online Community
Bound together by pre-established connection between
members
Bound together by common topic or interest
Each connection has his/her own online social circle Any member can be part of any
other community
The structure is like a spider-web in which everybody connects to other people who also connect to more users Social connections among members are not the prerequisites; all
people including strangers are
welcome to join and contribute
Interpersonal relationship between individuals means that you
probably know everyone directly connected to you on Facebook
While pre-established social connection may exist, most people in the same online community usually don’t know each other
One-on-one communication is only possible among members who are directly connected Direct private  messaging does not require recipient’s approval
Sub-groups (groups within a group) is not possible Sub-communities are easy to create

And then there is the problem with advertisement policy. On a Facebook group, even if group’s rules explicitly prohibit members from offering services or disguising ads as post, it is easy for members to do so. One of the main reasons is that some members only join the group for marketing purpose to begin with. As a result the discussion is often sprinkled with (or interrupted by) unwelcome sales pitches disguised as post/comments. People keep on coming unless it is a private/closed group which beats the purpose of building large open online discussion and broadening members’ networks.

On the other hand, online community has clearer and more independent guidelines on sales posts, minimizing the possibility of someone uploading a post of sales nature without real consequences (such as account suspension, being permanently banned, or immediate post deletion). More importantly, members join online community for the interest in the discussion or to actively contribute instead of spamming the space, unless of course members are encouraged to do so because the online community was in fact created for sellers to market their goods & services in the first place.

How Such Differences Matter for a Barber Shop Owner

There are two major points that make an online community – more specifically community cloud – is better than Facebook Group for barbershop shop owner. First, the barbershop business isn’t exactly a niche industry. Male grooming is a gigantic industry expected to reach a value of $26B by 2020; barbering also is the fastest growing profession in the United States. Over the course of five years to 2018, total revenue increased to $3.7B; bear in mind that the number was only from cutting, trimming, and styling hair and beards for men and boys, perhaps thousands (if not tens of thousands) of them.

Facebook Groups would find it exceedingly difficult to handle such large number of people, even if there is one for every city. Another challenge is that members must include both barbers and customers for each group to be active and productive.

A managed community cloud is most likely the best possible method to contain not only discussions about grooming products, styles, prices, and other ideas, but also the actual business-related activities including but not limited to appointments and point of sales. Furthermore a lot of barbershops rent their seats to barbers, who practically are independent contractors in this case, so the back-end management has to be much more sophisticated than what Facebook Group can cope with.

Community Cloud and Online Community

When people talk about online community, the first things that come to mind are online forums such as reddit, Quora, Twitch, etc. While they are not wrong, there is also the kind of online communities created with specific (rather than broad) interest in mind for examples XDA-Developer Android Forums and IGN Boards. Such online communities have managers, rules, advertisement policies, and whole range discussions that are usually (although not always) of casual non-business nature.

By definition, community cloud is a hybrid form of open, business-minded, private online community designed and run for specific organizations or businesses. To put it into context, a community cloud for barbershop owners would help barbers and owners of related-businesses manage their operations more easily via Internet.  

Not only does community cloud brings people of common business interests together in one massive place online, but also provides managerial assistance crucial for growth. Handling the business becomes more practical because community cloud comes loaded with features including:

  • Appointment management: customers nowadays tend to make online appointments with service providers of any sort, including barbers. With online booking feature, community cloud tells customers the available time slots and the option to make or confirm the appointment.
  • Appointment Reminders: there is also the appointment reminder feature so barbers can send automated notifications to clients before the actual time slots.
  • Point of Sale: the software even has the capability to process payment from computers and mobile devices. Barbers can therefore track sales on regular basis to monitor progress or profit.
  • Customized Reporting: even simple business analysis can mean the world to barbers for examples a statistic on inventory, payroll, best-selling products, customer retention, complaints, and so on.

And of course it also has all the functions that any regular online community does: sharing events, marketing products, discussions, posting updates about the shops, purchasing even tickets, program enrollment, and so on. Best of all, you can start joining community cloud or creating your own today. There is no need to build that from scratch as community has actually been around for a while now.

It is a great time to be a barber, and the future seems bright with the growing male grooming industry and the practicality of the business thanks to community cloud.

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