When you create a new Facebook group, you can choose between two major types: public or private Facebook groups. So it is very important to understand the differences between an open, public vs. a private, closed Facebook group, so you can decide which should you create for business or personal reasons.
That is why in this Facebook group tutorial, we are going to explain the major differences between private and public Facebook groups.
If you prefer a video tutorial for understanding private vs public Facebook group and their differences, check out this one:
What is a private Facebook group and how does it work?
A private Facebook group, sometimes also called a closed Facebook group is a Facebook group where only members can see who is in the Facebook group and what other members have posted.
A private, closed Facebook group can be created when you set up a Facebook group, or you can also change a public group to a private group later.
A private Facebook group can be created either as a visible or as hidden Facebook group. A hidden Facebook group is also sometimes called secret Facebook group. You can learn more about that Facebook group type here:
- Secret Facebook groups Explained
What is a public Facebook group and how does it work?
A public Facebook group also called an open Facebook group is basically the opposite, everyone can see who is the Facebook group and non-members can also see all the Facebook posts that have been created in the Facebook group.
A public Facebook group can only be made at the creation of the group. This is because a private group can’t be converted to a public Facebook group.
Private vs Public Facebook group
Since only a public group can be changed later to a private group, it is important to decide before creating the group which group privacy type is more beneficial for your group growth.
Besides the basic differences shown in the table above, here are the most important benefits and negatives when it comes to closed and open Facebook groups.
Private groups benefits for business
The biggest advantage of choosing a private or closed Facebook group is that it gives more exclusivity to the group. If people want to see what kind of posts are being shared in the group, they must join the group.
Although a closed Facebook group is less likely to be recommended by the Facebook algorithm, when people see the Facebook group, they are more likely to join.
In 99% of cases, you should pay attention that you choose the visibility of the Facebook group as ‘Visible’. Hidden or secret groups can sometimes make sense but if you want the Facebook group to grow and want people to find your Facebook group organically then you have to set its visibility to ‘Visible’.
Private Groups disadvantages
As we will see, public groups posts are more likely to get a huge organic reach as posts are easily shareable and likeable for non-members as well.
So this is the biggest disadvantage of a private, closed Facebook group. Your posts can’t go viral in a closed Facebook group, as only members are able to engage with the posts.
Public group benefits
On the other hand, if you are running a public group, posts can go easily viral and get huge organic reach even if you have a relatively small Facebook group.
This is because public Facebook group posts can be liked, loved, and shared by non-members as well.
If you have a really active, engaging and fun community, then hiding it from the public doesn’t make sense if the group has a general topic that is relevant for most people.
For this reason, Facebook might recommend public groups most frequently, as showing popular posts they know that they can increase the engagement of non-member as well.
Public group negatives
Although open, public Facebook groups are more likely to be shown on the news feed of non-members, these people are generally less likely to join as they don’t need to join the Facebook group to see and like posts.
People have to join the Facebook group, only if they want to create Facebook posts or comment on other people’ posts. For this reason, it is also more difficult to build your email list with a public Facebook group.
Also, if the topic or the conversations of the Facebook group is a little bit more sensitive, people might not want to share their stories, feelings in a public Facebook group. So in this case a public Facebook can have a negative effect on the engagement of the Facebook group.
Public vs private Facebook group: which on to choose?
Based on the analysis above, you can see there are some positive benefits and some negative aspects for both public and private Facebook groups.
As a rule of thumb, here is how we usually decide if we should start a public or private Facebook group.
If you are running a Facebook group with a very general topic, for instance, a group for everything related to bikes, biking tours, then it makes sense to set the privacy type to public. The majority of the Facebook posts might be interesting for the general public as well so you will benefit from the Facebook algorithm recommending your Facebook group to the general public who are interested in bikes.
If you are running a more niched-down Facebook group, like something related to Facebook ads, which is only relevant for less than 0.1% of Facebook users, then a private, closed Facebook group is usually a better choice.
As we said, a private Facebook group also makes it easier to build an email list from people joining the Facebook group.
How to check the current privacy status of my Facebook group?
If you are not sure if you have a closed, private Facebook group or a public, you can easily check it in the following way:
- Open the Facebook group
- Either check it in the top left corner
- Or open ‘Settings’
- And check privacy type there.
How to modify Facebook group privacy type?
We have a separate tutorial where we explain how to change a public Facebook group to a closed, private Facebook group here:
Unfortunately, only an open Facebook group can be converted to a closed one, an open Facebook group can’t be converted to a open Facebook group.