Many online community platforms (including Hoop.la) offer the ability to form smaller groups (sometimes called subgroups) within the larger community.
But as with any feature, you should make an informed decision as to whether it suits your particular community's style and mission.
When You Should Use Groups in Your Community
- You need to create private spaces with different types of content within a public site.
- You have a very large community and want to give new members a non-intimidating place to start.
- You want to give a brandable identity to specific parts of your community.
- You want to make it easier to connect members with similar interests.
- You need to have a completely hidden content area within your community (for example, for staff discussions or behind-the-scenes coordination).
- You have very defined constituencies within your community membership.
When You Shouldn't Use Groups in Your Community
- You are just launching a new community and you're building your audience from scratch (groups can hide activity or make it look empty).
- If there are too many groups to start with, it can be confusing where to post content.
- If the membership of your groups doesn't overlap at all, and you don't want to provide common content at the top level, you may want to consider multiple separate communities rather than groups (and we can support that scenario).
- If you just need a private (or restricted access) forum, you can do that without using groups. I recommend using the simplest solution first.
Are you using the Groups option in your community?
What would you say are the pros and cons?
Title image via Flickr CC: David Stanley