Quick Tip: The Pros and Cons of Using Community Groups


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


I'd love to hear your thoughts here in the comments, or connect with me on Twitter.

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The principles of when and how to use "group" is a good guide to reflect, so thanks.  

I'm not a community manager, simply a moderator type, with ideas and attempts to develop communities of a few sorts, help inspire use.  

It seems to me need to have an actual project and a small group, to utilize application in order to be able to bridge to any "organizational" level engagement.  

again, thanks, good to hear others sharing their ideas


We love groups and the key to making them work is to really think about how to "architect" the information flow. You want the group to contain the information valuable to the participants, but want to be sure you're not managing duplicate content within the groups; which makes it hard to manage.

Let me elaborate:

Our groups care for separate partner organizations, all of which have different focuses, products and concerns.  The assigned admin of the group keeps their section updated with the latest and greatest details that pertain exactly to them.  

We also maintain an area on the community that is open to everyone, that contains those common topics that are useful to all.  We reference and link to those items within the group section and have someone assigned to make sure those items are up to date and communicated to all.

Overall, it works great!

Pros- "walled" off information only for those who really need it.

Cons- none yet!



Erin Wright

I use groups in my choir community so that smaller working groups (committees) have a place to work that is apart from the main community. These little dedicated areas allow Production, Promotion, and Fundraising committees to do their work and keep their documents in a separate place, so they can maintain focus without the distraction of the main community activity.

Love the blog photo. Best ever! 

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