Do Buy and Sell Groups want Pages as members?

Allowing Pages to join buy and sell Groups (BSG) as members could potentially allow more meaningful interactions for Page admins, BSG admins, and BSG members. Currently, BSG are C2C only, meaning that only Profiles can participate. We wanted to understand the extent which BSG admins want to allow Pages to join and participate as members and why/not.


I used a qualitative approach to answer these questions. After writing scripts and working with recruiters to screen and schedule participants, I conducted remote semi-structured interviews (N = 14) with active BSG admins living in the United States who had approved new members in the past two weeks. A specific variety of BSG types and sizes were represented.

Select Main Findings

Admins want Pages to Join BSG as Members

A majority of admins agreed that it would be valuable for their BSG to have Pages join and participate

"…great way to let communities know about new/existing businesses."
-Cheri, Admin of a Large Yard Sale Group

Pages as members would be beneficial for businesses…
• By posting in BSG, businesses could generate awareness by advertising products and services to their local community
• Posting directly in BSG would save Page admins’ time, as they could post directly from Page instead of posting as Profile linking to Page

"A lot of people go to FB for recommendations. You can Google all day long and see angry reviews, but when you ask on FB you can get peoples' real thing. Users could see businesses they didn't know about, see what they have from home."
- Cheyenne, Admin of a Small Specific Interest Group

…and it would benefit users!
• Users could find new businesses and current sales/offers
• Increased Group activity, more items could make BSG larger and more effective
• Businesses could contribute “expert” opinions and promote their products/services
• Potential customers can get recommendations and reviews directly

“Maybe [Pages] could contribute, I love to hear experts, I'm definitely not an expert. They might be more active, I love active members."
- Rebecca, Admin of a Large Specific Interest Group

Members are already posting to promote their businesses in BSG. BSG admins already allow members to post:
• Advertising current sales
• Photos of flyers or business cards
• Examples of products or services with email, phone number, link to website
• Profiles that have changed their name to their business’ name
• Member posting links to their business Page

"Half of the members have business Pages that they're trying to get members to join. They're already advertising their business Pages.”
- Leslie, Admin of a Small Specific Interest Group
"…option to link personal page for business into a business page; merge the two. Something to say, ‘We know your name is not Tacos Al Pastor, so let's link it to a business page!’"
- Shakella, admin of a Large Specific Interest Group

Some admins already see Groups as a major channel for transactions. Groups (including BSG) are already seen as an important distribution channel for small businesses
• Joining specific Groups allows businesses to strategically build brand awareness
• Small business owners are already driving transactions by posting in Groups

“Groups are far, far more important than Pages. Groups drive business and sales far more than any Page does, at least in my world. Groups are where it's at. Pages you just do because you need to have one; it's like putting a sign on your door. People actually use Groups to make money."
- Michael, Admin of a Small Yard Sale Group
Admins Have Some Concerns and Conditions for Pages Joining BSG

Major concerns involve scams and abuse:
• Admins are afraid that bad actors could hide behind Pages to push fake products and services, which they have seen often in the past
• BSG have always been predominantly for C2C transactions, and Pages could make BSG too business-oriented
• Members might leave if the sense of community was lost
• Fear that businesses will solely advertise and not make any unique, meaningful contribution like members do

“Groups don't want to see businesses taking it over. I could see people leaving groups if they became too business-oriented.”
- Andy, Admin of a Large Specific Interest Group

Admins also feel a sense of personal responsibility for their members’ safety…
• They want to protect their members from bad actors
• Many admins make sure that they know of the business before allowing posts about them in the BSG
• A few admins verify that any businesses mentioned in their BSG are licensed and insured
• They pay attention to various signals, such as false claims or posting in many different Groups, that alert them of possible scamming

“The reason I do [this] is because I like to make sure people aren't getting scammed.”
- Cheyenne, Admin of a Small Special Interest Group

…and they hope that FB will verify that Pages are legitimate.
• Many admins want to see some verification of Pages, such as with a “blue checkmark”
• Admins trust that FB has some type of vetted verification process to make sure Pages are valid companies

The majority of admins only want local, relevant Pages to be able to join.
• BSG have a strong sense of local trust and community
• Admins are adamantly against big national corporations and companies not from their geographic areas joining
• Admins want to verify that what the business is selling aligns with what their members are looking for

“It’s about the community; it’s not about businesses.”
- Meisam, Admin of a Large Yard Sale Group
"If they're not local, they're not coming in. We don't want people when they're not local; that's when shenanigans happen."
- George, Admin of a Small Yard Sale Group

Admins want customizable control over which Pages can join.
• Great uncertainty among admins about how Pages joining will play out
• As a backup, many want to have the choice available to opt out of having Pages join
• There are some BSG where Pages don’t belong
• Some admins want to block certain types of businesses from joining, with one wanting to filter out certain Page requests based on keywords that she supplies • Only one admin wanted to limit the number of Pages that could join

Admins impose limits on posting.
• BSG where businesses are already posting impose limits manually, ranging from 3x/day to once/week
• Without the ability to limit posts, concern that ratio of posts will skew towards businesses
• Some admins want Page posts to be visually differentiable from Profile posts
• Admins aren’t concerned about more work if Pages join, and automatic limits on posting might create less work for them

"We limit business ads to once a week. We need flexibility in these settings.”
- George, Admin of a Small Yard Sale Group
How should Pages join BSG?

Businesses should be scrutinized more before they join.

“We want them to represent us, in a way, and conduct proper business."
- Jim, Admin of a Small Special Interest Group

When deciding whether to allow a Page to join, the most important information is the Type of Business and Location.
• Most admins ranked Type of Business as most important, as they want to make sure the business will be relevant to members and benefit the community
• Location was also ranked as important by most admins, as the business needs to reflect the local community that has been developed through the Group
• Photos, Recent Posts, and Number of Likes were not viewed as very important

Admins are split on whether they want to know about the person behind a Page.
• Some want to know about the Page admin(s) to verify the legitimacy of the Page or know who they’re communicating with
• One admin said that knowing who is behind the Page would be the most important piece of information to know
• To others, Pages are viewed as a separate entity that reflects the person behind them
• One admin said that she would only care if a problem arose
• BUT, admins are used to seeing a Profile posting for their business, so we should show Page admin(s) in Page member requests

"I don't think just because you have a business you should be anonymous.”
- Michael, Admin of a Small Yard Sale Group

Admins want membership requests from Pages to be differentiated from Profile requests.
• Most admins want to see requests from Pages in a different place, such as separate tabs
• Some admins want visually differentiable requests in the same place, with a color or icon to differentiate them
• One admin described how checking requests in different places would “add to [his] list of tasks”

“…some way to identify them as a Page and not a personal profile. It would be nice to see them separate.”
- Rebecca, Admin of a Large Specific Interest Group

Admins are a proxy for their members and believe they will be okay with Pages joining as long as it benefits them.
• Pages will provide more relevant content and increased activity in the BSG
• Members don’t want to see businesses flooding the Page, so admins need to be able to control this
• One admin already polled his BSG on this topic, and members want related businesses in the BSG
• If members have an issue, they will alert the admin through comments or messages

“I don't think members will have a problem, as long as they see somebody that brings something to the table.”
- George, Admin of a Small Yard Sale Group


Allow Pages to join BSG as members, but give admins customizable control over joining and membership overall.

Give admins the ability to restrict who can join.
Many BSG are about interacting with local community. Let admins restrict membership requests based on location. Admins also need more control over who can join their BSG, so consider letting them block requests from certain categories or giving them the option to block all Pages.

Allow admins to impose limits on member posts.
Admins are already imposing limits on business posts manually, so allow them to input limits on how many times per day/week members can post. Additionally, consider making posts from Pages visually differentiable from other posts.

You might also want to see: