Should Facebook Groups Be Allowed To Charge People For Postings?

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This is a highly debated topic among parenting groups.

Recently, I came across a hotly discussed debate on Facebook through a group I have been a member of for over a year.

Should Facebook groups charge people for postings? 

The post was up in the Mummies Discussion Group, a community based page in Malaysia where women come together to discuss issues surrounding parenting. It is a closed group and you have to be approved by admins to be part of the group.

The group has over 22,000 followers and is one of the most prominent groups in the country. However, it has only a third of the following of Jobs for CARING MOMS Malaysia, which has amassed over 66,000 followers in just two years!

By default, much like influencers, the more followers a group has, the more in demand it is. 

Whenever mummies are not happy with a particular group, they will take it to the other to vent their anger. In recent times, they have taken to the first group to complain about the latter’s administrators (also known as admins). 

Facebook parenting groups: A quick overview

For those of you who might not be familiar with closed groups (or private groups) on Facebook, admins are those who started the page and have been entrusted with the responsibility of approving and deleting posts from the group. 

While most (parenting) groups are being used for utilitarian purposes, like exchanging ideas and information, and also selling of secondhand items and even new ones, other groups have become more of a marketplace. 

There is nothing wrong with having a marketplace group. But recently, when Jobs for CARING MOMS Malaysia (which will be referred to as CARING MOMS from this point on) started charging for posts in the beginning of July 2018, some mummies were outraged.

But did they really have the right to be? Other mummies who subscribed were pleased to find that engagement rate got higher. So what was the whole drama about?

should facebook groups be allowed to charge

Source: Facebook

Should Facebook groups charge? 

The way the original post was phrased, it came off that the group seemed to be charging a range between RM150 and RM300 just for a mummy to post their product for sale on the group. But upon further digging, it was revealed that this is not true

Source: Facebook

We at Asian Money Guide decided to reach out to the founder of CARING MOMS Malaysia, Major (Retired) Shera Ann Bosco, to understand why the group started charging a fee.

CARING MOMS founder weighs in, should Facebook groups charge

Firstly, Shera says, the subscription fee doesn’t apply to EVERYONE. It only applies to only sellers as a listing fee on the classifieds section on the website https://caringmoms.my. The subscription packages are split into RM30, RM50, RM150 and RM300. The RM30 and RM50 packages are targeted at mummies who are ‘starting out’ and sell ‘homemade’ items, respectively.

The RM150 and RM300 packages are meant for resellers or distributors and restaurants as well as other businesses respectively. 

Yes, CARING MOMS started off as a Facebook page, she says. But it soon grew to something much larger than just that. It became a community platform where mums could come together to share their ideas and to fulfil its vision: a job for every mum, building a community where moms can spend time with their children and still earn a living.

Shera had even given up her full-time job to run this project. Today, CARING MOMS goes beyond just a Facebook group. It is also a fully functioning marketplace website, for mums and SMEs to post job ads, product ads and it even has its own community centre in Sunway Nexis.

Source: CARING MOMS Malaysia

“I bootstrapped my way through this project. Starting a website isn’t easy nor is it free. I had to come up with my own money to pay for the domain and get the site up and running,” she shares. 

The need arose when buyers started demanding more security. They wanted to buy from registered and trusted sellers. They also wanted an easy search function. They had had enough of scam sellers collecting their money and then deactivating their Facebook accounts and disappearing. 

But this couldn’t be achieved without her own customisable website. 

Source: CARING MOMS Malaysia

The need for community building

Later on, one of her buyers had met up with a seller at a petrol station and fell victim to snatch theft. “I wondered to myself, why are all these mummies meeting up at petrol stations and random places to pick up their items? I wanted to give them a safe space for collection,” Shera says. 

Thus, the CARING MOMS community centre was born. The centre acts as more than just a meeting point for buyers and sellers of the group. It was also a physical place that mums could use to showcase their products. It was also an event space for mums to utilise. 

should facebook groups charge

Source: Shera Ann Bosco

Of course, this has to come with a fee.

“When we charge them RM30 or RM50, we’re not charging mums to simply post on Facebook. We ensure what we deliver amounts to much more in value.

The backbone of our business is the website. Social media is just another marketing tool we manage. Most of our subscribers come from the homemade category (RM50), as we focus largely on local produce and want to encourage local talent.

This will help increase ‘Made in Malaysia’ products. And we are already working with government agencies to enable these local products to be exported.

This, in turn, not only boosts local talent, but also increases our national gross domestic product,” Shera adds.

Monthly, Shera shares, sellers earn anywhere between RM1,000 to RM70,000!

should facebook groups chargeshould facebook groups charge

should facebook groups charge

Source: Facebook/Mummies who subscribed saw a boost in their business and engagement rates were off the charts.

“Those who see the value, will subscribe as they make a lot of money from CARING MOMS and anyone with business sense can make their own assessment before subscribing,” she says.

Apart from that, mums (and businesses) have access to numerous benefits, including free usage of the community centre for business related activities, social media marketing services, and even specialised ‘Branding and Photography’ courses to help registered sellers increase their sales.

should facebook groups charge

Source: CARING MOMS Malaysia

 
“We have been running this for two years and spent over RM100,000 without a single cent of contribution from the members or any venture capitalist,” Shera shares. 
 
“Having this subscription service is a means to generate revenue to keep this whole initiative going,” she adds. 
On top of a new monetisation method, CARING MOMS is also part of the Global Accelerator Program by MaGIC Malaysia. 
 
“Under this program, there are performance matrixes being monitored on a KPI dashboard,” Shera says. “All of this is to ensure we are sustainable and able to impact more lives.”
 
“Mummies who wish to post their personal secondhand items for sale do not have to pay a subscription fee. However, mums who are doing business selling preloved items will have to select a suitable package to promote their products and business,” she clarifies.
 
Now looking at it from this point of view, could you really say that it is unfair or extortion for someone like Shera to be charging users? With so many benefits under one subscription fee, isn’t there so much more value than “just a Facebook post”? 
 
We will leave you to decide.  
 
 
What are your thoughts on this topic? Should Facebook groups charge users to post if they offer no value added services? What if they DO offer value added services such as CARING MOMS Malaysia?
 
Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 
 
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