- Facebook Groups administrators and moderators will now be able to create community fundraisers, turn on e-commerce shops or charge subscription fees for special subgroups.
- Facebook has been making a push to lure more creators, or influential social media users, onto its services as it faces heightened competition from TikTok, Snap and YouTube.
- "We really want to be the best place for creators to have a sustainable business and offering," said Tom Alison, head of the Facebook app.
As Mark Zuckerberg pursues a future in the metaverse, he has to count on his existing business — Facebook — to provide the capital to get him there.
A week after announcing its new corporate name, Meta, and unveiling a decadelong strategy, the company said Thursday that it's adding a number of features to Facebook designed to make the platform more attractive to users and fend off competition from other social media services like TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube.
In particular, Facebook is trying to lure creators to develop high-quality content by giving them new ways to make money. Facebook Groups administrators and moderators will now be able to create community fundraisers, turn on e-commerce shops within their groups or charge subscriptions for users to access special subgroups.
"We really want to be the best place for creators to have a sustainable business and offering because we know that the content that they create for people on Facebook is really valuable," Tom Alison, head of the Facebook app, told CNBC. "The work that we're doing with the group admins is an extension and recognition of that."
Facebook Groups has become a key part of the company's strategy over the past few years, giving users a place to connect with others who share their interests in areas like cars, food, sports and art.
Alison said there are tens of millions of active groups on Facebook, and that more than 1.8 billion people use Groups every month. That's almost 62% of Facebook's 2.91 billion monthly active users.
The rollout marks one of Meta's first announcements since the name change last week, when Zuckerberg gave a lengthy demo showcasing his work on augmented reality and virtual reality products and services.
Meta hopes to build a metaverse, or a virtual world where users could work, live and play. Facebook's strategy for the metaverse was outlined in 2018 in a document reported last week by CNBC.
The metaverse, however, is years away and will require a hefty investment. To finance Zuckerberg's ambitions, Facebook will have to continue growing its core social media services.
The new Groups features are less intended for Facebook to increase its own revenue, and more targeted at incentivizing users to stay and build their audience. For the most part, Facebook will not take a cut of the Groups revenue features, the company said.
Fundraisers will be subject to a small fee for payment processing as well as any applicable taxes. Fees for transactions through shops will be waived until June 2022, and the company said it won't share in any of the funds earned through paid subgroups at this time.
"Each of these features will allow admins to invest more back into their groups," Alison said.
Alison added that the Facebook app itself will not be changing its name and will play a key role as the company focuses on the metaverse.
"Facebook will be still Facebook like Instagram will be Instagram, WhatsApp will be WhatsApp, Messenger will be Messenger," Alison said. "We are all part of Meta, and we are working together to build the future of these metaverse experiences."