Taking its cue from the popularity of WhatsApp groups, Facebook is trying to convince you to spend more time on the social network and find everything from restaurant recommendations to parenting tips through its online communities.
Facebook has launched its Groups Discover feature in India to enable users to search for different groups and get recommendations on the basis of their friends, location and interests. India is the third country after the US and UK to get the feature, which Facebook first began testing in May.
The Discover feature can be accessed through the Groups tab on the Facebook home page, which lets you view your existing Groups and browse related public and closed groups. It has 25 categories, including parenting, sports, food, professional networking, animals and pets, hobby and leisure, travel and education. The company said it had been testing the feature among select Indian users for some months.
"With Groups, we make it easy for you to build a space for important groups of people in your life—your family, your soccer team, your book club and bring like-minded people together to learn, support or rally around a common bond or interest," Facebook Groups product manager Aditya Vaidya said.
Facebook also announced that over 80 million Indians use Groups every month. In comparison, 1 billion people use the feature around the world. India has 155 million monthly active Facebook users, the second-largest on the social networking platform. Facebook has also added some new features for Groups, such as allowing users to directly reply to specific comments and drag and drop files to share information.
"Groups is continuing to grow, and continues to be a huge priority for us. We've seen it becoming so big because it's a flexible tool that helps people share and communicate in a very diverse range of ways," Vaidya said.
Some of the most popular groups in India include the two-year-old Mumbai Moms group which has 73,000 members and connects mothers in the city, and a breastfeeding support group that educates young parents across India. There's also Mother's India Crochet Queens, a group started by knitting enthusiasts in Chennai to coordinate their efforts for setting a Guinness record for making the world's largest crochet blanket.
Facebook's emphasis on promoting Groups might seem to be inspired by the popularity of WhatsApp groups, but Vaidya described the two as "different communities", with Facebook Groups connecting people who may not know each other or ever meet. He also said that the company plans to keep Groups ad-free and has no intention of monetising it.