Facebook Groups have been around for awhile, but didn’t really gain traction until 2010 when they were redesigned and relaunched. Since then they have become an integral part of the Facebook offering, rivaling Reddit, and people around the world are using them as a platform to help grow their businesses.
The big question is…how do you create an engaging community that works to further your business interests? I have curated three large Facebook groups; one a local community page (12k+ members) and two others, and I have learned a lot in the three years I have run them. Here are my top tips on how to go about creating the perfect group for your venture.
1. Make your group, but get creative.
There are millions of Facebook Groups out there. So you need yours to be unique enough to differentiate yourself from the crowd. If you are B2B and in a very specific area, a community group for your city or county might be a good idea. This will bring in people from all over your area, including businesses who are looking to promote their own businesses. And once they are in it gives you a direct line of communication to business owners in the group. If you are a shop on or offline, start one that incorporates what you sell. If you sell handcrafted soaps make a group for people who craft, or an ETSY buyers shop. There are so many combinations and angles, if you have more than one idea, do both and see which works best.
2. Narrow your focus.
Look at your target demographics and use those to create a space for them. If you sell face masques, or silk blouses, a group targeted at women might be a good idea. The key is to figure out who you are wanting to engage with and create a space for them, not for you.
PRO TIP: The worst thing you can do in a group is to create one that is based around your business where you just talk about your business (that’s what your Facebook Page is for). People want a place to talk about ideas, vent, ask for help. Create a space where people want to go and engage.
Now you have your name and function, you need to make your page pretty. Create a brand and make sure it looks good on your profile and cover photos. The better it looks, the more people will join.
4. Getting members. Quality over quantity.
Now you have your group, and it looks good, it’s time to fill it with members. First start off by adding in anyone that fits the bill from your friends list, and ask them to do the same.
It is very tempting to make this a Public Group where anyone can join, but you end up a lot of spammers and people who do not fit the group profile. I highly suggest making it a Closed Group and having people fill out a questionnaire to get in. It’s not about the numbers, it’s quality over quantity and your members will appreciate that.
PRO TIP: The reason for the Closed Group is that it makes it an exclusive club where not everyone can get in. It’s the ‘red rope theory’ of marketing, people want what they cannot have, and it works. And once they are in, they will engage more and feel thankful for being a part of the community.
Next, do a small Facebook Ad spend (not necessary, but it will help you get more members quickly). If you haven’t done this before, they will give you some free credit, so just use that to get some traction.
5. Maintenance. It’s not all your job.
Once you hit around 200 members you are going to need a ‘Mod Squad’ (moderator squad). For each of my groups (even the very large ones) I have about a team of six. I choose these people carefully and over the years I have become very close with most of them. They are an invaluable part of your team and you need to treat them as such. They will help to process the incoming member requests and posts that come through and if problems arise, they can help to take care of it.
6. Ongoing engagement…keeping them interested.
Depending on the group there will be different things that will appeal to different groups. However some things translate well to pretty much all of them.
Regularly scheduled posts such as ‘Selfie Saturday’ or ‘Small Business Sunday’ are big hits across most of the groups. Selfie Saturday is self explanatory. On Sundays people can post about their small business, post an offer, etc to directly promote their businesses.
Contests. Who doesn’t love to win something? This drives engagement up big time. Doesn’t have to be a big give away, and you can tie that as ‘sponsored by [add in your business here]. You can do this in a lot of ways without any expensive addons, but if you want to pay, Gleam is a solid platform.
Surveys. People love to give their opinion. So ask what they think.
But the key to engagement is that the members post and engage amongst themselves…that is the sign of a successful group.
7. Get business.
Now that you’re all setup, it’s time to leverage your new position of authority. If you’re B2B, talk to the members, cultivate relationships with them and they will be more receptive to talk to you about what you can do for them. If you’re B2C, it’s about posting the links to your website where they can buy your products…but you have to do it in a way that works with the members and doesn’t have them thinking you are blatantly selling to them. Giving special, members only discounts is a good way into your members hearts.
Facebook Groups aren’t magic beans that sprout over night. You must carefully cultivate the group over time to reap the benefits. But done correctly, they can be a powerful part of your marketing arsenal. This is the first in a series on how to leverage Facebook Groups for business.