Mark Zuckerberg has always been about community building. If you’ve ever listened to the story of Facebook’s founding, he’s clear Facebook was intended as a way of building community. A full hour interview of Zuck on Master’s of Scale podcast reveals how deep his connection to community goes. About fifty minutes into the full interview he talks about meeting with church ministers in Texas who provide connection opportunities for their community. Zuck brought back some ideas about the importance of real connection to Facebook.
We can see his dedication to connection in recent changes to the social media giant's algorithm. In January 2018 the company announced they would show more engaging posts and videos versus brand posts in an effort to increase engagement. Zuckerberg admits users will decrease, but his commitment to community goes so deep he’s willing to sacrifice users in order to provide more connection.
Many businesses who use Facebook as a primary source of free advertising hit the panic button. As the dust has settled, we’re taking a look into new strategies to keep businesses top of mind on this platform as well as others. One of those strategies builds on Zuckerberg’s dedication to community: Facebook Groups.
A lot of blogs exist with really clear walkthroughs on how to create a Facebook Group. I particularly like this one by PostPlanner. Creating a group is the mechanics, actually making your group work takes a little social media marketing strategy.
If your goal is to create a Facebook group just to promote your products or services, you’re missing the whole point of a group. Groups should promote community, which means while you can promote your own services and products you won’t gain a lot of traction from just a bunch of promotion.
Administrators of groups with great discussion build a strong reputation in their field and eventually grow their business. Think about groups as playing the long game. You’re building relationships and trust. Farming those leads instead of hunting.
So if you aren’t going to start a Facebook group just around your company, what would you create a group around? Your customer’s pain points. What keeps your customer up at night? What common problems exist for many of your customers? What common interest or hobby do your customers enjoy? In what industry are most of your customers?
A few examples:
Ohana Applique Designs runs a group for customers of their embroidery designs. They have over 14,000 followers as I’m writing this blog but it grew by over 800 just in the last 30 days. Their customers have a couple of things in common: they enjoy embroidery and especially Ohana designs. Group members post images of their work and sometimes the company uses those images on their company Facebook page.
Sew Sassy Boutique encourages group members to share pictures of their children in clothes purchased at Sew Sassy so other members can get ideas on pairing the clothing with accessories. Right now the group has over 53,000 members with another 1,200 added in the last 30 days.
Hogan’s Retirement Challenge connects with people who are thinking about retirement. The group encourages each other along their common journey. Chris Hogan promotes retirement planning through Ramsey Solutions so the group is chocked full of his target customers. The group currently has just over 23,000 members with 2,500 added in the last 30 days.
Dental Hygiene Life with AndyRDH promotes a very targeted group aimed at dental hygienists and hygiene students. Andy sells dental hygiene board classes. Creating a community for his target market increases his credibility and name recognition. The group currently has 24,000 members with almost 400 joining in the last 30 days.
Lawn Pro’s shows how a small company in Oklahoma that mows lawns can run a successful Facebook group. The group hosts almost 21,000 members and has added 400 in the last 30 days. Their description says the group is for anything to do with lawn mowers and even entertains questions about mower repairs. And guess who needs someone to mow their lawn? The guy who’s mower isn’t working right.
Finding examples of companies moderating great Facebook pages is not as easy as it sounds. That’s good news for your company because you can be heard away from the noise of the newsfeed. Find your customer’s pain point or their common love and create a group around it.
While a lot of websites offer step-by-step instruction on setting up a Facebook group, few people are talking about how to get your group members engaged. Many pages suggest you set themes for each day of the week (Motivation Monday, Resource Tuesday, etc), I personally find that too structured and off putting. Your group may need that structure to keep the conversation moving, but the most useful groups I’m in do not have to do this. Instead the members ask questions of each other and keep the conversation going organically.
You will need to engage your community. How does that look? It depends on your group. Do members of your group need links or recommendations of resources? Do they need someone to ask the hard questions or start a discussion? Be the one to jump out and ask the first questions, link to interesting articles, share infographics, whatever content will be of interest to your audience.
You may also want to host a weekly or monthly Facebook Live event. It doesn’t have to be you talking in a monologue to your audience. Interview someone. Give your audience a tour or tutorial. Make it interesting and engaging.
Moderating the group will be half your work. In order to keep your members interested you will have to filter or delete spammy posts, set expectations on language and behavior and limit how people sell their own services. It’s your community so you get to make these decisions. We encourage you to set some guidelines from the beginning so it’s easier to know where to draw the line later.
Finally, don’t be afraid to promote your own products or services, but do so sparingly. Maybe once a week you toss out a link to your own blog post, or you feature your product in a Facebook Live. You can include in the “rules” of the group that you’ll be sharing information from your company from time to time so it’s expected.
Facebook groups will become more and more popular in the coming months. By starting your group now, you have an opportunity to build your community and loyalty before the market becomes so saturated. We've started a Facebook group for businesses owners in the Southeast. (Go ahead and click here to join it now!)
Do you have a flourishing (or floundering) Facebook group? Leave us a link in the comments. We’d love to check it out!