Take a look at your Facebook dashboard right now. Chances are, you're a member of at least a few different groups.
Regardless of what these groups revolve around - be it local yard sales or niche-related business news - you get regular content delivered direct to your News Feed, right?
But while you probably already know that Facebook groups are a great place to connect with like-minded individuals, did you know they can also be a potent marketing tool?
Here's the deal: Facebook is incredibly powerful. Right now, Facebook sees more than 1.71 billion active monthly users, so it's no great shock that coordinating at least a few of those people into one place can do great things for your marketing strategy.
If you're interested in starting a Facebook group for the purpose of driving more engagement and building relationships, here's a nutshell guide to help you do it.
Why Start a Facebook Group?
In addition to the fact that a Facebook group can help you connect with people who are interested in similar things, it can also be a fantastic way to promote your products or content and develop loyal relationships with people in your niche or industry.
While there are many ways to do these two things, the value of a Facebook group lies in the fact that it narrows the funnel and allows you to pre-qualify people based on shared interests. Because of this, the content, material, or offers you share in a group are likely to be better received than content posted elsewhere.
What's more, developing a high-traffic Facebook group is also an effective way to establish yourself as a leader in a given community. By posting authoritative and relevant content and engaging in discussions about industry-related topics, you can build long-term relationships that will help support your brand over time.
Finally, Facebook groups are a fantastic place to mine organic traffic. Things like Facebook's "discover" feature allow Facebook users to browse through groups based on type, and to join the ones they find appealing. If you categorize your group correctly, this has the potential to help you gain a ton of new leads in a very short period of time.
The Key Elements of a High-Traffic Facebook Group
So you want to start a Facebook group?
Great - let's get started.
1. Set your parameters
For your Facebook group to be successful, you need to know who you're trying to reach.
Think of it this way: you wouldn't launch a product without a market in mind, right? Your Facebook group is your product, and you need to know who your audience is before you start putting the pieces together.
With this in mind, it's time to get to work deciding on these three keys:
- Who your group will serve?
- What it will do?
- Why people should join it?
For example, you could start a Facebook group aimed at helping beginner bloggers, teaching them the basics of operating WordPress and writing content, and committed to offering tons of readable, actionable pieces of content aimed at a novice audience.
The most important thing to remember about your Facebook group is that it must fill a need. While this isn't to say that your group can't be similar to other Facebook groups already in existence, it should provide members with a different angle, a different set of skills, or an alternate approach to anything else currently out there.
2. Open the floodgates and start the group
Starting a group on Facebook is amazingly simple.
From the drop-down menu in the upper right-hand portion of your home page, just choose "create group." From there, you'll be prompted to enter some information about the name of your group, your members (you need to add at least one member to form the group), and your privacy settings. It's that simple.
3. Flesh out the specifics of your group
Once you've got the skeleton of your group set up, you'll need to set a header and fill out the rest of the information for your group.
The first stop here should be your group description. This should offer some information about what your group does, who the group is intended to serve, who the group doesn't serve, the rules for posting and interacting within the group, and any weekly or monthly events the group will hold - either online or in person.
Once you've finished your description, you can craft a pinned post (A post that stays at the head of the group page at all times) that lays out the rules and expectations for the group. If you'd like to take a different approach, consider the Content Marketing Academy Group, which does this through a unique header.
You can also create a pinned post that asks new members to introduce themselves or their companies, or to refrain from posting promotional content except for during a particular day of the week. This pinned post helps define the parameters of your group and will be indispensable as your group begins to grow.
4. Share your group
Now that you've got your group established, it's time to get it populated.
Start with the basics: publish a post on every social platform where you have a presence notifying your followers and friends about your new group.
Once you have that written up and posted, here's a list of ideas on how to publicize and grow your group from there:
- Use email marketing - Tell everyone who subscribes to your e-mail list that you've started a Facebook group and be sure to highlight the key benefits of them joining. Add a link to the group, and explain how they can join. I use Mailchimp for all my email marketing campaigns - very easy to set up an announcement via email and send to a list.
- Run a sponsored ad from your business/public page post announcing the group launch - One thing I did when I started Learn Online Writing was to publicize it from my Facebook author Page, Julia McCoy, with a sponsored ad. You don't need much capital to do this - I got 30 members with just a $10 investment, and I reached about 993 people in total. Here's what the post looked like after my $10 ad spend:
- Share your group to another group - You can also share the news of your group in another group (as long as this isn't against said group's guidelines). I've done this and scored several dozen new members. Just be sure you know the rules in the group you're sharing your group in, or it could get you banned instantly. Groups that generally allow promos are excellent to share your new group inside.
- Vet your members - After you publicize your group, you'll start to get bites from other would-be members. At this point, you'll need to decide who gets in and who doesn't. While it may seem like you should let anyone who is interested in your group join, this can be a damaging approach - the reason being that a group is made or broken by its members: the better your members, the better your group. Before you allow anyone to join your group, do a quick once-over of their profile to ensure the person is real (spammy accounts clog up a group quite quickly) and that they've got some demonstrated interest in the industry or niche your group focuses on. This step will help ensure that your group maintains a reputation for excellence and that you succeed in building quality traffic over time.
- Hold events - To get your group off the ground, it may be worth hosting events. Even if the purpose of your group isn't to meet in physical locations, you can still host events that help you draw traffic. One great way to get your feet wet with is to host a Twitter Chat. Simple and easy to access from remote locations, a Twitter chat can give you content to use in your Facebook group and can boost the level of engagement and sharing you see from your members.
- Share content consistently - Content is the foundation of any good group - if nothing's going on in that News Feed, then there is no reason for people to show up. To ensure that your content is as effective as possible, it should speak directly to your group members and should be aimed at addressing the issues or solving the problems that the entire group faces. It should also be posted on a consistent basis that keeps people interested. And once you've posted your content, be sure to read and respond to any comments or questions you receive in response.
- Use your group for marketing - Once you've established your group presence (and only after you've followed the above steps) you can use your group to market your products or services. While groups can be powerful marketing tools, they can't only be marketing tools. Before you ever try to sell anything to anyone, you need to build sustainable relationships that help people trust you.Once you've done that, you can start offering things like webinars or paid courses to your group members. Going live inside your group is a great way to boost your group's interaction. As a general rule, you should keep your promotions minimal and back them up with a healthy amount of user testimonials and customer-centric content to keep it from feeling overly sales-y.
- Shoot for the stars - As your group continues to grow, you can adjust your members, focus, or content as needed. Remember that change is an inherent part of running a Facebook group and the more flexible and willing to adapt you are, the more popular your group will become in the long term.
Facebook Groups - The Next Stop on the way to Marketing Success
Facebook groups can be a powerful tool for creating real engagement online. By starting your own and filling it with dedicated, like-minded individuals, it's easy to build a following and promote your message online - all you have to do is stay dedicated to your social media.