As of Q3 2018, there are currently around 2.23 billion active Facebook users, with 1.5 billion users on the platform Facebook daily.
Given the pure numbers, Facebook is clearly the leading social platform - but did you also know that more than 1.4 billion Facebook users are also active in tens of millions of groups on the platform each and every month?
That presents a significant opportunity for marketers - and not only through the creation of their own Facebook Groups, but via opportunities gleaned by leveraging the value of existing Groups and communities.
Here are some tips on how to do it.
What is a Facebook Group?
If you're reading this, then you're likely already familiar with what a Facebook Group is. If you aren’t quite sure, then here's a quick rundown.
Unlike Facebook Pages, Facebook Groups are:
“The place for small group communication and for people to share their common interests and express their opinion. Groups allow people to come together around a common cause, issue or activity to organize, express objectives, discuss issues, post photos, and share related content.”
In addition to this, Facebook says that more than 100 million of its users are members of what they call "very meaningful" groups, groups that, upon joining, quickly become the most important part of their social network experience.
Groups play a significant, and growing, part of the wider Facebook puzzle, and facilitate connection and engagement in a different way.
Using Other Peoples' Facebook Groups to your Advantage
With so many users and Groups, it’s easy to see how that could be of use to marketers. Most articles in the digital marketing world seem to concentrate on what they are how you can create them to benefit your business.
Fewer seem to be talking about how you can leverage the value other people’s Groups - but there's a huge amount of hidden potential there.
Here are a few of my favorite tips.
Promote Your Content Marketing
If you've worked on content marketing in any capacity, you'll know how hard it is to get links, likes, and shares.
No doubt you've shared your content on social media, and conducted some outreach to relevant sites to get links - but have you ever used Facebook Groups?
It’s a simple process and not one that I've seen being talked about much - let me walk you through my process.
Let's say you have built out this section of your website and you are looking to promote it.
You've invested a heap of time and effort into each article, and you need to drive traffic to it.
Head over to Facebook and start looking for relevant groups.
Make sure you've done the following.
- Only choose “public groups” - they are going to be more open to content suggestions (1)
- Have the “any group” ticked - you don’t have to be a member (2)
- Locate the groups with the largest number of members and more regular posting (3,4,5)
From there, you need to visit the groups and look at their descriptions. This will tell you whether it's going to be worth reaching out to the admins.
This group looks promising, but it does mention that they're only interested in pictures or videos. Don’t let that deter you if the content that you have is high quality.
If you think it could be a good fit then I always like to drop the admin a polite little message. You need to scroll down a little further to find the admins.
From there click on the first admin and send them a message.
When messaging group admins about content that you've created for your business, it's important that:
- The content is not self-promotional in any way - these are often going to be hobby or interest groups and will not take kindly to that kind of content
- You keep your message brief - it's important that they don’t feel like you're pressuring them
- Show them the value of your content, and how it will benefit their members
In addition to these points, I always like to remember Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion. Three of them can work well for messaging group admins.
- Commitment & Consistency
- Social Proof
In certain situations, people feel like they should pay back when someone has done something nice for them. This is the underlying tactic behind broken link building.
See if you can offer the admin something of use before you show them your content.
Commitment & Consistency
This principle is guided by the fact that once a decision has been made, we, as humans, tend to stick with it. It’s much easier than swapping and changing our minds all the time.
It may feel a little disingenuous, but asking them their opinion on your content may make it more likely that they will post your content to their group.
People tend to be more interested in posting your content if they can see that it's been shared by peers, or been featured on popular sites.
If you've already spent some time promoting your content, then you may be in a situation where you can show that a niche celebrity or peer has shared it. Maybe it's been linked to on a popular site that covers the topic of the group that you are approaching.
If so, tell them.
It’s important to remember that you need to take this approach slowly and steadily. There are likely to be overlapping members and admins in these groups, and you don’t want to annoy them - that's only going to hurt your chances of getting your content in front of these targeted audiences.
That said, when content promotion via Facebook Groups works, it can work really well.
Personal Brand Building and Answering Questions
Another of my favorite ways of leveraging other people’s Facebook Groups is to build your personal branding by answering questions.
Being genuine, and offering something to the community, is a great way to showcase your knowledge and expertise.
Here's an example of this in action - going through the comments of the SEO Generation group, you don’t have to spend long looking to see the regular contributors, and what they're putting back into the community.
In this example, we can see a short back and forth before a group member comes back with some supporting evidence from John Mueller. John Smith has taken the time to find the content that answers the question perfectly.
If you're an expert in your niche, then adding this value to the group can be invaluable.
We can see the same thing happening on Ryan Stewart's Digital Marketing Questions group.
In the above example, we can see that the members of the group are torn on whether links from Wikipedia have any impact on SEO.
“Maybe,” “Absolutely Maybe,” and “No” all come up before veteran SEO Michael Martinez steps in with an answer that provides context and value to the members of the group that were unsure.
It's this kind of detailed and well thought out answer that can help you build your personal brand in the industry your business is in.
The guidelines I like to follow for participating in Facebook Groups are very similar to the guidelines for sites like Reddit and Quora - these are community groups that are wary of marketers, so try not to think like a marketer.
- Don’t self-promote - Ask questions and give answers without explicitly mentioning your business
- Be aware that this is a long-term strategy - Do not expect to build up your personal brand overnight
- Be consistent -Visit the groups you choose often, visibility is key
- Be confident but not arrogant - You are an expert, and you have something to offer. Remember to be humble
Following these simple guidelines will help you build your personal brand.
Remember Cialdini's six principles of persuasion from earlier? Well, numbers five and six can be useful for leveraging Facebook Groups for your personal branding.
- Liking - This principle suggests we are more likely to comply and help people that we like. By following my guidelines above, you will be able to start to build that personal brand.
- Authority - We follow people who have knowledge and know what they are doing. Over time this tactic for using Facebook Groups will start to come into action.
Above all, you have to add value if you're going to try any of these tactics. You have to give back to the community.
It doesn’t take long for admins to know who's there for personal gain. Spammers are often banned immediately.
Leveraging other people’s groups is a long-term strategy, but if you put in the effort, you can push both your personal brand and the content you create for your business.