There’s a Facebook Group for everything these days. A quick audit of my Groups shows I belong to ones about travel, politics, podcasting, blogging, foodies, and so many on nutrition and business. I belong to over TWENTY active groups. Yikes? I don’t know if I should be proud or concerned, but the reality is that I get a lot of value from these Groups. Honestly, I engage more on Groups than on native Facebook land. And I’m not alone. More than 100 million Facebook users belong to Groups. I’m guessing you do, too.
A few years ago, Facebook Groups weren’t such a big deal. I mostly only joined one if a friend created a Group for her wedding party or something along those lines. Now, brands big and small are utilizing Facebook Groups in powerful ways to grow their businesses.
Building community is foundational to any decent social media marketing strategy. This is obviously the main draw to Facebook in the first place, so it’s important for any brand to leverage the power of community on this platform. However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do this well on native business pages because the space is so saturated and the Facebook algorigthim has evolved (and will continue to).
Groups, however, play by a slightly different set of rules. Facebook sees meaningful interactions taking place in Groups, which means you end up seeing Group content more. Groups are specifically geared towards heightening community around niche topics, interests, etc. This works well in Groups where the lines between brand and user-gernerated are blurred and often become one in the same. Why does this matter? Well, user-generated content has been shown to generate 6.9 times the engagement of brand-generated content. More authentic conversations take place in groups because groups are more private, making group content unique and potentially more meaningful than native Facebook banter. By using groups effectively, businesses build trust and offer immense value by nuturing a like-minded community.
So I already sorta mentioned this but I’m gonna say it again. Facebook groups are a secret weapon for beating the dreaded alogrithim as a business. Algorithim aside, 40% of users don’t like any brand pages. Even if someone does like your page, native Facebook posts are estimated to be seen by 1-5% of page likes but in Facebook groups, you’re more likely to have 50% - 80% of your members see your content. That’s huge. One of the ways Facebook prioritizes groups is by sending a push notification to every member whenever something new is posted in the group. So basically, the more you post, the more you show up in your ideal client’s notifications, feeds, etc.
Because a Facebook Group is the perfect home for targeted, niche content, you can expect quality leads if you’re managing your group strategically. For many, this starts by making the Group exclusive to a specific audience, say health practitioners.
In our Healthy Work group, we’ve done giveaways not only to incentive engagement but also more importantly to grow our email list. If you have some kind of free opt-in on your website, consider offering this to your Group. Because you control the group, you can use it to promote your products, services, etc. If you’ve been cultivating community, paying attention to what your members are talking about, and offering consistent value in your Group, then your members will also be far more likely to click through to read your lastest blog post, subscribe to your podcast, attend your workshop, etc.
Now I’m not going to walk you through step-by-step how to set up a Facebook group. You can totally learn how to do that here. But I will tell you a little about my experience growing the Healthy Work Facebook group. Disclaimer: It’s still in its early stages, steadily growing, and I’m definitely always learning.
You can’t expect user-generated content to explode over night. When you first start a group it’s incredily important to model and facilitate discussions in the Group. You’ll also want to offer a lot of free value up front so that members are incentivized to stay in the group and invite people to join. Post daily (minimum!) and be quick to respond to questions that are in your wheelhouse.
One of the most engaging types of content in my Group are polls. They’re easy to create and they’re easy to respond to. The best part is that you can use them to get to know and gather insights about your audience. Basically, quick and free market research.
From a business perspective, what matters most on social media is the quality of your community, not the quantity. It’s okay to aspire to member growth, but just remember that even if the size of your Group is growing swiftly, it won’t matter much if only a few people are engaging with your content. In Facebook, Group engagement is considered reactions, clicks, and comments (since you can’t share from a private Group). If you focus on engagement, your group size should organically grow in tandem.
Here’s a quick glance at some of our most-engaging content. It’s definitely a mix of meaty and inspirational content. Sometimes a simple, well-crafted quote image will outshine the 2000-word blog post. Sometimes. It depends on what resonates most with your audience. Not surprisngly, asking members questions is a great way to spark engagement (i.e. comments!).
Your posts shouldn’t be fluffy and generic. It’s important that your Group’s content feels exclusive, so don’t just share the same things you would on your business page. Plan to spend a lot of time (especially in the beginning) crafting meaningful content tailored to your member’s needs and interests. Experiment with different types of posts: images, links, polls, videos, gifs, notes, etc. Pay attention to what your members are engaging with and the questions they are asking. Ask them what kind of contet they prefer. Keep evolving. This is how you will set your Group apart and cultivate a community that your members value and tell others about.
Don’t underestimate the time and energy good community management requires. Building relationships takes time and effort. Not only will you need to monitor activity in your Group, but you also need to be active in discussions. Go above and beyond to answer questions, connect people, and lend a listening ear to what your members are talking about. Also, be human. It’s tempting to use canned responses when managing communities, but your members will see right through that.
If you want to do a deeper dive into learning about the world of community management, how to set guidelines, best practices, etc. read this.
There are a bajillion ways you can effectively use Facebook Groups to grow your business. If you’re still reading this, I bet you already have some great ideas. For wellness professionals, Facebook Groups often function as:
Remember, Facebook is going to continue to emphasize Groups because that is where they see meaningful interactions taking place. So what about you? Do you run a Facebook Group? Planning to start one soon? Now’s the time to launch your Facebook Group or get serious about one you manage.
Danielle Reynolds-Flatt is a nutritionist, entrepreneur, marketing nerd, and cat lady.
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