It’s no secret that brands are feeling the struggle of changing social media algorithms and decreasing organic reach. Take, for example, Facebook’s recent announcement about reducing the visibility of business and brand posts in order for its users to create more meaningful connections, and the subsequent frenzy throughout the social media marketing community.
Enter the Facebook group—a magical unicorn sent from the social gods.
OK, maybe not, but with more than 1 billion people around the world using groups and the announcement in July of 2017 that brand pages could now create Facebook groups, it appears there’s something to pay attention to: A community that your dreamiest consumers opt into, get notifications for and engage with, and you don’t have to spend a dime? Sign us up, right? Well, hold your horned horses just a minute. There’s a lot to consider before you get moving.
One of the most important things to understand is that a Facebook group is not about your brand—it is about providing value to the target in a way that’s authentic and consistent to build trust with your audience.
A group is a valuable tool to connect on a deeper level with your peers, existing customers and potential customers, opening the door for meaningful peer-to-peer conversation, versus simply interacting with a brand. As a lifelong learner, I’m in many professional groups and have developed valuable relationships and personal connections this way … and even purchased a product or two or signed up for a service based on someone’s recommendation.
A Facebook group is also a helpful way for learning more about your target in order to better tailor products and services to their needs. Setting up a Facebook poll in your group is an effective way to get feedback and discover insights like customer preferences.
Make the most out of a Facebook group for your brand with these five tips.
- Explore Your Facebook Group’s “Why”
Before going gung ho, get crystal clear on the why behind the Facebook group. It could be as simple as a sales funnel tool, but focusing on establishing trust with your audience and creating a thriving community will have a greater impact in the long run—even on your bottom line. Determine how you will measure your group to gauge success. Is it traffic to your site? Sales conversions? Deliberate the qualitative measurements—how pleased are members with the group? What is the engagement level?
- Consider Your Commitment
A Facebook group is like any other social media channel in that it needs to be updated and monitored with frequency and consistency. To generate excitement, engagement and connection, you’ll need to post regularly—and to build momentum at launch, you’ll need to post often. You’ll also need to keep tabs on what’s going on with the group. That could mean checking in once a day or once an hour, whatever makes the most sense for ensuring the community feels supported, heard and respected. You’ll also need to monitor the page with regards to group member behavior (more on that a little later).
- Lay the Groundwork
Once you have your goal and commitment in place, it’s important to create community guidelines before you set up your Facebook group, generate any content or start posting.
- Determine if you will have a public group or a private group. Private groups work well for topics that may be highly sensitive or where members may want some anonymity (support groups, for example) as well as communities built around a paid product (perhaps as an element of a digital product they purchased).
- Set expectations for who will moderate the community and how frequently. This will be determined by the size and engagement level of your community and may shift over time. Most importantly, be consistent and show up when you say you will.
- Establish rules your moderators and community members should follow in terms of etiquette and behavior (e.g., no self-promotion, for starters). Share those in a post and pin it to the top of your group page.
- Craft Your Content and Start Posting
After you create your Facebook group, you’ll need to attract members—after all, participation is at the core of every thriving community. Here are a few ways to capture and keep your group members coming back for more:
- Develop and adhere to a content calendar that will entice the community and encourage them to engage
- Ask your audience what they want to hear about or what made them join the group
- Consider Q&A sessions via Facebook Live
- Create challenges that will inspire and motivate them
- Offer special trainings, offers or gated content
- Community Cultivation and Building
Grow your Facebook group by talking about it everywhere you’re already connecting with your community:
- Include it in customer touchpoints, including email signature, thank-you pages and receipts of purchase
- Run highly targeted Facebook ads to reach more ideal members
- Consider a referral program so anyone who provides a referral gets entered to receive something of value
- Take snapshots of the incredible conversation happening in the group and then share that across your other branded media accompanied by a CTA to get involved
- As you’re building the foundation and then deepening connections among members, consider the long-term functionality of the group and be open to the opportunity of it essentially running itself down the road. As you gain momentum, identify brand ambassadors with the potential to become moderators. Look for members who are helping others, answering questions and offering value—and explore ways to engage those members in an official capacity.
While a Facebook group is not going to solve all of the low-organic-engagement woes your brand may be facing, what it will do is give you a solid platform for building a flourishing community specific to your area of expertise. So, if you have the strategy, the time and the resources to support a Facebook group, now may be the time to plant the seed and help it grow.