Years ago before any of the major social networks popped up on the internet every little niche had their forums on the web. Some of them had tens of thousands of active users talking about anything you can think of. From restoring cars to training your dogs.
All you had to do was perform a search in the reigning search engines of the day, and you could find a great forum to participate in and started building relationships with the people on the forums.
Nowadays, Facebook Groups have pretty much replaced those niche forums. This is great from the user point of view because you can participate in 30 groups at the same time and it all runs through your Facebook newsfeed.
What we’ve seen happening over the last year though is that more and more people and brands are moving away, migration from Facebook Pages to Facebook Groups. This movement is understandable because Facebook made it harder and harder to get any of your fans to see any of your updates unless you pay to boost your posts.
There are, of course, ways to get better engagement on your Facebook page, even without ads, but at the end of the day, it is becoming harder every day to get noticed, to appear in the newsfeed of your fans without payments.
One of the other reasons why Facebook Groups are becoming more and more popular is because you can build a real relationship with your target audience.
Between the migration from old school forums and Facebook page owners, Facebook Groups has created an ecosphere where every target audience is actively reading and engaging with posts. A Facebook Group allows for a two-way interaction, where group members can post messages and ask questions as well.
In this post, we will be looking how you too can use this great medium to your advantage, how you can build real relationships again with your audience on top of Facebook.
Why Facebook Groups
As you might have noticed on your company page, the organic reach of Facebook Pages has been on a steady decline now for years. In an earlier post, we already talked about the decline of Facebook fan page reach before, with Pages with more than 500,000 Likes, organic reach could be as low as 2%.
Since then, later in 2016, Facebook adjusted its News Feed Algorithm again (to prioritise content from friends and family over pages further). In the blog post by Facebook Engineering Director Lars Backstrom at the time, he warned that Pages could anticipate a dip in organic reach, which could leave reach lower than that earlier 2%, in some case.
For many businesses, the only way to have their posts seen on the social platform means opening up that marketing budget.
Why does Facebook keep on making these changes? Well apparently, every time you log into Facebook the News Feed Algorithm scans and collects everything posted in the past week by each of your friends, everyone you follow, each group you belong to, and every Facebook page you’ve liked. For the average Facebook user, that’s more than 1,500 posts, according to Victor Luckerson.
To solve this, Facebook screens all the posts, based on thousands of different factors relative to the user and ends up only displaying 300 of the most relevant stories for you in your News Feed.
As a result of the potential almost zero possibilities you might have as a brand to end up in the News Feed or a fan, it might be worthwhile to invest more in building relationships with those fans instead of trying to scream for attention on your page.
By starting and growing a group on Facebook, you will have a greater degree of control, and a higher potential for engagement. And the more engagement, the bigger the changes of the posts appearing in the News Feed of your fans.
The great news here is that you don’t have to spend money to have your posts seen in Facebook Groups. A Facebook Group shows the posts in chronological order, and when comments are added to a post, it moves to the top of the feed. Next, to that, you also have the option to pin a post to the top of a group for even more visibility.
Unlike Pages, which tend to be mostly focused on promotion, Groups are collaborative by default. As the name already suggests, Facebook Groups serve as a rallying point or coming together of individuals around a cause or other similar interests.
Slowly, more and more business are starting to understand this and are using the power of Facebook Groups to build a community around their product or services and interact with their customers and leads on a more personal level.
Now it is time for your company to jump on board as well.
Secret, Closed and Public
Creating a Facebook Group is pretty straightforward:
- Go to Facebook.com/Groups and click on the + Create Group icon
- A popup opens where you can name your group; invite the first people; select the privacy level of the group and decide if you want to “pin it to shortcuts.”
In the next step you can decide an icon for your group, in our case we go for the icon of a trophy, because we are all winners right?
When you hit the OK button after you’ve choosen an icon, you will be taken to your newly created Group page, where you can customise the look and feel for your Facebook Group, things like a header image, tags so people can find your group more easily, a description as well as adding more members.
If you don’t have a great header visual straight away, a great resource to look at is “The Stocks“, which has a great selection of lots of royalty free stock photo website to help you get that good looking visual.
The biggest question with the entire setup is related to what you want to achieve with your group. Depending on your goals, you either want to set your group: secret, closed or public.
Secret Groups can only be seen by its members and won’t show up in a search. Closed Groups are visible to the public, will show up in search, but only approved members will be able to see the post. Finally, Public Groups are visible to everyone, the content in the group is out in the open, and anyone will be able to join.
After that is done, the other question you always need to keep in the back of your mind is that you need to make sure that your group is interest based. People don’t want to join a Group because they want to receive more sales pitches or product information.
They join Groups to learn, discuss, share and have fun. If your biggest focus is on building a community, the sales will eventually happen. But like all great Content Marketing, you first got to give, give, give, give, give, before you can ask.
For example, when you’re in the marketing business, you could start a Facebook Group on where you share best practices, winning campaigns that are done around the globe, etc.
Or when you’re in the business or building garden sheds, you could start a Facebook Group on gardening, which plants you can plant in which seasons, and give tips on how to make the most out of your garden. Now and then you can show your products in actions and the beautiful gardens in which they are located. You can answer questions and also encourage members to share tips and photos of their gardens.
The benefits of a Facebook Group
If you might not have guessed it yet, there are many different benefits of starting your own Facebook Group. And we’re not alone to think that. According to Suzi Nelson, Community Manager for Digital Marketer, in an article on Digital Marketer’s blog, the establishment of a private Facebook Group for their customers has helped the company meet a number of important business goals including:
- Increasing customer satisfaction
- Reducing refunds
- Increasing retention in monthly memberships
- Increasing sales generated by word-of-mouth recommendations
These goals could only be achieved because compared to Facebook Pages; Facebook Groups give you the ability to direct communication with your target audience (existing and not yet existing clients). It gives you the opportunity to interact with them on a platform that they are likely checking multiple times throughout the day anyway. More and more individuals prefer to communicate through Facebook versus by email or phone (hence also the rise of chat bots).
By sparking conversations with your Group members, you can find out what is on top of mind and incorporate that in your marketing messages as well. Or use this as feedback around your products.
Have you ever send a request to a company’s support team, only having to wait days for an initial response? Having a community, a tribe (as Seth Godin calls this), will also help with Customer Service and retention.
An excellent example of this is the mobile application Gyroscope for example. They set up a Facebook Group for their Pro members, instead of sending an email to the support team with feature requests or searching Google for health related questions and tracking your health, the community is helping out each other. Inspiring the other members to live a healthier life.
A private community like that can help draw in more sales as well; it will not only give you the benefit of the product or service but a home to talk with like minded people.
The last benefit we would like to discuss is the increased authority you can get by starting a Facebook Group. As the creator of a Group, you are in the unique position to bring together people with similar interests and goals and initiate relationships between them. The effect is almost the same as when you would host a conference or a party for example.
When you host a live event, many of the people attending will get lots of value from interacting with the other attendees, and since you’re the one who made it possible for them to come together and have this experience, you get the credit.
That position of leadership increases your perceived authority among your audience and could be another lead generator for your business.
How you can use a Facebook Group for your business
There are a lot of different ways after you can build your Group, your community, that can be beneficial for your business. For example:
Get like-minded individuals together
Members can offer solutions to pain points or issues that they face. The more support members are getting, the more positive the experience for your members, the more positive word of mouth and the faster your group grows.
Nurture brand ambassadors
Because a Facebook Group allows you to interact with your fans, it allows brands to identify real brand advocates. These ambassadors can then be provided with the information and tools they need to present your brand to the outside world and help grow your brand’s follower base.
A great way to nurture those brand ambassadors is also to offer them special offers (that will in turn increase sales again)
Use the collective brain power in the group to exchange ideas about upcoming features of your product, or new services that you’re thinking about offering. You can also use the engagement of the Group to run a poll to get quick and reliable answers, on which version they like better, what are they liking or disliking about upcoming features? This feedback can inform your product and marketing decisions.
By sharing case studies, video tutorials, research, etc. you can build awareness for your products and services.
Of course, there is also Facebook for work, there is also Slack, and lots of other options. But often the most simple approach is the best. When you’ve got employees scattered around different offices, you can set up a secret group and communicate with your internal teams. Since most people are logged into Facebook anyhow, it will be easy for them to follow updates and catch up on messages from the rest of the company.
You can use Facebook Groups to set up online interactions between your department only, share meeting minutes along with goals and plans.
Offer customer support
People love their favourite products and companies showing transparency, by doing customer support out in the open, you’re sharing that you got nothing to hide. By responding quickly to any issues that your clients are posting in your Group, you can win the trust of your customers.
A simple way to extend the experience of the conference that you’re hosting, you can invite your attendees to be part of a Group. This will help strengthen the relationship for everyone that attend it. By getting the participants involved in discussions and chat, you will be able to maintain the momentum, and it can help your group to benefit from the expertise of the new members, especially if they are influencers or thought leaders.
Facebook Groups can be a potent Facebook Marketing tool if used to complement your other online marketing efforts. They allow you to build an engaged community around your products or services, with you, with other customers and with potential leads.
This increased engagement will, as a result, make sure that people will see your content organically on Facebook in a way that your company Facebook Page can’t.
This alone will be a great value to any business and is often overlooked or underutilised.
Are you a member or even an admin of any Facebook Groups? Which benefits are you getting from them? And if not, will you join one or create one for your organisation? Leave a comment below!