Facebook Groups for business: how to get free reach (and sales)

by | Aug 11, 2017 | Social Media Marketing Tips

Facebook has now surpassed two billion users. And there’s no doubt your customers are amongst them.

Thankfully FB’s powerful ad platform allows you to reach segments of those users who fit your ideal target audience. As direct response marketers we don’t mind paying for ads when we get results, which FB generally delivers on. But the platform is getting increasingly expensive and let’s be honest, we all love getting something for free.

So what if you could easily reach your best prospects and subscribers – and have ongoing conversations with them – for free?

Unfortunately, organic reach through FB Pages has diminished drastically. If you’re able to reach even 5% of your fans you’re doing better than most. But there is a way to breathe life back into your organic efforts, and relive the good old, early days of FB.

In fact, in many ways it’s even better than the one-way conversations you have from a FB Page. This strategy allows you to build a more natural two-way conversation with people… to solicit their feedback and help you understand their emotions, core desires, and problems that your business can solve.

And sell to them.

You can use this strategy to get people to subscribe to your e-letter or paid publications. And, if done right, the members themselves will become advocates who will do much of the selling for you.

This feature has actually been around for years, but many businesses are only now discovering it as a way to acquire customers or increase the level of engagement with them.

I’m talking about Facebook Groups.

FB groups are the easiest way to create an online community of likeminded individuals who provide quality engagement. And they’re free to create.

Facebook Groups For Business: When a FB Page isn’t enough

With the chaos of an intricately aggregated news feed, users just “liking” your Page won’t guarantee they’ll see your updates. In fact, the vast majority of them won’t. Unless you have a strong organic following or want to shell out money to promote your posts, it’s difficult to reach potential customers amongst the noise of a user’s news feed.

Zuckerberg latestly announced that the social network will focus on putting this community-building feature front and center for FB users. More attention on this will guarantee that post from your Facebook Group will reach members a lot easier than fans of a Page.

Getting the most out of a Facebook Group

Creating a Facebook Group for your business is basically adding another channel to reach your subscribers or customers. Material you push out can be as easy as repurposing content from your e-letter. But you also have the opportunity to ask questions and engage with your members.

Some things to consider before starting your Group:

Set a clear goal for the Group
So you have this free tool at your disposal that is capable of generating content ideas while also solidifying the relationship with your customers. This takes some planning, so it’s critical to have a clear goal for how you want to use this channel. One option is a free group to get as many people as possible at the top of the funnel. Another is to use a group for paid customers to add value to their membership. It’s also important to clarify your goals with members who join. You can weed out those who aren’t right for it by adding preliminary questions when they request to join, and by creating a pinned post that lays out the rules so they’re the first thing a new member sees on the feed.

Give your Group the right name
Groups can be found in FB search or suggested to users. You may want to include your brand or guru’s name or consider a name that’s intriguing or focuses on a benefit they’ll get from joining.

Choose the right group type
There are 3 types of groups: Public, Closed and Secret. If you’re trying to build a large free group select Public to make it completely frictionless and transparent. But to build some exclusivity and intrigue while still makeing it easy to find the Closed option is best.

Have a moderator to facilitate engagement
Unlike a Page where only the admin can post updates, members of your Group will be able to create discussions and comment on threads. Although transparency is usually a good thing, you still run the risk of having trolls, or some members who hijack the Group and take authority away from you. It’s best to have someone monitor for the bad (complaints, spam, trolling), and the good (testimonials, helpful ideas, keyword mining). If you don’t want a single admin to post to the Group from their personal profile, you can now post as your business or guru’s FB Page. This adds more authority to your comments and gets members to engage.

Gain credibility and build your businesses’ FB Group
Start building your group by encouraging existing e-letter readers to join and create that initial critical mass. Ideally, they’ll participate, build credibility and add others from their personal networks. You can also link groups and pages to cross promote to increase group numbers.

But to grow your groups significantly you’ll likely need to pay to promote it. There’s not a promote Group campaign objective (yet), but you can “hack it” by using a standard promoted post linking to the group.

Validate their ideas:
Groups form around people’s passions, making them the best place to test out ideas. Your Group should be a haven for others to share research and ask for feedback on their work. Who knows, it may be a multi-million-dollar idea, or a tried-and-failed strategy that others can quickly discourage and recommend another tactic.

Facebook Groups enable your business to thrive as a different medium to the more bloated email chains. Although FB makes setup for anything easy, a substantial amount of time and energy is needed to create and sustain a communicative environment. It’s important to lay out the purpose, functioning, and administrative needs for an engaged community of members so they can get the most out of their participation. Even though this is a free way to get dedicated customers, it still takes effort to moderate and get value on both sides.

Why we should keep an eye on FB Groups

It took a while for everyone to treat Facebook seriously as a notable marketing channel, so we should start paying attention to the Groups feature now. It could be used as basic communication for your customers, a testing ground for fellow experts, a funnel to a paid product, and so much more.

The Groups feature will eventually expand to have online communities front and center for FB users (I have a feeling it will replace the unpopular Marketplace). The social network latestly held a “Communities Summit,” where they laid out a roadmap to improve the Groups feature:

  • By using AI, there will be suggestions for Groups to join. Since they started testing, 50% more people have joined online communities based on what they “explored” in the Groups area. Stay tuned to see if there will be any way to put keywords or heavy suggesting to get your Group at the top of the list. But start by using keywords in the group name or description.
  • Group Insights. Group admins will be able to see who their members are and how they’re engaging, such as join requests and the most active time of day. This feature has already started rolling out.
  • Saving time with requests. Admins will be able to sort and filter requests based upon a user’s demographics. This could save loads of time if your membership gets bombarded with people drawn to the name without understanding the purpose.
  • Make Groups safer. One person can be removed from the Group in one step, taking all of their content (if malicious or unhelpful) with them.
  • Scheduled posts. Moderators can schedule posts to make sure there is a constant flow of content for members.
  • Recommended groups. Group admins will be able to display other Groups for their members to link to. This could mean the world to newer businesses with memberships who create a partnership with more established Groups to get them up and running.In the marketing world, we all know how important it is to keep your finger on the pulse of what your potential customers want. So why not hear it from them directly? Let us know if we can help get you started on a Facebook Group strategy for your business.Chat soon,
    Scotti Cutlip
    Project Manager, AIM

PS: We’d be hypocrites if we didn’t make sure you participated in our FB Group. Head over now and be part of the community.

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