Running a Facebook group is one of the best ways to start and grow a vibrant online community for your brand. With a solid strategy and a few clicks, you can begin gathering a community of like-minded individuals with similar interests around a topic related to what you do in your business. Starting a Facebook group is an opportunity to become a discussion leader, facilitator, connector, and resource for people that can help you reach your business goals.
Facebook groups are an excellent platform to build relationships online. Groups allow for more engagement and greater reach than Facebook business pages, and savvy marketers are leveraging this tool to their advantage. If you run your Facebook group successfully, your group members may become part of your professional network, trusted colleagues, or customers.
As with any online marketing opportunity, it won’t serve you to jump on the bandwagon and start a Faceook group just because everyone else is doing it. Before starting your group, carefully consider your approach.
Here are 10 tips for running a successful Facebook group to grow your business:
1. Know your purpose
It is important for you to consider in advance what your intention is for starting the group. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish by running a Facebook group. What boundaries will you set on your time and participation in the group? How do you want members to benefit from their participation? Though Facebook groups are free to use, what return on investment for your time are you expecting? What will you consider a success? Why might you decide to shut it down? Asking yourself these questions in advance will help lay the groundwork for your group and help you avoid pitfalls.
2. Do your research
Before you start your own group, join and participate in others’ groups. By doing this, you can observe what you like and dislike, what you want to model and what you’d rather avoid, and get a good feel for how you will to run your own group. Don’t just be a fly on the wall. Practice participating, interacting, and engaging with group members so you can know what to expect. Of course you will establish your own style and vibe within your new community, but you can learn a lot about do’s and dont’s, challenges, and expectations if you do your research in advance. Go outside of your industry, into groups related to hobbies and interests, so you can experience what it is like to be a non-expert participant.
3. Make it appealing
Your Facebook group name should be both compelling and descriptive. When someone is searching for groups to join or when Facebook recommends your group, you want your name to stand out as relevant and interesting to the right people. Your group description should be intriguing and informative as well, so your target market feels like they’re missing out on something good by not joining. Also, when you set up your group, pick an appropriate icon and add a well-designed and attractive header that aligns with your brand, because these graphic elements are what people are going to see first, before they decide to join.
4. Recruit the right people
You’ll need to recruit members to grow your group. The right mix of people can make or break your Facebook group’s success. Never add people to your group without asking first, even if you have a friendly relationship. This is one of those unwritten Faceook ettiquitte rules — if you break it, it really rubs people the wrong way. Another faux pas is poaching members from other groups. (“Hey guys! If you like this group, you’ll love mine.”) Your fellow entrepreneurs are working hard to build thier communities, so it’s considered rude to attempt to recruit their members. These mistakes are pretty common, because marketers are excited about their new group and many are simply unaware that what they’re doing is frowned upon. Instead, you can invite people to join your Facebook group by announcing it on your personal page, business page, other social media accounts, and to your email list. You can also add an invite to your opt-in welcome or require joining the group to participate in a challenge or contest.
5. Set clear guidelines
It’s your job to set expections and rules for group members. Put just as much emphasis on what you do what as what you don’t want. Encourage people to contribute, participate, answer questions, and provide feedback and input. Let them know that their participation is appreciated and that you welcome them as valued members of the community. But to establishing a positive environment for everyone, discourage spamming and promotions. Describe specifically what you mean by promos — what kind of activity is allowed and what isn’t. State that unacceptable behavior will get them banned from the group. You may think strict rules are harsh or offputting, but it’s important to protect your group from getting overrun by spam or negative behavior that unfortunately happens far too often. Add your guidelines to the group description section and also add a post with the guidelines and pin it to the top of the discussion section. You can even include a video, upload a document, or link out to your website.
6. Provide strong leadership
Leading and managing a Facebook group successfully can sometimes be more work than you anticipate. It’s important that you have the time and resources to dedicate to providing strong leadership within the group. Aim to keep discussions lively, focused, and fun. Otherwise, conversations can go off the rails, grow stale, or dwindle down. Spam and inappropriate behavior can get out of hand more quickly than you think. People are not going to stick around in a boring, pitch-fest, or drama-filled environment. Be committed to participate in your group regularly and be willing to moderate it; and as it grows, you may need to recruit members or hire a team to help you moderate.
7. Welcome and engage members
When new members join the group, welcome them by @ tagging their name and ask them to introduce themselves and share something about how they hope to benefit from joining. You can also tag members you know personally, such as clients or colleagues, or people who have been active in the group in your posts. Ask for their input, recommend their expertise, and use them as examples (all with permission, of course). Again, you’re building a community, where the members should feel welcome and willing to contribute.
8. Keep the conversation going
A successful Facebook group is lively and active, and people actually want to participate in the community. One simple way to encourage participation is to set a theme for each day of the week, so members know what to expect. Start a new thread for the same topic each week. For example, ask them to share goals each Monday and follow-up with an accountability check-in post on Fridays. If it’s a group for business owners or creatives, allow them to promote something they are working on in a thread on Thursdays. Don’t be alarmed if it’s just you and the crickets some days. If the conversation starts to dwindle, your duty as a group leader is to jump in and get the party started again. Brainstorm some conversations starters to boost engagement — ask a fun either/or question, prompt them to share a big win, or ask them what their biggest question about a specific topic is.
9. Use apps
Be sure to use technology to your advantage to manage your group on the go. It’s perfectly acceptable to automate certain posts. If you ask a question of the day, post daily inspiration, or have a daily topic theme, load those posts in to a social media scheduler, such as Hootsuite, Edgar, or Slack Social. Also, add the Facebook Groups App to your smart phone for easy group management while you’re mobile.
10. Promote yourself
Finally, don’t shy away from promoting yourself, your expertise, and your business in your Facebook group. You’re providing value to your memebers and a sense of community; so it comes with the territory that the gifts you bring to the table get to take center stage. Announce your webinars, events, sales, new products, special promotions, latest blog posts, or whatever you have to offer that will put your business in front of this primed audience. Ideally, group members already had to sign up for your email list before joining; but if not, you’ll want to encourage them to sign up. That way, if Facebook groups change, you still have access to the community you’ve built.
Do you run a successful Facebook group? If so, are there any tips you would add?
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