Screw Facebook Pages, It's Time For Facebook Groups!
The popularity of Facebook Groups are growing, and there's plenty of room for you to get involved!
I don't know about you, but I'm getting kinda fed up with Facebook changing its algorithms and making it more and more difficult for small business owners (like myself) to get any kind of traction on their Facebook Page.
Have you noticed how shockingly bad your post reach has been lately? It feels like nothing is getting through (the other day I had a post that was seen by less than 5 in 100 people!).
In fact, it has now reached the point where I am actively not caring about my business Facebook Page, and many other businesses are doing the same.
Yes, I'll still be posting my most recent articles and projects on there, but from now on I'll mainly be using it simply as a host for Facebook Advertising (for adverts which, you guessed it, will direct people to my website and not back to my Facebook Page).
Anyway, I need to move on from this rant now.
The point I was getting to, is that (despite all of the above), I'm using Facebook for my business more than ever.
How does that make sense?
Because I'm spending more and more time getting involved in Facebook Groups, and I have to say, I am seeing 100% more success doing this than faffing around with my Facebook Page.
Why get involved in facebook groups?
I'm glad you asked, because I have all of the answers for you:
- Join a community of like-minded people and learn from each other
This is one of my favourite elements of Facebook Groups; the amount of incredible advice people are willing to share for free always amazes me!
- Connect with people and collaborate
Collaboration > Competition, people. Buddy up with similar business owners and find ways you can work together (rather than compete against each other).
- Become part of a 'referral network'
Ie. A group of businesses who share a target market and will refer clients to each other. For example, I'm looking to join a referral network with a photographer, a video content specialists, and a virtual assistant, so we can refer clients to each other. This may or may not involve each business receiving commission for referrals.
- Position yourself as a thought-leader & get a reputation
Be the person who consistently shares amazing advice and answers questions in a helpful way, and you will be rewarded. People will start to 'tag' you in discussions because they value your input.
- Generate leads and enquiries
If you are active enough in these groups, people will start to wonder exactly who you are and what you do, and will click through to your personal profile (TIP #1: Make sure you've added your Facebook Page and website to your personal Facebook profile bio, and have made that info publicly viewable!!). You can't track these clicks like you can with a Facebook Page, but eventually you'll start to see enquiries from people who have found your business this way.
which facebook groups should I join?
This is a hard one to answer without knowing your business to be honest, and it also depends on your goals.
As a brand and website designer and copywriter, I join groups for small business owners. This is not only my target market, it is also my peer group, which is awesome because it means I not only get the opportunity to make my target market aware of me, it also means I can learn business-y tips from them, and discuss potential collaborations too.
That 'triple bird catcher' (< made up term?) may not be applicable to your business however, in which case you may want to consider joining a few different groups (ones where your target market hang out, as well as ones where your peers hang out).
For example, if you are a photographer you could:
- Join a local group focused around Weddings
Where people planning and buying services for their weddings hang out - ie. potential clients.
- Join a group about Digital Photography Editing
Share tips and get help from your peer group; people in groups are often extremely helpful and willing to give away amazing tips for free!
- Join a group for local Models
Ie. People who potentially will pay for building out their portfolio, or who have connections with companies who are looking for a model and photographer double-act.
What do i contribute to these groups?
So you've joined a few groups - now what? First off, read the group's RULES. This is incredibly important to make sure you don't piss the admins off, or get removed from the group altogether.
You'll start to notice that many groups don't allow straight-up promotional posts from members. That means no "I've just posted this article, check it out!" and no "Grab 40% off my product!" - and usually this is fairly strict.
So what on Earth should you be posting instead?
- Introduce yourself (your-SELF, not your business)
Unless otherwise stated in the group's rules, kicking off with an introduction post is a great place to start. Talk about you as a person, where you're based, your personal journey, your passions. Yes, mention your business and what you offer, but don't let that be the focus or it can come across as spammy.
- Answer questions and join discussions
Be as helpful as you possibly can, and if it's in discussions that are relevant to your business, even better - then you can show off your expertise and impress people. But generally, the more active you are the better; you want people to start to know your name and face (TIP #2: Make sure your personal Facebook profile pic isn't an obscure selfie - use a good quality photo that represents you as a professional!).
- Post your experiences
As you grow and learn new things, share your findings and your journey. Plenty of people write blog post length essay posts on Facebook Groups that are generously bursting with information. When you read those posts, you seriously respect the amount of time and effort that person has put in to sharing.
- Share useful resources
Found a new tool or piece of software that has transformed your business or your products? Talk about it!
- Ask questions and create discussions
With all this giving of information and sharing your knowledge, it's only fair that you take as well. Facebook Groups are great places to head when you're stuck or in need of help, so make use of that free resource!
- Offer ways you can help or collaborate
Obviously one of the reasons you are getting involved in these communities is to promote your business and your products/services. Keep an eye out for posts and questions where you can directly offer your services to people as a solution. Remember to be helpful, and not salesy. (Tip #3: Find out if the group has any 'organised threads' where the admin will post a prompt for people to discuss certain topics. These can include promotional threads or collaboration threads.)
how much time should i dedicate?
It depends how much time you have to give to Facebook Groups, and be aware that it's ridiculously easy to get sucked in and spend hours scanning through discussions.
Try to time-box how much you spend on groups to something manageable so you don't get overwhelmed. Half an hour a day, or 3 hours a week might be best to start off with, and then after a while you can see how valuable it is and consider how much you're willing to invest in this marketing activity.