Aug 2018

Whether you like it or hate it, we all know that Facebook can be a powerful marketing engine for businesses of all sizes.  With an estimated 2.2 billion monthly users and attracting roughly 70% of the adult online population, there is no doubt Facebook has become a critical point of engagement for businesses looking to grow their customer base and brand authority.

But your opportunities on the world’s most populated social media platform are not limited to ad campaigns and business pages.  Correctly using Facebook groups for business is an important way to build community around your product or service by connecting your knowledge to the needs of your potential customers.

You can do this by becoming a regular contributor on other Facebook groups, or by creating a group yourself.  The benefits of using groups are unarguable. Spending the time to actively engage with people and their questions will nurture a strong sense of authority around your business, help attract customers, and effectively nurture those customers into brand ambassadors by building community.

Optimize Your Profile

A Facebook business page cannot join a Facebook group; you must join as an individual. It is possible to generate a user profile for your group, but this is against the rules and when detected Facebook will delete it.  Therefore, your first actionable before joining groups is to ensure that your personal Facebook profile is filled out properly. It is important to include your website, company name, and a professional profile photo.

Finding the Right Groups

finding facebook groupsOnce you have tidied up those settings appropriately, you will need to find specific Facebook groups that hold potential opportunity. When doing this, it is important to value specificity over popularity. Where are your ideal customers and industry peers finding community? You don’t necessarily need to join the biggest groups, but rather the groups that most closely match your business and industry - and the groups where your potential customers are asking questions you can answer.

If you are focussed on a specific industry, use keywords related to that industry in search. For example, if you are a health and fitness coach looking for groups engineered toward people on a wellness journey, you might try searching with keywords such as  “workouts”, “weight loss”, or “meal plan”. It’s important to note that some of your search results will be pages rather than groups, so make sure it’s a group you are joining rather than a page you are liking.

After you have joined a few groups, Facebook will begin to take note of your preferences and start suggesting more groups to join based on what you are already part of.  These suggestions will show up on your right sidebar. If your market is local, make sure to join local groups where you can maximize your opportunity for word of mouth and offer local events.  Avoid joining buy and sell groups, unless your product or service specifically matches the nature of the group - for example, a mom & baby group might be a great place to leverage handmade baby products or parenting coaching services.

Be Helpful

Whether you are engaging on other groups or have created your own, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you are there to be helpful - not obnoxious, preachy, or argumentative. The ghost of one negative engagement can haunt your brand for a long time, so keep your tone pleasant, avoid debates, and remain as positive as possible when encountering difficult people.

When interacting on Facebook groups, provide value and answer questions. Simply commenting with a link to your business is not enough.  Groups are meant for two-way communication, and anything that starts to feel impersonal or spammy will get ignored. That’s why if you pop in only to answer people’s questions and link to your website, you’ll actually miss the opportunity for increased exposure. People seeking specific information are looking for personal interaction. In order to engage with you, they need to feel like they were helped. Try posting questions, discussions, and even polls where you can easily follow up and continue the conversation.

You can also use Facebook’s search function to discover relevant conversations within groups, where you can interject and start establishing authority. Using our health and fitness coach again, an example might be to search something like “meal plan”.  Search results will yield a list of conversations around that topic where you can jump in and comment as the expert.

Slide into the DMs

slide into dmsLastly, be available for private messages. This is essential if you are running your own group, but when interacting on other groups you can build trust by offering to help members on a more individual basis. People who already trust you before you create your own group will be easily funnelled in and much more likely to promote your group to others.

Creating Your Own Facebook Group

Creating a Facebook group is a great way to nurture your existing customer base and provide a landing pad for any leads you may be generating through interaction on other groups. An exclusive group provides value for people and gives you the chance to promote events, discuss relevant topics, share information, build your community, and ultimately nurture brand ambassadors.

You might create a group, for example, specifically for people who have purchased your product where you offer ongoing support and exclusive perks like discount codes on future purchases or the opportunity to test upcoming products before they launch.  Brand loyalty is built on more than just the quality of a product or service. Your follow-up as well as any gifted perks will create a sense of value, and customers who feel valued will be far more likely to get the word out about your business on their own initiative. This kind of organic growth will build the kind of engaged audience that you need in order to sustain a strong online presence.

When creating the group, there are several important things to keep in mind.

  1. Make sure you choose a “closed” group.  This ensures your members feel part of something exclusive, as well as providing a sense of security for them in knowing that group discussions are not made available on the broader platform.
  2. Be as specific as you can in your page description. Specificity helps establish you as an expert, and helps people with specific questions locate you more easily. Use relevant keywords!
  3. Begin by funnelling in your existing customers and points of connection. To do so, you could try including a link to the group on your sales page, or sending an email invite across your mailing list.

The reason people are showing up on Facebook (research suggests an average of 40 minutes per user each day) is for one reason: to interact with other people. Despite the technological advances that have revolutionized the way we do business, one unchanging factor stands : the basic human need for community. Today, community looks a lot different than it did a generation ago.  Whether the change is positive or negative is perhaps arguable depending on the angle you take, but the fact regardless remains that conversation is alive and well - and available to the kind of scale that no one could have imagined even a decade ago.

Among many other things, utilizing Facebook groups can be a way for businesses and entrepreneurs who, perhaps feeling overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the platform, can gain a sense of footing by directly seeking out the people who would benefit from their knowledge. The work upfront may feel intensive, but many businesses will find that in the long run their opportunities for engagement and growth are well worth the investment.

Do you know where your target customers are spending time online? Download the free Buyer Persona Worksheet to start learning more about your audience.