What do you do when you can’t find something that serves your needs?
That was the problem that Jules Taggart and Sandy Sidhu faced. They couldn’t find a group that served their needs as female entrepreneurs. So, they created a low-cost networking group called Thrive Hive. The group offered women building businesses networking and learning opportunities in a way that other groups didn’t. This small networking group has since grown over the past 3 years into 3 in-person retreats and members meeting all over the world.
Was it just luck that resulted in this phenomenal growth for Thrive Hive? Let’s look at another example.
Dan Norris published The 7 Day Startup, which became an Amazon Bestseller. It was getting so much attention that he decided to run an online event, the “7 Day Startup Challenge”, to help potential entrepreneurs get started with their own businesses. The 7DS Facebook group, which has over 10,000 members, was born out of that to help this community.
How is it that some businesses can grow their audience at such a rapid pace while others wilt and die away?
The answer lies in a secret sauce.
The secret sauce to building traction
Have you ever felt that you belonged in a place or group of like-minded people? Have you felt as though you just needed to move on when spending time in other places or with other groups?
How is it that one can make you feel at home while the other unwelcome?
The answer – community.
The same applies to your site.
Chances are that first-time visitors to your site spend a bit of time to explore and find what’s on offer. But do they stay for the long term? Engage with you and other readers?
Unless they feel that they have found a community of like-minded people.
What is it about community that works?
- Honesty and authenticity.
- They show care and interest in their members.
- It is about the members not the founders.
- It is transparent about its endeavors.
- It provides lively conversation and participation.
Ever since the advent of social media, forward thinking businesses have been seeing a new way to build and grow a community filled with both customers and prospects. But this isn’t a new concept. Businesses have always built communities of people who bought their products or services. Traditionally, these communities are made up of real world consumers that could only meet in the store or other physical locations.
With social media, businesses can create digital communities where they can get their message to the community much faster, and communities can interact with businesses in ways that weren’t possible before.
Why use Facebook groups
There are several options you could use to build your community. However, Facebook groups could well be a suitable solution for your purposes. Here are a few reasons to consider.
- 71% of the adult online population spends time on Facebook . That’s quite a crowd.
- Surveys show that families spend as little as 36 minutes together each day, yet the average Facebook user spends 40 minutes per day on the social network.
- Facebook helps foster a community mindset. Consider this – You probably log onto Facebook to see what your family, friends and colleagues are up to, right? This is your community. So when people log on to Facebook, they’re already in the community frame of mind.
How to create a Facebook group
As you look to create your Facebook group, it is important to keep the following steps in mind:
Decide on the purpose of the group
When looking at starting a Facebook group, you’ll want to think about who the group is for, why you’re starting it. For example, the 7DS group was started to help a community focused on the goals of the audience. The goal in this case being starting a business in 7 days.
On the other hand, the Screw the Nine to Five group is a community that has conversations between existing blog audience members.
Create the group
This is the fun part. Setting up your group requires you to be on your personal page.
Here are the steps you’ll need to take to complete the group creation process.
- You’ll find the drop-down menu can be accessed via the arrow in the top right-hand corner.
- Name your group based on its focus.
- Add at least one member to start.
- Select your group privacy setting. Closed groups provide an air of exclusivity by which other members feel like they are part of something. It also has the practical benefit of discouraging trolls from spamming it.
- You can then add a description which includes details like the following:
- About yourself – Who you are
- The purpose of the group
- Who the group would suit and why.
- Rules and expectations of the group
- Events (if you’ve already decided on any)
- Choose tags to make the group visible on Facebook searches
- Upload a cover image
- Kick things off with a welcome message. Daniel Di Piazza takes the time to personally welcome each new member as they join his Facebook group and wishes people “Happy Birthday” as those notifications pop up.
Get your first hundred members
Starting out can be daunting. After all, who wants to start a group that no one joins? However, it isn’t as hard as it seems.
Here are few ideas for getting your first hundred members:
1. Create a landing page to “officially” join your group
Make your group feel exclusive. To do this, set up a landing page that outlines the benefits of joining and a sign-up button.
2. Recruit some group leaders
As you converse with people in other groups, you may come across people who have a need like the one you have identified. As you build relationships with these folks, use them to help meet the need in your new group and take a lead in the conversations that occur.
3. Run an event
When people join your group because of a purpose and guided format for engagement, they are more likely to interact and connect with each other. Think of challenges or events that could be run for free to attract people to your group. For example, a designer could create a 7-day challenge to guide and help people give their blogs a design makeover.
4. Promote the group in your email signature
Add the link to your group in your email signature. As you communicate, people will check out your group and word will get around.
5. Broadcast on social media
Leverage your existing social media networks to get the word out about your Facebook group and its purpose. Your fans and followers will help you get the word out as well.
6. Promote it on your blog with a call to action
If you already have traffic coming to your blog, encouraging people to sign up to your Facebook group to engage with you and other like-minded people will be an attractive option. Especially to those who spend some time on your blog.
Consider promoting your Facebook group on your blog at the end of posts and in the menu.
7. Let your email list know
Let your existing audience know about your new group and its purpose. Chances are that at least some of them will want to be part of this new development.
8. Create and nurture the conversation
You’ve probably experienced a moment or 2 when conversing in a group where there were awkward silences. No one knew what to say next, and you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. Well those moments passed and the conversation moved along.
In a Facebook group, that could be a nightmare.
To create a community, you need to get the conversation going and flowing. Here are a few ideas to help you do that.
Create content specifically for the group – One of the easiest and most effective ways to get the conversation going is to share your journey with those in the group. These can be failures and successes as well as learning points. So, for example, if you were running a fitness group, you could share your morning routine. You could also share a photo of the things you use. Then ask others to share images of their morning ritual.
Pose questions – This is an easy way to get the first few members engaged and talking. For example, let’s say you run a travel blog and are building a community around that. You could ask about the best ways to reduce check-in delays or being held up at security checks.
Ask group leaders to keep the momentum going – Are there people you have engaged with in other groups and that seem to ask you questions frequently? If so, ask them to join your group and share the questions they have for you in that group.
Encourage group posts in emails and articles – Do you send emails with updates on your latest blog posts? Try asking your readers to discuss the post in the group instead of leaving a comment on your blog.
How to use Facebook groups to build traction
Building a community around your business with a Facebook group is a great outcome. However, at the end of the day, you are a business, and your group can help promote your products, support your customers and much more.
Here are 12 ways Facebook groups can help your business gain traction without being salesy.
1. Serve customers and provide value
A great way to make customers feel special and connect with them is to create a group exclusively for them and send personalized invites. When customers do join the group, you could provide them access to specials, product updates and other benefits they would appreciate.
Every business needs to service their customers. Email can work. However, providing near real-time support also helps and endears customers to your business. A secret Facebook group for your customers allows for better control over who can join and protects your business from disgruntled views being aired for the public to see.
You could also make the group closed for it to be more visible. Add a description that states whom this group is for.
2. Keep up with current events
Get perspective and insights into current trends and events in your industry by discussing issues with experts.
3. Communicate with brand ambassadors
A good reason to start a Facebook group is to connect with your biggest fans. The relationships forged with them will only serve to make them more inclined to be natural brand ambassadors and connect with others with the same interest.
It is also a great way to get feedback on new product features.
4. Promote events
Facebook groups can be useful if you need to promote lots of events. Not only does it reduce the number of requests you need to respond to, but those attending will often generate and share photos, video, and other content to help promote the event and activities.
5. Sell products
You are now able to sell products in Facebook groups once you create a For Sale group.
6. Supplement video training courses
For businesses that provide video training or sell video courses, having a private Facebook group as part of the package would help your customers. They can ask questions and get additional resources and support. More importantly, it offers the business the chance to create deeper connections with its customers.
7. Promote chats
If you run regular Twitter chats or discussions on your Facebook page, you may want to separate it from your business. You can do so via a Facebook group as you can keep the conversation focused.
For example, Buffer runs regular Twitter chats which they also promote on their Facebook page.
They could also create a group to continue the conversation. You can remind people of the Facebook group when and where applicable during the chat.
8. Establish expertise
To stand out from all the noise on social media, create a group or join an existing one and contribute your expertise. Ensure it is a group that is a resource without self-promotion. By being helpful and giving freely, word tends to get out about you and your group.
Take for example the Screw the Nine to Five Community or the NicheHacks.com Private Mastermind Group. They both have audiences of more than 20,000 members.
Members ask questions on a variety of topics allowing those with expertise to help and gain more exposure.
9. Collect feedback
Need to get feedback on some new ideas for your business? Create a private Facebook group for your best customers and discuss what you are thinking about.
These groups help strengthen relationships with customers and help businesses collect honest feedback on their customer’s preferences.
10. Support event speakers
If you’re putting on an online or offline summit/conference, you will want to communicate with speakers you have lined up. Using a Facebook group for this purpose can help reduce the number of conversations and provide a repository for essential information.
This way you can share files and information that all speakers need, answer additional questions and reduce the number of requests you need to respond to.
11. Mastermind with peers
Are you running a mastermind or part of a mastermind group? If so, consider using a private Facebook group to communicate and schedule events. It allows you to discuss business ideas without exposure to people outside of the mastermind.
12. Communicate with your team
For a business, you could create a Facebook group for your team. You could then invite employees and or freelancers/virtual assistants to communicate with the rest of your team, access onboarding files and even introduce new hires.
It is important to have a social media policy and have your employees agree to it.
How to keep your community running like a well-oiled machine without spending more time and money
Quite often, running a Facebook group can seem like an endless series of chores. But it doesn’t have to be. The following tips and features are often missed or underrated in their ability to help you manage your community. Use them to keep management of your Facebook group more efficient.
1. Select your group’s privacy setting
While creating a Facebook group, you will need to decide what type of group it will be. You have 3 choices as you can see in the image below.
2. Use Pinned posts
You can “pin” a post to the top of the feed so it is the first thing that shows. Why is this useful? Because posts are not shown in chronological order. Instead, the posts that have had activity such as a comment sit at the top of the feed.
The Serious Bloggers have a private group where the following post is pinned so the group guidelines are visible to all members.
However, as a group admin, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
You can only pin 1 post at any time. So it needs to benefit the entire group.
The pinned post will not show on mobile devices, so users may not realize that they have to click on “View Pinned Post” to see it.
3. Review settings and files
As the administrator for the group, you can change or modify the settings to ensure privacy of certain files and that content available to the group is fresh and relevant.
4. Update your group description
This is where you can add a blurb on your group including rules. Every time you update this section, it will appear in the News Feed and is a great way to keep members updated on rule changes.
5. Add relevant files
Add and share documents for the group. It has an interface like the Facebook Notes app.
6. Manage photos
This is a photo manager of sorts and keeps a record of photos posted in the News Feed.
7. Find answers quickly
Have you been to a group, seen a great post or comment, and thought I should come to that? When you do, you just can’t find it. You can search through posts in chronological order by typing * in the search bar. You can also run searches by the name of a group member or by a word.
8. Create events
Events can be useful if you are having a webinar or a meetup. They appear much like a pinned post and help highlight the event.
Here is Facebook’s answer to creating an event in your group.
The details you need to fill in are as below.
9. Share video
Add video and share live video in groups when you have guests presenting or to do training. If you have a large group, you will want to set clear rules for sharing videos in your group.
10. Here are a few more tips to help administer your group
Appoint other admins – This can be helpful if you have a large group and can’t access your account for a time.
Create clear group rules – This will help with moderation for both yourself and other moderators you appoint.
Encourage members to report posts if they violate the group rules – This will save you time and make members feel like they are part of a community.
Decide on your membership approval process – You can decide if members can add or approve new members or if they require Admin approval.
Build your success
Community is a key ingredient in building a thriving audience that provides your business more traction and sends traffic to your site. So connect with those who respond to your ideas and grow with your help and support. Chances are that they want to be part of what you are doing and would want to stick around. All they need is a compelling reason to do so.
Starting a Facebook group could be the solution to hosting your community. After all, most people spend time on the platform with the desire to connect with others. This way, they can connect with you and other members in your community.
Check in with your community to see if Facebook groups would be a suitable solution. If it is, then get started. Get more traction and traffic by starting a Facebook group for your raving community of fans. Be sure to download the checklists for creating and building a growing your community via Facebook groups.