Are you running a Facebook Group? Have you thought about it?
Maybe you think that since you have a business Page on Facebook, you probably shouldn’t be trying to run a Group at the same time.
Well I for one thought that, until I tuned in to Bella Vasta’s interview with Stephanie Liu. They talked for nearly an hour on how awesome Facebook Groups can be for brands (and individuals!) today and I was blown away. Within the first few minutes I realized I’d better start writing down all the knowledge bombs Bella was dropping. And guess what? I’m now going to share the summary with you.
First, you’ve got to save the video and watch the replay. Not only is Bella a tremendous resource for Facebook Groups that you should be following, her and Stephanie provided a fun and engaging show.
Next, realize how important and beneficial Facebook Groups can be for building real relationships. Bella likened your Facebook Page as your front yard that’s neat and manicured, and your Facebook Group as the backyard, where all the fun can happen. “The party is in the backyard.”
Now, let’s get into some of the ideas and recommendations Bella shared.
How to Grow Your Group
One of the challenges facing anyone that wants to start a Facebook Group is of course the fact that we all start with 0 members (well, 2… you plus the mandatory friend you need to create the group, and I’ll be that friend for you!). But once you get it up and running, how do you grow that membership and make that Facebook Group into a real community? Bella offered these 6 brilliant suggestions:
- Include a link and invitation to join your Facebook Group in your email signature.
- Use the Facebook icon on your website to link to your Facebook Group instead of your Facebook Page.
- Use the CTA Button on your Facebook Page to lead to the Facebook Group.
- Use a Video Cover on your Facebook Page to highlight your Facebook Group.
- Use Facebook Groups to funnel members into other Facebook Groups!
- Have an affiliate program for paid Facebook Groups.
How to Keep Your Group Members Engaged
Growing your Facebook Group is great, but if the members of the group aren’t being fed – if they aren’t learning and engaging and growing in some way – they aren’t going to stay in the group. So creating group content and posts and activities that serve that buffet and keep your members from starving.
- Use Challenges to get your members engaged and excited. Consider giving e gift cards to winners monthly.
- Ask questions and require a Video Comment.
- Use Units in a Social Learning groups to post challenges and keep information alive.
- Use Chats to keep folks talking about specific topics
- Give them a regular opportunity to share what they’ve accomplished and vote each other up
Bella Vasta’s Tips for Facebook Group Success
Throughout the show, Bella shared a number of tips and techniques that she’s used over the years, in a variety of different groups, to help those groups achieve massive success.
Have a plan for your group and future posts/content.
Great content for your Facebook Group isn’t going to just magically happen. You need to have a plan. With the 360 Marketing Squad, for instance, we have a monthly schedule for live video training, and then a schedule for different kinds of content that each of us is responsible for creating each day / week. That keeps our group members excited to be a part of the group since they’re constantly learning.
Consider using Units and making them mandatory and get metrics on them.
As Bella mentioned above, it’s a great idea to use the Units feature that comes with having a Group that’s set as a Social Learning group. If it makes sense for your group, you can make the Units mandatory and even set them as the default landing page for your group so that members are always seeing and moving though the Units. Progress can be tracked and shared!
If a Facebook Page joins a group and gets engagement on a post, it can invite those people to like the Page.
This was a great tip from Stephanie Liu, where she pointed out that if your Facebook Page is a member of the Facebook Group and posts into the group, any members that engage with that post can be invited to like your Page. Super hack, Steph!
Bella doesn’t recommend allowing Pages to join. It’s hard to interact with a brand (or as a brand!).
On the other hand, while there are certainly benefits to having a Page within the Group, it’s generally not good for engagement and relationship building. You might want to make sure that most of your own posts are as *you* and that you strongly consider not allowing other Pages to join the group.
Facebook Groups can and should be Safe Places for people to spend time and engage.
I loved this point from Bella, that people are joining Facebook Groups because they’re a safe place to have truly vulnerable moments and opportunities to share. We all have personal profiles where we’ve connected with people from every part of our life journey – and that means we often have connections that might not be the most appropriate to share certain things with.
Facebook Groups are also places for people to come together around shared interests / stories. To belong. To celebrate the journey.
The reality of normal Facebook posts – and really any social network – is that they’re fleeting. We can post something today and some of our connections will see it and if we post an update in a few days or weeks, an entirely different set of connections may see that second post. There’s a real disconnect from one post to the next due to both time and algorithms. But that’s less of an issue within Facebook Groups. Members are far more likely to see and engage with posts from other members which offers great continuity and connection.
And that leads to a stronger emotional tie between members. Through groups, Facebook users are able to create actual community in ways that normal social media connections simply cannot.
Avoid daily “themes” since people tend to glaze over those after a while. Use monthly themes to deep dive into specific topics.
Many groups (and pages too) will have regular posts they share on different days – themes – to keep members engaged. Those may work for a while, but the risk is that, over time, the concept will get old and members will begin to ignore those posts. And if members begin to ignore some posts, it creates a slippery slope of non-engagement that threatens all future posts. Instead, Bella recommends that group admins create monthly themes as a way to focus and go deep on specific topics (while still leaving the opportunity open for other topical content).
Use weekly roundups to keep members accountable.
If you and your members are all working toward common goals, a great technique to increase engagement AND build community that Bella shared is a Weekly Roundup. In this post, members are invited to share their wins or achievements (or challenges and setbacks) so that the rest of the community can discuss and comment. Dustin Stout runs a blogging community where he does something quite similar.
Public vs Closed vs Secret Groups
Bella also reviewed the three different kinds of communities and suggested that there’s likely no good reason to create a Public Group where anyone can come and go. Instead, most groups should be Closed where you can control who can join the group, and even ask questions! (More on that in a moment.) Secret groups are a fabulous resource for small groups who want to be able to share conversations and information privately.
While the 360 Marketing Squad is a closed group, I personally use secret groups for my masterminds where my friends and I can share what we’re working on and support each other.
Should you ask questions on entrance? Yes! Use qualifying questions and get their email address, but also ask them what their biggest challenge is.
So, what are these questions? When you set up your group you can choose to have new members answer up to three questions. These might be basic informational questions like their email address, but Bella also pointed out how powerful it is to ask new members what they’re struggling with. That information is gold for businesses!
One of the problems though with the normal Facebook Group question system is that admins get a notification that a new member has requested access and answered the questions, but as soon as access is approved, those answers are gone. Forever.
To combat that and make sure those answers are recorded, Bella offered a recommendation. You can use the tool Group Funnels to capture answers to the entrance questions. And it’s just a one-time cost! If you’re setting up a group and asking questions, you MUST invest in this tool. Don’t wait until you’ve grown the group and lost all those answers (or wasted countless hours copying and pasting into a spreadsheet).
Use Group questions to power an FAQ or content plan.
The best part about those join request questions is that you can use the answers to create all kinds of great content. Maybe those funnel into your FAQ, or maybe they spark ideas for blog posts or live video interviews.
Ultimately, it’s important to note that Facebook has devoted considerable time and resources into making Groups a valuable and sustainable part of the Facebook ecosystem. Businesses can rely on groups to develop meaningful relationships with customers, prospects, partners and influencers.
Take note of these recommendations and work them into your own Facebook Group strategies. Have a tip of your own? Let us know in the comments!