I remember when I first signed up for Facebook. It was 2005. Low-rise jeans were in style, and we were still trying to figure out a legit way to download and access music online. The excitement of creating my profile and connecting with my friends and classmates was palpable. I had no idea that in just a few years, everyone and their moms (literally) would be joining the platform, and Facebook as I knew it would totally change.
What was once a mecca for college kids has now become a go-to platform for bragging about grandchildren, posting pictures of home-cooked meals, and sharing vacation expeditions. But in the transition, Facebook also opened up to businesses, creating ad options, functionalities, and analytics that could help those businesses using the platform thrive.
The Power of Facebook
While Facebook has gotten some heat somewhat recently, it’s still one of the top social media platforms out there. And while some businesses are leaving the platform, others are sticking it out and continuing to use it to tap into their audiences and share a part of their brand with them.
Whether or not Facebook continues down a controversial path is uncertain. What is certain is that if your business needs more ways to benefit from Facebook groups, there are ways you can capitalize on and use it in a more meaningful way. While I’m sure there are still plenty of Facebook groups dedicated to celebrities, T.V. shows, and movies out there, businesses can hone in on the functionality so that they can create a direct line to some of their key audience members. By creating specific groups geared towards a particular industry, topic or category, businesses can create not only a space for their key audience members to engage, but also a channel in which to distribute and share their content, news, and product lines straight to their audiences’ feeds.
Over the years, many companies large and small have enjoyed great success from establishing and growing their own groups, and given the fact that they don’t cost a penny, they’re well worth the effort.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Facebook Groups
There is, of course, a right and wrong way to go about creating a Facebook group. You may have the best intentions in mind, but the last thing you want to do is inadvertently create a forum that causes issues, isn’t serving you and your team in the way you had imagined, or find there’s little to no engagement.
If you’re thinking of starting a Facebook group, make sure you follow these tips and maximize the outcome.
- Set specific rules and expectations from the beginning. Define a set of clear and comprehensive guidelines around the kind of group you’re creating and make sure those guidelines are front, center, and easily accessible, not only to the admin team but to the group members as well. Introduce each new member to the rules right away and direct existing members back to them as needed. For example, make sure members understand that your Facebook group is a safe space for industry networking, dialogue, and content sharing. Also, make sure they understand what kinds of content abide by your group’s standards (i.e., no blatant personal or professional promotion, offensive language, or content that badmouths other members of the group, etc.)
- Provide your members with content that adds value. The group you’re creating should be laser-focused on serving its members. Only share high-quality content that helps educate them and offers helpful tips. If you use your group to extend offers or to promote a product, make sure they make sense for that audience. Otherwise, they won’t bite, and membership could begin to decline.
- Interact with your members on a consistently. The goal is to create constant engagement, both with yourself as the moderator, as well as amongst other members. Don’t only post in the group when you need to distribute content or get more people to register for your upcoming webinar. Instead, think of ways you can start conversations. Ask questions or poll attendees for their opinions on certain topics. Provide thoughtful responses and engage in conversation, so members see you’re invested in creating a community.
- Ask for help growing the group. As you monitor the group, look for members who are most active and engaged. Those are your brand ambassadors and group champions. Reach out to them and ask them to invite others and help you spread the word. Word of mouth and third-party credibility are the best ways to appeal to other potential people.
- Post too frequently. Like anything else, Facebook groups require balance to be successful. It’s important to be active and consistent, but if you’re bombarding your audience with dozens of updates a day, you’ll risk annoying and driving them away from the group.
- Spam members with constant branded content. Yes, the ultimate goal is to generate new business for your brand, but if every post you publish is a discount code or something salesy, again, you’ll risk pushing your members away and losing them altogether. Remember – any content you publish should bring value to your audience, so focus on their needs, not your end goal.
- Allow rule-breakers to get out of hand. You’ve set guidelines. If someone is consistently breaking the rules, you’ll want to take swift action to prevent them from ruining the experience for everyone else.
- Overextend yourself by trying to handle the group by yourself. In the beginning, managing the group may not be that complicated, but as it grows, you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed trying to handle all the admin duties yourself. When you reach that point, consider asking a few key members if they’d be willing to serve as moderators. Sweeten the pot by offering them something in exchange for their help.
- Add people to the group who aren’t interested (or encourage others to do so). Adding new members just to get your numbers up is a pointless effort. At the end of the day, you want a group filled with happy, engaged members who either already are or could potentially become your customers. As such, focus on building an audience that’s relevant to your brand. It may take longer, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
Facebook groups can be a powerful and highly effective tool for marketing to and engaging with your target audience – but only if it’s done right. By following the list of do’s and don’ts provided above, you’ll be able to create and grow a community that will flourish for many years to come.