by guest author Maggie Patterson
Even before I had a Facebook business page, over 50% of my site traffic came from Facebook. How? Facebook groups.
But especially in online business-focused Facebook groups there tend to a lot of shenanigans and over-promotion (blech!). Which is why I’m so excited to share this post from my friend and colleague, Maggie Patterson on how to use Facebook groups the RIGHT way!
Take it away, Maggie!
Facebook is the lifeline for many an online business owner. And with good reason: if that’s where your potential clients are hanging out, it makes complete sense to meet them on the platform that they spend the most time on.
While Facebook Page reach has been in decline, Facebook Groups are growing steadily. For entrepreneurs and small business owners, groups offer a solid way to support their community-building and marketing efforts, and the total number of people using Facebook Groups is regularly increasing. In October 2014, Facebook reported that 700 million people used Facebook Groups every month, an increase of 200 million from the previous January.
So, if groups are going to be a part of your social media strategy, where do you start? Or if you’re using groups already, how do you get more ROI on that time you’re spending?
First things first. Keep in mind that Facebook is a community, which means you need to be a good citizen. Too many times, people treat Facebook groups like their own personal promotional system and all the people they interact with as PayPal accounts.
If you’re interested in building real relationships and your business using Facebook, understand a few ground rules:
#1 Choose Your Facebook Groups Wisely
More is not better when it comes to Facebook groups, and someone who is a member of 100s of groups is a red flag many times over to anyone who checks you out. Carefully select which Facebook groups you choose to participate in, because in the online world, you are going to be judged by the company you keep. Think about what groups best serve you and whether they are places your potential clients would hang out. Don’t let yourself succumb to F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out) and then join all the groups you can.
#2. Be Human, Not a Promotional Robot.
Show up to serve. If your only reason for joining groups is to sell yourself, buy an ad instead, as you’re not likely going to be a good citizen and no one likes people who only show up on promo day. Answer questions, look for ways to contribute and be of service, then promote. You should have way more posts that are of service than push your thing.
#3. Don’t Try to Game the System
Most groups worth being a part of have rules. Out of respect for those in the group and the moderator, follow the rules. Learn the rules. And please, for the love of Facebook, don’t be the person who tries to sneakily game the system. Posting “helpful” links back to your site or consistently trolling groups in an effort to work around the rules isn’t going to paint you in the best light.
Using Facebook for Good, Not Evil in Your Business
With that out of the way, here are a few ways to use groups to build your business the right way:
#1. Start Your Own Group
If you’re so inclined, you can start your own group. Setting one up can be done in mere minutes. But before you start a group, get clear on how your group is different and make sure that you have a unique value proposition. The number of groups grows exponentially each month, so you need to be sure you can stand out.
There’s many types of groups you can consider. You can set up a group purely for sharing ideas or networking; a group for your clients or customers; or even a group to run a challenge or live event. The possibilities are endless.
Before you dive in, ensure you have the time needed to be active in the group, start discussions, welcome members, etc. If you’re running a straight networking group, consider just letting people join without an email opt-in. Nothing leaves a sour taste in a potential group member’s mouth than a message asking them to join via email. Your group, your rules ﹘ but consider what message that sends when a group is supposed to be about community.
#2. Curate a Quality List of 10 Groups
You’ve got a business to run and you want to avoid the Facebook time suck. If you try to be active in too many groups, you will find yourself losing hours each day and not sure where the time went. To help you get focused, create a quality list of 10 groups that you love to hang out in and are productive for you, both personally and professionally.
If you want to find new groups, use Facebook search to check out what groups your friends, peers, and even competitors belong to. The search string you want to use is:
groups joined by [person’s name].
And if there’s a group you really dig, you can check out what groups other members of that group are part of with this search: groups joined by members of [group’s name]
(A note from Jackie: Here’s a tutorial on using Facebook graph search to find groups where your ideal clients are hanging out.)
#3. Set Aside Time Each Day for Interacting in Groups
Facebook moves quickly, so while you don’t want to spend hours and hours in groups, you can’t show up once a week either. Set aside time each day during the week to check in on your top groups, comment, like and generally interact. If you have a question, don’t be shy about asking the group (after Googling it of course, because you don’t want to be THAT person).
Get to know when specific features happen within each group, such as blog share Thursday or meaningful Monday, so you can jump into those threads. Also, keep an eye out for when people are tagging you so you can respond in a timely manner.
Showing up day in, day out in groups helps people get to know you, which means they get to know, like and trust you. People do business with people they like, and if you’re adding value in the group they will check you out, refer you and, hopefully, do business with you.
If you’re not convinced, I met Jackie in a Facebook group, along with most of my business BFFs. My very first clients when I moved to an online business model came from Facebook groups, and two years later, I still consistently book clients after interacting with them in Facebook Groups.
The secret? Being myself and showing up consistently. It’s that simple.