How to build your community with Facebook Groups
Facebook Group marketing is going to grow in 2020 and beyond.
For starters, Facebook engagement is actually increasing despite rumblings about the platform’s frequently changing algorithm.
And recent data from the 2019 Sprout Social Index™ highlights that 40% of marketers view private communities as a top social trend to prioritize in 2020 and beyond.
Although organic reach might be on the downturn for most businesses, Facebook Groups are a brilliant way to reach customers without being confined by the platform’s algorithm.
In this guide, we break down the benefits of Facebook Group marketing and best practices for engaging your audience.
What are Facebook Groups and why do they matter so much?
To kick things off, let’s talk about why Facebook Groups deserve your attention in the first place.
If you’re going to get involved with Facebook Groups, consider the three big-picture benefits below.
Facebook Groups gift you more organic reach
Okay, this is the big one.
Chances are you’ve watched your Facebook engagement dwindle over the past year or so?
On the flip side, Group posts are what the Facebook algorithm is looking for.
According to Facebook themselves, the platform prioritizes content from Groups that users frequently engage with. So if you’re consistently publishing to your Group and your audience is reacting to it or they’re posting content themselves, you’re feeding the algorithm exactly what it wants.
Anecdotally, you can see this for yourself by scrolling through your own Facebook feed. It doesn’t take long to come across a Group post, does it?
Facebook Groups provide a direct line to your audience
Data from the Sprout Social Index also notes that nearly half of consumers join private communities so they can engage with brands directly.
Food for thought: if someone joins your Group, they want to hear from you.
They’re interested in your content. They might even be willing to be sold to with a bit of nurturing.
Think of someone joining your Facebook community as a sort of opt-in. In a sense, Group members have the potential to be your most loyal customers.
Facebook Groups allow you to form meaningful customer relationships
Facebook Groups allow you to connect with your customers on a more personal level.
In many cases, people are likely to read a social post from a friend versus a brand. This makes Groups the perfect fit for building connection, since they require members and admins alike to post from personal accounts.
This allows you a unique opportunity to engage as a human first and a brand second. Through responding to your audience and asking questions, you can learn more about what your customers want and what you can do to help.
10 Tips on how to use Facebook Groups to build your community
Let’s say you’re all-in on Facebook Group marketing.
How do you ensure that you’re making the most of your Group and opportunities to engage with your audience?
Whether you’re starting a community from scratch or managing a community on behalf of a client, below are the cornerstones of a Facebook Group strategy.
1. Make your rules and expectations crystal clear
Perhaps the most important piece of creating your Facebook Group is establishing your rules.
And while this might not sound like much fun, it’s crucial for keeping your Group from devolving into spam and general disorganization.
For starters, ask yourself:
- What are your goals?
- What do you expect members to post?
- What are your guidelines for how members should interact?
Detailed rules go hand in hand with meaningful, high-quality conversations. This also cuts down on general riff-raff and questions as you can point members to your established rules. Encourage members to read others’ posts or comments to see if their questions have been previously answered.
Establish your rules and enforce them. Your Group should be a safe, welcoming place for members to engage.
If nothing else, setting boundaries helps limit self-promotion and link dropping from spammers.
Facebook allows for 10 public rules for any given Group. For reference, Facebook’s own suggestions for Group rules include:
- Encouraging positive comments, feedback and conversations
- Taking a firm stance on bullying and hate speech
- Outlawing spam and irrelevant links
- Respecting the privacy of fellow members
2. Prioritize discussions on a daily basis
The more you can get your members talking, the better.
This not only encourages more activity from your Facebook Group itself but also increases the likelihood that your posts will appear in your members’ feeds.
Posting on a regular basis is definitely a commitment. That’s why we recommend coming up with themed discussions you can use on a weekly or monthly basis.
For example, many Facebook Groups boats a “Motivation Monday” thread or a weekly post where members are encouraged to share content or stories. This does double duty of giving your visitors something to look forward to while also sticking to a consistent content calendar.
To ensure that you’re getting the most eyes on your posts as possible, try to drive discussions when your members are most active.
For reference, here are the best times to post on Facebook which highlight the weekday mornings and afternoons as prime for posting something new.
3. Let your Facebook Group know that you’re listening (but don’t talk too much)
Keep a close eye on your notifications and replies, especially in discussion-related posts that you created yourself.
Your members will more than likely be glad to carry on the conversation, but replying shows that you’re actively listening to what they have to say. This is especially important if they’ve tagged you for a reply.
However, don’t feel a need to get involved with every conversation in your group. Sometimes it’s best to give your members some breathing room and let them talk out a topic. Unless there’s a question involved where you can jump in, it’s totally fine to take a step back.
4. Avoid link-dropping and direct selling
Nobody joins a Group to be spammed to death with links and sales messages.
Beyond discouraging both in your Group rules, make sure to provide context to any sort of link or sales message that you post yourself.
For example, if you’re promoting a blog post or product to your group, explain why you’re posting the link or promotion.
Ideally, try your pitches and promos to direct messages and one-on-ones with your customers who’ve shown interest in what you’re offering.
5. Emphasize exclusivity with a Closed Group
Notice that many Facebook Groups are “Closed.” In other words, members can only join after being vetted and accepted by admins.
The popularity of Closed Groups isn’t a coincidence. Groups are often treated like secret, exclusive clubs that promote “for your eyes only” content and offers.
Keeping your Group small and tight-knit keeps the quality of discussion high. This also makes life easier for your admins.
Below is a quick breakdown of what Public, Closed and Secret Groups mean for prospective members, for reference.
6. Optimize your Facebook Group and content for engagement
Much like you should pay attention to what drives Facebook Page engagement, similar rules apply to your Group.
For example, have you completely filled out your Group info to include relevant keywords that your audience might be looking for? Does your Group description include benefits and a call-to-action? What about any eye-catching cover photo?
Covering these bases makes your group more enticing and discoverable to prospective members.
As highlighted in our guide to Facebook analytics tools, it’s important to understand which types of content perform well with your Facebook audience.
With Sprout, you can pull data from your Facebook Page to inspire your Group’s content strategy.
Meanwhile, other Facebook analytics tools like Grytics actually dig into your Group data further including comments-by-day and a breakdown of audience reactions.
7. Experiment with different posts and content formats
For the sake of figuring out what engages your audience the most, be prepared to experiment with different types of posts.
This isn’t just good news for the algorithm: doing so keeps your audience on their toes and keeps your Group posts from becoming too routine. Consider posting the following:
- User-generated content (think: asking members to upload photos or video)
- Facebook Live and native Facebook video
- Interactive content (think: Polls)
- Images (gifs, memes and infographics)
8. Make sure your admins are up to the task!
As we said earlier, Facebook Group marketing is a commitment.
When appointing admins, double-check that they’re up to the task. For the sake of building customer relationships, it’s important to respond to questions from members as swiftly as possible. Having multiple admins means it’s not the sole responsibility of one individual to moderate or post on behalf of your brand or business. It also means that your members are never left hanging when a response is needed.
Of course, also ensure that you fully trust whoever you’re giving administrative privileges to.
9. Search your conversations for common themes and pain points
If you’re strapped for ideas in terms of what to post in your Group, look no further than your members’ discussions.
What are they worried about? What do they need help with?
Keeping an eye on frequently asked questions and concerns can be the genesis for everything from blog posts to product ideas and beyond.
10 Promote your Group beyond Facebook!
Lastly, don’t expect followers to flood your Facebook Group unprompted.
If you have an email newsletter or are active on other social platforms, to invite your customers elsewhere to join your Group.
Since your customers already know and trust your brand, inviting them to join your Facebook Group is a no-brainer to grow your membership and provide even more value to your audience.
What does Facebook Group marketing mean for your brand?
Groups provide an avenue for brands to nurture communities and engage their customers one-on-one.
And it helps that they’re a brilliant way to beat the Facebook algorithm!
As private communities continue to grow, mastering your Facebook Group strategy can help you maximize your community engages from the word “go.”
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