The first Facebook group I started was about 7 years ago. The target audience was women in the online marketing space. Initially it was fun and it seemed like people were there to build genuine relationships. Facebook groups were much different than they are today. Back then Facebook would even allow us to send bulk messages to our members, which initially seemed great, but like anything else online that quickly wore out its welcome.
As my business grew I was a little less involved in the group. There were a few other admins in the group but before long the quality of the group seemed to go sideways. At the time we didn’t have the option to require questions for potential members so you wouldn’t know someone was spammy until it was too late. Eventually the group became less about connecting and building relationships and more about people pitching their latest direct sales business opportunity.
Another one of the admins asked me if I wanted to do anything with the group (I didn’t) and asked if they could have the group. I happily removed myself from the group and went about my business.
Fast forward to the last couple of years and Facebook groups 2.0 (for lack of a better word) have changed the game. As the online marketing space has matured people have become weary withconstantly being pitched and are craving a return to fundamentals (which never went away). Facebook groups, when done right, have become a place to make real connections, ask for help (and receive it) and grow your business… the old fashioned way. By providing value and creating relationships.
As Facebook continues to evolve (this article is being written shortly after the big announcement from Facebook that they’re changing the algorithms… i.e., they want you to pay to play or have real conversations) I’m going to go out on a limb and make a prediction. Facebook Groups will quickly replace the engagement and priority of pages (which are more of a one-sided conversation). While you can schedule your content in a Facebook group you can’t scheduleengagement.
I decided about 6 months ago to start a new Facebook group on Content Marketing. I had done a course on creating a content strategy, it was received well and content was quickly becoming my ‘sweet spot’. Ultimately the goal of the group was to launch a premium membership on content creation but I had no definitive plan on what that looked like or when it would evolve. The intention was simply to connect with like-minded people, find out where they needed help with content marketing and let it evolve organically.
To say I was happy with the results would be an understatement.
The group continues to grow organically through Facebook search, other recommended groups, word of mouth, and my own email marketing and social sharing efforts. The most engagement we get are from the consistent weekly posts and live streaming.
Before I get into a few tips for growing your Facebook Group, the most important thing you can do to grow a successful group is to listen. Pay attention to what your members are saying, watch what they’re posting about and how they engage with each other. There are plenty of tactics and strategies for growing a Facebook Group and staying engaged, but at the end of the day you have to go with what feels right for you and your members.
As an example, one thing I’ve seen multiple times in other groups is when an admin or someone in the group will post a question with a definitive prompt, such as “type Y if you want to hear about x,y,z.” I posted a question like this once, asking my group if they wanted to see a behind-the-scenes video for how I planned a course I created. The responses were overwhelmingly positive and I created the video. Outside of that one incident I haven’t used these types of questions. Not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because it doesn’t feel right.
The only way to use a Facebook group for lead generation and audience growth is to keep the engagement high and to consistently be growing the group. Here are a few basic guidelines for creating a high quality group with engaged members:
- The admins are consistently engaging (with a variety of members)
- You monitor the group for quality and protect the integrity of the group
- Look at group insights and learn from them
- Encourage user generated content and do what you can to foster relationships within the group
- Test and try things all the time, just let your members know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it (this instills trust in you)
We do a few things consistently in our group, Content Creators, but mix it up with content ideas, live streams, hot seats, polls, and questions. We do a weekly check in on Mondays, allow promotions every other Tuesday, and allow people to post a link to a piece of their content on Fridays. Once a week we welcome new members and encourage them to post about themselves (we have guidelines for this post in a pinned post and video). In between we’ve done things such as:
- Post a song that motivates you
- Share your Instagram link
- Where are you located (this was amazing because one of the members put all the locations on a Google map and we have members all over the world)
- Share a picture of your office
The sky is really the limit on what you do inside your group.
Once you’ve created your group and are engaging, there are a few ways to use your Facebook group for lead generation, without feeling like you’re diluting the quality of the group.
Add an opt-in to the pinned post: this should be something that is relevant to what the group is about (stating the obvious, I know).
- Set up a landing page for members to opt-in to so they can be notified weekly of what happened in the group, events, live streams, etc.
- Create a messenger bot for members only: You can create a landing page for your bot with ManyChat (or the bot builder of your choice). Notify members if they opt-in to the Messenger bot that they’ll be notified of content, live streams, events, milestones, etc. (in this case I would use bots for notifications of live streams. I think combining live streaming with bots has massive potential). Connect your bot to your autoresponder via Zapier, native integration or simply export your subscribers (just make it clear they’re being added to a list).
- Give free access or beta access to members only content.
While there isn’t a way to target Facebook groups for advertising, if you’re driving your members to landing pages (I would create a custom page that you use ONLY for members of your Facebook group) you can pixel those pages and create custom audiences from the traffic generated to the page.
You can do the same thing if you grow a list of bot subscribers from your group and are sending them to a specific landing page.
These are just a handful of things you can do with Facebook groups for lead generation and audience growth right now. If I had a crystal ball I’d tell you that Facebook is going to be putting more energy in groups (and I can tell you that the more you engage the more Facebook will suggest your group) and it’s a great time to start your own group. The most important thing to remember is that growing a quality group is a marathon strategy, not a sprint.
Kim Doyal, also known as, ÒThe WordPress ChickÓ, is an entrepreneur, coach, author, and speaker. She has built her lifestyle business using WordPress, podcasting, creating content, and a commitment to ÒJustShowUP.Ó Widowed in 2003 with two small children, she was determined to build a business that allowed her to be at home while doing something she loved. Kim is the Co-founder of the new SaaS company, LeadSurveys. LeadSurveys is a tool that allows you to create simple surveys that segment your subscribers so you can convert subscribers into buyers. Kim works with entrepreneurs to build their online presence, connect with their ideal clients, and 'show up' in a way that resonates with them. With a successful podcast and content creation program she's able to work directly with entrepreneurs who believe in doing things their 'own way' and in a way that resonates with them.