We bet you probably belong to at least one Facebook group. Maybe it is one specific to the area you live in. Or maybe it is one dedicated to the artful skill of kendama. But have you ever considered adding Facebook groups to your social media marketing strategy arsenal?
Earlier this year, Facebook unveiled its first-ever Super Bowl commercial, celebrating “the power of people coming together through shared interests and experiences.” The 60-second ad, which cost the tech giant an estimated $10 million smackaroos to air, starred actor Sylvester Stallone and comedian Chris Rock, and took a comedic approach to Facebook groups that relate to the word “rock.”
Since 2017, Facebook has been scrutinized over its privacy practices regarding Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election, and the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, among other improprieties. The ad was part of the company’s “More Together” campaign launched last year, focusing on the positive aspects of the platform.
In April 2019, Facebook said that there were more than 400 million people in groups that they found meaningful. As Facebook continues to focus on building communities, Facebook groups are the natural tools to forge new connections.
What is a Facebook Group?
A Facebook group is a free service where a brand, service or product can engage with existing and potential customers, providing a forum where people can discuss and share their similar interests.
Should Your Brand Create a Facebook Group?
Facebook groups are a great way to strengthen the relationship between your brand and your target demographic. Additionally, they are proven to help brands make up for lost traffic due to Facebook’s algorithm. Through the use of groups, you provide extra value for your audience, build a loyal and engaged consumer base, and promote your brand while boosting your presence in the mind of your consumer.
Creating and monitoring a group might not be right for every business or brand, but if you’ve ever wondered whether or not you should pursue it, keep reading for our best practices to market your business with Facebook groups.
Create a Sense of Community
Facebook groups are a great tool for building and maintaining an enthusiastic fan base. This is because Facebook groups allow members to start conversations in a more seamless way than on a Page. They are a space where members can start conversations amongst themselves, share relevant content or thoughts, and even answer each other’s questions.
The Orlando Foodie Forum, as an example, boasts over 16,000 members who post about fantastic, local eateries in Central Florida and beyond, as well as news related to the Orlando culinary scene. The group’s strong sense of community has extended past its virtual walls, with members meeting up at local restaurants for Foodie Forum Meet-Ups and posting about it on the group.
Set Rules & Boundaries
As with any group, there are rules to belong. When creating your Facebook group, create a pinned post stating the rules of the group. Bryce Gruber, a New York-based freelance writer, created a closed Facebook group last summer where public relations professionals and journalists can share queries, pitches, and ideas. Pinned at the top, her rules state that members should not use the forum for hate speech or promotions and that posts and requests should be ethical by FCC standards. Because the group is close to two thousand members, it is easy to monitor and flag any posts which violate any rules.
While each Facebook group has an admin (or more depending on the size), the purpose of any group is to create a place where like-minded people can share their thoughts, experiences, questions, and connect with other members, keeping the community guidelines in mind.
Emphasize Exclusivity with Closed Group
Who doesn’t like to feel special? Create a Facebook group to reward your customers and make them feel like a VIP. Albion Fit, an online retailer of bathing suits and lifestyle apparel, already does a decent job at engaging with their audience through their social media channels and newsletters, however, their exclusive Facebook group, Albion Fitters, features access to launches and sales, secret codes, and sneak peeks of new products. And because the group is run by Albion Fit, and not by a third party or a fan of the brand, they can control the narrative and monitor the conversations that take place in the group.
Now, a Facebook group can be set to “open” or “closed.” Any Facebook user can join an open group and see the content that has been posted, from conversations to photos and videos, to files without having been accepted into the group. Closed groups are treated like an exclusive club. To join a closed Facebook group, users must request access from the administrator, and once they are added, they will have access to everything that has been posted.
With over 2.5 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world, meaning that if your group is open, the probability of spam users joining is higher. Having your group set to closed means that only those who join will see your content, making your group that much more exclusive.
The Universal Orlando Annual Passholder (UOAP) Facebook group understands how to leverage the exclusive nature of its group by offering members value they cannot receive anywhere else. While annual passholders receive many perks from discounts to passholder apparel, there is one perk that is (puzzlingly) extremely popular among the UOAP crowd – the monthly button. This badge of honor is a hotly contested item handed out in limited quantities to visiting passholders each month. But because of the coronavirus outbreak, the theme park shut its doors. On April 7, Universal Orlando Resort posted a new button design in the group, which passholders should print and turn into buttons at home. The post received 1,500 reactions, with excited members showing off the buttons they created using their button makers at home.
Engage With Your Members
If you’re not engaging with your audience, don’t expect them to engage in your Facebook group. You will quickly lose member interest if you’re nowhere to be found. Be sure to engage your members in fun and creative ways, and show them that you are present and available to answer their questions.
Myriam Gutsein, the creator of The Orlando Dog Mom Facebook Group, has the availability to check in with her over 16,000 members a few times a week, asking them to share pictures and stories of their fur babies, what they did over the weekend, giving members the chance to introduce themselves and share their social media handles, and even share news on special events (virtual and IRL) and offers. Because she has taken the time to engage with her members and build a community, her members (even introverted ones like myself) feel comfortable posting and starting their own threads within the group.
There are many ways to engage with your members, including:
- Encourage members to share user-generated content. The UOAP Facebook group is a great example of this, as the members share pictures they’ve taken at the parks and hotels, as well as outfits, home decorations, recipes, and even weddings and engagement shoots that have been inspired by the parks.
- Facebook Live, images, and video. While the percentages differ compared to standard text posts, images and video can exponentially increase engagement. Use these tools to give your members a backstage glimpse of what a day at headquarters looks like or share information on upcoming events or products.
- Post interactive content. The immersive nature of interactive content means that your members will spend more time engaging with it. This content can look like challenges, tutorials, Q&As, polls, and more. Other creative ideas include curating Spotify playlists, VR and AR video, or branded quizzes that will lead members to their website.
And while we encourage you to engage with your members as much as you can, don’t feel the need to reply to every single conversation in the group. Sometimes it is best to take a step back and let your members discuss a topic or post a new thread. Unless there is a question only you can answer or you’ve been tagged on, it is fine to take a breather.
Consider Enlisting The Help of Community Managers
As your group continues to grow, you may find yourself overwhelmed at monitoring conversations, addressing flagged posts, and up to your eyeballs in approving members and posts. The Royally Obsessed Facebook group, a place to discuss the British royal family and the Royally Obsessed podcast (don’t judge me), is managed by PureWow, however, it would be impossible for one manager to keep up with every post, so the group has five additional admins to keep an eye out and to enforce group rules. Your admins can be your colleagues or even active members of your Facebook group. Having multiple admins means sharing the responsibility to moderate posts on behalf of your brand, and making sure any questions from your members are addressed as quickly as possible.
Facebook groups provide your business with a free service to strengthen your brand and build a sense of community your target market can’t find anywhere else. In order to do so, it is important to set boundaries, emphasize exclusivity, and engage with your audience. Taking the time to do this will increase engagement and take your business to the next level.