My Experience Running a Facebook Group
I started running a Facebook group even though I had never done much with Facebook personally. I was intrigued with the idea of a group that would add value to my membership site.
I first considered starting a low-cost paid Facebook group. But, I decided not to charge -- to make it free and accessible to all in the end. I hoped it would be an enticement for people to begin to know, like, and trust me.
It was an exciting time. I got my first Facebook group members by announcing it on my website. Many of my members were already members of Facebook, so it's natural that they joined up right away. Many of my friends on Facebook joined the group as well.
I got people interested in regularly visiting the group by keeping them engaged with questions every morning. I found that people like to respond to these questions. After a week or two, I got the idea to add a daily topic to my posts with a hashtag, and started doing that every morning. People really liked this and I got a lot of responses every morning. Many people tell me they look forward to the daily topic and it gives people a chance to participate and come back. Even the people who don’t reply to the daily topic tell me that they enjoy seeing what other people write.
I continue to get new members and the group has grown by the thousands. I invite people to join and I put the link for people to join on the pages for all of my products for sale. So, every time I sell a new product, people see the link. I also have links for people to join in some of my books on Kindle and elsewhere.
Also, Facebook does a lot of marketing for you as well once you’ve started a group (depending on your settings). They prominently show a list of suggested groups to the right of the main discussion area. They show a list of groups your friends belong to that you don't. So, a lot of people click to join from that. This is especially helpful in the Internet marketing niche where a lot of people naturally tend to join a lot of groups.
If You Want To Start Your Own Facebook Group
If you want to start your own Facebook group, you have to be a hands-on administrator. It also really helps to have another administrator on board so if you aren't able to be around at any particular point, someone can be there to handle spammers (unfortunately they will be around) and other tasks.
Another administrator can also be very essential in case you one day find your Facebook account temporarily (or permanently) banned for some reason. At least the group will continue to survive if there’s another administrator.
People loved my Facebook group (I have since discontinued) because they were comfortable there. The daily topic posting kept them coming back. They saw a lot of activity in the group, they saw me responding, providing value. They saw a lot of knowledgeable members responding, and that's very enticing for people.
Of course the members of the group start their own threads with questions about Internet marketing topics, and with 1000’s of members seeing these questions, there are always lots of helpful replies.
You really do have to set yourself apart and work very hard as the admin of a Facebook group. This is especially true in a crowded niche like Internet marketing. There are many different Internet marketing Facebook groups that already exist, which is why I have to be present and active every day. That’s what I recommend you do, too… especially in the early days, regardless of what niche your group is about.
If you want to have a successful Facebook group, you absolutely can. I mentioned early on that I had never done much with Facebook when I decided to start a Facebook group. If I can do it, you can do it. I know that you can be successful, you just need to know how to set your group apart, how to be present as an admin, and how to provide a lot of value for your group members.
The Basics of a Facebook Group
If you're active on Facebook at all, then you probably belong to Facebook groups already. Just in case you don't, let's talk about the basics. Facebook groups make it easy to connect with specific groups of people with shared interests. These groups can be private communities or fairly open communities. Within these communities, real relationships are created.
Facebook groups make it easy to share updates, photos, discussions, documents, and more. These groups are very dynamic and can be created on just about any topic under the sun. You can go ahead and search on your Facebook search bar for keywords related to your niche to see if there are any Facebook groups available. If there are, you may want to join them so you can get a feel for what these groups are all about.
There are three different types of privacy options available for Facebook groups. As the eventual admin of your group, you can select which privacy option you want—what you choose depends on your goals and business.
The three options include public, closed, and secret. Anyone can join a public group or be invited by a member. The posts on a public group are the most open. There are certain reasons why you might want a public group and certain reasons why you might not.
Personally I wouldn’t recommend making your group public, because that allows spammers free access to join. The posts are also public, so people might not be as willing to share their deeper thoughts and be as helpful as if your group were closed to the public.
However, anyone can request to join a closed group or be added by a member (if you set up the group appropriately). The posts in this type of group are more private and cannot be seen by just anyone. This is most likely the type of group you'll want to create. This gives people a safer feeling so they can ask questions without fear of judgment from the outside world.
Anyone can be included in a secret group, but they can't request to join as they can with the other options because the group is invisible to searchers. They have to be invited to join the group.
There are certain reasons you might want a secret group, but you have to keep in mind that this is not a group that can really go viral. If you want a lot of growth for your group, then you probably want either a public group or a closed group. If people can't see it or find it, then you're going to have a difficult time getting it to really take off.
As I mentioned, you'll probably want to choose a closed group. That way, people who join your group will have a lot of freedom to ask questions they might otherwise be embarrassed to ask, and it will be easier to keep the spammers out of the group.
I'm assuming that you've already joined Facebook. If you haven't, go ahead and do that now.
Before You Start a Facebook Group
Before you start a Facebook group, you have to know why you're doing it. Do you want a true community that you're willing to manage daily? Or, is a Facebook page best for you? There is nothing wrong with choosing a Facebook page for now. But if you're willing to go through with this, it's quite possibly the best thing you could do for your business.
You have to be sure you're willing to risk spending time and energy building a community on someone else's platform. For me, the benefits definitely outweighed the risks. I'm constantly using my group to build my brand and spread value as a leader. That's something you have to be willing to do as well. Your focus has to be on how your Facebook group brands you and connects you with your audience.
Before you start a Facebook group, you also have to be very clear about the focus of your group. What's going to be different about your group from all the other groups out there?
You also have to determine whether there is enough interest about your specific topic. If you search for potentially similar groups and there are just a few dozen members in each of those groups, it's probably not a good idea to move forward with your idea. At the very least, your idea will need more research. But, if there are thousands of people in those other groups, then there's probably room for you as well. It’s important to be unique and stand out with your group.
You also have to consider how your group fits in with your overall marketing and relationship building strategy. Your Facebook group should be part of a great business plan that's designed to push your business to the next level.
Setting Goals for Your Facebook Group
We've already talked about goal setting for community marketing overall. Now, let's talk about goal setting specifically related to Facebook. Take a look at the growth and members of other Facebook groups that are similar to yours.
Set goals and specific numbers for your potential growth in the first week, month, and year. How are you going to get there? How will you grow and get the word out about your Facebook group?
Starting now, write up your goals and your plan for reaching those goals. This is a huge part of your business. You have to be very firm and clear about your goals for community marketing and your Facebook group.
In part 2 of this discussion, tomorrow, I’ll go through the more technical details of actually setting up your group.