You already know that these days, you need to get creative on social media if you want to move the needle. Organic reach is virtually nonexistent. Facebook ads work but are getting more competitive, and the learning curve is pretty steep. What can you do to get ahead in the game? You can create and nourish a private Facebook group — that’s what!
Wait a Second — What’s a Facebook Group?
We’re so glad you asked.
According to Facebook itself, groups are…
“… the place for small group communication and for people to share their common interests and express their opinion. Groups allow people to come together around a common cause, issue or activity to organize, express objectives, discuss issues, post photos and share related content.”
Facebook groups can be public, private (meaning someone needs to approve new member requests), or secret (read: invite-only). Just like the posts of friends, family members, and pages you like, posts in groups that you’re a member of will show up in your feed.
As an example, I like the business Facebook page of an athletic brand that sells apparel, gear, equipment, and other accessories. They have a private Facebook group for “insiders” only, where they offer early announcements of new products, breaking news, and other exciting updates. Their insiders are the people to hear it all first.
It’s also a much smaller environment — a couple of hundred people as opposed to the business page’s 200,000+ fans.
And because you can actually link your group to your main business page, the brand is able to send traffic back and forth between the two.
Here’s another example: eClincher’s group!
A Facebook group should not be used in place of a business/fan page, nor should the two be compared. They exist for different reasons. Let’s talk about that next.
Groups Are *Not* the Same as Facebook Pages
Pages represent a whole entity — a business, a prominent figure, etc. Anyone can “like” a business’s Facebook page. They’re open to the public and exist largely to increase brand awareness, boost engagement, and drive traffic. Pages allow customers the opportunity to leave reviews. Having a page also allows you to advertise, which can be incredibly profitable for your brand.
In general, you should view pages as sort of the top of the “funnel.” Everyone can access them.
As you now know, this is not what a Facebook group is. It’s much more exclusive and specific.
Why Your Business Needs a Facebook Group
As organic traffic has continued to plummet, businesses have started to rely more heavily on groups — and for a few good reasons.
Groups Offer Far More Precise Targeting
The most current information from Statista tells us that Facebook has roughly 2.45 billion monthly active users. It’s exciting for brands to know that they have the potential to reach such a monstrous group of people. On the flip side, though, this gigantic pool of people simultaneously makes it harder to form genuine connections with individuals.
That’s where your Facebook group will come in.
Groups are more targeted than pages. People belonging to the “insiders” group of the athletic brand I mentioned earlier are especially interested in the brand and fitness, in general. This business knows that these are highly targeted Facebook users. They’re going to be more active in the community and, importantly, are likelier to purchase from this brand.
We’ve talked about Facebook targeting before in terms of advertising. Much of the same rings true for groups. More precise targeting means higher engagement and better conversions. You’re not connecting with people who look at your industry and say, “Meh.” They’re people who look at it and go, “Hell yeah!”
Also, bear in mind that especially in the present time, Facebook’s top priority is connecting like-minded people. That’s why in one of their algorithm changes, businesses’ posts got put on the back burner in favor of posts from friends and family. In many ways, groups are more like friends and family than business pages, meaning they are often more visible than business pages’ posts!
Precise targeting is king. Groups are an efficient and productive use of your time, money, and resources.
You Can Do More With Facebook Group Members Than Page Fans
This is really important, so listen up.
One of the downsides of social media is that you don’t own it. Your Facebook fans aren’t really yours. They’re Facebook’s. Should something happen to your page (for whatever reason), you lose everything.
Now, the odds of this happening are slim to none, as long as you’re not doing anything that the platform doesn’t allow. But the point is that when you’re growing your brand, you want to have ownership of as much of it as you possibly can.
Once again, your Facebook group will come to the rescue here.
Because groups are more exclusive and targeted with higher engagement and activity, these relationships are going to be much deeper and more authentic. These are true and loyal fans who will follow you anywhere. Groups are one of the best opportunities you’ll have to get targeted audience members off of social media and onto your mailing list.
We’ll say it again: Use your Facebook group to grow your email list!
This is going to be a lot more challenging with your regular public business page. It’s not as targeted and your organic traffic and engagement very likely aren’t as high. Ask these people for their email address and you’ll probably hear crickets.
With your group, on the other hand, people are much more in-tune with what you’re saying and what’s going on. Ask them to join your mailing list or offer a lead magnet that they can opt into, and we’re willing to bet you’re going to see better results.
We don’t want to delve too deeply into email marketing since that isn’t the focus of this blog. But we do want to offer you some tips for how you can really leverage your Facebook group and make the most of it.
How to Use Your Facebook Group for Maximum Results
1. Give Members Something Your Page Fans Don’t Get
As we’ve already discussed, pages and groups are not the same thing and should not be treated as such. One big reason for this is that people would have no reason to follow both a page and a group that basically distribute the same content.
Thus, you need to give people a reason to want to be a part of your exclusive Facebook group.
Think of the athletic apparel group I’m a member of. We’re the first to know about upcoming sales and new product line releases. We get access to locked content and discounts that others don’t. We also get to communicate directly with people on the team behind the brand, which is especially cool.
This gives me more than enough reason to want to be a part of this group, in addition to being a fan of their main business page.
2. Highlight User-Generated Content
You should be encouraging user-generated content (UGC) across all of your platforms in general. However, your Facebook group is a prime opportunity to get it.
UGC is essentially free advertising for you, as well as a chance for your members to be featured on your social media channels. Audience members love that kind of recognition and acknowledgment. It shows them that you really see and appreciate them.
Ask your group members to publicly share pictures featuring your products and tag you in them, along with using a branded hashtag, if you have one (which you should!). You can then re-post these images to your own channels and thank the person who originally posted them. It’s content you didn’t have to create yourself, and it’s also someone vouching for your brand. Plus, you make your followers happy when you give them a shout-out. Win-win.
3. Listen to Their Feedback and Really *Learn* From Them
Some brands spend millions of dollars on audience feedback and market research. Thanks to your Facebook group, you can get it for free.
We encourage you to listen to what people are saying about your brand on social media, in general. But groups, in particular, are a terrific opportunity to tune into their opinions and really meditate on them.
In fact, you should actively ask your group members for their thoughts, opinions, ideas, and feedback. It’s safe to assume that they know your brand better than your general fan page population. Their feedback will likely prove to be very valuable and insightful.
Plus, they’ll appreciate that you care about their thoughts, want to hear them, and plan to act on them. Everybody wins.
4. Get Them on Your Mailing List!
We talked about this earlier but want to offer some concrete tips.
There is a number of ways to get your group members on your mailing list. We already mentioned one. Create a lead magnet that users can opt into using a form on your website. Once they provide their email address, they’ll receive the lead magnet by email — and automatically become a subscriber to your list.
You can also do this with contests and giveaways. Lead magnets, contests, and giveaways can all be available exclusively to group members only, or they could just have first dibs.
5. Use Your Group to Consistently Acquire New Online Reviews
Like your public channels, you should regularly ask your group members to take a moment to review you online — whether it’s on Facebook, Google My Business, Yelp, or another platform. Note: Do this conservatively — maybe once a week.
Facebook Group Best Practices: 3 Quick Tips
Before we close out, here are three gentle reminders about how to manage and moderate your group.
Promote Your Brand Modestly
You probably already know that hard selling doesn’t work. This especially rings true for your group. Focus on providing real value and offering things members won’t get elsewhere. You can still sprinkle in promotional posts, but be conservative with how often this happens.
Approve All Member Posts Before They Go Live
Your group settings allow people to freely post, and posts will automatically show up on the group’s wall. Or you can change the settings so that you have to approve everything first. Go with the latter of the two! You will undoubtedly have people wanting to post spam, sell their own goods, or otherwise share things totally unrelated.
Respond to Every Single Comment
Yes, every single one! This is the best practice for your regular page, and the same goes for your group page, too. Even if someone complains or says something negative, don’t race to delete the comment and ban them. If appropriate, respond to them. Have a real conversation. You might very well resolve whatever the issue was. Happy customer, happy brand!