Facebook groups are powerful.
They’re a perfect place to start real conversations about things that matter to you.
And because your audience members are already on Facebook (Facebook addiction is a real thing, people), they are far more likely to engage with you and your brand in Facebook groups than they are on your blog.
With Facebook Live, you can now do live training right inside of your group.
You can also create original content that your members will actually see (unlike Facebook page posts).
Your members will look up to you as a leader, both for the valuable content you share, and for the relationships you help them forge.
And (possibly) best of all, Facebook sends people to your group organically – which means that you will grow your email list (and your customer base) everyday, just by having a valuable group.
Here’s how to get started:
Launching your Facebook group
1. Decide on the who, what, and why of your group
Starting a Facebook group is similar to starting a blog.
You want to know who it’s for, what you’re going to provide in the group, and why you’re starting one in the first place.
If you already have a handle on your ideal audience for your blog, that’s a great place to start when creating your group.
If not, think about who you love connecting with in real life. If you could fill a room with your favorite people, what would they have in common? Your group is kind of like a party that never ends, and you want the right people hanging out on the dance floor with you.
Also, keep in mind that your members must have a specific need in common. Otherwise, you will struggle to find ways to create engagement with them.
Next, think about what you will provide in the group.
What do your future members already need in their lives?
My group, Blogging on Your Own Terms (editors note: group is no longer live), provides bloggers with a place to share their posts, get advice, and connect with other people who “get it.” Because many bloggers don’t know anyone else who blogs in the “real world,” and because they always want a place to share their content, bloggers actively look for Facebook groups.
What need can you fill for your audience members? (Hint: If you don’t know, ask them.)
Finally, figure out your “why” for starting your group.
Is it to establish yourself as an authority? To connect with people similar to yourself? To have a place to sell your products or services?
Whatever the reason, get clear about it before starting your group. And know that running a Facebook group takes a lot of work. So make sure you’re really invested in it.
2. Start your group
Now comes the fun part: getting your Facebook group up and running.
First, go to the lefthand sidebar, and click, “Create Group.”
Facebook requires you to add at least one other person to the group. I suggest adding a close friend and then messaging them and letting them know what’s up.
Also, set it as a “Closed Group” so that you can regulate who comes in.
Use this formula to name your group:
A label that your members relate to + the type of community you are creating.
You can also name it based on your values, like Blogging on Your Own Terms or Uncaged Lifers.
Once you’ve come up with a name (you can always change it later), create a header for your group. The current dimensions are 801×250 pixels, but check out this post for updated sizes.
Put your photo in the header to immediately establish yourself as the leader. And don’t worry, just like your name, you can always change your header later if you want!
3. Create a description and a pinned post that sets expectations
In your description, include:
- Who you are
- What the group is for
- Who the group is for (and who it’s not for)
- Your rules and expectations
- Weekly events (if you’ve already decided on any)
When it comes to setting expectations, be deliberate. I’ve found that adults in Facebook groups are worse than 3rd graders with pushing boundaries. They will misuse the group as much as you let them.
If you don’t want promotions, put that in the group description. If you want people to share freely, let them know. Be as clear as you can in defining what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.
Also, create a pinned post where you welcome new members and invite them to introduce themselves.
My pinned post is “10 Things to do After Joining Blogging on Your Own Terms.” Other Facebook group leaders have created videos where they outline group expectations.
Whatever you choose to use for your pinned post, remember, it’s your best chance to welcome new members in and make them feel like part of the community.
4. Get the word out
Now that your group is up and ready to go, it’s time to actually find your new BFFs (aka group members) and bring them in.
Share about your group (where appropriate) in other Facebook groups. Email your list about it. Write a blog post about it. Add it to your social media profiles.
Do whatever you can think of to spread the word that you’ve launched a brand new fantastic Facebook group.
If you have Facebook friends whom you think would make ideal group members, reach out to them and ask them if you can add them to the group as well. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Your group is a valuable resource, and you want as many people to benefit from it as possible.
A note about having a small group:
I waited a long time to start my Facebook group because I was afraid of not having enough members in the beginning. Don’t let that hold you back. Small groups often feel more intimate and get more engagement.
5. Make a ‘red velvet rope’ for your group
Only allow legit members into your group.
I follow these rules when deciding whether to allow someone into my group:
1. They need to have a Facebook account that’s at least a month old. (After all, how many real people do you know who just joined Facebook?)
2. Their picture needs to be of a real looking person
3. If those two things look questionable, I go and look at their profile to see how many likes their recents posts have (the more the better) and what kind of things they post.
If someone seems questionable, don’t let them in. Or message them and check them out ahead of time. Your group quality is determined by the people inside, so make sure they’re not spammers.
6. Launch your group with an event
Create a free challenge that takes place inside your group.
When people join with a specific purpose and a guided format for engagement, they are much more responsive and ready to connect.
Creating engagement in your group
7. Rally some group leaders
It kind of sucks when you’re the only one posting in your Facebook group. That’s why it’s so important to recruit a few group members to get the ball rolling.
Reach out to a few members and ask them what they’re looking for in a Facebook group. If possible, get on the phone with them and have actual conversations. (Imagine that!)
Then invite them to become group leaders. Encourage them to ask questions and start conversations. When other members see that you’re not the only one in there, they will come out of the woodwork as well.
8. Host regular events
Regular events give your members a reason to jump into the group.
Events can include:
- Leader led conversation threads
- Opportunities for them to get their content out there (like social media sharing threads)
- Twitter chats
- Facebook Live Q&A sessions
- Free challenges
Bonus tips: Create a special graphic for each recurring event. That way your members can quickly find the graphic in the group photos. Plus, it will give your group a more professional look.
You could even take things further by displaying the events on your blog. If you use WordPress, check out this post on events management plugins by WP Superstars.
And, you could save time by using a social media scheduling tool to schedule posts about these events in advance.
9. Start conversations with fun and easy prompts
- Where do you live?
- Share a picture of your pet.
- Share a sticker showing how you’re feeling today.
- Fill in the blank questions (like “Fill in the blank. I wish I could _____ right now.”)
- Either or questions (like “Do you like coffee or tea?”)
Even if your prompts have nothing to do with the group topic, they will get your members talking and connecting.
Plus, these questions will give your group members a chance to get to know you better, which builds connection and trust with you and your brand.
Stand out as the leader, grow your email list, and get paying customers.
10. Set the example of how you want your members to engage
You are the leader of your group, so your members will take their cue from you.
If you ask a question, be sure to answer it yourself. If you want people to come forward and be vulnerable or share their stories in the group, be sure to model that behavior for them.
And if you want group members to show up everyday, make sure you are present in the group on a daily basis as well.
11. Create content specifically for your group
Every once in awhile, share a personal story on your group wall.
Share your struggles (which helps people relate to you) and your successes (which helps you stand out as an authority). And, if you have a good sense of humor, have at it with the funny stories, too.
Also, demonstrate your expertise by writing posts that help your members take action on their goals.
For example, if you create a group that helps people get organized, write a post with “The 3 first steps to getting your desk organized” and then ask people to share pictures of their desks below.
12. Get organic testimonials
What do you believe more, a company’s claims that they’re the best, or a 5 star Yelp rating?
For me, it’s the Yelp rating.
If you’re working with someone one on one and they tell you they’re loving it, gently request that they put a post about it in the group.
If you’re promoting an offering, reach out to past customers and ask them to write positive comments about your offering.
And then take screenshots of the comments to share in your emails to your list.
13. Create a landing page for members to “officially” join your group
Sure, anyone can join a Facebook group by clicking “Join” inside of Facebook, but your members won’t be official until they join your email list.
Create a landing page for your group that includes:
1. The name of your group
2. The benefits they get by joining
3. An “I Want In” button
Then put the link to your landing page in your group description and in your pinned post. Make it clear that they aren’t officially in unless they sign up on your email list.
14. Create webinars as events in your group
Another way to get group members to join your email list, and to demonstrate your expertise, is to give them a chance to sign up to attend a live webinar. By offering webinars once a month or so, you’ll collect many email addresses of people who neglected to officially join.
But you’re going to need some software to help you. Check out Blogging Wizard’s post on webinar software to learn more.
15. Tastefully sell your offerings
In your group description, you may want to include something like, “As a member of this group, you’ll be the first to learn about my new offerings.” That way, group members won’t be surprised when you occasionally sell something.
When you do sell, create multiple posts to be scheduled out using Hootsuite, Buffer or another social media tool. Your posts can each include a nugget of helpful content, or they can count down and let people know how much time they have left to buy your product.
Make sure to reach out to past purchasers to ask them to jump in and provide honest testimonials. This will not only add social proof to your launch, it will also move your post to the top of the group so that more people can see it.
Over to you
As you can see, Facebook groups are a natural way to build your authority and connect with your audience in real time.
And, if you do them right, they will also get you paying customers and grow your email list on a daily basis.