Facebook maxes out profile friends at 5,000, so many people turned to Facebook Pages to engage with their market and promote their business. However, there are some shortfalls to a Facebook Page, including:
- Your Facebook page posts don’t reach all your “Fans.” Instead, Facebook wants you to “boost” your post by paying for a Facebook ad to have your post reach more of the people who “liked” your page.
- It’s more difficult for your market to engage with each other and for you to create a community around your brand.
The solution is to start a Facebook group where you can:
- Increase your markets’ accessibility to you
- Have greater engagement with your market so you can build rapport and trust
- Offer special perks just to group members to help them feel special
- Give opportunities for engagement among members so you can build a community around your brand.
There are a few downsides to using Facebook to build a community around your brand, including:
- You don’t own the Facebook platform, so you’re at the mercy of any changes Facebook makes to group use.
- They’re not very organized. Lots of great interactions get lost as new items are posted. Using “Topics” can help with this.
- While you may have members that become active, you’re in charge of keeping the group lively and as a place that adds value, so you need a social media plan to encourage engagement, which takes time.
Types of Facebook Groups You Can Use in Your Home Business
There are a variety of ways you can use a Facebook group in your home business.
- Brand Ambassador program: You can use a private Facebook group to manage communications with your most loyal customers/clients. It can be a place to offer them special behind the scenes glimpses to your business and discounts on your products or services. Since brand ambassadors also help you built buzz about your business, you can provide them with content about your business for them to share on other social media networks. For example, many authors use Facebook groups to run their street teams, providing Facebook posts or Tweets for their members to share about their books.
- Private group for customers/clients: You can offer access to you and additional support to your customers and clients through a private group, where people can ask you questions, get additional training or tips, and interact with your other customers. Many entrepreneurs that sell online courses provide a private Facebook group as an additional perk of taking the course.
- Open Group for General Discussion: While brand ambassador and customer-only groups are for a small segment of your market, an open group based around your topic is a great way to lure people to learn about you and your business, as well as become a part of a community.
There’s no rule that says you can have only one group, so you can have all three, if you have the time to manage them all. For example, you may have an open group that leads someone to buy and become a part of your private group. From there, they may become a big fan, and want to become a brand ambassador.
How to Use a Facebook Group in Your Home Business
The important thing to remember is that people don’t like to be sold all the time. They don’t want to join a group in which all you do is try to get them buy your stuff or read your blog posts. Think of a Facebook group as a party. While it might be your party, you don’t want to make every conversation about you. Instead, you want to encourage discussion around your niche. Here’s some tips on how to do that:
- Keep members informed of current trends and news in your industry: Today, being considered someone with “influence” is a large part of success. You build influence by having followers, but you get followers by being the go-to person for information. So, not only do you want to share news going on in your business, but also, in your industry.
- Promote discussion about topics in your business and industry: This is where you can really build a sense of community around your business. Ask people to post pictures of them using your products or encourage them to share about their experiences related to your industry. For example, if you have a business in health and wellness, people can share their goals, successes, recipes, exercise regime, challenges, etc. They can ask questions that not only you can answer, but other members as well.
- Ask questions and get feedback from members: The best businesses keep their focus on providing their customers and clients with what they want and need. But you can’t guess at what that is. Through a group you can ask your members specific questions about your business, and/or questions in general about their needs around what you offer. For example, you can ask for feedback on ease of use of your website, as well as their greatest challenges related to what you offer. When you go to make a post, you have the option to run a poll or ask for recommendations.
- Behind the scenes views: Share pictures of your office, an event you’re at or a video of you at work.
- Do Facebook Live videos: This is an awesome way to do Q&A, share a tip or tutorial, or show your community what you’re up to.
- Host and Promote events: Events are a great way to launch a new product or simply to have a thank you party for your followers. You can offer freebies, run a contest, and have a fun time with your market. Many authors run online events through Facebook for their book launches.
- Sell your products or services: Under the “More” menu on a Facebook Group post, you can choose to sell something. While you don’t want to overuse this feature, if you have a new product or special offer, it can be a great way to introduce it your market. Other options under the “More” menu on posts are to add a file, start a photo album (ideal if you have live events), create a doc, post a job, and create an event.
- Provide customer service: Although not the best option for customer service, you can use a Facebook group to provide support to people who are having trouble using your product or service.
How to Start a Facebook Group
If you already have a Facebook Page, chances are Facebook is asking you if you’d like to have a group to go along with it. You can start a group easily following these steps.
- Go to your Facebook Page and click on the More menu icon at the far right under your cover photo. Choose Create Group. If you don’t have a page, use the arrow down (upside down triangle) at the very top right of the Facebook menu bar, and select Create Group.
- Name your group. While your name can be included, you should also indicate your topic or niche.
- Set the privacy level of your group. You have three options:
- Public: Posts can be seen by anyone and everyone on Facebook. The group will appear in search.
- Closed Group: Posts are only visible to people in the group. The group will appear in search (but not the posts), and members need to be approved to join.
- Secret Group: The most private setting, a secret group’s posts are only seen by members, and the group itself does not appear in searches. Members need to be approved.
- For groups that require approval before members can join, you can ask them to answer certain questions. Under the More menu, click on Manage Group, and then Member Requests. On the right-hand side of that page, you’ll see Ask Pending Member Questions. If you have concerns about etiquette or spamming, this can be a place to make sure new members have read and agree to the rules.
- Complete your group profile. Add your group cover and picture. For help, you can use Canva to create your Facebook cover. Also fill in the description and tags for your group. You can add location as well.
- Create rules, if you think you’ll need them. You’d be surprised how even benign topics can get heated. Under the More menu, click on Manage Group, and then Create Rules. Facebook gives you some that you can just click to use. You can add your own rules as well.
- Add topics for posts. This is optional, but because groups can be difficult to find information in, you can categorize your posts by topics. For example, if you’re in the health and wellness market, you can great topics around diet and exercise.
- Create a rules and/or terms post and pin to the top of your feed. This is also optional, but it’s a reminder of the rules and guidelines of the group.
- Invite friends to join your group. If your group is for people who buy from you, you can skip this step and simply email your clients, customers, and add the group URL to your website’s member page. Many people get annoyed at being added to groups or getting spammed messages through Facebook. So, take the time to go through your “friends” list and find people who are interested in your group topic and/or are willing to support you. Consider adding a customized note, they feel you’re inviting them specifically.
Once your group is up and running, begin posting content that gets your members engaged, like asking questions or taking a poll. Be sure to monitor the group and take appropriate action towards trolls or rude members.