Most of the articles you’ll read about Facebook marketing discuss how to increase engagement, traffic and sales via a business Page. While we don’t have current data on the number of businesses that have a Facebook Page, we do know that around 80% of marketers are active on the platform.
The problem, of course, is that most business owners struggle with maintaining an active and engaged presence via their Page; not to mention the obvious issue of decreased reach due to the so-called Filtered Feed Problem. While there are certainly ways of growing your fan base and increasing fan engagement (I’m not suggesting these aren’t important), there is one tool that most business owners have been neglecting: Facebook groups.
A Brief History of Facebook Groups
You may recall that in the old days (pre-2009), businesses typically used Facebook in one of two ways: either via their personal page (a practice which was later declared ‘against the guidelines’) or through a Facebook group. The groups functioned much like the ones we have now, with the added benefit that admins could private message members; giving them a strong “one to all” voice within the group. This is not a feature of today’s Facebook groups.
In May 2009, Facebook introduced business Pages, which would allow business owners to consolidate their presence on the platform — no more groups, no more personal profiles for business use. The vast majority of business owners switched over to using a business Page, and in 2010 Facebook re-launched Facebook groups. These new groups, however, were intended largely as a way to connect with real-life friends and families.
And this is how the situation remains today. The vast majority of businesses have a Facebook Page rather than a group. Pages give business owners a stronger voice with their audience as only Page admins can broadcast posts.
Groups, on the other hand, are intended as a way to discuss shared interests and encourage conversation among members. For this reason, groups can be an extremely powerful way to connect with your audience and drive traffic to your site. Here are 5 strategies you can use to make the most of groups for business.
1. Create an interest-based group
When creating a group, it’s important that it’s focused on an interest, not on your business. People don’t join groups to be marketed to; they join groups to participate in interesting discussions related to a specific problem or interest.
Create a group that welcomes conversation and questions about anything related to your industry or niche. Here are a few examples:
· A general contractor could start a group where members can discuss DIY projects or ask for advice on home renovations
· A web designer could create a group where business owners discuss the latest trends in design or can come to troubleshoot website issues
· A massage therapist could create a group centered on relaxation techniques and reducing stress.
The key is that your group cannot be based on your business. While big brands may be able to get away with it, small to medium-sized ones shouldn’t rely on this strategy. Remember to use relevant keywords — not your business name — in your group title to attract users searching for niche communities on Facebook.
2. Promote a free offer
While the purpose of your group will primarily be to generate discussion among your target market, there is a way you can offer value to your members while also driving traffic and building your list: promote a free offer via a pinned post.
Facebook groups allow admins to pin a post to the top of the group to maximize its visibility. While pinned posts aren’t as obvious to mobile users (they see a link to the pinned post, but not the post itself), they’re still a great way to get your post seen by as many members as possible.
If you offer a free info product like an eBook, report or webinar, create and pin a group post with a link to the opt-in page. Given that promotional Page posts are now receiving less visibility in Newsfeed, these group posts can be a great alternative.
3. Test and curate content
A Facebook group is a great place to find new content ideas for your blog, email and social media posts. When you post something to your Page that ends up getting minimal interaction, it can damage the visibility and reach of future posts. By testing posts in your groups, you can first see how much engagement they get without risking damage to your Page reach.
Groups are also a great way to find other people’s content that resonates with your audience. Keep an eye on which types of posts or images do well in the group, and then share these on your Page.
4. Create a group centered around an event
The next time you offer a webinar or training series, consider creating a group for your participants. It can be a place for members to interact with each other pre and post-event, and can even function as a bonus feature included in the event fee (“Join today and receive free access to our Facebook group”).
5. Provide stellar customer service
Facebook users expect great social customer care; after all, customer service is why many people ‘like’ a Page in the first place. And offering great social care can have a big impact on your brand’s reputation: 71% of users who have a positive social care experience are likely to recommend a business to their friends or family members.
Having a dedicated group for customer service queries can help you provide more responsive customer care, and can offload some of the strain from your Page. Promote your group to your fans, subscribers and website visitors as a way to receive more personalized help and support.
Contrary to what many business owners think, you don’t have to choose between a Facebook Page and a group. When used together, they can help you build an even stronger presence and can increase engagement and traffic to your site. For more insights on social media marketing, grab my eBook, The Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing.
Do you have a Facebook group? How do you use it to increase traffic and engagement? Share below!