Want more social media tips? Check out How to Create a Freakin’ Fabulous Social Media Strategy.
When people talk about using Facebook for promotional and engagement, they usually focus on building a page.
But pages aren’t the only way to galvanize your community. Here’s another incredibly effective yet under-utilized way to grow a following and share your message: creating a Facebook group. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it.)
Why are groups so great? Because they tend to have higher engagement “” and we all know that when it comes to social media, quality is more important than quantity. Groups also tend to work better for smaller communities (say, less than a thousand), while pages work well for huge followings.
One smart way to succeed with a Facebook group is by creating it around a topic, rather than directly around your product or brand. Because people are more likely to want to talk about a topic they’re interested in than your brand. That means the conversation revolves around them, rather than you. And conversation is what makes social media go ï¿½round.
Plus, creating a group is a form of offering free information, which helps your readers get to know and trust you. It shows you’re an authority in your field, and it makes you and your expertise more visible.
Case study #1 “” The first group I created was for Travel Memoir Writers. Admittedly, I didn’t do this with any intention of promoting myself; I created it with the hope of building a community of writers working on travel memoirs, so we could exchange information, advice and support.
But the group ends up being an indirect way of promoting my brand. Since I created the group “” and have to approve people who want to join “” participants usually learn a bit about my site in the process of joining, which leads to more clicks on my blog and more readers.
Plus, when my travel memoir about backpacking through Africa hits shelves, I’ll have a large group (more than 200 members now!) of people who care about travel writing who hopefully will consider purchasing the book and spreading the word about it. In other words, cultivating this group now is an investment in my own brand, my network and my future.
Case study #2 “” I also created a group for people who have purchased my social media consulting guide. This is a place for new and soon-to-be consultants to ask questions, share successes and talk about whatever challenges they face, so their peers can offer insight and advice. The conversation ranges from the tactical to more big-picture topics, like how to land clients.
The group is relatively small “” about 90 members so far (not everyone who buys the guide joins the group) “” but it’s also targeted; every member of the group has a personal stake in social media consulting. I make an effort to stop by and answer any questions, but as the group grows, my role becomes less important, which is nice because it means less effort on my part. And while I created this group as a resource, it also ends up being an avenue for me to let buyers know about new products, especially when I launch guides and courses in the social media space.
If you’re looking to make some money by selling ebooks or other digital products, take note of this one: creating a group is a great way to offer added value to your product.
Example #3 “” Check out Pat Flynn’s group on publishing his first Kindle book. This is a brilliant (and fun!) idea for authors. When the time comes to publish my travel memoir, whether via a traditional publisher or self-publishing, I’ll probably create a group just like this of supporters who want to be in-the-know about the details of the process, so you can learn lessons to put toward your own publishing journey.
Example #4 “” To offer one more example that might interest you, I’m pretty impressed by Carrie Smith’s Careful Cents Freelancers Club. When I told her that was a great idea for a group, she said she got the idea from my Make Your Own Luck course, which made me happy.
Example #5 “” Most of the examples above are fairly large groups, but I also use a Facebook group to communicate with my Socialexis team, a handful of go-getters who help me with client work, research, product creation and more. I love being able to share successes and opportunities with my small team without having to send an email.
If you end up creating your own group, here’s a quick yet super useful tip.
Know how you can create a vanity URL for Facebook pages? That’s a URL that includes the name of your page rather than random numbers and letters. You can do the same for groups, which makes it easier both to remember the URL and identify which group it belongs to.
Creating a vanity URL for a group is NOT intuitive though, which is probably why a lot of people don’t bother. Here’s how to do it: Go to the Settings icon, then Edit Group Settings, and Create a Group Address. When you do, a vanity URL will automatically be created, too.
Oh, and if you’re not up for creating a group but want to use groups to your advantage, you can also join groups that are already out there. You’ll find some via Facebook’s search, but asking your friends on Twitter and Facebook about their favorite groups on certain topics might warrant better results.
Beware, when you first join, Facebook will assume you want a zillion emails and notifications about what’s going on in that group. If you want to monitor it closely, that might be appealing. But if it becomes a total pain in the rear, you can tweak your notification settings on the top right side of the group page.
Got a favorite Facebook group? Share the link in the comments!
For more social media tips: How to Create a Freakin’ Fabulous Social Media Strategy.