We all belong to at least one Facebook group, right? Whether you use them for marketing support, neighborhood swaps, parenting support … you name it, there’s a group for it. Mark Zuckerberg told everyone at F8 that Facebook is currently focusing on building both public and private communities online. They’re working at bringing Facebook groups to everyone’s attention, spending big ad dollars on national commercials (queue the tears), paying for advertising on Google, and back in April they redesigned their whole app to center around groups and events.
Facebook has also made it easier for any business page to create their own Facebook group. Why would you need a Facebook group when you already have a page you have to post on, messages to reply to, and comments to manage? Groups are a wonderful place for fan clubs to unite, feel included and heard, and can give your business a chance to interact with “super-fans”. For publishers, groups serve as a great place to test out new offers, ask for feedback, drive conversation, and interact with your community.
Before you run down the hall and tell your team it would be a great idea to make a Facebook group, let’s narrow down our approach a bit to make sure that it is a good idea for your brand. Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come. You want your group to be niche enough that you’re serving a need, but broad enough that you can come up in the search for target keywords on the groups discover page.
Start by brainstorming a list of ideas using the following sentence.
I want __[sub group of humans]___ to feel like they have a place to _______ and _______ about _______ in/around [your city/region].
Let’s brainstorm a few together, shall we?
I want [parents of 2-12 year olds] to feel like they have a place to [seek/share advice] and [find kid-friendly events and activities] in/around Dallas, TX.
I want [active humans] to feel like they have a place to [find pop-up workouts] and [share exercise routines] in/around Dallas, TX.
I want [people who enjoy Dallas nightlife] to feel like they have a place to [discuss places to hang out], [find upcoming events], and [find restaurant recommendations] in/around Dallas, TX.
Each of these groups is niche and can be attractive to a subgroup of your audience or even help you drive revenue off of a new audience. It’s crucial that we make sure that everything you do in the group is related to the defined topic. The user should always be able to count on you to provide content in that realm only. If you want to expand beyond that, make a new Facebook group. Facebook groups work because they are micro-focused on things that the user needs. Always serve your user first.
Now, we need to figure out what a successful group looks like. We’ve started a quick outline of questions that can help jumpstart your brainstorm session.
What are your business goals?
Drive traffic to your website
Warm audience to sell products to
Create a community
Why would someone join your group? What are you giving them they can’t find on Google or a blog?
When naming your group, you need to be aware of keywords, search volume, and other competing groups in your area. Use localized keywords and be specific as to the topic of your group. We’re going to call our group Dallas Parents: Advice, Events, and Support.
When you set up your group, you have an option to add tags. Tags help people understand what the group is about, but they also help people search for groups by topics that they’re interested in. A lot of these tags will be related to bigger pages that you can use for some clout. Be sure to vet the brand you’re aligning with just in case they’re leaning extreme in any direction.
After you’ve selected a name, make the right size cover photo to entice members to join. Be sure to include the name of your group and potentially some benefits parents should expect to receive by joining the group in the photo.
Don’t forget to link your group to your Facebook page and set the right location. We want the group to show up when people search, “parenting groups around me” or “Dallas parenting”.
The first thing you need to consider: Spam. Spam is the worst and everyone hates it. It’s in every comment on every YouTube page, Instagram photo, and even news articles. Don’t make group members bail because of spam. One option is to close your group, allowing you to approve any new members who request to join, thus reducing the number of spam accounts sneaking in.
When you have a barrier to entry, like a closed group, you can use this time to ask a few questions of the group members that are joining (and use for engagement later!) Questions can be open ended, checkboxes, or multiple choice.
What do you want to get out of this group?
What are you looking for in this group: community, solidarity, ideas, parenting hacks, mentorship?
At some point, you’re likely going to need someone to moderate and run your group. If you’re lucky and your group gets popular, you may even need a few moderators to keep the group from getting out of hand.
Outline clear rules for group participation and what topics are off-limits to the group. It would probably be best to avoid combustible topics like vaccinations or religion.
How will you deal with spam? Private groups have less spam, but if someone is spamming, send them a direct message and let them know that what they’re doing is against the group rules. If they continue to abuse the rules, you can remove them from the group.
How will you deal with racism or fighting in the comments?
It may require a heftier time investment on your part, but if you have the option, consider making it so that each and every post within the group is approved by an admin before it gets posted publicly.
Once you have your group set up, you’ll want to tell everyone in your database that has children that the group is available. You’re also going to want to announce it in your social channels and link to it on parenting articles on your website.
Once folks find their way there, it’s then your job to encourage interaction and participation inside the group. Your moderator will already have answers to group entry questions so you have some information to go off of as far as what content to post in the group. Side note: It’s okay for your group members to post content from other parenting websites, so just let that go already.
Here are a few ways that you can encourage interaction and participation:
Ask weekly questions that help you engage with your members.
Create polls and ask opinion on hot topics.
When new members join the group, welcome them by @ tagging their name and asking them to introduce themselves.
Create weekly themes for posts that people can look forward to. Example: ”Mom meme Mondays” where group members share all the hilarious memes they related to that week.
Free guides/downloadable PDFs that aren’t available anywhere else. Don’t know what to write? Ask your group.
Once your group really gets up and running, there’s going to be a lot of traffic from members commenting, asking for recommendations, participating in conversation, etc. So you can set up post topics to help group members find the information they're interested in. In a parenting group, we can segment topics based on the child’s age (0-2, 2-5, elementary school, middle school, and high school). There are also other hot topics we can tag that aren’t really segmented by age. Examples: Co-sleeping, breast feeding, etc.
A Facebook group is a great way to engage with your audience in a casual, but productive manner. It’s a way to truly get to know your audience. What do they care about? What excites them? What frustrates them? But remember, they are a lot of work to upkeep, moderate, and influence. They are a powerful force of community involvement that can benefit (but potentially tarnish) your brand. If you think a Facebook group is right for you, give it a shot. Dive in head first and if you run into any questions, we’re happy to be a sounding board. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.