As someone who ran an unauthorized 2gether fan site on Geocities for three glorious, hormone-fuelled months in 2001, I know first-hand the joy of bringing the community together online. Or, at the very least, the joy that comes with having upwards of five internet strangers sign our e-guestbook. (Were they all my brother trying to prank me? I don’t want to talk about it!!)
Today, though, with the power of Facebook groups for business, brands have an opportunity to build fan communities in a way that just wasn’t possible back then.
Sure, you might not have a neon pink visitor counter on the page like I did (jealous much?), but you do have access to Facebook’s 2.41 billion active monthly users and the tools there to build a thriving digital clubhouse. Seems like the perfect opportunity to bring people together… and build a great marketing platform while you’re at it.
Since Facebook changed its algorithm back in January 2018, the newsfeed has prioritized “posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions”— including posts from Facebook Groups for business.
Engagement breeds reach which breeds more engagement… and you want to get engaged, right? (And I don’t mean to a member of 2gether, Chad specifically).
It’s time to get your fan community started. Here’s how to promote your business and reap the benefits of Facebook group marketing.
Table of contents
Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to turn Facebook traffic into sales in four simple steps using Hootsuite.
What’s the difference between a Facebook page and a Facebook group?
Facebook pages serve the same purpose as your own personal profile: they’re a platform for broadcasting a point of view and creating an authentic, public presence with pictures and posts.
It’s like you’re planting a flag on the internet: We’re here, we sell craft beer (or some other product), get used to it!
Your business’ Facebook page is your official, public-facing Facebook identity. This is a place for business updates and practical information. It’s visible to anyone on the internet via search engines, and only official brand representatives can create one.
With a Facebook page for business, you can collect audience analytics, add a call to action or helpful apps and services. You can also like and comment on posts as a Facebook page, throwing those thumbs-up around on behalf of the business.
Facebook groups, on the other hand, are a place for your fans/customers/readers to come bond around how much they love you. This is a place for discussion, weird memes, rallying around common causes, learning about your product, getting access to exclusive knowledge, or falling in love with someone else who loves a company as much as you do.
You might start the group to encourage chatter, or a superfan might start their own. You can choose for groups to be public, private or secret (how VIP!). Either way, the focus here is on a loyal, authentic online community.
The bottom line? Pages are for broadcasting. Groups are for conversation. And your business should probably have both.
Benefits of Facebook groups for business
It’s a direct line to customers
The people in your Facebook group are likely your most loyal customers or fans. They’re spending their free time thinking and talking about your business on purpose. No one is making them participate (we hope).
You’ve got an opportunity here to tap into some real insights from the people who know your business best. Watch, learn, ask for feedback, and then actually use it.
You’ll build long-lasting relationships with customers
Here’s a hot fact: customers are loyal to companies that treat them well. Inviting fans to be part of a community and engaging with them directly and regularly shows you care, and builds invaluable loyalty and trust.
If you want to take your relationship with your customer to the next level , a Facebook group is a great way to get serious.
You’ll increase your organic reach
Facebook’s algorithm is designed to prioritize content from Facebook groups with high engagement. The more you and your group are posting and interacting, the further your reach in the newsfeed will be. You’ll be a star, baby! A star!
Facebook group types
There are three privacy settings to choose from for Facebook groups for business. Choose wisely. (Or don’t. You can always change it later.)
With a public Facebook group, anyone can see what members post or share. If they have a Facebook account, they can also see a list of members, admins and moderators.
On the plus side, you’ll be visible to all potential group members and customers and there’s no barrier to join the club. There’s also no need to manually admit every single new member to the group. That’s right: the metaphorical door is wide open. Come on in, world!
That being said, if anyone is allowed in your group then everyone is allowed in your group. Content can spiral out of control easily and be tricky to moderate, like a teenage house party gone wrong.
This page is affiliated with your business, remember, so keep a close watch on what’s going on if you choose this option. Like it or not, even a post from a stranger on your page will ultimately reflect on you.
Private and visible
Private Facebook groups still show up in searches, but potential members need to be manually accepted by the administrators. It’s like they’re knocking on that door, waiting to be let in.
Only current members can see who belongs to the group, and what they’re posting and sharing. (Anyone on Facebook, however, can see who the administrators and moderators are.) In short, it’s exclusive, but still accessible. How VIP!
Private-and-visible groups are a great option for businesses using Facebook groups. It’s searchable but still controlled, so no spambots can sneak it and ruin the fun for everyone else.
Private and hidden
Private and hidden Facebook groups (aka secret groups) don’t show up in searches at all. Spoooky!
You can find it, if you know where to find it.
Secret Facebook groups have the same privacy settings as private-and-visible groups (only current members can see posts and the membership list), but they’re hidden to the general public. That’s right: You’ve got to be personally invited to join, like a weird Yale frat.
If we’re still sticking with this door analogy (and we can all agree it’s too late to back out now), this is a speakeasy door hidden behind a telephone booth in a hot dog restaurant.
It’s a little more work to build and maintain your membership with manual invitations, but if you really want to keep things special, the secrecy could make the hassle worth it.
How to create a group on Facebook
Before you can fill your Facebook group with superfans, you should probably, you know, create the group. It’s a pretty straightforward process — even easier than adding an animated fire background to your homepage on Geocities in 2001. I believe in you!
How to create a Facebook group on a computer
How to create a Facebook group on an iPhone
How to create a Facebook group for business
If you’ve already created a group using the method above, you can just add your Facebook business page as an admin. If you’re starting from scratch, read on.
Your page can actually be the admin of up to 200 different groups, so once you get the hang of it, you could make a new group basically every day if you wanted.
To create a group with your Facebook page as the admin from your computer:
To create a group with your Facebook page as the admin from your phone (iPhone or Android):
And don’t forget secret power-user step number five: once your group is created, toss it onto your Hootsuite Dashboard for quick and easy posting and responding (especially if you’re managing more than one group)
How to post in a Facebook group
You’ve got a group! You’ve got an audience! Time to post! No one can stop you!
To post to Facebook group on a computer:
To post to Facebook group on mobile (iPhone or Android):
Or just head over to your Hootsuite dashboard and create and schedule your post from there! You can even bulk-schedule posts if you’re planning ahead. Check out this step-by-step video for a how-to.
Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to turn Facebook traffic into sales in four simple steps using Hootsuite.
How to use Facebook groups for business
On the surface, your Facebook group might seem like a social club, but the reality is, it’s a killer business tool.
Customers might be chatting away and forming friendships to last a lifetime. You’ll be busy reaping the benefits of having all your top fans in one place.
As a customer support community
When a customer is looking for support and help here, you can be the hero by hopping in and addressing the problem… and announcing the answer to the rest of the community in the process. Information for all!
If your customers are really nice, they might even help each other solve problems.
As a learning and engagement tool
Facebook groups have a couple of underused features that can add some serious value to your group: the social learning and watch party applications. Maybe it’s a digital course on how to give yourself a manicure, or maybe you’re hosting a live stream of an interview with the world’s top nail artist (Cardi B’s manicurist, obviously).
Either way, this sort of content encourages activity and repeat visits to your page.
As a feedback forum
Not only can you use social listening to figure out what matters most to your audience, you’ve got a built-in focus group here. Want to know how customers feel about a new or upcoming product feature? Just ask!
As a place to find insights
You’ll find analytics on membership, growth and engagement that will offer valuable insights into your fans. Where are they from? When is a popular time to post? How many active members are there?
As a place for fans to connect with each other
Okay, so the new BFFs bonding over your brand are actually great for your business. These positive feelings that come from human connection can trickle over into feelings of goodwill for your brand, and build an active community that draws in newcomers.
As a revenue stream
This group is meant to be a party, not a sales pitch, so I’m not saying you should be pushing promos every day. But there is an opportunity here to provide value to your loyal followers and make a little cash.
Offer access to the group as an incentive to make a purchase (like this Simply Beautiful subscription box does), or provide exclusive, members-only deals to followers. This is a great place to share any last-minute offers or flash sales.
The key is to make sure the opportunity is as valuable to your fans as it is to you.
10 best practices for Facebook group marketing
Create a clear code of conduct
If you want your group to be a civilized clubhouse and not the wild west, setting some rules is a good place to start.
In the “moderate group” settings, you can set up to 10 rules. Whether it’s about behaviour (“Be respectful”) or terms of service (“You have access to this Toaster Fan Club group until the warranty on your toaster expires”), this is a chance to make sure everyone’s on the same page about expectations.
Post regular welcome messages
Ideally, newcomers are going to be flooding into your group on the reg. To make sure key information doesn’t get lost in the fray, check in with a welcome post every so often. This is a chance to reiterate expectations, point new users to the rules or resources and reassure the rest of the gang that you’re actively involved.
Engage consistently—but not too much
That being said, this is really a space for fans to connect and engage. If they’re a naturally chatty bunch, let the masses dictate where the conversation is going. Ideally, you’re a benevolent leader who chimes in with support or wisdom when needed, or sparks a juicy debate with an occasional open-ended question.
Posting within the guidelines of a consistent content calendar can help — encouraging members to do a little self-promotion on Shameless Saturdays, for example. Find some more simple tips for increasing your Facebook engagement over here.
Schedule posts for peak times
Your Facebook page and group insights can pinpoint the best times to post for your specific audience so they’ll actually see (and engage with!) your great content. Or, use Hootsuite Analytics to test and benchmark peak times.
Keep the content of your page and group unique
There’s likely going to be some overlap between your page followers and your group members, so make sure you’re offering something special for each experience — no cross-posting allowed.
You might announce a new product on your page with a video, but over in the group the same day, kickstart a conversation about most anticipated new features. Give people something different in each space: a reason to follow both accounts.
Keep out bots and trolls with a questionnaire
For private-and-visible or secret groups, you’ll have the opportunity to set up a mini application form for members. It doesn’t have to include brain-busting questions — something as simple as “What’s your favourite Gogurt flavour?” will do — but it’s an opportunity to filter out spam bots and trolls.
Edit down your membership list as needed
Got a troublemaker in your group? If someone is breaking your rules, spamming discussions, or abusing other members, they’ve gotta go.
Luckily, you made a code of conduct all the way back at the beginning of this list, so you’ve got a clear reason to give someone the boot.
Give ‘em something special
Exclusive content gives members a reason to be engaged and check in regularly. That could be a Q&A or AMA or, in non-pandemic times (remember those?), invites to offline events or networking opportunities. Check out these other Facebook marketing tips for further inspiration.
Invite members from other platforms
If you’ve got fans hanging out in other corners of the internet — Twitter, email, your 2001 Georcities e-guestbook, wherever — invite them to come join the fun, too, by sharing a link to your group.
Don’t just set it and forget it
For your group to thrive, it needs regular attention. It’s basically a Tamagotchi.
You’ll want to check in frequently to answer questions, add members, delete spam or moderate flagged content. I’ll be honest: it can take some work. (Like! A! Tamagotchi!) But you don’t necessarily have to keep watch alone. Assign a colleague or trustworthy superfan a role as admin or moderator to lighten the load.
Source: Tamagotchi Collectors
Your fans have a place to hang out and connect with like-minded souls; you’ve got a loyal audience all in one place. It’s official: your Facebook Group might just be the happiest place on the internet… at least until I resurrect my 2gether fan site. (Check your notifications for my invite!)
Easily manage your Facebook groups using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule posts, share video, engage with followers, and measure the impact of your efforts—all from the same platform as your other social channels. Try it today.
About the Author
This content was originally published here.