5 Tips to Create a Thriving Business Facebook Group
This article was written by Andrea York, Founder of Catch the Fire Worship Flags
Facebook groups for business…ewwww, right? I mean, they’re exactly like Facebook business pages and we all know Facebook pages are super salesy so who wants to join a group to be told again and again, “Buy my product! Buy my product!”
I definitely don’t, but I have a business and we all know if you want a small business to thrive, it’s got to be on social media. So what do you do? How do you make it interesting, relevant, and get to people to engage?
Jesus said, “Do to others as you’d want them to do to you.” This same wisdom applies to Facebook groups, too; create a group for other that you’d want other to create for you.
There are a lot of different ways to make business Facebook groups successful. Some groups are for content and information, some groups are for feedback and accountability and other groups (like mine) are to create community, and brand loyalty through community.
To help you create a fantastic Facebook group, I’m giving you 5 easy tips to start implementing right away and 1 tip of what NOT to do.
Tip #1: Welcome new members by name
Right out of the gate, I’m giving you the best tip. If you stop reading right now and do only this one thing, you will have significantly higher member engagement and [even more importantly] increased enjoyment.
We love hearing our names. There’s isn’t a person alive who doesn’t respond when their name is called. Every. Single. Person. If you’re smart (and I know you are), you already address your email list by their first name. Why do you do it? Because you know it helps a person feel connected to you.
The same is true for Facebook groups. After you’ve accepted a member, immediately welcome the newest member and tag* them in the group. This is your opportunity to say how happy you are they joined your group, and direct the new member to whatever information you want them to know. And, (this is important), ask an open-ended question. For added engagement, encourage current members help you welcome the new member.
For example, this is typical of my welcome message:
Come on friends, let’s welcome Andrea York! We are thrilled you joined our community. I know you’ll find it to be one of the most encouraging and supportive groups on Facebook.
Please take a moment to review our About page where you’ll find more information about what to expect here and then jump into any discussion, or start your own. We have a weekly thread where you are encouraged to participate.
We want to get to know you as well. Please tell us… (this is where I ask new members an open ended question relating to my business).
*Not sure how to tag someone? Use @ and then type their name. For example, @Andrea York; by the time you’ve typed out @andr you will probably start to see a list of relevant names. Click the name you want, and voila!, you’ve tagged them in the post.
Tip #2: Use a personal tidbit about them in a comment
Okay, I know you’re thinking that’s weird because even though we all peek at people’s profile, no one will admit they do it. Well, don’t poo-poo the idea because it works for engagement.
I came across this tip by accident, and after I realized how effective it is, I started using it a lot more.
My group is closed (I highly recommend closed groups, it helps keep out weirdos). I have clarifying questions, but there are some people who want to join every group on Facebook. You’re making a face, aren’t you? I know, because that’s super weird. You and me, we try to avoid irrelevant groups but there are some people who aren’t as cool as us. (*wink) I have a specialized group, so I try to weed out the people who won’t be a good fit. I can usually tell from their profile, but if I see an interesting tidbit of information, such as where they live or something I’ve noticed in their profile photo, I’ll make a comment about it.
Hey Andrea York, I peeked at your profile and I noticed you’re from Vancouver. That’s cool; I had a ski holiday near Vancouver, in Whistler, last year; do you ski in Whistler, too?
Tip #2 ½: Tag two members and start a conversation
There are so many ways to do this, but it definitely helps if you pay attention to the members in your group. If you’ve already followed tips 1 and 2, you already know their name and a personal detail, so it should be easy.
As I said earlier, the goal of my group is to create brand loyalty through engaging community. That means I want members talking to each other, not only responding to me. But, as in real life, conversation doesn’t come easy to everyone, and sometimes you need to help it along.
Let me give you another example of what I do, which seems to work:
Hey Andrea! Welcome to the group. I totally peeked at your profile and it looks like you have a new puppy. Jackie is a total dog lover and has 2 dogs. Jackie, what advice do you have do you have for Andrea to help her through the puppy stage?
Since I’ve asked a direct question to Jackie, it’s unlikely she will ignore me and the new member. So far, I’ve had 100% engagement when I’ve tagged two members.
Tip #3: Host a Contest
Gifts are my love language; I love giving stuff away and I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like receiving gifts so it’s a win-win already. But, the benefits don’t stop there.
What’s a better advertisement for your product-based business than photos or videos of other people using it? The answer? Nothing is better advertisement than real people using your product. I created a contest shortly after I opened the group because I wanted to fill the feed with posts from members. I wanted to people to see it was a group for the people, by the people.
I advertised it in the group, on my Facebook page, and on my Instagram which caused the group to grow. To enter for a chance to win, they had to join the group, and post a photo or video of themselves using my product – that’s it. I had 24 entries, which you might not think is a lot, but I considered it wildly successful. My goal was to increase engagement. The entries fill the newsfeed with photos and videos; 24 photo posts make it look like a very full and busy group. It was awesome.
I commented on each post and members starting commenting on each other’s posts, saying things like, “Oh, I want those, too.” The contest created activity, and the group experienced a comment dominoes effect. Facebook algorithms loves those, and it was all completely organic activity.
My sales were boosted as well. The member product photos and videos increased sales of those items by 400% for the two weeks following the contest. Even now, after the contest is over, members regularly post photos and videos because we set a precedent early on.
Tip #4: Invite the most active members to become moderators
Let’s face it; good engagement requires a lot of effort and time. The goal is to have members engage with each other but it doesn’t start out that way. You have to show up and be involved. Remember Jesus’ command? Do to others as you’d want others to do to you; or as I say it, create the group for others that you want others to create for you. If you don’t want to be in it, why would anyone else?
After a few weeks, I noticed a few regular contributors. They commented on everything and I could tell they were really loyal to my brand already. So I invited them to participate as ‘Official Greeters’.
If you’re wondering how to extend the invitation, I’ll share with you what I did. I said:
Hey Jackie, you’ve been so welcoming to the new members in our group. You have a wonderful gift of hospitality. I’d like to invite you to make it official and become an Official Greeter and help me accept and welcome members.”
After they agreed, I communicated to them about our group’s value for making it a welcoming and supportive community and asked them to use tip #1 (welcome each new member by name). Welcoming new members by name is doable if you have 5-10 a week but it becomes harder to do as your Facebook group gain more and more momentum and lots of people want to join so it’s good to think ahead to automation.
Tip #5: Take advantage of the Scheduler
You’re probably familiar with groups that have a regular daily or weekly thread. It works to encourage engagement and you should have at least one weekly thread. It’s easy to set it up in the scheduler so you can set it up weeks or months ahead. This is a great feature, even when you are away.
It’s a great way to showcase your business and products in a very relaxed, non-salesy manner. Start the discussion thread, and ask an open ended question. You can (and should) answer your own question, but add your answer in the comments, and not in the original comment.
Tip #5 ½: Ask Opinions in a Poll
People love to tell others what they think, so ask them.
So you got 5 (but really it’s 7) easy tips to for what you should do. There will be plenty you learn along the way that doesn’t work but isn’t it great to have at least one tip about what NOT to do?
Tip #1: What NOT to do: don’t automatically add people
Yes, I did this. And I regret it immensely, so don’t do it. It is better to have a small, but highly engaged group, than a large, non-engaged group.
When you start a group, you have the option to add friends without asking them. I promise, I’m not such a terrible human being that I added all my friends, willy nilly. No, I picked and chose Facebook friends whom I know are connected to me strictly because of my business, and who I thought would probably be interested in my niche group.
The trouble was (and continues to be) that I inadvertently added some competitors, and those weirdos we talked about earlier – the ones who try to add as many Facebook friends and belong to as many groups as they can. They’re not good for your group. Don’t do it.
You also shouldn’t add the friends who are added by other members. You want people in your group who want to be there, not because their friend volunteered them. If they hear about how great your group is from their friend and ask to join, great. That’s when you know you have a good member but you don’t want unengaged people in your group.
Final Advice –- the Last Tip (I really mean it this time)
Are you thinking, “Great advice, Andrea, you have brains and beauty. Obviously you are winning at life but after I’ve welcomed people to my group, how do I keep them engaged without being salesy?”
Awww, thanks for the compliment. ☺ Let me give you one more massive tip, so you can win at life, too.
We’ve already established you are smart, so I know you’ve done your research about your target market. That’s the first step, but many solo entrepreneurs (not you, but others) don’t know what to do with the information. Here’s what I would say to those entrepreneurs: finding engaging topics by using the information you collected in target market research.
What do I mean by that?
Your buyers have a whole range of interests, not just your industry/product. Broaden the scope of the conversation and then funnel it down to your product. Take your cue from television networks and magazines; if they can create an entire network around a niche category, you can start a conversation in your Facebook group that will keep people talking and engaged.
I’ll give you a few examples and ideas. These will work for any personal item product, from jewellery to clothing & accessories, to skincare. For home decor and lifestyle, use the same principle of start broad and funnel it to your product.
Almost everyone travels, so it’s easy to start the conversation with a question about travelling:
(skin care) Travelling to different climates can be hard on your skin, and it’s imperative to have a great travel-size moisturizer. What are some of your best travel tips for making sure your skin looks great no matter where you are?
(jewellery) It’s hard to always look great when you are travelling, and having a necklace/bracelet/earring set helps any outfit look fresh and put-together. Which jewellery pieces do you love to take when you travel?
(clothing/fashion) Remember when you used to be able to check luggage for free? If you are like me, you probably are trying to only take a carry-on, so it’s more important than ever to pack clothing items that can do double-duty, like my x-product. What’s your essential outfit to pack when you’re travelling?
One more quick tip for you, (it’s really more of a life hack that works well beyond your Facebook group), if you want to win at life, pay attention to people. Pay attention to their interests, and to what they are talking about; dig deeper and ask questions to keep them talking. If you create a Facebook group where people feel comfortable to chat and start conversation or make comments, they will let you know what they care about or what their pain points are. Pay attention, and start discussions with those comments in mind. If you talk about what they are already saying, the conversation will keep going.
Okay, that was a lot longer than I expected, I just love my group and I wanted other small businesses to take advantage of a great resource available to you FOR FREE. My members love my group too. Today, I received a gift in the mail of a beautiful, and personalized locket for me with a note that read, “Before I connected with the group, I felt alone on my own island. I have (local places to interact) but we really don’t share at all. I have found a place to vent, share my thoughts, be greatly encouraged, receive (benefit), and purchase (product).”
Good luck with your group, and let me know in the comments which tip you are going to start implementing first. ☺
Andrea York attended Bible School in Austria, completed ‘Women in Leadership’ at A.C.T.S. Seminary and is a licensed Minister through the Christian Minister’s Association of Canada. She is a writer, speaker and teacher primarily about spirituality and faith, especially worship. Andrea has the rare gift of synethesia, a psychological phenomenon of intertwining color and sound. Andrea literally “sees” color for each sound. Throughout her life she would see colors dancing on sound waves during worship. It was a natural fit to become Founder and Designer for Catch the Fire Worship Flags, an industry leader providing exceptional multi-layer angel wing worship flags so that passionate worshippers can express their worship with movement and color. Andrea’s worship flags are among the best handmade worship flags available. She has perfected the design and construction for beautiful quality to last for years.