Facebook Group marketing: how to build your community

5 Dec

Facebook Group marketing is going to grow in 2020 and beyond.

Why?

For starters, Facebook engagement is actually increasing despite rumblings about the platform’s frequently changing algorithm.

And recent data from the Sprout Social Index highlights that 40% of marketers view private communities as a top social trend to prioritize in 2020.

private community groups are only going to grow in 2020

private community groups are only going to grow in 2020

Although organic reach might be on the downturn for most businesses, Groups are a brilliant way to reach customers without being confined by the platform’s algorithm.

In this guide, we break down the benefits of Facebook Group marketing and best practices for engaging your audience.

Why Facebook Group marketing matters so much

To kick things off, let’s talk about why Facebook Groups deserve your attention in the first place.

If you’re going to get involved with Facebook Groups, consider the three big-picture benefits below.

Groups gift you more organic reach

Okay, this is the big one.

Chances are you’ve watched your Facebook engagement dwindle over the past year or so?

On the flip side, Group posts are what the Facebook algorithm is looking for.

According to Facebook themselves, the platform prioritizes content from Groups that users frequently engage with. So if you’re consistently publishing to your Group and your audience is reacting to it or they’re posting content themselves, you’re feeding the algorithm exactly what it wants.

Anecdotally, you can see this for yourself by scrolling through your own Facebook feed. It doesn’t take long to come across a Group post, does it?

Groups provide a direct line to your audience

Data from the Sprout Social Index also notes that nearly half of consumers join private communities so they can engage with brands directly.

Food for thought: if someone joins your Group, they want to hear from you.

They’re interested in your content. They might even be willing to be sold to with a bit of nurturing.

Think of someone joining your Facebook community as a sort of opt-in. In a sense, Group members have the potential to be your most loyal customers.

Groups allow you to form meaningful customer relationships

Facebook Group marketing allows you to connect with your customers on a more personal level.

And according to Bambu, people are 16x more likely to read a social post from a friend versus a brand.

bambu data on brand versus friend posts

bambu data on brand versus friend posts

After all, Groups require members and admins alike to post from personal accounts.

This allows you a unique opportunity to engage as a human first and a brand second. Through responding to your audience and asking questions, you can learn more about what your customers want and what you can do to help.

10 Facebook Group marketing tips to build your community

Let’s say you’re all-in on Group marketing.

How do you ensure that you’re making the most of your Group and opportunities to engage with your audience?

Whether you’re starting a community from scratch or managing a community on behalf of a client, below are the cornerstones of a Facebook Group marketing strategy.

1. Make your rules and expectations crystal clear

Perhaps the most important piece of creating your Facebook Group is establishing your rules.

And while this might not sound like much fun, it’s crucial for keeping your Group from devolving into spam and general disorganization.

For starters, ask yourself: what are your goals? What do you expect members to post? What are your guidelines for how members should interact?

Detailed rules go hand in hand with meaningful, high-quality conversations. This also cuts down on general riff-raff and questions as you can point members to your established rules. Encourage members to read others’ posts or comments to see if their questions have been previously answered.

Establish your rules and enforce them. Your Group should be a safe, welcoming place for members to engage.

If nothing else, setting boundaries helps limit self-promotion and link dropping from spammers.

establishing rules is key to Facebook Group marketing

establishing rules is key to Facebook Group marketing

Facebook allows for 10 public rules for any given Group. For reference, Facebook’s own suggestions for Group rules include:

  • Encouraging positive comments, feedback and conversations
  • Taking a firm stance on bullying and hate speech
  • Outlawing spam and irrelevant links
  • Respecting the privacy of fellow members

2. Prioritize discussions on a daily basis

The more you can get your members talking, the better.

This not only encourages more activity from your Group itself but also increases the likelihood that your posts will appear in your members’ feeds.

Posting on a regular basis is definitely a commitment. That’s why we recommend coming up with themed discussions you can use on a weekly or monthly basis.

For example, many Groups boats a “Motivation Monday” thread or a weekly post where members are encouraged to share content or stories. This does double duty of giving your visitors something to look forward to while also sticking to a consistent content calendar.

Content themes can help drive discussions in your Facebook Group

Content themes can help drive discussions in your Facebook Group

To ensure that you’re getting the most eyes on your posts as possible, try to drive discussions when your members are most active.

For reference, here are the best times to post on Facebook which highlight the weekday mornings and afternoons as prime for posting something new.

best times to post on Facebook

best times to post on Facebook

3. Let your Group know that you’re listening (but don’t talk too much)

Keep a close eye on your notifications and replies, especially in discussion-related posts that you created yourself.

Your members will more than likely be glad to carry on the conversation, but replying shows that you’re actively listening to what they have to say. This is especially important if they’ve tagged you for a reply.

maintaining an active Facebook Group means responding to posts

maintaining an active Facebook Group means responding to posts

However, don’t feel a need to get involved with every conversation in your group. Sometimes it’s best to give your members some breathing room and let them talk out a topic. Unless there’s a question involved where you can jump in, it’s totally fine to take a step back.

4. Avoid link-dropping and direct selling

Nobody joins a Group to be spammed to death with links and sales messages.

Beyond discouraging both in your Group rules, make sure to provide context to any sort of link or sales message that you post yourself.

For example, if you’re promoting a blog post or product to your group, explain why you’re posting the link or promotion.

Facebook Group selling and pitching post

Facebook Group selling and pitching post

Ideally, try your pitches and promos to direct messages and one-on-ones with your customers who’ve shown interest in what you’re offering.

5. Emphasize exclusivity with a Closed Group

Notice that many Facebook Groups are “Closed.” In other words, members can only join after being vetted and accepted by admins.

The popularity of Closed Groups isn’t a coincidence. Groups are often treated like secret, exclusive clubs that promote “for your eyes only” content and offers.

Keeping your Group small and tight-knit keeps the quality of discussion high. This also makes life easier for your admins.

Below is a quick breakdown of what Public, Closed and Secret Groups mean for prospective members, for reference.

Facebook Group types and status

Facebook Group types and status

6. Optimize your Facebook Group and content for engagement

Much like you should pay attention to what drives Facebook Page engagement, similar rules apply to your Group.

For example, have you completely filled out your Group info to include relevant keywords that your audience might be looking for? Does your Group description include benefits and a call-to-action? What about any eye-catching cover photo?

Covering these bases makes your group more enticing and discoverable to prospective members.

Sprout Social and Sproutchat Facebook Group

Sprout Social and Sproutchat Facebook Group

As highlighted in our guide to Facebook analytics tools, it’s important to understand which types of content perform well with your Facebook audience.

With Sprout, you can pull data from your Facebook Page to inspire your Group’s content strategy.

Sprout Facebook report dashboard

Sprout Facebook report dashboard

Meanwhile, other Facebook analytics tools like Grytics actually dig into your Group data further including comments-by-day and a breakdown of audience reactions.

Grytics Facebook report

Grytics Facebook report

7. Experiment with different posts and content formats

For the sake of figuring out what engages your audience the most, be prepared to experiment with different types of posts.

This isn’t just good news for the algorithm: doing so keeps your audience on their toes and keeps your Group posts from becoming too routine. Consider posting the following:

  • User-generated content (think: asking members to upload photos or video)
  • Facebook Live and native Facebook video
  • Interactive content (think: Polls)
  • Images (gifs, memes and infographics)

Facebook Live video promotion via Groups

Facebook Live video promotion via Groups

8. Make sure your admins are up to the task!

As we said earlier, Facebook Group marketing is a commitment.

When appointing admins, double-check that they’re up to the task. For the sake of building customer relationships, it’s important to respond to questions from members as swiftly as possible. Having multiple admins means it’s not the sole responsibility of one individual to moderate or post on behalf of your brand or business. It also means that your members are never left hanging when a response is needed.

Facebook Group admins

Facebook Group admins

Of course, also ensure that you fully trust whoever you’re giving administrative privileges to.

9. Search your conversations for common themes and pain points

If you’re strapped for ideas in terms of what to post in your Group, look no further than your members’ discussions.

What are they worried about? What do they need help with?

Facebook Groups are a great place to discover new content and product ideas

Facebook Groups are a great place to discover new content and product ideas

Keeping an eye on frequently asked questions and concerns can be the genesis for everything from blog posts to product ideas and beyond.

10 Promote your Group beyond Facebook!

Lastly, don’t expect followers to flood your Facebook Group unprompted.

If you have an email newsletter or are active on other social platforms, to invite your customers elsewhere to join your Group.

promoting Facebook Groups beyond Facebook

promoting Facebook Groups beyond Facebook

Since your customers already know and trust your brand, inviting them to join your Facebook Group is a no-brainer to grow your membership and provide even more value to your audience.

What does Facebook group marketing mean for your brand?

Groups provide an avenue for brands to nurture communities and engage their customers one-on-one.

And it helps that they’re a brilliant way to beat the Facebook algorithm!

As private communities continue to grow in 2020 and beyond, mastering these Facebook Group marketing tips can help you maximize your community engages from the word “go.”

We want to hear from you, though. What’s your experience building a Facebook Group been like? Any advice or growing pains you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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