Social media allows people from around the world to connect with other people. Facebook is one of the more popular social media platforms. As a business, you have different options for connecting with your fans. You can create a Business page, or you can create Facebook group.
What Are Facebook Groups?
This is what Facebook says about groups:
“Facebook Groups make it easy to connect with specific sets of people, like family, teammates or coworkers. Groups are dedicated spaces where you can share updates, photos or documents and message other group members. You can also select one of three privacy options for each group you create.”
When you’re a member of a Facebook group, you get notifications when someone posts a new message in the group. This happens for anyone in the group when you post something as well.
For example, let’s say you own a pet business. You can join groups related to your pet business on Facebook. Then every day you will get notifications in your newsfeed from those active pet groups you follow.
Keep in mind that you can only join groups using your personal Facebook profile rather than your business page. One way to show that you are a business is to have a link to your business Facebook page on your personal page. This make it more like traditional marketing. The only difference is you are using business page links instead of exchanging traditional business cards.
Why You Need to Participate in Groups
One of the biggest reasons to participate in Facebook groups is the opportunity for visibility it gives you. With its notifications option, when you posts in groups you’re participating in, active members will receive notifications of the post. Facebook pages are less likely to show up in your newsfeed.
In some Facebook groups you are allowed to openly promote your business. In other groups, this is frowned upon. In this case, you can participate by giving good advice, sharing good content and being a support to others. In return you will receive the same.
Participating in groups lets you rub elbows, so to speak, with others in your niche or related niches. In Facebook groups you are likely find members who are beginners in their business as well as those who have a great deal of experience and years in their business.
Participating in groups gives you access to thousands of people who are potential clients.
So, how can they help you network?
Simply put, Facebook groups can help you network more easily. Instead of networking with a variety of businesses and people, groups are specific to certain topics. This makes it easier to network with people who have the same interests as you. For example, if you are a business that has low carb diet products, you can find groups on Facebook dedicated to this specific diet.
Throughout this guide, you’ll find ways to locate relevant groups, how you can be a valuable participant in the groups you join, and the importance of connecting with administrators and moderators. You’ll learn strategies for using Facebook groups. These strategies include the benefits of a group and creative ideas for using them, running your group so you have less spam and more interaction among the group. You’ll learn strategies for balancing activity without bombarding members with too many messages. You’ll learn the difference between Facebook pages and groups as well as get tips for monetizing your group and networking tips and strategies.
How groups work
Facebook offers both pages and groups as a way to connect with your followers. Facebook groups are recommended for connecting with smaller groups of people you already have a connection with. Anyone using Facebook can start a Facebook group.
Here are some basics of using Facebook Groups:
- Group privacy settings can be open, closed, or secret. Open privacy means anyone can see who is in the group and what they post. Closed means the group and its members can be seen by anyone but the posts are not visible except to members. Secret is just what it sounds like; the group, its members and the posts are only seen by members.
- You can be a member of a group and be friends with only one or two people yet you can interact with everyone in the group.
- Photos are uploaded by any member of the group just like uploading photos to your Facebook profile.
- Groups work a lot like a regular newsfeed, allowing members to post questions, comments, and photos. Important posts can be pinned, making them appear at the top of a groups page feed.
- Members share documents and files. This is a way to distribute files for editing or sharing with many people without having to email each one individually.
- Groups can create specific events and manage them in the Group calendar.
- Group admins can assign moderators to respond to posts and monitor abusive posts.
- Groups are created around common causes or interests. They can be used to collaborate around a certain project or subject, for example, a group that talks about fiction story ideas.
- Groups can be used to coordinate local organizations, non-profit groups, and school functions.
- Groups can be used to sell things or share items, for example, a group that allows you to share children’s books with other members.
- Groups are great for marketing your business. You can use groups to keep your customers who are members informed about upcoming products or services and to share information. You can ask your customers questions to get input.
- Groups can be used to convert prospects into buyers or as a way to provide customer support.
- Groups can be as narrow or broad as you want. For example, if you are a food blogger you could create a group for a specific type of food or a group for a specific type of cooking challenge or a wider niche like sharing recipes.
Groups are a way to connect with a small number of people who you already know and have the same interests as you. Groups work a lot like a regular newsfeed and can be set up to have moderators monitoring posts and member activity.
Groups versus Pages
Facebook offers both pages and groups for businesses to use in their social media efforts. Both have a place in your marketing plan. There are differences in the way they should be used, however.
Facebook pages are more like a timeline for organizations, brands, and businesses. Page owners post stories, add a cover photo, share videos and photos, as well as host events. Anyone can like a page and be able to see that Page’s updates in their own newsfeed.
Facebook pages are good for promoting your company or raising your brand awareness. You can use it to make special offers, share new promotions, and make announcements while building your fan base.
Facebook Groups are better suited for smaller, specialized groups of people with the same interests. They can be created to connect family, co-workers, teammates, or people who share a similar interest.
Group members can ask or answer questions, post about upcoming events and follow conversations that interest them. Mass messages to your group members’ inbox can be sent though the group as well.
- One difference between pages and groups is that Pages are mainly intended as a one-to-many show. You, as the page owner run the show. People who like your page can comment or posts on your page, but only you and a person directly visiting your page will see it. Their posts don’t appear in other newsfeeds of people who’ve liked your page.
- Groups are more of a many-to-many type of gathering. Collaboration is the key to groups. In their own newsfeeds, members will see whenever someone posts to the group. The admin doesn’t have to moderate or be involved in any way if they choose not to.
Pages vs Groups – pros and cons
Facebook Page pros and cons
- Pages allow you to promote using the promoted posts, advertising, and other promotion tools.
- Pages include the insights, which let you see the analytics of your page.
- Pages are good for communicating with large numbers of Facebook users.
- When in the admin mode of your page, you can like another page to pull in that page’s content into your page newsfeed instead of your personal feed.
- Building community spirit and engagement is more difficult.
Facebook Group pros and cons
- Groups are more likely to show up in members’ newsfeeds.
- Groups have better control over who joins due to its privacy options.
- Groups don’t have the analytical functions that pages do.
- Groups are ideal for providing more personal member conversations.
Facebook pages and groups both have strengths that will benefit your business. Pages and Groups are both visible to the Facebook community but Groups can set the privacy level of who sees the group. Pages are geared toward the masses while groups are ideal for a smaller more specific group of people.
Creative ideas for using groups
Now that you know the benefits of using Facebook groups, you might be wondering how you can use groups. What are some creative ideas people are using groups for? Groups can be created and used for just about any purpose you can think of. Think about the groups you already belong to. Are they for pleasure or do you belong to some for business?
Let’s explore some ideas.
- Facebook groups are a great addition to your business. You can set up a group as extra support for your customers and certain products. If you don’t have customer support in place, a Facebook group can provide a contact point for your customers. Here they can connect, share, and collaborate with you.
- Use a Facebook group to convert prospects into buyers. Create a group that funnels prospects to your products.
- Create a Facebook group to keep in touch with your customers and others interested in your products and services. You can share information on the products, upcoming promotions and sales, and ask customers their opinions on your products or services.
- Use a Facebook group to be more interactive with your fans. A Facebook page lets you post what’s going on to many people while a group is smaller and more specialized so you can interact with those who are truly interested what you have to say.
- A group can be created as a way to collaborate with all your business locations or remote workers.
Create a group as a way to mentor others. Members can connect and share ideas, as well as support and inspire each other.
- Create a group to post events and conferences. A Facebook group allows you to create buzz about an event and to continue the conversations, inspiration, and learning long after the event has passed.
- A secret group can be used to brainstorm ideas and connect with other members of your team and clients when doing product launches or special projects.
- Set up a group for committees and teams to bring people together and as a way to provide follow up to meetings.
- Build your social media love. Build a blogging or social media group where you can keep in touch with like-minded bloggers. Post new content and help each other out with comments on one others’ blogs while building your community.
- Use groups to create exclusive memberships. Use it as an add-on to your products or services. Provide content and updates to members they can’t get elsewhere.
- Create a group to help customers learn how to do something. An example would be a craft group specializing in cross-stitch embroidery or a Cooking group specializing in how to barbecue or preserve food.
When creating your Facebook group, get creative. There are literally thousands of ways to use groups in your business to stay connected with your fans. Whether you want to narrow it down to a very specific topic or have broader group you can build a group that resonates with others.
Setting Up Your First Facebook Group
In the beginning, Facebook had posts. Then it added pages for business. Later, groups were developed. Facebook groups are a way for businesses and others to connect with specific sets of people with specific interests. Groups allow you to share updates, photos, documents, and messages with other group members. Groups can be closed, public or secret.
Groups are a great way for businesses to connect and build lasting relationships. Facebook groups can be used in conjunction with a Facebook page since FB groups can be used as an additional marketing too, as a way to fuel your other marketing plans and a way to enable others to gather around your business.
Groups are often formed around things like books, business, swap shops, exclusive memberships related to hobbies or interests, or as support groups.
Setting up a Facebook group is straightforward. You’ll need to set up various options like the privacy settings and add a cover photo. Then you will need to know how to post and make certain posts pinned. You need to know how to invite new members and accept them in the group and how to moderate posts.
To get started you first need to set up your group.
How to create the group
Groups are one of the more popular features on Facebook. Setting up your first Facebook group can be fun and exciting. The group can be as narrowly or broadly focused as you want. For instance, it can be a group set up as an extension of your blog. It can be narrowly focused on a certain aspect of your business such as a certain type of diet or self-help for empty nester women. The group could be a place where your members share a hobby. Whatever the focus, keep the group true to it.
Begin by logging into your Facebook account.
From your home page, go to the Groups section on the left side menu and click on Create Group.
Click Create New Group at the top of the page. A new window will open. Here you will add your group name, add members, and select the privacy settings for your group.
Choose a distinct but simple name to make it easy for people to remember your group. You can change the name later if you want or need to.
You must add at least one friend to create a group.
The privacy setting options are:
- Public – anyone can join
- Closed – you are asked to join or are invited by a member
- Secret – anyone can join but must be added or invited by a member
Click Create when you’re done.
Once the group is created, you’ll be taken to the group.
Here you can personalize the group by adding a description, photos, and posts.
Click on Add a Description to add a description about your group. Include what members can expect from it. This is a good place to add “rules” for the group.
You should include a destination URL link to your website in your description. Use the format of http:/www.URL.com so your link is live and clickable.
Customize your group page by adding an icon or symbol that represents your group and adding a cover photo that helps tell the story of your group.
Now that you have your group created, you’ll want to customize it. Your group page can be customized so that it relates to your topic and your members. You want your group to be easily recognizable and fun for members. The admin area is where you set permissions for privacy, users, add a description, and change photos.
Should you add a cover photo? That depends. You have 3 options for images:
- Use images of your group’s members
- Use a photo already uploaded
- Upload a photo
The default for a Facebook group photo cover is a combination of the member’s profile photos. This gives a more personalized look to the page but many groups might opt to change the cover photo to an image that represents the group as a whole.
Here is an example of using members profile images for a group cover image:
If you want to add your own image:
To add an image, click on the more icon (the three dots). Then click on manage your group.
Then click on the Add a cover photo. Here you can upload a photo, choose a photo already uploaded to the group
Adding a cover photo allows you to set the tone of the group by having an image that directly relates to the group’s subject matter.
Click on Upload photo or Choose photo. Choose whether you want photos from your photos or from the group photos.
Choose the image you want. Drag the image to the position you want. Click Save Changes.
You can change the group photo later by moving your mouse over the cover photo, clicking Change Group Photo button and choosing Upload a Photo.
The option to have a certain photo that shows what the group is about or to leave the default of having your group’s avatars show is purely a personal choice. When choosing your image, think about how it reflects on the message your group has.
Editing group options:
Under the edit group options, you have several choices. To see them, click on the more buttons (three dots) and then click on Edit Group Settings.
This is where you can change your privacy setting for the group.
You can also set up a group address, change the description, and add tags.
The Group address is where you can give the group a custom URL as well as an email address where members can email the group directly.
Add tags that help people find your group. Under Tags, add words that describe what your group is about (ex: soccer, music, travel) and then click the suggestions that appear in the dropdown. Click on save.
Choose the posting permissions you want. You may want to allow members and admins to post to the group. Another alternative would be to allow only admins to post to the group.
Choose how post are approved. Click Save.
Choosing the options that work with your group can help prevent spam posts, will keep people from uploading photos without your permission and help non-members find your group.
How to post
Once you’ve set up your group, you will need to determine how you are going to post and who will be allowed to post. It’s a good idea to have a pinned post that states your rules for using the group. Include the policy about members posting promotional items. Be specific about where, what, and how, if it is allowed.
To create a post:
Click in the area under Write Post to add a text post. Enter your text and click Post.
You can also add photos, videos, ask a question, or add files from your computer or Dropbox.
In a group, the latest post with activity will sit at the top of the newsfeed. Each time someone posts a post it appears at the top. When someone comments on another post, it then jumps to the top. This keeps information moving quickly, especially in large groups.
One way to keep pertinent information at the top is to use a pinned post.
Pinned posts are posts that appear at the top of your groups feed, no matter how many new posts are added.
Admins can pin one post to the top of their group. Often this post contains information on how to use the group, what’s allowed and important links.
To pin a post:
Log in to your account. Go to your group.
Click on the write post to create a post. It has to be posted before you can pin it. You may also go to a post that has already created in the group. Hover over the post and click the dropdown arrow. Click on the pin post link.
You can unpin a post easily. Repeat the above steps, selecting Unpin Post from the list.
You can set up specific events in for your group members to attend.
To create an event for your group, go to the group and click the More-button, three dots, in the top right. Then select Create an Event from the dropdown menu.
You will need to choose the privacy option for the event.
To adjust the privacy settings for your event:
- Choose a setting from the privacy dropdown
- Click Save or Create
Events have different privacy settings available to the host:
- Public allows anyone to join the event without an invitation.
- Open Invite allows friends of guest to join without an invitation.
- Guests and Friends allows only those invited to join the event.
- Invite only allows only people invited by the host to join the event.
- Group only is an event created within a group by the admin or members.
Posting in groups is like posting on your Facebook timeline. You can pin certain posts so they are always at the top of your group so your members can easily find them. When creating events you need to select the privacy settings for who you want to attend the event.
Without members, your group will be stagnant. You should decide how you are going to accept members and who can invite members.
One way to get members is to invite them to join your group.
To add new members to a group:
Go to your group.
Click on the more button. Click on the Add People field.
A new box opens. Enter your friends’ names and click on them to add them to the group.
For each of the groups—Public, Closed, and Secret, group members can add their friends. Everyone can request to join but each must be confirmed by the group admin.
As the admin for a group you can choose who you want to approve to join your group.
To get started:
- Click on the more tab. Select Edit Group Settings.
- Choose the Any member can add members, but an admin must approve them option.
- Click Save at the bottom of the page.
Once membership approval is turned on, only admins can approve people’s requests to join the group. Members can still add friends to the group, but the friends will need to be approved by the admin.
You can invite people to join your group but try not to add members without their permission first. One way to invite members is through messages or email if you are friends with them already. Another way is to invite new members through your blog.
As the group admin, you can block abusive members. You can do this by clicking on Members at the top of your group.
Find the member you wish to remove and click the gear sign beneath their name. Select Remove from Group.
To block a member you’re removing, check the box that says Block Permanently.
Click Confirm to finish.
Note: Only admins will see the gear beneath a group member’s name. Admins are the only ones who can remove or block group members.
Getting people to join your group means adding them and inviting them to join. As the admin of the group, you have control over who joins as well.
As the owner of a Facebook group, you want group members to post comments and photos regularly. One problem might be inappropriate content. The best way to avoid this is with moderation of the groups’ posts.
The admin status allows you to monitor and remove any harmful posts. You can assign other members to be an additional admin to help moderate the group as well.
- Check you groups main page regularly.
- Delete any abusive posts or those that aren’t relevant content to your group.
- Remove comments that are abusive by clicking the “X” next to it.
- Remove posts by clicking the down arrow next to the post and selecting Delete Post. You can also select Report/Mark as Spam to report spam or abusive posts to Facebook.
- Set up additional admins in the group. To do this:
Click the gear icon under the name of the member you wish to add as an admin.
Click Make Admin.
These people will be able to remove members or admins, add new admins and edit your group settings, so choose only members you know and trust to be admins.
You can stay connected with what’s happening in your group by turning on notifications. Set it to receive all posts, highlights, or friends’ posts only.
Moderating your group will require you to visit your group page often and to follow up with comments.
Now that you know how to set up your Facebook group using this straightforward guide to setting up your first Facebook group, you can begin setting up groups for different areas of your business. You can quickly set up your group and add a description of what the group is about. Then, it’s a matter of inviting friends to join, posting relevant content, and enjoying being a part of the group.
Running your Group
Once you set up your group, you will want to set up a few rules so that members have a good experience. You want to avoid bombarding your members with too many messages and promotional posts.
Here are a few things to remember when running your Facebook group:
- Set up a pinned post outlining group rules and expectations. In the Foodaplenty group, the admin has done this by sharing how the group operates as well as the rules for posting.
- Be respectful when adding members. Don’t add your friends without their permission.
- Set up notifications under the settings tab. This can be set up to receive all posts or specific people or turned off. Just remember you need to stay on top of what is happening in your group. You want to be aware of any abusive comments or problems right away.
- Set up additional admins to help control spam, give feedback on post relevancy, and be a greeter to new members.
- Engage regularly with your group. Answer questions, post helpful information, and engage with members.
- Reduce spam in your group by being mindful of who becomes a member. Set up rules for posting promotional information. For example, consider having one pinned post just for promotion. Another option is to limit who can join your group by setting the privacy settings to closed or secret.
Invite people to join your group. You can do this directly from your group by clicking on Invite by Email in the “About” group section.
The admin of the group has the option to assign other members of the group as moderators. This is often where many groups fail. An active admin keeps memberships current and monitors spam and offensive content.
Add more admins as your group increases in size. You want to have enough admins to monitor things in case one or more of the admins leaves the group, stops using Facebook, or gets hacked.
Choose people as admins that you know and trust. They should be familiar with Facebook, computer literate and know how to delete posts or ban members if needed.
To add someone as an admin for your group, go to the member’s page of the group. Search for the person you want to add. Click the gear icon and choose “Make Admin”.
Controlling the number of messages
The goal of your group will determine how often you send out messages. It’s best not to bombard members. You don’t want them to become frustrated with too many notifications.
- Posting rights can be set to allow only admins or have any member post. You can allow any member to post, with admin approving each post. This lets you control what is posted and avoid spam messages from getting through.
- As the admin, you should keep notifications on. This lets you know when important things need to be approved or spam dealt with. You can adjust it so you aren’t bombarded constantly.
- Keep your group active and looking great. Choose the right name and photos.
- Actively promote your group and keep the content fresh.
- Keep posts varied. Include a picture in one, a question in one, and an event or poll in yet another. Add useful links and documents. Try to members of your group engaged and responsive.
Get help with running your group. Add other people as admins to help filter out spam and abusive members. Keep your content fresh and varied but don’t overwhelm members with too many posts.
Tips for Monetizing your Group
Having a Facebook group is great for connecting with members. If it’s a part of your business, you want to be able to monetize the group without being overly promotional. You may not be selling directly from the group but you want the members to see what you are selling.
Here are some ideas for monetizing your group.
- Use the group’s cover photo as ad space. Charge a fixed price for someone to own that area for a month.
- Charge a set price to pin other people’s posts so they get more exposure.
- Promote your group to similar Facebook groups and pages. Take the time to post useful tips in these groups with a link back to your group.
- Cross-promote your group on Twitter, your website, in other social sites, in your email signature, on YouTube and in any other marketing materials you use.
- Keep your group active. Even a small amount of activity each week will remind people to visit and interact.
- Provide valuable content for your group members. It can be funny but still be useful.
- Create viral content for your group. Create meme images that your members can share on Facebook.
- Offer discounts to paid web events. Give group members a discount for signing up early for a paid event.
- Build your community. A group is about providing value to members. Building your community means building relationships with them. It’s easier to recommend products that you are an affiliate for if your members already trust you.
- Send members to your products that can help them when they have questions or need guidance.
- Promote your website on your Facebook group post. It can be in a pinned post with links or occasionally mentioned in posts. Use images with your logo watermarked on them. Members can share these and broaden your reach.
- Include a link to your sales page/opt-in page in your groups’ description.
- Post links to your upcoming paid events, sales and launches.
- Create a smaller, inner circle group members can join for a monthly or annual fee.
The task of monetizing your Facebook group can seem daunting when you are trying to keep the tone of the group from being overly promotional. By building a relationship with your members with valuable content, you are building trust. You members will be more open to buying your recommendations when they trust you.
The Next Step
More than 500 million people are using Facebook groups every month. Thousands of groups are being created every day. Groups are perfect for specific sets of people to get together to share photos, links, updates and inspire each other.
Facebook groups can connect coworkers, family, and like-minded people who share the same interests. Groups are a great addition to your business. You can use the group as a way to keep your customers informed about upcoming products or new services and as a way to offer great customer service.
Use groups to convert prospects into buyers or provide additional customer support for specific products. Create a group around a specific event to continue building relationships with those who attend the event.
Your group niche can be narrow or broad. A craft blogger could create a group that focuses on a specific type of craft, such as cross-stitch. The blogger could also narrow the niche down to counted cross-stitch on linen.
Facebook groups are different from pages. Facebook groups are smaller and usually for specific members while pages are for anyone who likes the page.
When you are considering creating your group, consider what you want to use the group for. Is it to help members in some way or is it to promote your event?
Create a good description of what the group is about and why members should join.
Set up a pinned post with group rules or guidelines. This helps members know what they can and can’t talk about. It’s also a good idea to have specific areas where members can self-promote as well.
Have at least two people set up as admins to help moderate posts and respond to problems.
A Facebook group’s privacy setting can be open, closed, or secret. Open privacy means anyone can see who is in the group and what they post. Closed means the group and its members can be seen by anyone but the posts are not visible except to members. Secret is just what it sounds like; the group, its members and the posts are only seen by members.
Using Facebook Groups to Network and Grow Your Business
If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ll remember how difficult networking used to be. In the past, the best way for businesses to network was face to face. You’d go to events, exchange business cards, give a five-second elevator speech and hope that you were building good connections.
Fast forward to the age of Facebook. The recent introduction of groups by this social media networking giant has made networking a great way to grow your business. No longer are you face to face, offering a handshake to get to know a fellow marketer. You can rub shoulders and swap stories with the rich, the famous, the newbies and the shy, without leaving home.
It doesn’t matter if you are a freelancer, a small business owner or a large corporation; networking is essential. Getting to know the people and what they do and need is the fastest way to build connections and grow your business. Building relationships builds your potential customer base.
Having a group of peers who can help you out when you are having a problem with some aspect of your business, or for bouncing ideas and questions off of, or for referring new business to each other, is perhaps the best way to grow your business.
Even though you already know the benefits of business networking, it’s not always easy to get started. Some of us are too shy or embarrassed to go to local networking events or visiting local businesses that are in our niche. Facebook has created a solution with its groups.
So how do I use it to build my business?
Glad you asked.
But wait – before we get into how you can use Facebook groups for networking, let’s discuss what Facebook groups actually are.
How to Find Facebook Groups That Are Relevant
Now that you know the importance of using Facebook groups for networking your business, it’s time to find relevant groups to join. There are millions of active groups on Facebook, in every interest you could imagine. When you are looking to network to grow your business, it’s best to track down groups within your industry. That way you are connecting with your peers and prospective customers who are interested in what you have to offer.
However, with so many groups to join, how do you find the ones that fit your needs?
Begin by asking colleagues and others in your niche as well as your customers what groups they are active in.
Tip: Once you find groups, read their descriptions. You want to see a couple of different things –whether the group is open to new members and whether it is relevant to your niche.
Facebook offers a “suggested groups” feature. These are groups based on your interests and activity in other groups.
New Groups is on your side navigation bar of your profile when you view your newsfeed.
To find Facebook’s suggestions, look in your left sidebar and click Groups > Find New Groups. You can choose from local groups, groups that your friends are part of, new groups and groups you’re already a member of.
Using the Graph Search Feature
Make sure you are using Facebook as your personal profile.
Step 1: Click the search field at the top of the Facebook screen.
Step 2: Type the niche you are interested in into the search field. Use the string “groups of people who like TOPIC or PAGE NAME.” The top entries for that niche appear. For example if you are interested in needlework-related groups, type in “groups of women who like needlework”. Or like the example above, we used “groups that craft” to search for people who like to craft.
Step 3: Click the “More” tab and then Groups from the list.
Step 4: Scroll through the groups to find ones you are interested in. Look at their About page to learn more about them.
Step 5: Click the “Join Group” next to the listing of any group you want to join.
Connecting through Blogs and Email
Another option to look at is through blogs you visit and emails you receive. Many of these will have groups they administer. Look for links to their groups on their website or in the email message.
Ask your colleagues and customers what groups they’re active in and to give you recommendations on the ones they like.
Focus on Certain Criteria before Joining:
- Active members lets you know how active the group is. Note: If it’s a closed group, you won’t be able to see the activity until you join. Go ahead and join if you think it might be relevant. You can always leave the group right away if it isn’t for you.
- A good description in the About section should be available, which describes exactly what to expect from the group. .
- Spam control should be in place. You don’t want to be part of a group that allows anyone to spam its members.
Tip: Connect your business page to your personal profile. Since you can only join Facebook Groups using your personal profile, you need to have your business information easy to find on your profile. This is easy to do; just add your Facebook page to the list of places you worked.
Use the search tool and Facebook suggestions to find groups to join. Look at what your friends are members of. Find ones that are relevant to your niche.
Eight Ways to Make Facebook Groups Your Secret Weapon for Networking
Okay – you’ve found some great groups to join and are ready to begin participating. You might be tempted to simply post a blurb about yourself with a link to your business several times a week. This isn’t a good idea, though. For one thing, many groups discourage blatant selling. The goal of joining Facebook groups is to network and build your relationships to grow your business.
Here are eight ways to take advantage of Facebook groups and make them your secret weapon for networking.
- Share good stuff. Just like any social media site, it’s a social place. That makes it a great place to share helpful, and relevant, stuff. Share funny advice or articles you’ve come across that others in the group would enjoy. Share discounts on productivity apps, industry events and services or products that are widely used in your industry when you come across them. This raises your visibility and shows others that you are keeping on top of certain topics.
- Give support. Build your credibility by supporting others. Provide helpful answers and advice. Support other group members if they are having problems with something. If you don’t know the answer to a problem, point them to someone who does.
- Get more leads with kindness. Being supportive and helpful draws people to you. Keep your responses and posts within the group upbeat and positive.
- Don’t overly self-promote. How annoying is it when you visit a group and all the members are promoting their stuff? These aren’t helpful posts. To network and really grow your business, you should be helpful and giving away your best tips.
- Build quality relationships. In any business, building relationships keeps customers and clients involved and coming back to your brand. One way to build good customer relationships is to be involved in what is going on in the groups you participate in.
- Attend events. Many groups will hold events like webinars or meetups. These are excellent ways to network and get to know the members of the group. You want to be where these people are gathering.
- Participate. It’s one thing to join a bunch of groups in your niche. But what good will it do you if no one knows you’re there? You need to participate to become visible. By being visible, you become known.
- Ask group members to test a new product or service. You could offer a discount or freebie to a certain number of members. This works well in almost any niche. Invite people from the group to test a new dish you’ve created, a service you are offering or a product you are creating. And don’t forget to ask for feedback.
As you already know, using Facebook is an easy way to build relationships with others. The secret to building relationships and networking with other like-minded people who are interested in what you do and offer, is to belong to and participate in Facebook groups.
To summarize, be helpful, kind and supportive without being spammy and overly promotional in order to begin networking and building relationships that can benefit you both.
How to Participate to Make Valuable Connections
It was mentioned above that you need to participate in the Facebook groups you belong to in order to make valuable connections. This is obvious, of course, but you’d be amazed at how many people join groups and then do nothing. They rarely post or comment. Or worse yet – they lurk in the background.
Everyone in Facebook groups is there for the same reason. They want to learn, to share, to stay in contact and to be a part of the group.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re shy or outspoken; you have to participate in the group to make valuable business and personal connections.
Follow the rules. Each group creator sets rules and guidelines for their members to follow. When you join a Facebook group, read them if they are available. Look in the About section, in the pinned posts, or under the Files tab.
Think of it as if you were staying at someone’s house for a long time. You would abide by the rules of that house, right? Not doing so would be rude and create uncomfortable situations. Most people wouldn’t think of acting this way in someone else’s home, so in the same way you can’t be rude and break the rules in a Facebook group you joined.
Get permission from the administrator or moderator before posting something that might be controversial or contains links to your services. If you aren’t sure if something is allowed, it’s best to get permission first.
Help by answering questions. Answer other participant’s questions, and you will quickly gain visibility within the group. Helping others without asking for something in return builds trust and credibility in others.
Participate regularly in 1-5 targeted groups. Post or comment at least once or twice a week.
Ask relevant questions. Are you having a problem with something that relates to your niche? Maybe it’s something technical like setting up your blog or maybe you’re having problems getting clients. Ask others for advice. Put yourself out there. The worst thing that can happen is no one responds. This also gives you an idea of what people aren’t interested in.
Be courteous. Just because you aren’t talking face-to-face doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have manners. Don’t be rude or put other people down just because they don’t have the same opinion as you. And don’t ridicule others on their grammar, spelling or questions you think are silly. Answer questions and offer support in a way that is friendly and taken the way it is meant.
Play nice and accept cultural differences. Facebook isn’t specific to one culture. Almost every group will have a diverse range of cultures. It’s part of the fun of interacting online, learning new things from other cultures, setting up projects with them and sharing stories together. Don’t alienate someone from another culture just because you don’t understand them or share their beliefs.
Offer to help those who you can. Remember we’re all starting from somewhere. If you have the experience or knowledge to help someone who is clearly struggling in the group, offer to help them. Don’t expect anything from them in return.
Give special access. Give Facebook group members special access to events you’re holding. It’s a great way to help people get to know your business. For example, allow members of certain groups to buy tickets at a discount to your event before they go on sale to everyone.
Participation in the Facebook groups you belong to is key to building your networking relationships. It does no one any good to be a member of hundreds of groups only to ignore them. Not only are you wasting your time by joining, you’re also wasting the opportunity to build strong business relationships.
Networking: It’s More Than Selling. It’s the Value You Offer
Instead of telling the world what you’re eating for breakfast, you can use social networking to do something that’s meaningful. ~ Edward Norton
How often have you visited a Facebook group you belong to, only to see posts from members touting how great their product is? The only time some of these people participate is to sell you something. They are selling their services and their products without and not offering anything of value in return.
Networking, according to Businessdictionary.com, is the process of creating a group of acquaintances and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit. Networking is based on the question “How can I help?” and not on “What can I get?”.
When using Facebook groups to build quality networking to build your business, the first thing you should ask yourself before you post anything is, “How can I provide value to this group?”
Consider these three tips to help you add value.
1. Be Helpful.
The first rule of networking is to build a solid reputation and real relationships. Again, your goal should not be to sell or promote, but to be helpful to the members of the group. Focus on being of service by answering questions and engaging in a friendly way with other group members. Provide free resources. This results in building relationships and connections that will turn into sales, referrals and even partnerships for your business.
Share content that educates, entertains, informs and solves problems. Share videos, content, images and audios that others will find helpful. It shouldn’t be a sales pitch only.
2. Be Authentic. Don’t try to impress. Be yourself.
It’s pointless to build a social media reputation that doesn’t truly match who you really are; your background and expertise. Show people in Facebook groups the professional you are.
It should be genuine. People will quickly see if you are claiming to be an expert when you are still a beginner. Don’t be afraid to show you are a novice and willing to learn. Peers will appreciate and connect with you. Be honest. Leaders are just as genuine in person as they are online. If you are an expert in training dogs but try to show your expertise as an internet marketing whiz, it will show. The same is true of your personality. Don’t try to be someone else to impress others. Use your own voice, your style of talking, when posting.
3. Make sure you are helping rather than selling.
Ask yourself if your post is genuinely helping someone without being pushy. Is your wording friendly, not salesy? We’ve all been exposed to the overly salesy post. You know, the one that make you feel like you need to take a shower after you read it. Don’t do this in a group post. Instead you can recommend a product, even your own, in a friendly way that doesn’t turn off the reader. Even then, you should offer some sort of help, say a tip from your product or service.
In the end, you already know how to network. Networking is about building relationships. You build relationships every day offline. For example, you meet people at events or in the park. You don’t immediately try to sell them something. Instead you get to know them first.
Continuing to Build Connections Outside the Group
Now that you’ve started building relationships in Facebook groups, you can take it a step further. You can build on those relationships outside the group.
- Collaborate together either as partners or as affiliates to create products, services, webinars and events to build each other’s business. Join together to build a partnership for a new stream of income.
- Events are a great way to connect with members of a Facebook group. Attend events other members are attending, either online or offline, to meet and network with others that have the same interests.
- Offer free stuff to members of the group who can then share it with others. These viral products or gifts are an excellent way to build more connections through the friends of group members.
- Connect offline with members in your local area. Meet up with members who live close to you for lunch or some other get-together.
- Invite members to join your group, blog, etc. If you want people to connect with you outside of Facebook groups, include an easy link to your website and email address on your personal profile. This can be done through the Contact and Basic Info section of your About page.
Once you’ve begun building connections in Facebook groups, don’t stop there. Connect with members outside of the group on their pages, websites, offline and at events.
Why You Should Be Building Relationships with Moderators and Administrators
Personal relationships are always the key to good business. You can buy networking; you can’t buy friendships. ~ Lindsay Fox
Joining groups and participation in those groups can go a long way in building your relationships. It’s also a good idea to build a relationship with the moderators and administrators of those groups.
Trust. Building a relationship with the moderator helps them learn to trust you. They know they can trust you be a vital member of their group.
Relationship building. The moderator and administrator of a Facebook group can help you build relationships with other group members as well as with their own social circle members.
Growth opportunities. Moderators and administrators most likely are business owners themselves. Like you they are always looking for ways to grow their business. One way for both of you to grow is to collaborate on products, services, events and other ways that provide value to others.
It’s in your best interest and the interest of the administrators of a group to build a relationship. Building trust, friendships and future partnerships benefits everyone involved.
Five Easy Networking Tips in Facebook Groups
Networking with Facebook groups doesn’t have to be difficult. A lot of it is common sense marketing and being genuine. Here are five easy networking tips.
- Respond to questions. Ask relevant questions. Be helpful.
- Be likeable and friendly. Be genuine and authentic and people will like you for who you are.
- Stay out of other people’s problems. Mind your own business when problems are personal.
- Don’t be a know-it-all. It’s fine to be a newbie or to not know the answer to everything.
- Have fun. Networking should be fun. Don’t make it difficult.
Networking for business in Facebook groups is like any other networking you do for your business. It should be professional but with your personality. It should be courteous and simple.
The Next Step
As you can see, using Facebook groups to network is a fun way to build relationships that can help you grow your business to the next level. Now that you know how important it is and how to go about joining, it’s time to go out and:
- Find/join groups. Look for groups in your niche, groups that your friends and customers are members of, and local groups related to your business.
- Participate. Give helpful advice, answer questions and become known as the go-to expert. Offer free products or services.
- Become friends with others. Don’t just participate, but make the effort to become friends with members of the group as well as the administrators and moderators.
- Join events/giveaways. Take part in events and giveaways other members are hosting. When you’ve been a member for a while, you can offer events and giveaways for members to attend as well.
- Be interested in others. When participating in a group, a good ratio to strive for is 80% commenting and sharing other’s content to 20% of your own stuff. Spending too much in a group talking about yourself or sharing your own stuff can seem too salesy to some. It can be a turn-off when you are trying to make connections.
- Know in advance exactly what you are looking for. Is it to build relationships that turn into customers? Or are you looking for a group that can help you with problems you are having in your own business?
When you join a group, make sure you read its About page and the rules of the group. Keep the goals of the group in mind when you participate. You want your goals to align with those of the group.
Apply networking principles in Facebook groups by sharing and connecting like you would at any networking or business event.
Oh, and when you join Facebook groups, be prepared to be checked out by other members. Have your business link on your personal page profile and your About page.
And finally, use the Facebook groups you become member of as a way to build lasting friendships and future partnerships. Keep the overly salesy, bull-horn broadcasting out of Facebook groups. You’ll find that people will like you better for it.