This is an unpurchased blog post for a marketing client.
With the recent changes to Facebook’s news feed algorithm, it has become difficult for businesses to connect with their fans. Though regular posts are still vital to any marketing plan, there is a little-known secret you can use to outsmart the algorithm: Facebook Groups.
Facebook Groups are communities built around a common topic. Members share images and stories, ask questions, and have conversations around the group’s topic. Participating in Facebook Groups can improve social media reach by encouraging interaction with your brand.
By conversing with members, you can create meaningful relationships with fans and potential customers in a manner that is difficult through regular posts. Even better? Group interactions appear in members’ news feeds, but they also receive notifications of new group events and communications. Two potential touchpoints instead of one.
Like us, Facebook sees a future for the groups and recently began to improve the group experience. They are now allowing Facebook pages to create linked groups, and recently unveiled an analytics feature for groups. The tools allows administrators insights into growth and interactions, so they can improve their engagement strategies.
If you want to take advantage of the brand-building opportunities of Facebook Groups, you have two options: you can create your own group, or join established groups.
Creating a Group
Creating a group is sometimes your best choice. For instance, if there is no established group for your topics, your targeted groups aren’t active, or if you need feedback on a product. Creating a group also gives you access to the analytics and administrative capabilities, which can be useful for reporting ROI.
Creating a group is free and easy. Just choose the “Create a Group” option from the top right corner of Facebook, name the group, choose a privacy setting, and click “Create.” Once you’ve created the group, you should populate the page with a description, images, a welcome message that you can pin to the top of the page, and content.
You have the option to create a public group, a closed group, or a secret group. Public groups are best if you’re interested in casting a wide net and interacting with anyone interested in that topic. People can join closed groups if invited by any member of the group, but can only join secret groups if the administrator sends an invitation. These group types are best if you need a select group of super fans or a highly targeted audience to respond to a product launch.
While creating a group is easy, it is also hard work to keep that group engaged. As the administrator, you will constantly have to lead conversations, generate content, and plan events like live videos, challenges, meet-ups, Q&A’s, etc. You should consider these time-consuming tasks when deciding whether to create a group or join one.
Joining a Group
There are hundreds of thousands of groups on Facebook, so chances are there is already one or more groups that your company can benefit from joining. If it’s a public group, you can simply click on the “Join Group” button. Otherwise, you may have to request to join the group via the administrator.
The main benefit of joining a group rather than creating your own is the established audience. You don’t have to put forward the effort to build an audience and keep them engaged. Instead, you can focus on interacting with potential customers and creating brand awareness.
Resist your impulse to talk about your company and promote your services and sales. You should create a communications plan that focuses most on listening and interacting with group members on a more authentic level. If someone asks questions that your company is qualified to answer, do it and point to any helpful content you may have on your site. Take part in discussions, ask questions, and share compelling content with group members. Brand awareness will come from group members seeing and interacting with your Facebook handle more than any promotional content you share.
Facebook groups are an excellent way to create relationships with potential and even current customers. As people interact with your brand, they begin to see your company as an authority on the topic and fellow enthusiast. That camaraderie can go far in creating a super fan.
All the while you’re creating these lasting connections, you’re also sidestepping the news feed algorithm and landing directly in potential customers’ notification feeds. Free marketing and a Facebook hack all-in-one!