How To Build And Manage A Facebook Group
July 28, 2021
If you want to grow a community of enthusiastic customers, rabid fans, and devoted evangelists for your community, the best way is to build a rock solid Facebook group.
But what’s the best way to build a Facebook group from the ground up? Put simply, it’ll require intentionality on your part: seeding it with some reliable members, asking (and answering) relevant questions, and engaging with the community as if it were your own personal mastermind.
Unfortunately, there’s no blueprint for building a bustling Facebook group. Instead, it’ll take experimentation, commitment, and a truckload of patience as you watch your group slowly but surely take off. The rewards, however, are enormous — not just in greater financial rewards, but in more efficient market research, stronger product development, and increased customer loyalty.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the methods that I and several other internet marketers have used for years to grow their community on one of the largest platforms in the world, showing you how to develop a roadmap for your group’s first 1,000 members.
Why Should I Build a Facebook Group in the First Place?
Many people are hesitant to build a Facebook group, insisting that pages are — and still will be in the future — the best platform for you to build your business. But in 2018, Mark Zuckerberg shocked the social media world by declaring that he was prioritizing community over business interests, and, in turn, adjusting the Facebook algorithm to favor groups instead of pages.
This led to an upheaval. After all, building a page is easy. You simply set up the site, flush out the content, and make sure that it's updated regularly. But building a group is substantially harder, and relies on a physical human to actually manage the conversations that take place a daily basis.
But is it worth it? Absolutely.
Higher Organic Traffic
The shift from pages to groups did a number on Facebook’s organic reach. Whereas pages used to enjoy double-digit organic traffic, that number was slashed to well below 5% — and, in some cases, less than 1%. What that means is that if you have one hundred thousand people that see your page (an impressive number, by the way), then only roughly 500 people (at most!) will see your posts -- and that's by the most optimistic of standards. Making matters worse, that number has only continued to go down since Zuckerberg's announcement in 2018.
The organic reach of Facebook groups, on the other hand, continues to climb. This is due to the inherent factors that make groups what they are — relationship building, community engagement, and relevant content, among others. These factors make groups the place where people want to be because they can feel like they can contribute, which translates to higher organic reach and more traffic to your groups.
Along with the increase in organic reach goes with the natural decrease in cost to keep the engagement running. These days, Facebook groups run largely by themselves, moderated by social media managers and driven by questions and comments from the group themselves. Instead of paying for content to be automatically delivered, the group creates their own.
But the real cost advantage to groups over posts is in terms of advertising. In order to get that hundred thousand likes that we mentioned earlier, you would have to pay several thousand dollars (if not more) to reach that amount of people, whereas groups can be boosted simply by word-of-mouth. This allows you to use those marketing dollars elsewhere, such as retargeting ads for people that are already in your group and have expressed interest in the first place.
Greater Customer Loyalty
People don't buy from companies just because they have a good product; these days, people buy from companies that they believe in. This means that you have a corporate responsibility to engage with your customers on a much more personal level, bringing content that serves their needs, and only later seeking to drive a sale.
This drive for personal interaction isn’t fruitless though. Indeed, the more you serve your audience, the more you get to know your audience, and the more you engage with your audience’s comments and questions, the more customer loyalty they'll have, which will increase your bottom line for the future. People are more willing to stick with the product that they believe in, even if it doesn't perform to the best of their expectations, precisely because they have a relationship with that company to begin with. Groups help to foster that.
Easily Interact With Audience
You may not feel like interacting with your audience is a good thing, but a few minutes perusing the posts inside of your Facebook group would probably convince you otherwise. These communities are gold mines for market research and product testing, as well as finding a group of raving brand ambassadors that can spread your company mission like wildfire. Best of all, with over two billion monthly users, Facebook is a wide circle for that message to be spread within.
You can also develop relationships with customers that will help mitigate consumer complaints. Many companies use Facebook as a de facto helpdesk, but even unofficially, users of a particular product can go inside the group to ask questions of other users who may be able to help. This decreases the workload on your own support and client relations staff, while increasing the community feel even more.
How to Launch Your Group
So, you've decided to launch your own group for your brand. What you do next? We'll skip the how-to's of setting up a group inside of Facebook's platform, since they're already a billion different tutorials on how to do that. What is lacking, however, is how to actually launch your group, which is a whole other beast entirely.
Like everything else in your business, this must be done with intentionality. Too many people start a Facebook group, invite a few of their friends, and then wait for the fans to pour in. Not only is this a fruitless endeavor, but it can be a frustrating one at that.
Fill Out all the Info
Despite being social media, your Facebook group (depending on your privacy settings, of course) can be a powerful source of SEO traffic. With the right keywords in the about an info section, you can actually rank Facebook groups on search engines, which can be a great way to bring in auxiliary traffic without having to manually go reach them.
Unfortunately, too many people just do the bare minimum to get the group active. They don't consider the value of cover images, handles, or even filling in their business’ hours of operation. Take a few hours to do proper keyword research and fill out every part of your group information, and you should see an uptick in passive traffic, as well as members.
Seed Your Group
Just like you would seed a field, you want to seed your group with some of your most devoted brand ambassadors. Ideally, these would be customers, but you can also see them with a few employees of your company, affiliate referral members, or influencers from a complementary niche. In some cases, you may be able to cross promote with other brands by asking moderators of another group to plug your group inside of theirs.
The advantage of ceding your group is substantial, beginning with the fact that you’ll actually have activity inside of your group to begin with. Few things turn off potential audience members more than a group that looks like it hasn't had any active posts in weeks. Group members want to see engagement and involvement, and seeding your group with key members at the beginning is a great way to start that.
Moreover, the activity that they do see will be largely positive. They won't just see a bunch of random posts about this or that, but people actively promoting your brand as the solution to various needs. This goes a long way in establishing a strong emotional attachment to your brand, long before they ever purchase one of your products.
Mention it Everywhere
As mentioned above, you should always seek to plug your group wherever possible, but do so in as non-slimy a way as possible. If you enter various communities and contribute nothing — but talk about your own group all the time — you’ll get booted in a heartbeat. Instead, join other groups, contribute as much info as you can, and offer your group as a solution only in very specific circumstances. Maintaining credibility is key.
Best of all, you can use this approach on multiple platforms, such as Reddit, Pinterest, Twitter, and even Instagram. Make sure you also put in a link to your group in any company newsletters you may have. You should even devote an entire newsletter to it initially, as that will give you the most initial boost, but also make it a regular part of your communication info from there on out.
Know What Success Looks Like
This one is tricky and can change from person to person, but at some point, you need to sit down with your team and decide what "success" looks like. Are you shooting for a group that has over a million participants, or would you prefer to keep it small and very exclusive? Do you want an engagement ranking that is higher than the industry average, or would you be okay with people popping in and out every once in a while because the content is so valuable?
However you decide what your success looks like will determine your strategy moving forward. There's no wrong answer here, but make sure that whatever definition you choose that it reflects the ethos of the company. Some of the biggest corporations in the world have tiny Facebook groups so that they can convey a posture of exclusivity. In that way, they act as hive minds that the company can learn from, but how you choose to engage your audience is completely up to you.
How to Grow Your Group
Assuming that you have your group started and seeded properly, the next thing you'll consider is how to get your group to the point that you want it to be, whether that's a specific number, amount of posts per day, or some other metric that's important to you. Contrary to beginning your growth, however, this will be a process that is ongoing, so be sure to refer back to this roadmap as often as necessary.
Establish a Baseline
Before any growth can occur, you first have to know your starting point. The insights tab is extremely valuable for this, since it gives you both current and historical data on your group for as far back as you want. What you're looking for here is not the overall number to change, but the percent change over time. For instance, having 100 new members a month is great, but not if you had 200 last month. Something has changed to make your rates go down, so investigate your group to determine the cause of the leak.
Most likely, you won't use every single metric that's available to you from Facebook. Pick a couple that are important, such as clicking on outbound links, engagement rankings, or even video views, and focus on building those.
Provide Links to Content
Facebook used to be the wild west of content distribution. Groups were basically a big vat of information that required the user to manually search through in order to find the information that they wanted. While this can be somewhat effective, it was ultimately frustrating as the search results never seemed to really reflect what it was the user was looking for.
Within the last few years though, Facebook has allowed you to build a sort of mini-course inside your groups. You're able to create a "path" for people who are interested in specific information, with links to all the relevant content you own. You can do this with files as well as video, so be creative with how you set up your group.
If you truly want to take your content distribution to the next level, have a moderator search through posts with a specific keyword, and respond to people's comments or questions with links to your material. For instance, if you have several questions that ask which oil filter is right for their vehicle, and you have a guide on your website that can help people pick the right one, find all the posts that asked that question and link to that guide in the comments section. This will help with the traffic to your site, and position you as an expert on the matter.
Put CTA's In Your Posts
Calls-to-action are extremely valuable prompts that encourage the user to make a decision on the content that they just saw. Whenever you make announcements, or post a new blog article, or make any kind of official post, put a call to action to contact you or simply consume the content. Otherwise, people will continue scrolling without even realizing that you posted something.
Where CTA’s work really well is in your secondary information. Business pages, emails, and even physical receipts can have a link to your Facebook group, prompting them to join if they would like more information. The best part is you can set these links manually and then never change them, continuing to reap passive membership along the way.
Harness the Power of Video
Of all the formats available on Facebook, video might be the most valuable. Having an actual visual interaction with a member of your business puts a face to a name, and allows people to think that they’re talking directly to you, even if the video is technically for everyone. If you can make a video that answers common questions, makes surprise announcements about your brand, or announces a contest of sorts, that video is almost guaranteed to get higher engagement than just about anything else you post.
If video is king, however, then live video is even better. Almost nothing on any platform beats a Facebook live that is just for a single group, which is one of the reasons that Facebook ranks it so high in their algorithm. If you go live in your group, you'll have a much higher organic reach than every other post, so use it as often as you can without coming off as spammy.
Hire a Moderator
You may not feel like you're at the point where you need to hire a moderator, but if your Facebook group is receiving any level of constant attention, then it's worth looking into. A moderator doesn't just police the activity that happens in the group (although that's a very valuable skill), they can also form partnerships with other groups and think of creative ways with which to engage the group.
Some people may rebel against this idea, claiming that they would prefer to be the face of all public communication, but that idea is not tenable over the long term. It doesn't cost very much to hire a moderator for your Facebook group, but it may be one of the best investments you ever make, since that person's sole purpose is to turn passive customers into raving fans. That's a full-time job.
Answering Common Questions About Facebook Groups
Should I Make My Group Public or Private?
This is largely a personal decision, but one that should be thought through carefully before deciding which approach to take. In public groups, everyone that's outside the group can see who's inside and what content they post, whereas private groups restrict that information to only members of that specific group.
There are pros and cons to both, but if you are in an industry that values privacy, such as lingerie or healthcare, you’ll want those settings to be private. Groups where people like to talk more openly, such as car or DIY groups, may be better switched to public, but ultimately that decision comes down to what your audience members expect.
What Type of Content Should I Post?
Different brands have different types of Facebook groups. Indeed, a "branded" group for a barbecue company, for instance, may have a private Facebook group that is dedicated towards grilling tips and secrets. The drawback is that the brand itself may rarely be mentioned, but the advantage is that every single time somebody comes into the group, they'll associate the knowledge they gain with your business.
The reason this type of understanding is important, is that it will determine the type of content you post. If your group is heavily associated with the brand, then coupons, special offers, and email list sign-ups are almost expected. If it's more of an industry-type group that's adjacent to your brand, then they'll expect more informational type of content.
Should I Restrict Access or Not?
Several years ago, even if your group was private, you could allow anybody to join just by sending in a simple request. Unfortunately, scammers have found ways to create bots that will infiltrate various Facebook groups and spam them with all sorts of affiliate links and commercial posts.
For the sake of your brand's integrity, you want to limit that is much as possible, so we always recommend putting a few questions during the application process in order to weed out bots. Make sure that these are questions that only humans that know who your brand is will be able to answer, and you should be fine.
How Do I Get More People to Engage With My Content?
The key to interaction within a Facebook group is similar to what you would have with any other community: post great content. Quality over quantity is important, but so is testing, so alternate between images, memes, polls, short text updates, and questions to see what approach works best with your audience.
One approach that is very popular with many groups is to welcome every single person that is new to the group at the end of the week. This serves two purposes. First, it creates a warm welcome to a community, which is exactly what every group — online or not — should do, and it also captures the person's attention to the group. A welcome post with a tag for that person will remind them that they're in the group, which is important if it's been a few days since they requested to join.
About THE AUTHOR
After working for multiple digital advertising agencies and managing hundreds of client accounts, spending millions of dollars via Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Native Ads and Direct Media Buying, I took things out on my own and started SparrowBoost. Now, my tight-knit team and I continue to get smarter and more efficient at running our own campaigns and we share our knowledge with you.Learn more about SparrowBoost