Mind Your Business with Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups is the future of everybody’s favorite social network. Seriously. If you’re a stakeholder in a business, it’s likely you’ve been ignoring one of Facebook’s most powerful tools. And guess what? It just got a whole lot more powerful.

On June 22nd Facebook announced that they were changing its mission statement. They want to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” Facebook Groups are central to this change.

This month we’ve run a series on the new-and-improved Facebook. We’ve talked about how it will affect digital marketers, associations, and political candidates. Today, in our final installment, we’re going to discuss how you can use Groups to convert engagement into revenue. That’s right, you’ve hit the motherlode.

You probably have a Facebook Page. At least, you definitely should. Think of your Page as the public face of your business. It’s where you share your content with followers and fans. You might post news items, pictures of products, and offer promotions. Because it’s public, everyone can see it. It’s like a billboard. A digital billboard.

Your Biz with Groupies

Facebook Groups are totally different from Pages. In a sense, they’re kind of like forums. They’re spaces where users can discuss shared interests. Unlike Pages, engagement in Groups is largely member-driven. Some of them are open which means anyone can join, others are closed, even secret. Each of these has its own benefits—depending on what you’re looking for.

So why should you embrace Groups, then?

Two reasons. For one, Groups are segmented communities. Facebook estimates that nearly half of their daily active users use Groups. That’s 1 billion people, by the way. And a lot of groups. Find groups that contain your ideal client.

For example, let’s say you operate a small bike shop in downtown Toronto. Using the keywords “Biking Toronto”, you’ll be able to find a group with nearly 3000 members. Reach out to them to advertise your business, but remember—offer value before you ask for anything in return. Engagement begets engagement, so become a part of that community. Offer advice, information, maybe even promotional deals to those members exclusively.

Finally, build your own group. Now that Facebook’s becoming more communitarian, we’re going to see a huge uptick in groups. There are a number of reasons why you might want to build one of your own.

You might want to develop a closed community for employees, where they can discuss anything from shifts to project ideas. Or maybe you want to build a group consisting of your most loyal customers. Here, they can talk about your product or service, offer suggestions for improvement or insights into how they’re using your offerings. In this instance, Facebook Groups functions as an all-in-one social listening and market research tool!

Developing your own group needs to be a give and take. Offer group members exclusive deals or content. In short, give them value. They don’t want to be a part of your group simply to help you out. Offer them something useful in return.

Thanks to improvements made to Groups, all of this has become a great deal easier. So let’s take a look at Facebook’s five big changes to Groups and how you can make them work for you.

Facebook Groups Insights

To think, Facebook Groups never used to have an analytics tool. Thankfully, now they do. Facebook Groups Insights will empower administrators with access to real-time growth, engagement and membership metrics. With this tool you can see what kind of content your members are engaging with and provide more of it.

You can also identify your most active members. These are your brand advocates, the people who are so enthusiastic about your brand that they’re pushing your products or services when you’re not.

Filtering New Members

Being able to batch accept or decline new members based on filtering criteria will save you plenty of time, especially if you’re managing a big group. More than this, it’ll give you the power to stop “bad actors”—trolls—from getting into your community.

Member Clean-up and Removal

Inappropriate content has plagued Facebook. In an effort to crack down, they’ve implemented a bunch of platform-wide changes. One of them includes giving administrators the power to effectively moderate their groups. In other words, you can delete members, posts or comments that breach your group guidelines.

Post Scheduling

Thankfully you can now schedule your content by time and date, instead of having to manually post it. This is a great way to ensure that you always have content in your pipeline, should you choose to take advantage of it.

Group-to-Group Linking

This final change is a biggie, though it’s still in testing. Specifically, we can’t say how this will empower group administrators. That said, linking sounds like it’ll provide a means for different groups to communicate with one another more effectively. What we do know it that administrators can recommend similar groups for members to join.

Back to our bike shop example from above. Maybe this means your shop’s group will be able to link with a local cyclist enthusiast group, offering you opportunities to promote yourself and build more brand awareness. For now, we’ll have to wait and see what the future holds.

Facebook Groups has always been a useful, if underappreciated tool. Now, with Facebook’s new direction, you can expect to see the feature playing a bigger role, especially in defining the way we interact with one another. We’re still in the early days of Groups, which means you have an opportunity to really innovate.

Look at it this way. The days of the customer are disappearing and the advent of communities is nigh.

If you have anything to add, maybe your own insights into where you see things going, feel free to let us know in the comments below. If you disagree with anything we’ve said, doubly so. We love lively debate. If you’re looking to discover new ways of doing business in the digital age, get in touch!