I was listening to a really funny podcast this week on Howl about “Social Media Spirals.” The hosts were talking about how they can’t even look through their Facebook newsfeeds anymore—it’s overwhelming.
I liked this episode because it was funny and poignant. But of course, I also listened as a person whose job it is to find ways to connect on Facebook. The newsfeed is getting increasingly crowded. How can entrepreneurs and small businesses avoid piling on to people who might really love them or care about them?
That led me to think about how my personal newsfeed over the past 18 months or so has fewer and fewer profile and brand page updates, and more and more updates from Facebook Groups I belong to. In addition, Facebook has created a Groups app that you can download separately so you only see group updates.
(If you need a tutorial on what a Facebook Group is, and how it’s different from a brand page or a profile, get that info from the horse’s mouth.)
I’ve seen Facebook Group features benefiting entrepreneurs in three key ways:
1. Create your own. People are experimenting with all kinds of ways to use Facebook groups as part of a membership model. Some entrepreneurs have multiple groups: one that prospective clients can join after they’ve joined your e-mail list, another group for paying customers. This can be a great strategy if you sell a service that you can offer online. Group members can have regular access to you. (You should specify how often you’ll be available to answer questions.) And they have access to each other for support and to find out
Even if you have a brick-and-mortar business, creating a private Facebook group can be a great way to stay in touch with the clients who are the most
2. Join ’em. Get into those groups! They are all over Facebook. Start with keyword searches in Facebook itself. See what groups your colleagues and contacts have joined. And, as always, get into your audience’s shoes. Search for groups using the keywords they might use. Depending on your industry, you’ll find many groups whose members post contract opportunities, as this post from The Muse points out.
3. Post to the most relevant ones. Reach out when executing something big. If you’re doing a giveaway, launching a new product or service that people have been asking for, or doing something else significant, search for groups that are relevant to the product or service you sell.
Beth Anne of Brilliant Business Moms recently used this strategy to publicize a giveaway that resulted in 5,000 new e-mail subscribers for the BBM list. Read the full post here. Here’s the part about groups:
This strategy allowed the Brilliant Business Moms to get the word out about themselves to a relevant audience, and added the motivation of a giveaway to get people clicking.
Two keys here: one is to make sure that the group moderators allow promotional posts. Check the group guidelines after you join. Many groups allow a promotional post on a specific day or in the comments of a specific moderator post. The other key is to make sure your post doesn’t sound like you’re begging, as the Brilliant Business Moms pointed out above. You can do like the BBM did and ask someone to post on your behalf. Or…
I think this strategy can also work if you’ve already been spending some time in this relevant group posting useful, helpful information and answering questions without the expectation of anything in return. Then, when you do post something promotional, the other group members will recognize you from the previous interactions they’ve had with you. If you’ve spent a lot of time in a group sharing knowledge and supporting other group members, and your promotion feels relevant to the group members, it is less likely to fall through the cracks.