Facebook groups may not be as widely used by marketers as Facebook pages, but that’s only because pages offer far more options to the marketer. This is a false dichotomy, however; there’s absolutely no reason a page owner can’t have a group or two at their disposal. In fact, it’s a great idea to keep an active group in the wings. You can create new marketing opportunities, find new backlinks and closely interact with dedicated consumers through a group in ways you can’t with a page.
1. Find a New Audience
Facebook business pages have something of a reputation online as a place where businesses advertise. It’s true, of course; that’s the whole reason you want a page, even if the advertising is subtle. That’s why providing value to your users is such a big deal; it helps build the illusion that you’re there for your customers, not for your own business.
That said, there are still many users who don’t like to follow pages for one reason or another. Some are savvy and don’t want to fill their feeds with advertising. Some just prefer the idea of a community rather than a page centered around a business. A page can occasionally feel like worshipping a the feet of an idol, while a group feels more like a mutual discussion where your voice can be heard on equal footing.
In that sense, you can use a group to build a new audience and gradually encourage them to move over to your main page. You can do this by sending out invites to the friends of everyone in your group, to expand your circles gradually. Encourage group users to follow your page by providing valuable content whenever possible, generally making yourself a good resource without advertising.
2. Find a Product Idea
If your main page is a shop, here’s an interesting idea you can try. Create a side group and name it something like Product Beta Testers. Your goal here is to accumulate people who are interested in your products and who will be willing to give you feedback. You don’t necessarily need to hook them up with any products sooner than they otherwise would, although you can offer discounts to group members if they leave you feedback.
Feedback is the goal here. This sort of Facebook group gives you two things; a way to improve your existing products and a source of ideas for new product ideas. Ask and listen to the answers about what you could do to improve your products. If the improvement isn’t something you could easily lump into your current product, consider creating a new product to fill the needs.
You can also use such a group – with membership restrictions, if you like – as a customer service hub. Allow customers to ask questions and answer them freely. Accumulate their questions and your answers to put together a dedicated FAQ that can maintain space on your website and accumulate links.
3. Message Group Members with Promotions
One of the most powerful aspects of the Facebook group, in past years, was the fact that a group had very little messaging restrictions. You could moderate a group and send out group messages, which would appear in the inboxes of everyone in your group. This was restricted once a group passed the 1,500 member mark, at which point you could create a new group for messaging and leverage the old one for other purposes.
Facebook recently changed this to restrict messaging to fit with the rest of the platform. You are no longer able to directly message your group members, no matter the size of your group. Or, rather, new groups are unable to message members. Old groups, that have exited since before the change, are still capable of using direct messages. You can still send out messages, but only if you are friends with the user.
The only reason this is still on the list is because of a change to how groups present themselves. In the past, you would have to actively check a group to see anything happening in it; it was functionally private, to the extent that it wouldn’t notify group members when a new post appeared. Now, Facebook has changed that as well; group posts appear in news feeds the same way page posts and personal posts do. You can use public posts where you would have used messages in the past, to the same effect.
4. Network With Content Creators
The thing about Facebook groups is that they’ve been around forever, and there are many well-respected groups full of awesome people. You can, for instance, almost definitely find a group filled with virtually all of the thought leaders and influential bloggers in your industry, as well as hundreds or thousands of their followers.
In fact, you should seek out such groups whenever possible. They aren’t groups you run, but that doesn’t matter. Your goal is to participate, occasionally as a commenter and question-asker, and occasionally as an authority. This establishes you as an active part of the community and puts your content into the awareness of the influential bloggers in your niche.
When your content is on their minds, they’ll check out your site. When they check out your site, there’s the chance they’ll find something of value there. If they do, there’s a good chance they’ll link to your site in the future, either as a reference or as an example. Content creators are some of the best sources of links for your website, and they can refer their own audiences to your blog, website and Facebook page.
5. Boost Engagement and Value
Facebook groups tend to be more interactive and engaging than business pages. This is primarily because of the nature of groups as communities, segregated and gathered around a common interest. If you start a group and promote it amongst your audience on your page, you’re only going to have a few users come over, but those are going to be your most dedicated users.
Further, you can divide your groups into different types of users. Make a public group for customer service engagement. Make a private group for high spender clients. Make another private group for the clients that need some additional encouragement before they convert. Premium content and a direct line to you help sell the value of these groups.