Back To Basics: Facebook Groups For Business
With Facebook's reduced organic reach now an accepted reality, marketers need to look at alternative tactics for reaching their audiences. Facebook Groups are not a new feature but provide an effective solution to counter this new barrier between a brand and its audience.
Benefits Of Facebook Groups
Notification For Group Posts
Members of group get a notification of posts ensuring virtually 100% reach to your audience. However be careful to ensure every communication provides value to the members or risk them becoming annoyed due to irrelevant messages and switching off notifications.
Allows For Niche Subgroups
Groups can be a useful way of gathering customers with similar interests or needs to provide a more tailored experience. For instance a real estate company could set up groups for first time buyers, migrants and investors due to their vastly different requirements for information.
Determine Members By Privacy Settings
By selecting privacy settings, group members can choose from three options:
- Public - Anyone can join or be added by any member with any groups posts viewable by anyone.
- Closed - Anyone can ask to join or member added by a member. With only those in the group able to see posts.
- Secret - People must be invited to join by a member with only those in the group able to see posts.
These settings provide the ability to restrict or open groups to a companies preferences. While most companies are likely to want to keep group settings open for joining, in some instances they may want to restrict membership to select customers, for example VIP customers.
Allows Sharing Of Files
People collaborating on a project can use the file sharing function within groups to allow access to documents, photos or videos.
The use of privacy settings for secret groups would provide for keeping the communications viewable to confirmed members.
A Way To Foster Conversations Between Members
The set up of groups can help develop a more intimate environment that helps to encourage conversation between members. With some planned conversation starters or questions from group administrators a brand can garner some valuable customer feedback and ideas.
Due to all members of a group having to be a personal account, groups can produce a personalised person to person experience as opposed to a company to person situation that happens when using a Facebook Page.
Facebook Group Setup
Groups are very simple to setup with a easy to follow steps to guide you through the process. To begin, visit How do I create a group? in the Facebook Help section.
To get the most out of Facebook Groups here are some best practice tips.
Invite new customers to the group
Building a group membership can take time. By inviting new customers to your group you will quickly grow its membership while creating a space where new customers can garner insights from existing customers.
Outline the group's purpose
Let people know why the group has been created and what they should expect. Within the groups description, detail the purpose of the group. Provide examples of what they should expect to clearly state the benefits of belonging to the group.
Tell members they can invite people
If your group is an open group, let people know they can invite friends that may find value from being a part of the group. Your members will become advocates for a group they get value from and can help to attract new members.
Create a content plan
As with any marketing communication having a plan that ensures regular and consistent activity will help to maintain a captive audience.
Content ideas to consider:
- Ask questions that invite feedback.
- Post about forthcoming product releases.
- Create special offers for group members.
Provide examples of what to post
A group environment is a space for two way communication. Therefore invite members to post content by providing examples of what to post. This could be innovative uses of your product or suggested product features.
Welcome new members
Making people feel welcome further reinforces the personal connections that a group provides for. A welcome to a member instantly makes a person feel part of the group and can help to remove any anxieties about contributing to the conversation.
As suggested for content ideas, asking questions can spark a group into debate that can easily have a snowball effect. Consider questions that invite users to share their experiences, advice or knowledge to provide a collective benefit to all members.
Ways To Use
With the benefits and best practice of Facebook Groups covered here are some practical ways for companies to use them.
Provide a space for people with a shared interest
Groups main purpose are a way of gathering people with common interests. Companies can use this as a way of connecting with customers on a more personal level that creates a more meaningful than just sales focused.
Promote An Event
While events can be created outside of groups, the major benefit of creating a group within an event is a readymade guest list. You can also organise and manage events using a group's calendar. Also using a group events feature members can continue to connect and interact with members they met at the event.
Create A Customer Support Group
Here group members can provide each other with advice regarding certain issues they face. The major advantage being that one member's posts is communicated to all in the group without restricted reach. So if there is a common FAQ, a group post will avoid several people contacting the company with the same question.
Look After Specific Customer Segments
As discussed earlier, a group can be a way of segmenting customers by their specific needs or situation. For example a sports equipment retailer could look to create group based on the sports it sells equipment for.
Collaborating On A Project
The file sharing feature of groups applies more to internal business operations. Facebook has combined with Dropbox to enable easy sharing of files. In addition groups can serve as a internal communication method for teams working on a common project.
The benefits of Facebook Groups provide a way for marketers to overcome the limitations of the platform's News Feed.