If you use Facebook there is a good chance you’re a member of at least one Facebook group – heck, you might be a member of several (if you’re thinking ‘more like 247’ you might have a slight addiction!) and why not? Facebook groups are great for socialising, supporting learning, buying and selling, organising events and generally giving you somewhere away from the ‘noise’ of the Facebook timeline to chat.
I’ve been using groups to support my business training since 2012 and to be honest, I LOVE them.
- They allow me to virtually get to know my students.
- I can support them in a safe setting.
- They get peer support from other members.
- We brainstorm and chat, tackle problems and challenges, celebrate success, practice videos and give feedback on blogs and websites and make friends.
- We set up introduction threads, run competitions, support each other to hit milestones and help each other build our business.
That’s powerful – in fact you will often hear me talk about the Power of the Group.
It adds a new dimension to my teaching – you’re never alone in your learning. And THAT is more important than it might at first sound because many of my learners are women business owners working by themselves, at home around busy lives where their friends and family just don’t get what it’s like to be taking on the huge task of building a business.
What’s Good About Facebook Groups?
Facebook groups are incredibly versatile. You have different privacy settings from secret (not findable – membership is by invitation only and only members can see group details and content) to closed (appears in searches for groups and non- members can see the group title, description and admins/members but only members can see content) to open (searchable, content is open to everyone, members can either join and be given immediate access or can be set so an admin has to approve the request).
You can choose whether to allow members to add people automatically or set it so you have to approve requests. You can choose whether member posts automatically appear or whether you have to moderate them.
You can create group chats with the whole group (think carefully before making this a regular thing as it can be annoying to be pulled into group chats you neither requested nor wanted).
You can create events within a group, that all members can see. The events area lets you add images and videos, times and dates and information and it keeps it all together in one place.
Members can choose to receive notifications when someone posts or comments (that can get overwhelming quite quickly) but you can choose your notification level and control what you see.
Members can create Facebook live videos within the group. They can also upload videos, images and documents that are all then neatly stored in the photos/ videos/ files sections for future reference.
Members can search within the group for words, phrases or people.
Admins can set out group rules in the ‘about’ section and members can report posts they feel are not within the rules, which are then flagged up to admins to delete or approve.
Admins can ask questions of people requesting to join the group, to help them decide whether to let them in.
Businesses are using Facebook groups for a whole range of reasons, so could you be using them to build YOUR business? Here are a few suggestions to get your brain cells whirring.
Support a study programme
This is how I use Facebook groups in my business. Every programme or club I run has a Facebook group attached to it. It allows me to add value to my teaching and build a supportive community in which I can help my students and they can help each other.
If you run children’s classes or have a business working with children or parents, a closed Facebook group can be a great way to share opinions, ideas and images away from the public timeline. Often, parents worry about sharing images of their children on a Facebook page because it’s open and anyone can share from a page. In a closed group only group members can see the posts and images and if they try to share them outside the group, the post comes up with an ‘attachment unavailable’ message, you might have seen these before.
Yes, people can save images within a group to their device (or screenshot them) but if you limit group membership to parents and carers of the children you work with, there shouldn’t be any issues. Best make the group rules very clear, however, and tell people that they can only download images of their own children and must ask permission if another child is featured in the photo.
Finally, if you do work with children and parents it’s always sensible to ask them to sign an image permission/disclaimer form to allow you to use images of their children in your marketing. That way, you know who is happy for images to be shared AND who isn’t.
If your business sells wool, you could set up a local knitters Facebook group. If you run a toyshop then you might set up a local children’s event Facebook group for parents and team up with other businesses aimed at parents in the area, to pool your marketing. If you are a florist and you run local workshops, you could set up a local ‘florist workshop’ Facebook group. You get the idea. Bringing together people with the same interests, who are a great fit for your business allows you to get to know potential customers, build a relationship and share your knowledge. That way, when they are ready to buy they are much more like to buy from you than someone else.
Special offers and sales
If you have regular stock clear-outs, or often launch new products it can be a good idea to set up a Facebook group where your group members get first dibs at the deals. It makes them feel special and they are much more likely to buy than your general Facebook fans, as they have chosen to be in that group for that reason.
Imagine a place where you can get useful, honest feedback on your products and services in a safe place away from the public gaze. Imagine a group where you can share ideas you’re thinking of developing and get a steer on the best options (in other words, what people would BUY). Depending on your type of business, a closed (or by invitation only) Facebook group could be just what you need.
I recommend this in Crafty Business School as a way to gauge opinion on product ideas before you go to the time and expense of developing them into full-blown product lines. Also, if you listen to your group members and create what they have asked for, guess who will be the first to buy?
If your business involves selling to other businesses, you could create a virtual networking Facebook group to bring them together. Not only do you have a lovely group of people to get to know, but they all get to know each other too – it’s a win-win. My study groups are full of business owners and even though the primary purpose of the groups is to support their learning, I find that friends are made and business is done, because they are all entrepreneurs.
Imagine you work with new mums, maybe you’re a breastfeeding coach or offer baby massage. It might be a great idea to set up a local mum and baby Facebook group – NOT for the purpose of selling to members, but rather to get to know them and see how you can help.
If you run or regularly sell or teach at events, workshops
List building group