Facebook has recently placed a heavier focus on what it refers to as “meaningful interactions.” This means that the larger the conversation or, the more people are involved, the more it will appear on user timelines. Consider meaningful interactions to be a snowball. The more people get involved, the more people will see it and be enticed to get involved. This new emphasis on interactions is Facebook pushing for higher user engagement and the best place to find high user engagement is in Facebook Groups.
1) Tools and Functions of Facebook Groups that make this an advantageous feature for brands
Facebook groups differ in context and size, but certain aspects make them very advantageous for brands. First, whether you create a specific group for your brand or join another group with similar parameters, you are entering a world where people are already interested in the work you are doing. This function of Facebook Groups might be a temptation to use this platform as another way to sell your brand. This is a major turnoff to most users in Facebook groups. Instead of being brand forward, be industry forward and establish your brand as an industry authority. In a Facebook group, wisdom and engagement are far more valuable than using the platform to try and sell your product.
Similarly, Facebook Groups can be used as an excellent tool to establish proactive customer engagement. When people see your brand interacting in an online social forum like Facebook groups it re-establishes and fosters trust in your brand identity. The open communication that takes place within the context of whatever group you are a part of will allow you to be as close to the consumer thought process as you can be, all while learning and addressing the concerns of your customer. Again, be wary not to be too sales minded, but do use this platform as a way to engage your customers by asking thought-provoking questions that stimulate and engage
2) What can you achieve by utilizing Facebook Groups?
Facebook groups are an important forum for brands to communicate directly with consumers. The added benefits of a Facebook group include higher engagement, direct communication, heightened brand awareness, and increased dialogue. This is a powerful tool for marketers as the heightened engagement that Facebook groups offer actually employs Facebook’s algorithms to reach a larger audience. Based on the snowball effect of meaningful interactions, Facebook groups have the singular ability to pull in users where other types of organic engagement fall short.
A Facebook group is a great way to enhance user engagement. As a forum where customers can come together to discuss and interact with the brand, a Facebook group offers the unique ability to gain real-time consumer feedback. This type of setting is advantageous for brands as it allows customers to feel empowered by their ability to reach out and make themselves heard. To keep engagement up, Facebook groups should be maintained as a safe space where critique or praise can be offered without fear of consequence.
Nurture Your Community
Your Facebook group should be devoted to adding value. It is important to remember the basics of engagement to ensure that your members keep engaging. Promoting and fostering new material for engagement is a great way to keep your participation levels high. Certain marketing basics should be followed to encourage growth, mainly – share often, build trust, and give back!
Promote Specific Content
High-value content should be the goal of any good Facebook group. There are many strategies for how to develop and release material, such as a monthly theme or a weekly calendar. It is important to switch it up, so the content you are publishing does not become predictable or stale. Content does not always need to be brand specific, but rather specific to the needs and wants of your group members. Member discussions and consumer engagement are what drive group success, so it is important to remain aware of content that is succeeding and failing to adapt and adjust.
Cross promotion is a great way to grow subscriptions across your other platforms. Including links to videos or other relevant media within your group can add value to your other brand pages and accounts. Similarly, including links and topics from other brand pages can be an excellent way to draw in users from other pages and grow your online community. It is important to keep your group free from a high volume of sales driven content; remember that this is a safe space for your customers to engage with the brand and with each other.
Provide value for your customers
Your Facebook group should be a place where your customers can talk to other customers about your product. The opportunity to share real opinions adds tremendous value to your brand in two ways. First, genuine and honest discussion allows your customers to feel at ease with your brand to establish and grow trust between customer and business. Second, this honest and open style of discussion allows you control allows you to address customer concerns head-on. For example, if customers are all complaining about shipping costs, then you know that issue needs to be at the top of your priorities moving forward. This is a perfect opportunity to let your customers know that you want to hear from them, you are listening to what they are saying, and you are working to make their experience better.
Discuss current events
Not all conversations within your group need to be brand specific. In fact, it would be wise to limit how many brand specific topics there are in the group. Start conversations around news and trends within your industry, and let the conversation organically steer itself toward how your brand is involved within that topic.
Promote specific events
People want to hear about exciting happenings and events. People are always looking for things to occupy their time and even if someone cannot attend a live event, they want to be involved in some capacity. Facebook groups, specifically live streaming, is a great way to keep your users involved and engaged. It is essential to promote your events and add links to your Facebook calendar to promote these events within the group.
Communicate with brand ambassadors
Brand ambassadors have become an important staple in online brand communities. They serve as minor celebrities and figureheads for the brand that people can turn to for advice, guidance, and influence. A successful tactic for boosting engagement is to occasionally have a brand ambassador moderate a specific post within the group. Boosting engagement can be as simple as bringing a new voice or opinion into the fold, and brand ambassadors serve as excellent guests for stirring up interest.
More authentic conversations and connections
Facebook groups should not be controlled by brands as much as they should be fostered and guided by them. Bringing in different moderators and allowing the conversations to take their natural course enable the group to be a real community platform wherein customers can discuss their true opinions. If the group feels too controlled or too corporate than the group loses its authenticity and becomes just an extension of the corporate page. It is crucial for brands to take a light grip on the reigns of their group and allow the discussion to happen organically.
Bypassing the chaos of the newsfeed
As the parameters of Facebook have changed, the manner in which brands can reach their consumers has also evolved. Groups are an excellent resource for brands because due to the “meaningful interactions” or “snowball” effect discussed earlier, these groups have the ability to bypass the news feed filters. Whereas an organic post might reach 1-2% of users the ceiling for a high powered group chat is much greater. Users in the group automatically get notified when there is a new post, whereas with an organic post might never even see their newsfeed.
Focus on collaboration with other members
Using Facebook groups can be a powerful tool as a way to collaborate on new ideas. A group can come straight out with a question like “what do you want to see from our brand?” Groups can also implement the use of polls to ask questions where users can vote and engage that way. Another example of how to establish and foster collaboration might be to have a Facebook group just for your employees where they can connect from all across the country on happenings within the company, industry, etc.
Promote content marketing and/or specific areas of your website and business
Your Facebook group is an excellent place to announce new products and features for your brand. Again, it is important to limit such brand specific posts to your group, but your fans and customers want to know what is happening behind the scenes every now and again. In order to avoid making the discussion seem too sales or product driven, you can link to blogs or web pages which allows users to engage according to their interest level in that product.
The value of your Facebook group lies in its authenticity. When users share their opinions, it sets a non-biased tone for the rest of the discussion and allows for honest discussion and open debate. It is important to let a discussion to flow naturally, but it is also wise to deal with constructive criticism head-on. This is a forum to engage your customers, not shut them out. Addressing all feedback, positive and negative is important. All of this reinforces brand authenticity and social transparency where the customer is providing honest insight.
3)Tips and Tricks for maintaining a successful Facebook Group
Growing your group:
- Cross promote on your other platforms by adding clickable links that lead to your group
- Send invitations on Facebook to followers of your page
- Create graphics and use a video cover on your Facebook Page
- Link your group on your main brand page and in your email signature
- Run Facebook ads to increase awareness
Keeping members engaged
- Post content regarding industry trends to start conversations
- Use video to engage your followers
- Bring in guest moderators and brand ambassadors
- Promote upcoming events
- Hold contests for your users
Planning your content
- Use the group as a test/pilot area to post new content and gauge response
- Use a content calendar to keep yourself organized
- Establish up a rhythm for posting and engaging
- Be sure to respond in a timely manner
- Use a variety of content types and draw from other groups
Optimizing your profile
- Utilize Facebook Live to engage with users in real time
- Always mention your group on your brand page but keep brand talk limited in the group
- If questions organically arise about the brand answer the question & link to your page
- Stoke the fire and stir the pot, don’t be afraid to introduce a controversial topic
Overall Do’s and Don’ts
- Don’t be too promotional – this is a discussion, not an add
- Do be aware that this is a long-term strategy,
- Do be consistent – strong engagement comes from constant involvement
- Do be confident (but don’t be a know it all)
- Don’t poison the well by being too salesy – this needs to be an authentic community run by people, not the brand.
Facebook groups are an exciting and advantageous resource for marketers because they enable brands to engage in honest, real-time discussions with customers. The caveat to this is that the Facebook group, even though it may be affiliated with the brand, needs to take a step back and allow the group to take its natural course as a safe space for discussion.
Brands should think of Facebook groups as an ongoing focus group; a live look at what customers are thinking, what they want, and what they want to see changed. It is vital for brands to take part in Facebook groups as they can be great resources to address customer concerns, answer product questions, and occasionally add value with brand specific information. Facebook groups are another great tool that can assist marketers to reach the largest possible audience, and they can do just that with the correct approach and dedicated involvement.