Dear Doctor Digital, I’ve noticed recently more businesses seem to be setting up Facebook Groups – would I use this instead of a fan page to promote my products?
Facebook groups are gaining a following by business owners for use in growing communities. It’s kind of a new twist on an old flavour as Facebook groups have always had their place for bringing together people with similar interests, whether that was around a cause, a hobby or a geographical community. The use of a group page vs a fan page is very different however. The key use of your fan page is to provide a real time context around your product or service, to update customers and clients, and allow a natural two-way conversation to occur. Your fan page is still pretty linear and driven by posts, and it is fundamentally a marketing activity for your brand. Undoubtedly you can have your raving fans and evangelists on that forum, but to really activate a community, a group page is the new black.
Group pages differ to the straight fan page world of post and converse. In these forums, the emphasis is on giving value to participants. Sure, the outcome may eventually be that leads and sales emerge, but primarily you are posting to value add the community and build trust, loyalty, friendship and brand values. Hard selling is a turn off here, and the community will quickly let people know when they are crossing any intangible boundaries. It’s not an either or proposition though, and your business can utilise both types of pages to give customers the best of your brand.
Here are five ways you can successfully use a group page to grow your business:
1. Build expertise – many Facebook groups are built around a particular expertise – like start-ups, entrepreneurs, marketers, franchisees etc. By starting a group to bring together experts in your area, you can create a wealth of knowledge for others to share in. If you ran a business connected to pets like dog minding, you can start a page to discuss pets, share stories and alert owners to snake season etc, this brings together like minded folks who can share in your and their expertise in a soft sell environment.
2. Extend the reach of seminars and conferences – A Facebook group is the perfect place to continue or start conversations around a learning experience such as a seminar or conference. By gathering participants together and giving them the space to share and extrapolate on their learnings, you are continuing the dialogue and enmeshing the community around that experience. This is now a pre qualified place to offer further services or extensions to services such as e-books, webinars, and coaching.
3. Promote chats - if you run Twitter chats or other meet ups, this is a great place for a focussed conversation in a closed group situation. Experts and guests can be brought in, and the conversation targeted and curated on particular topics that support your business and customer needs as well as setting up collaborations which can lead to further customer cross pollination.
4. Mastermind groups – another popular way to give clients added value. You can test ideas with peers, support each other with mentoring and coaching, share your learnings and generally build each others knowledge bank. These can be an incredibly valuable and productive way for you to build community with peers at the same time as you are building an invaluable network of trusted advisors.
5. Collect offline feedback - want to test out new ideas on some of your existing customers? One way to do that is to start a Facebook group to use as a think-tank for your business. Create a closed Facebook group, invite some of your best customers and openly discuss new ideas you’re thinking about implementing in your business. Then gather feedback from them. This type of group provides a way to build stronger relationships with customers, while helping business owners collect honest feedback on what their customers might like, outside of an open and uncontrolled environment. Incentivize their participation and give them a VIP status to enhance the experience.
Facebook groups supplement your business and your fan
page. So even if you create a Facebook group, you’ll still want a Facebook page
for your business. Anything you share on your business page shows up in the
news feed for fans to see. When fans engage with your content, it increases
your visibility to others in their network. Once you have a Facebook group and a page, make sure
they work in tandem. Actively promote your group to your fans, if it’s
something they’re able to join. This way, you can leverage your group and your
page at the same time.