If You Run A Small Business Today, Start A Facebook Group

Skip Facebook pages, blogs, and every hosted community platform.

Skip mailing lists and newsgroups too.

Create a Facebook group about the topic and invite your customers to join.

Or just invite your clients. Or maybe even just your work colleagues.

For all but the very largest organisations, groups are a better choice than a fan page today. You get more reach and greater depth. You can send a message to every member. You benefit from the long-established habit of visiting Facebook.

If you’ve ever tried to build a community on a hosted platform, you know how hard this is.

You can initiate events and invite every member. You can take advantage of a well established habit to visit the community. You can livestream webinars and other footage directly to the group.

The results are far more impressive too.

Most importantly, you benefit from the natural network effects. If a percentage of my close friends are in the group (as happens in most industries), Facebook recommends I join it too. Groups can grow incredibly fast.

As your audience grows, you can begin to build assets around it. You can create a blog and share the links in the group. You might create another community and begin posting discussions in the group. You might organise events and invite every group member.

Groups aren’t perfect by any means. You can’t get email addresses. You can’t onboard people the way you like. You can’t capture (ethically) email addresses. The technology might change at any moment (e.g. paid reach). You don’t get the SEO benefit. You can’t easily capture knowledge for the long-term.

However, in a world of shifting technology use and an ever-greater war for attention, they’re probably the single best tool any small business can use to get a community started today.

Comments

  1. Suzi Nelson says:

    Great post! I run a ton of those Facebook groups! The challenge now is how to scale - there gets to be a point where there are so many people that it gets super hard to moderate, measure, and maintain a solid sense of community.

  2. Alessio Fattorini says:

    I get started with a Facebook group it was quite simple to administrate and keep engaged but increasing the activity we had to face too many issues, as you described. The main problem: searching and repetitive topics. So I moved the group on a better community platform. Group was still small, just around 150 members so the moving was’nt so complicated and I converted them pretty easily

  3. Sarah Hawk says:

    Great point. Charlotte Moller is the person to ask about this. She has had great success with Facebook groups and has a strategy which involves closing and starting over when they reach critical mass. Charlotte, it would be great if you could jump in here.

  4. Suzi Nelson says:

    What platform did you go with?

  5. Suzi Nelson says:

    Thanks Hawk.

  6. Alessio Fattorini says:

    The best community platform that I know. The same where you are now :slight_smile: Discourse

  7. Charlotte Moller van Gils Hansen says:

    Thanks Hawk, for letting me know about this post. It is right, I manage several Facebookgroups and what a challenge it has been :wink: But more functions and analytical programmes outside of Facebook has made it all easier.

    We have a total of 1400 members across our groups. It is people suffering from a brain injury, so we had to make some decisions about the growth and maximum sizes of the groups, due to the people have problems with cognitive functions. But what I see in other groups I am a member of private (like hobby groups), is that the Facebookgroups grow way too big and all the topics disappear down the wall in the group.

    • You hardly get any replies on your post, because too many other posts have been in front.
    • Also, many repeat posts because they did not see the previous.
    • Also, how to we create a community across such a large group, where no one really know each other?

    I recommend that you find a level of members, where you have a sense of community. I find that this feeling often lies within yourself :wink: Others than you can see how many replies the posts get, monitor the activity. There is a simple function to make several groups, involving the same topic.

    • You decide of a maximum numbers of members
    • You let people know why you decided on this and argumenting that the community is stronger due to more activity, more read posts, more answers, more personal connections (and you will get a lot of opinions) :wink:
    • When you reach maximum you make the group “secret” in settings, and it cannot be find for new members to apply.
    • You open a new similar group, where you get 10-15 from your first group to come and join and help the activity and start up level. Also you can point out some users, to read the posts and post the best/most relevant posts in other groups. This is to maintain somekind of bond between the members across all the groups.

    We have 4 groups that are the same, with 250 members in each. It works - but some groups are stronger than others and some need more supervision than others. It is important to find community managers for each group, who work closely together behind the groups to maintain a red thread throughout all the members.

    We are happy with our solution, since we are forced on Facebook due to lack of fonds. One day, we will problerly make our own platform - Facebookgroups = Facebookrules. But we are on year 3 now within Facebook!

    Also it is totally worth paying for a full membership at www.grytics.com - an analytical tool for Facebookgroups. We LOVE this! It has all that Facebook is not providing :slight_smile:

    Fell free to ask questions, or if my poor English has made something hard to understand!

  8. Suzi Nelson says:

    Oh heck yeah, I love Grytics!

    Thanks so much for outlining your strategy Charlotte. I can see how splintering into small groups is the solution - I think I read somewhere that its natural that members of large communities niche down into smaller groups. In fact, many of our members are frustrated that they cant create their own niches (and some just do anyway - if I search for keywords in Facebook’s search, there are tons of little groups that have broken off of ours.

    Our group has about 9,000 people in it (and right now growing steadily by ~120 people a week).

    I know creating subgroups is the answer, but I’m wondering if I should keep it on Facebook or if its time to seriously think about that scary M word… migration!

  9. Anne Bercilla says:

    Thanks for all this insight, Charlotte! I am currently starting up a community on Facebook and just started using Grytics as well! One question I’m currently struggling with is, how do I know whether my “Engagement Score” is good? Right now it’s at 9.42. Same for “Active Members”. What % is good? Is there an industry standard? I’d like to set goals for myself and knowing “what’s healthy” or “what’s good” will be super helpful. Tagging Suzi as well since it sounds like she’s had experience with Grytics as well!

  10. Anne Bercilla says:

    No problem—I really appreciate your response! I reached out to them with
    this same question and they responded that they’re working on it. I’m not
    sure how far along in the pipeline it is but it sounds like this is
    something already on their mind.

    I would definitely benefit from a “how-to” video! I think this is the
    closest thing they have right now:
    https://grytics.com/all-facebook-groups-analyze-features/. I’ll search
    around and see if there’s anything like that and let you know if I find
    anything. We just purchased the Pro plan, so we’ll see how it goes. That is
    also awesome to know you can plan posts. Definitely helpful. :slight_smile:

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