Pretty much every small business out there has a presence on Facebook. Most simply have a company page that lists their contact info, an overview of who they are, what they do, business hours, etc. Some go further by sharing their blog posts on Facebook, perhaps even videos they’ve created, as well as sharing industry articles. Still others go further by posting events, highlighting employees, and showcasing pictures of their company, their products, events, etc. Facebook ads have also grown among small business owners with great success. One item many small business owners overlook is Facebook Groups. Here’s how to use Facebook Groups to get more business.

What are Facebook Groups?

Facebook Groups are spaces on Facebook for friends, acquaintances, or people with similar interests to discuss or share about broad or narrow topics. They let people come together around a common cause, issue or activity to organize, express objectives, discuss issues, post photos, and share related content. Anybody can set up and manage their own Facebook Group, and you can even join up to 6,000 other Groups.

How Facebooks Groups can help small businesses

Facebook groups can help small businessesSince Facebook Groups are made up of people with similar interests, participating in a group can help small business owners surround themselves with likeminded people with similar interests. They can give you a way to demonstrate your expertise to potential customers and strengthen relationships with existing customers. Depending on which group you’re in, you can be a subject matter expert and share your expertise with others or connect with those who can become brand evangelists or brand advocates for you. The benefit of a Facebook Group is that it’s likely a much smaller and more targeted audience than Facebook in general; therefore, your participation will more likely stand out and have an impact. Groups work on smaller networks than the entire Facebook network. Also, while your Facebook Company Page can accumulate as many likes as possible, a group must be kept at 250 members or lower. This immediately forces Facebook Groups to be smaller than Pages.

How can small business owners get into the right Facebook Group?

There are two ways to become a part of a Facebook Group:

  1. Create your own Facebook Group.
  2. Participate in other Facebook Groups that cater to your industry.

Let’s start with #2, joining and participating in a Facebook Group that caters to your industry. Take a moment to really consider what will be in your best interest. If you are an aesthetician, for example, you may want to join a group devoted to discussing the benefits and latest trends in that field. This group will likely put you in front of potential customers and perhaps those who will refer business to you (if they’re local). However, if you seek professional development and want to stay up on the technical advances in the industry, you may want to seek a different group solely inhabited by other like professionals in your field. You can see why people join more than one group! It’s really no different than in-person networking groups. Professionals join various groups for various reasons:  find new business, find new resources, continue their professional education, etc.

How do you find a relevant Facebook Group to join?

To find a Facebook Group to join, log into your Facebook personal profile account and find Groups on the left-hand side of your Home page in the Explore section. You’ll automatically be sent to the Discover Groups landing page. This is where Facebook suggests groups for you based on criteria such as pages you’ve liked, groups your friends are members of, and so on.  Since you’re looking to join a group for business, these recommendations may or may not be relevant. If not, use the search bar at the top and type in a relevant keyword phrase such as “marketing”, and then navigate to the Groups tab right below the search bar. You’ll see a list of groups with how many members are in the group, about how many posts are added a day, and a short description. Peruse the list and see if there’s one relevant to what you need for what you’re trying to accomplish. Just a note here: when you first join a group, it’s like walking into a group of strangers, so take your time to sit back and observe. Don’t immediately jump into the conversation and try to sell people. Get a lay of the land, participate as appropriate and build rapport, trust and credibility first. As time goes on and you share your expertise, adding value to the group, you’ll see how you might attract prospects or referrals from the Group.

Should you create your own Facebook Group?

Create your own Facebook GroupOf course, if you really want to ensure you’re in the ONE group that surrounds you with the people you want, the best way is to start your own group. A typical example would be a user group started by a company for its own customers. Perhaps you want to use this group to educate your current customers or reach new customers. Managing a dedicated Facebook group of your own lets you control the entire group experience and use your group for a specific purpose. Think of what your goal is and how you want to format the group, and who you want to invite. Facebook makes it easy to create your own group. Navigate to the Groups tab as explained previously. Then, instead of clicking “Discover” to find a group, click the green “+Create Group” button and follow the steps. Customize the group that best suits your needs and invite people. The key to long-term success with a group you create is to offer a value to members. That could be through lively discussions, content creation, and overall engagement by all members. Just be sure you’re ready to manage a group, which may include moderation and managing notifications. Social Media Examiner offers a great article on group management you might want to check out.

How to engage in Facebook Groups

Regardless of whether you join an existing group or start your own, here are a few ways to use Facebook Groups to get more business:

  • Ask questions
  • Answer questions
  • Provide relevant industry information
  • Share industry articles
  • Provide useful tips on topics of interest to group members
  • Offer tutorials
  • Engage in Q&A sessions
  • Offer free advice in a non-salesy way

All the above basically offer value to fellow members. Find out what members are asking about and answer those questions. Find out their pain points and see how you can address them. Add value. Doing so will show members your value to them and in turn, they may turn to you to do business.

Patty Hughes
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