Posted On 01 Mar 2018
What is a Facebook Group?
Facebook designed Groups to be spaces where like-minded individuals could come together and discuss topics of mutual interest. This is not a new idea. Bulletin Boards were among the first social developments of the early Internet and they have been around in one form or another ever since.
A Group can be about anything you like, provided you are within Facebook’s Community Standards Policy: Things for Sale, Pets, Business, A Product or Service, Politics, Parenting, Spring-Loaded Doo-Dads, Purple Earring Collecting, etc.
No topic is a wrong topic, though some will be more popular than others. The idea is to bring together people interested in a topic and get them interacting.
Why Should I Create a Facebook Group?
As a business owner, you can simply participate in various groups which might relate in some way to your product or service and use them to promote your business, but managing your own group gives you much more control over the type of message you can present. You are setting the rules, so you make them suit your own needs.
That said, great care must be taken never to become a “group tyrant” or to turn your group into an obvious commercial. The instant and eternal effect will be a loss of every group member who is not either your mom or someone not paying attention to the group content anyway. Subtlety is key to steering conversations in directions that benefit your message.
What Should My Group Be About?
Don’t even open up Facebook until you have taken some time to really think about this question. You need to be very clear about what you want your group to be about, how you want to use that topic to connect to your business goals, and how you want to go about connecting the two using the subtlety mentioned above.
There are a few common use cases for Facebook Groups at which we can take a look:
Create a Group with a general topic that relates to your business directly or tangentially to draw in people who are interested in the topic and, therefore, the product or service provided by your business. An example might be to create a Fashionable Nurses Group to talk about the latest cool scrubs. You can drop in one of the nifty scrubs you sell every now and then as interest grows or you can get ideas from what everyone else is interested in.
Establish Community Authority
When part of your Social Media goal is to inspire confidence in your goods and services by proving your knowledge and experience in your area of expertise, your Group will seek to notify current and potential clients of this expertise. You will be responsible for educating and unselfishly giving away knowledge that helps people who need it in your special area of expertise. This will pay off in droves as people come to your business because of the trust you have built.
These Groups are often provided by businesses to their current clients as a private space to discuss and get help with the products and services purchased from the company. Think of this as a customer service area to add value to your product or service. This is guaranteed to inspire customer loyalty when used correctly and consistently.
You must weigh the benefits of any approach you take and determine the best way you can use it to benefit your business. Keep in mind that creating a Group is a long-term labor-of-love no matter what approach you take. Any Social Media approach you take will require daily fostering to build the trust and loyalty required to make it a successful producer of sustained business growth. However, if done well, it will.
Now that you know what you are going to do and why you are going to do it, it’s time to fire up Facebook and build the Group.
How Do I Build a Facebook Group?
Look in the LEFT column on your Facebook HOME PAGE under EXPLORE. Click on GROUPS.
In the second bar from the top, click on the + CREATE GROUP button. A lightbox will pop up.
A slider at the top of the lightbox allows you to choose from several Group Type options, but we will stick with the first option for now: “Groups are great for getting things done and staying in touch with just the people you want.”
In the box titled NAME YOUR GROUP, create a name for your Group.
You can name it whatever you want and can change it later, but think about these questions:
- What are my goals for the Group?
- Does the name reflect the goals and focus of the Group?
- Is the name memorable and searchable?
- Will the name appeal to my target audience?
Next, for some out-of-place reason, you will need to add at least one new member to your group. I suggest waiting to add the bulk of your intended audience until you have fully tweaked your settings and added some content so they don’t come into a nekkid Group. You can send a personalized note with the invitation by clicking on the note icon at the end of the entry box.
Finally, on this first page, you will need to choose your Privacy Setting. Choose carefully, because changing it later is not always an option. After 250 members, you can only increase the level of privacy.
Anyone can join
Everyone can see the Group posts
Potentially attract people who spam with their own content
Best for a community about a specific topic, interest or event
Anyone can ask to join
Requests to join must be approved by Group administrator
Non-members can’t see Group posts
Good for business-related Groups
Helps prevent spamming
Group can’t be seen in search
Only members can see the Group and Group posts
Members must be invited by Group administrator
Can establish the authority of your business
Can be used to provide a service or even charge a fee to join
Click the CREATE button
If you wish, choose an icon in the next box to represent your Group and click OK. This is optional and you may click SKIP to use no icon.
Congratulations! Your Group now exists. But don’t stop now. You need to customize it to make it fit your goals and intentions for the Group as well as appeal to your audience.
First, add a cover photo that’s 820 x 428 pixels. Here’s a good article on how to make a great cover photo using the awesome and free-to-very-cheap tool Canva. Choose a photo or create a header that relates as well as possible to the purpose you have developed for your Group.
Now fill in the rest of the information needed to fully describe your Group. Under your profile picture, click the …MORE button and choose EDIT GROUP SETTINGS.
If you thought of a better Group name since your first try, change it here. Change the Group Type and Icon here as well, if needed.
Description: Now you need to accurately describe your group so you will attract the members who will serve the Group’s purpose. Your description must include what the group is about and why it exists. Spend some time on this part of the process and really sell your Group to its clients. You want your perfect Group member to see that he or she is home when your purple prose is read.
You may also wish to add any rules to which you wish to hold the members. Be specific about these, especially about the policy regarding selling/spam-type activity.
Enter your Group description in the DESCRIPTION box.
Tags: You can enter up to 5 existing groups or tags that you feel might relate well to your Group. Think creatively here. You want to catch the most number of searchers. Since you are only allowed 5 here, it’s worth playing around and finding related groups with the most number of current members as these are likely to draw more members to your Group.
Locations: Click the ADD LOCATIONS button to choose specific areas you would like your Group members to reside if this is necessary to the Group Purpose. This will be a decision that is up to you. You can always just choose the United States if you want to stay at least that local.
Linked Pages: Click the LINK YOUR PAGE button to link your business web page if this is the purpose of your Group page. You may decide this is not the proper thing to do based on your Group Purpose for the page. You may also have a related web page set up for the Group. Link that here.
Web and Email Address: Here you will generate a direct email and webpage address for your Group. Click CHANGE ADDRESS and type in the group name with no spaces. As long as there is no indicator that your name is not already taken, you are good to go. Otherwise, you will need to do one of two things:
Recommended – Change your Group name so it does not get mixed up with the other group with the same name (don’t forget to change it at the top of the page).
2 – Alter the name in the address until it is different enough to allow its use.
Privacy: You set this earlier, but if you need to change it, click CHANGE PRIVACY SETTINGS and do so.
Membership Approval: You may choose to allow anyone already in the Group to approve new members or require that they are approved only by admins and moderators. Your choice.
Membership Requests: If you chose to make this a Closed Group, you may request that anyone wishing to join answer a few questions to give you an idea whether they are the correct fit before approving them to join. If you wish to require such questions, click ASK QUESTIONS and enter the questions prospective members must answer. Only admins and moderators will see the answers.
Posting Permissions: You may choose to allow anyone in the Group to post to the Group or, rarely, only allow admins to post.
Post Approval: Check the box if you want an admin or moderator to approve every post before it is seen by the Group. (You’d need a really good reason to saddle yourself with this job!)
Story Posting: Allow anyone in the Group or admins only to post Stories.
Story Post Approval: Check the box if you wish to have all Story posts approved by an admin or moderator.
Click SAVE and you’re almost done
Now you need to pin your description of the Group to the top so new and prospective Group members can find it easily. Find the post to be pinned and click the ellipsis (…) in the upper right corner. Then click PIN POST. It will now stay at the top of all future posts. You may also wish to turn off comments for this post by clicking TURN OFF COMMENTING.
How Do I Get My Group Going?
You might want to go ahead and get started with a couple of posts to get things rolling when your first new Group members arrive. Otherwise, you might end up with one of those awkward parties where everyone just sort of stands around and grins while waiting for someone else to start talking.
Finally! It’s time to get this party started! Invite some guests. There are a couple of ways to do this. NOTE: This process adds these people to the Group so they do not require approval to join, but they will need to accept to be fully joined.
In the column on the right, there is an ADD MEMBERS box where you can type in names, choosing any who are Facebook members or entering email addresses for any who are not.
Below that, you will see SUGGESTED MEMBERS consisting of members of your Friends list (click SEE MORE to, pardon me, see more). Just click the ADD MEMBER button next to their names to invite them to the group.
Facebook didn’t make it easy to power through your Friends list, for some reason, so keep at it until you have a respectable crowd gathered.
That’s it. Talk amongst yourselves. Grow your group. Use it for whatever Purpose you chose and always be a good Internet Citizen!
What Can I Do with my Shiny New Site?
Send a message via the Facebook Messenger App to your Group or a subset of the Group. Use this feature to notify the group of things you want to make sure everyone sees. Use it sparingly or you’ll run people off!
You can create Events inside of a Group that are not seen by Facebook as a whole. This can be useful for setting up meetings or “lunch-n-learn” sessions or whatever your heart desires.
You can share and collaborate on files within the Group. There are lots of things you can do with this. It’s like a Group Dropbox.
Sit down and come up with a plan for making the best use of your Group. Plan out some content of a variety that supports your Purpose for the Group. Put them on your calendar and stick to the plan.
Unless you have all the time in the world, you can’t write all the content most types of Groups will find interesting and engaging. Look to other sources to find things you can share to keep the content fresh. Blogs, news feeds, podcasts, other Groups and Pages, books and magazines you are reading; all are great places to find content to share. A word of caution: Don’t Steal It! Always give credit where credit is due. You will be found out and your credibility is shot.
- Provide learning opportunities such as tutorials or guest “speakers” for Group members.
- Set up Live events so everyone can get together for roundtable sessions to discuss a topic or issue.
- Instigate a contest among Group members.
- Have a quiz or trivia competition.
- Start a poll to determine Group sentiment or opinion.
Your Facebook Group may be the carefully considered creation of a business genius, but that does not mean you can’t have fun with it. Always take the time to find the pleasure in your work and it will never feel like work.