Once upon a time, businesses could create a free Facebook page, free Instagram account, and free Twitter account where followers would “like” or “follow” their company and receive all of the latest news via social media. Well, not long ago, the big, bad wolves of social media learned that this was an easy way to leech businesses of free-flowing cash – instead of showing all of your posts to your fans, a business would have to pay for a “boost” to actually get that post in front of the people who requested it.
There is a much smarter way to work around this dilemma, and that’s through a Branded Facebook Group. Facebook Groups allow you to create a direct pipeline to the customers who want to hear from you. If you start this group right, the greatest benefit of these groups is that the people who join them want to be engaged in your business and as long as they keep their notifications on, you will not have to pay any extra to get your message to them!
Here are a few tips to help you start branding your own Facebook group that is fun, engaging, and offering content people want to be involved in:
- The cover of your Branded Facebook Group should have your photo, your business name, your website, your logo, and your hashtag. If you don’t have any of these things, then create them (preferably before you have people join your group).
- Make the settings of your group CLOSED. You don’t want it to be public because then you don’t have the power to jury who is involved, and you also don’t want it to be secret because you want people to be able to find the group. Keeping it closed allows you to choose who is approved to the group while still having the ability to be found.
- DO NOT ADD PEOPLE TO YOUR GROUP. I repeat, DO NOT ADD PEOPLE TO YOUR GROUP. The worst way to engage customers is to force them into this group. Instead, let your fans and customers know about the group and offer them the option to choose to be involved.
- Have a clear set of rules and guidelines for your branded group. If you don’t want other people promoting their similar products, make that a rule; if you don’t want negativity, make that a rule. Have a balance of rules so that there are clear parameters without sounding like a Hogwarts prefect. (PRO TIP: Use the “pinned post” feature to keep your rules at the top of the group.)
- Give your group an incentive! Why should people join your group? I have a branded group for my bath, body, and candle business and I offer special sweepstakes, rewards, birthday bonuses, and mystery boxes for those who join my “VIP” group. You want your group to have something special that your customers cannot get from being email subscribers or regular fans (save different specials for those groups, as well).
- Spark conversation in your group. It shouldn’t just be you talking AT people, but offering a way for people to respond or engage on their own. Share fun, related articles. Go on Facebook Live. Share special insights – anything to get people to spark conversation. Sometimes that’s as simple as asking people what their plans are for an upcoming holiday!
- Be honest and transparent in your group. This is the place where people are supposed to be able to “get real” with you and engage with you on a personal level. Give honest answers and offer white-glove service. Customers will often default to this group when they have customer service inquiries, as well. Those inquiries may not always be positive, but leave those comments up there because it’s all about how you respond – even if people aren’t commenting, they’re watching and that builds your brand.
- Use your group as a way to ask for input through surveys and questions. Customers love believing they are part of the process – whether that’s a creative product choice, a design, or what to bring to your next event – this is an awesome way for people to share their views and for you to gain valuable insight to what’s working.
- Engage in your own group every day. Even if you don’t have some groundbreaking news, you can offer a motivational quote or fun fact to ensure you’re keeping your own group alive.
- Stay on brand. This can be hard sometimes, as we’re not always in the mood to represent what our brand does, but stop and ask yourself if whatever you’re posting adds to the greater vision of your company. If you sell organization, don’t be late with your posts; if you sell factual information, don’t post articles that haven’t been fact-checked.
I absolutely love the video below by Sunny Lenarduzzi. I was introduced to her work by Life Coach, Donna DeRosa, and I find Sunny’s work on branding and social media to be brilliant; I highly recommend this video as you build and expand your group.