Facebook GroupsI don’t know about you, but in some ways, it’s kind of nice to see the back end of summer. You can feel the energy return to businesses and companies, including my own! That said, I did take advantage of the somewhat slower pace that summer brings, and put some energy toward starting a new Facebook Group.

And I would like to explain why.

The Game Plan for Small Business Growth Facebook Group

I’ve written this year about new challenges I’ve taken on in my business, and I’m feeling positive about them.
They’ve opened the door to new opportunities, and forced me to stretch out of my “small business comfort zone.” I’m reaping the rewards, and of course our team is working hard to make sure our clients do too.

One of these challenges was to think of a new way to support and engage with current clients, prospective clients, and small business owners. And the answer to that challenge soon became clear to me: start a Facebook Group. So we recently launched a closed group called The Game Plan for Small Business Growth.

Why a Facebook Group? Isn’t a Business Page Enough?

I quickly discovered that Facebook Groups are a very useful tool for digital marketers. Whether through the exchange of new ideas or chats about digital marketing pain-points, or simply the benefits that come with getting to know so many talented small business owners, Facebook Groups work.

As for business pages, one of the problems facing Facebook Business Pages is a decrease in organic reach. Yes, it’s still beneficial for your company to have one. But you can’t expect your posts to show up in many of your followers newsfeeds.

This is due to a shift in Facebook’s thinking about how newsfeeds work. Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s Head of News Feed addressed this issue back in January, when they began to “…shift ranking to make News Feed more about connecting with people and less about consuming media in isolation.”

Facebook Groups Help Build a Community

As opposed to a business page, a Facebook Group is a community of like-minded people, and usually focused around a specific topic or idea. Think of it as a modern day networking cocktail party, or a working session at a conference.

Another bonus is that by creating a Group—and managing it correctly—you will eventually be recognized as an expert or leader in your field of work. It’s exactly what “thought leadership” is all about: organically creating a situation where people get to know you (and vice-versa), like you and trust you.

For every successful Facebook Group, there are a thousand unsuccessful ones. Heck, you might already be a member of a bunch of groups that you rarely visit. Well, there’s a reason why they go unnoticed.

When you create a Facebook Group, you really have to own it. And it requires some active legwork upfront.

Here’s what I’ve discovered to be effective in my newly formed Facebook Group!

Five Tips for a Successful Facebook Group

Make your objectives and audience clear: What’s the group about, who is your target audience and how will it help others? Groups with a fine-tuned focus tend to attract a more engaged audience.

Choose the right group option: Your choices are public, private, or closed. Sure, public groups can open your business up to more people who meet your audience criteria. But ultimately you have no control over who joins, and your group could eventually skew off topic. Private groups make it harder for prospective members to find you. The happy medium is a closed group, essentially the ‘velvet rope’ of access. People have to ask to join, which gives you the chance to determine whether they are good candidates for your group.

Use branding and images: This is important. As with any type of marketing, invest a bit of time and effort with branding and your group will stand out and look professional. One way to do that is with a well-designed banner and creative images in posts.

Include a keyword in your Group name: The principles of SEO apply here. If someone searches for a topic related to your Group on Facebook, your Group may come up in the results. I used ‘small business’ in my Group since that’s our focus.

Create ground rules: Be proactive rather than reactive, and have the ground rules set before you open your doors, so to speak. Set the stage by including rules in the Group description or via a pinned post. This will ensure your Group members have an effective, engaging, positive, and fun space in which to participate. Of course, as the group administrator, you have full control over the rules of behaviour for the group.

The tips above are just the starting points. So, if you’re a business owner curious about how a successful Facebook Group operates, come on over and join The Game Plan for Small Business Growth.

The participants are active and supportive. We have fun, but we’re also learning a ton from each other to help grow our small businesses. I’d love to see you there!