Small businesses (and large) are all atwitter about Facebook groups lately (see how I did that?). To be honest, I couldn’t understand why at first. After all, Facebook groups aren’t new. But changes in Facebook’s algorithms have business owners wondering if groups are something they should be creating.
Well, yes and no.
The first thing I want you to understand is that a Facebook group should not replace your business page because they function differently. But you are more than welcome to do both…if you have the time.
Yes. I just said the four-letter word: Time.
The function that appeals to people about groups is this: Once you are part of a group, you will receive notifications when someone has posted there. If your group is large enough and active, that means that you could have more engagement there than on a business page.
That’s because, thanks to Facebook’s changes, you DON’T usually get notified that a business page has posted something…unless they’ve boosted the post. AND unless someone is a moderator or an admin, their posts will not show up in the News Feed of a Facebook business page (comments will show up under the admin’s posts, but an original post will get lost somewhere on the page). The page owner has complete control – which is great for keeping track of what’s going on, but doesn’t always promote the best discussion.
Let’s talk about how both options function and how you can use both to grow your business.
Facebook Business Pages
A business page is a must. If you want to be taken seriously as a business, you must have a page.
It has all of your business details listed, including business hours, website, and the ability to add details about the services you provide.
It has an easy-to-use button so that customers can easily contact you.
People can review your business on a business page (you can also connect that to Yelp).
You can promote posts on a business page and reach a larger audience.
You can invite people to like and follow the page and leave it up to them if they want to or not.
You can promote the page for brand awareness.
A Facebook group is something that I would encourage you to do if you want to have more intimate engagement with your potential customers. In other words, this is an area for discussion and interaction that will allow you to get to know people and allow them to get to know you. It's all about building that trust.
There are two options for a Facebook group: open or closed. The closed option is great for those who want to provide members with a sense of privacy (although I always tell people it doesn’t matter if it’s closed…what happens on the internet, stays on the internet).
Even if you’re not necessarily worried about others reading private information, a closed group that requires you to approve members gives them a feeling of, “Yay! I’m in the group!”
With a closed group, you can configure it to ask questions before the person can join the group. For example, if you’re in the divorce field/industry you could ask:
…or whatever you feel is appropriate. That way you’ll know that the people joining your group are probably serious about being there.
Whether you have a closed or open group people have to be added or invited by you (or you have the option of allowing members to add other members). Adding them means that they’re automatically in…which does irritate some people if you don’t get their permission first (yes, I get annoyed with that). You can, however, just “share” an open group on your personal timeline or a page you manage so that people can ask to join if they want to.
Engaging a group is NOT something I would hire out to a social media professional; if you’re committed to being active and checking the group daily for comments or questions, I say GO FOR IT. If you’re already finding it difficult to manage a business page…this might not be the right answer for you.
You cannot promote/boost these pages, so you’re relying on word-of-mouth or adding people from your own social circle.
If you decide that creating a group is the right answer for your business, then you should come up with a strategy for cross-promoting both your business page and Facebook group. Even if it’s a closed group, you can tag that group in posts on your business page so that people can find it and ask to join.
My recommendation is that, while you can use the same posts in both cases and share them back and forth…treat them differently. Use your business page as something more informational and the group as a unique place for discussion and engagement. Make it special to be in the group – even if it grows to 25,000 people (yes, I’m in a closed group that’s that big).
Also, keep in mind that this is a general overview; as with anything in social media, it’s all an experiment. You really can’t mess it up (unless you post topless pictures of your cat or something that will get you banned). Get in there and see what works with your audience!
After all, you know them better than anyone else.