When you’re first starting out with an online business, it’s common to have an abundance of time, but not a lot of cash to invest. You might have a great product or service that you are excited to start selling, but you need people to sell to. Paid advertising can work great. However, it can be expensive to really get started with paid advertising. It’s normal for people to lose a little bit of money when they are first getting started before they work out the kinks and their advertising campaign is even profitable.
If you don’t have the thousands of dollars needed to get started with paid advertising, but you have plenty of free time, organic growth will be your best bet. There are several great organic growth options, but they all have their downsides. SEO tends to take a long time. Growing a YouTube channel takes awhile, plus you have to create a ton of content on a regular basis. Instagram can be easier to grow, but you have to push through a lot of noise and distractions. Also, with some niches, it can be more difficult to sell through that platform.
So, what’s left? One of the best options around: growing an audience using your own niche Facebook group.
Facebook groups have some of the best organic reach on the entire platform. As your group grows and you keep the community engaged, Facebook will help add even more people by suggesting your group to users for you. This is a ton of free traffic with no additional work needed. The best part is that you know the people your group is suggested to already fit your target audience. Facebook only suggests groups based on their interests and past history on the platform.
Not only will Facebook help grow your group automatically, but group posts are shown directly in users news feeds at a high rate. This is especially true with group posts that have a lot of discussion and engagement. As the group administrator, posts you make pretty much always show up in group members news feed. This is great when you want to make promotional offers directly to your group. A Facebook group post you make as an administrator actually has better organic reach than even a post from your personal profile or business page.
Community Is Everything
Since most Facebook users tend to use Facebook multiple times per day, your Facebook group can pretty quickly turn into an incredibly engaging community. Unlike a forum or membership section of your website where people have to actively go to interact with the group, people are already on Facebook and your posts are constantly being sent to their news feed. For some people, they engage with Facebook group posts with more frequency than public posts made by their friends or family.
Of course, a Facebook group doesn’t become a massive place of engagement on it’s own. At first, it requires you to nurture the group and help encourage engagement. Over time, as the group grows, people will start their own conversations and you’ll have some popular posts that you had nothing to do with. You’ll even get some power users that regular make highly popular and engaging posts.
A Useful Echo Chamber
The main benefit of all this participation and engagement within your group is that the entire group becomes a very useful marketing echo chamber. As a tribe, a type of atmosphere and group dynamic will develop that is unique to your group and by extension, your brand. Certain beliefs will be reinforced, especially when certain topics within your niche are bound to come up again and again.
Because of this echo chamber effect, you can guide the group dynamic and belief system within the niche to align in your favor. This will warm the group to you and make it more likely that they will eventually purchase from you.
Another nice benefit of this reinforcing echo chamber is that a large, engaged group starts to become somewhat self-regulating. That means group members are quick to shut down and report any rule-breaking posts as well as come to your defense if someone manages to slip into your group with any negative criticism. It’s much more beneficial to have your fans defend you instead of the need to defend yourself.
One of the best parts of the echo chamber effect is that customers who buy your product or service love to post great reviews in the group. They talk about how much it has helped them which convinces others to buy. They will also praise you in the comments of a post where someone is on the fence of buying. It’s amazing social proof with little marketing effort needed.
Simply by being the owner of a Facebook group, it gives you an instant authoritative aura. Members of the group see you as their expert mentor, so they are much more open and trusting to what you have to say.
This trust goes a long way when you are pitching your services or promoting products. This authoritative perception grows even more as the size of your Facebook group grows, just make sure you are regularly participating in discussions and giving value in the form of posting expert-level advice.
Naming Your Group
When naming your group, make sure the name clearly describes the purpose of the group. Don’t give it an obscure name that doesn’t make sense to new people. Your group name should reflect what you do to help people with your business. So if you run advertisements for Facebook ads, it can be something like “Small Business Marketing With Facebook Advertising.” If you sell a course that teaches Forex trading, you can name your group something like “Forex Traders” or “Forex Trading Pros.”
Don’t name your group something obscure like “The Pegasus Collective” just because you think it sounds interesting. People won’t know what your group is all about, and will be unlikely to join the group when suggested.
It’s important to list clear rules of behavior for your group, and make sure you enforce them. This is your group, and it is important for you to set the tone and be an example.
A few good rules to add are:
- Treat each other with respect. Healthy debates are great for discussion, but you don’t want things to get out of hand.
- No self-promotion of any kind. Of course, the exception here is you can make promotions to your group, but you want others engaging in meaningful conversation, not selling their products or services.
- No spamming in the group or to group members via private message. While this is mostly covered in the previous rule, having NO SPAMMING in all capitals in your rules will make a lot of new members feel more comfortable joining.
Create more rules that make sense to you, and it’s also a good idea to mention consequences of rule-breaking. Does breaking a rule get an immediate ban? Does breaking a lesser rules get a warning before a ban?
Having all of this clearly written out will make people more eager to join because they usually don’t want to deal with many of these group issues as well. Also, by setting the behavioral standard, you’ll save yourself a lot of time needing to watch every single comment. You can simply let members report posts and comments directly to the group admin.
Facebook allows you to make new members answer questions to join so you can review them for approval. You should use this feature. It can offer you additional insights as well as help you filter out and deny potential problem-makers early.
The two most important questions you should have people answer are:
- What is your biggest problem involving [your niche]?
- What do you hope to get out of this group?
By asking these two questions you are getting valuable data about what products and services will most help your audience, and you are finding out what expectations members have about your group. The former will help you make more sales in the long run, and the latter will ensure you have an active and engaging group.
Setting Up Your Profile To Attract Group Members
The strategy you are going to use to begin growing your Facebook group relies on having a Facebook profile that encourages people to join your group. Many of them will be adding you as a friend before they join your group. Because of this, it’s important to follow these steps when you setup your profile for optimal group recruitment.
- Make a new profile exclusively for your business. Your personal profile is full of personal stuff that you shared with your family and friends. It can be off-putting to people you want to join your niche group. Additionally, when you make posts within your niche, it can be a bit distracting to your audience when your in-laws or an old friend from school writes a more personal comment.
- Use a professional looking photo of yourself as your profile picture. People need to know right away that you’re a real person. No pictures of pets or anything like that. Smile in your profile picture, it’s friendlier and people will trust you more.
- Create a few helpful posts regarding your niche. When people go to your profile, they will probably scroll down your timeline a bit. Make sure you have at least a few posts that show off your expertise in the niche a bit. It can be some advice you’ve written up or even just your opinion on something niche-related. Also, make one of the recent posts an invitation for people to join your group, along with the group’s link.
- Change your settings so that others can’t post on your timeline. You don’t need spammers clogging up your profile. Also, change your settings so that you have to approve posts that you’re tagged in.
- Concisely write what you do in your about section. Something simple like “I help small businesses get more customers and clients with Facebook advertising.”
- Link your group’s URL as your website in your about section for now. If you create a website later after you have an audience, you can always change it. Right now the priority is the group growth.
- Create a cover photo for your profile that encourages people to join your group. Have your groups name written directly on the cover photo. Directly on the image, write text that says “click here to join” with a big arrow pointing to it. People will click on your cover photo and in the caption, have a link to your group.
Now that you have profile setup properly for your group to grow, make sure to continue making informative posts on your timeline once in awhile. Reply to everyone who comments on your posts. The more engagement on your posts, the better.
The Helpful Group Member Method
Now that you have your profile setup to attract people to your group, you’re ready for the next step. The method here is to join large groups within your niche and simply be a great contributor within those groups. You’re not there to spam, or even mention your group as most groups have a no promotion policy. You genuinely want to add value to these niche groups and help where you can.
When people ask a question within these groups, answer it better and more thoroughly than anyone else. You want to be that helpful person that everyone starts to recognize. Participate in group discussions and interact in a friendly and professional manner.
Create a “value bomb” post. This is when you make a post in one of these groups and add a ton of value. Write a longer post with some expert level advice. You want to help people by explaining the solution to one of the common problems within that niche. Encourage questions or ask people what their thoughts are. Engage with everyone who comments.
As you add value to these groups, make helpful comments, and get a lot of engagement on your posts, you’ll start having people from the group request to add you as a friend. You can also request to add others as a friend. Just don’t try to spam request a lot of people from these groups, this will cause you problems. A good rule is to only friend request people that have liked your posts or comments, or people that have replied to your post or comment. Out of the people who become your friends, many of them will join your group after seeing your profile that encourages them to. You are allowed up to 5,000 Facebook friends and you can easily invite all of them to join too.
New Member Experience
Upon approving new members, you should be offering them value.
Create an introductory, ultimate value-building post. This can be a written welcome post with a lot of useful advice for newcomers or even a great introduction video with similar information. Once a day, when you approve new group members, make a comment under that one introductory post. In this comment, welcome these new members and tag each one so that they get a notification directing them to the information in this post.
To really go above and beyond, have a free gift for them. This can be a short e-book for them to download, or a one-page cheat sheet to help them in the niche, or something else along those lines. Whatever it is, it will make your group stand out, and make them much more likely to buy from you in the future.
Eventually, your group will have a ton of discussion and engagement organically from the sheer number of active members. However, at the beginning, it’s important to post every day in your group and engage with members regularly.
You should often make value bomb posts within your group, giving lessons and insights to members. You should ask great niche-specific questions to spur conversation. You can even pole your members to get their opinion on something and generate even more discussion.
If you’re comfortable with it, you should definitely take advantage of live video. Doing a live video session with your Facebook group is one of the most valuable and engaging things you can do. You can do a short presentation similar to your value bomb posts, or you can just do a Q&A session where members can type their questions and you can answer them. The immense value you deliver with live video will help turn casual members into hardcore fans.
Selling Your Product or Service
Create a post specifically pre-selling your product or service. Link to your website’s landing or sales page or if you don’t have one yet, simply tell people to private message you if they want to purchase.
Pin this post to the top of your group. Now, whenever anyone enters your group directly, your pinned post is the first thing they see, leading right to your sales page. As you build trust, add value, and warm your audience your members will start buying your product. You can even have a coupon code or special discounted price listed in the pinned post that is exclusive only for group members.
Make a new promotional post whenever you launch a new product or service. Because you’re the group administrator, your post will show up in all of your members’ regular Facebook news feeds. This is even better reach than if you posted from a Facebook business page. It’s basically a free advertising spot right in your members’ feeds, no matter how many members you have.
Occasionally, make new promotional posts if you are running a special on your product or service. Eventually, you can create more products or higher tier services and promote them as well.
Long Term Value
Since Facebook is one of the most used platforms on the internet and likely will be for years to come, your Facebook group has great long term value. If you put in the time needed to grow and nurture your group, there is no limit to it’s potential.
Many people who have started niche Facebook groups with the intent to sell their products or services have turned them into six-figure per year businesses, all with only the organic growth methods listed here. There are even some group owners who make $100,000 per year without using a website. These owners grow their Facebook group, promote offers directly to their group members, and handle payment and delivery completely manually. While it’s recommended you should set up some form of automated purchasing and product delivery, this shows what’s easily possible.
There are even some seven and eight figure businesses that got their start with organic Facebook group growth. While they have since expanded and scaled in other ways, their Facebook groups are still a major part of their businesses.
Scaling and Leveraging
Once you’re making a lot of money and your group is growing enough that it is difficult to handle alone, you can and should hire some help. You can hire an assistant to help answer questions within the group, approve new members, and help moderate the group when rules are broken. If you hire and train the right person, they can even start helping you create content, build products, and help with your consulting responsibilities. This allows you to further focus on business growth and big picture decisions.
The larger your group gets, the more Facebook organically suggests your group to targeted leads. Because of this exponential growth, your Facebook group can truly be leveraged into building a massive company.