“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
Yet here we are. Facebook remains the largest, most powerful social network on the planet. Yes, Facebook's growth has taken a hit from all those young people who choose not to stay put once they get a friend request from a parent or grandparent. But newer platforms such as Snapchat have a long way to go before they reach Facebook's magnitude and power.
Keeping those trends in mind, what's a marketer to do when reach drops like flies but you don't want to give up on Facebook? Try Facebook Groups.
1. Facebook Groups offer a much higher reach than Pages.
Because Facebook Groups are seen as an organic platform with less business messaging, your posts have the potential to reach everyone in that Group. Some Groups boast membership lists in the hundreds of thousands, while a few claim millions of members.
Groups exist to serve practically any interest and need. Research which Groups might be the best fit for you. Use the search bar at the top of the screen to try a few variations on your keywords. Filter to Groups’ results to see all communities geared towards those topics.
Depending on the administrator-set privacy level, you might be able to join and post in a Group right away. Other will require you "Ask to Join." Once you're approved, you're good to go.
2. Facebook Groups are a community.
In my experience, Facebook Groups are true communities of like-minded people. People ask for help, support or opinions, and get input from a whole brigade of friendly members.
You can get all the support you need to grow your brand, influence and potential customer pool. You might ask members to choose the best business-card design, invite critique of your website or perform little market-research queries. Ask and you will receive answers.
It's important you remain straightforward in your intentions and disclose why you’re asking a specific question. Most people don’t mind voicing their opinions on a question or two, as long as you keep it inside Facebook. Asking for personal details such as email address, credit card information or Social Security number is a serious red flag.
When I was preparing to launch my new e-book, I posed tons of questions to Groups members. I created numerous polls, spanning from the most appealing name and cover designs to topics that needed more coverage. I even found a few pre-readers who were willing to spend their time reviewing the material and giving honest feedback.
Groups enable you to leverage the number of people in your target market and increase your reach, even in the input stage.
3. Give and you shall receive.
I cannot stress this enough: First and foremost, Groups are communities designed to connect people -- not to sell to them. Many Groups have rules in place to protect this dynamic. Members can be deleted for posting spam or self-promotional content. Be careful what you ask for.
Respond to questions and provide genuine advice. Your efforts won’t go unnoticed. By offering sincere help to Group members, you establish authority and thought leadership. People naturally will gravitate toward you if they perceive a shared viewpoint. Some might hop on your site to read more. Others might purchase your one-on-one coaching program. The logic is hard to argue with: If you give so much information for free, you must provide even more amazing insights to paying customers.
Don't be afraid to give out "too much" as a premium. Sure, you might provide general advice on how to improve search-engine optimization (or how to lose 10 pounds in a week). But you're not providing a specific response to every individual case. Group members will be more inclined to pay for detailed answers that you've tailored to their definite situations.