Facebook groups, Facebook pages, Facebook ads and boosts. It seems that a marketer these days has a few extra aces up his sleeve, tools that only a few decades ago nobody would have imagined they exist.
However, social media marketing can be a fruitful strategy as long as you make the right choices right from the start. This means that you should carefully select the appropriate channels for your business or website and of course, the right audience to address too.
For the purpose of this article, I will consider that you have already made a choice and that you are going to focus on a Facebook based marketing strategy.
There’s one question every marketer needs to answer before creating their first Facebook campaign:
What is best? Facebook group marketing or Facebook Pages? “What should I choose?” and, “Should I choose both?”
Well, the answer depends mostly on what your intentions are and where your fanbase/customers are and their usual Facebook related habits.
In order to come up with the best answer, however, you need to know everything that is to know about these two Facebook channels. I will try to be as thorough as possible, therefore, and help you make an informed decision after reading this article.
Each of these two options comes with its own benefits while being entirely different.
Let’s start by understanding how they work and how to start building a campaign on them.
The Facebook Page is more like a personal profile for a business, a public figure or organization. It’s intended to be branded with the visual elements of the company or website that is going to be promoted and act as well as a communication channel with their fanbase.
The difference between a personal account and the Facebook page lies in the fact that the page does not promote an individual.
The brand behind the page becomes the entity and not the marketer, the CEO or the owner. If you need an example, take a look at any business related page on Facebook. Each one of them promotes the brand and news related to it.
When a user connects to a page, he or she can instantly get access to all news related to the brand they love and to follow it closely. The page can also help the marketer build trust with the audience.
Wile pages act like personal profiles for entities, groups are an entirely another thing. They serve mainly as communication channels for like-minded individuals. Based on their interests and goals, people join groups where they can exchange information with each other and express their opinions in a safe and moderated environment.
In many ways, Facebook Groups are the grandchildren of the traditional forums that grew out of style in the last decade.
Here’s an example from Golden Tote, a retail store that managed to create their own Facebook Group and market their brand with it.
Good to know: Groups and Pages do not exclude each other. You can create a Facebook Page for your brand and join one or more groups that share similar interests.
Facebook Page vs Group. Pros and Cons
Like many other types of content marketing strategies, Facebook marketing presents us with several pros and cons, depending on the selected channel. Let’s start by summarizing some of the most important pros and cons regarding these two types of approaches to Facebook marketing.
Pages are easy to set up and update with daily news and brand related information.
Pages are a great solution if you want to engage openly with an online audience, especially if you want to post frequently.
You can customize the URL of a page and promote it easier for fans and customers. You can even include your URL in advertising materials.
It is quite easy to personalize a page for marketing purposes.
Page Insights is a feature that is specific only to Facebook Pages. It allows you to gather information about the demographic break down of your Facebook Page.
Facebook Pages are sometimes hard to grow organically.
For rapid growth, a financial effort is required for boosts and banner ads.
You have to pay attention to what you post because everything is out in the open.
It may be difficult to manage conversations between fans and customers.
In Groups, you can easily communicate with all members. For these purposes, you can use the traditional wall posts, instant chat, email, messages or shared documents. Therefore, we’re talking about a more direct strategy of marketing that is even easier when you are dealing with this channel as a Facebook group admin.
Communications tend to be more personal on Facebook Groups since it allows a more direct, personal communication between members.
You can promote events via Facebook Groups, a feature that is not available on Pages. This is a great way to perform Facebook groups advertising without spending a dime.
Facebook Groups allow you to create personal connections and expand your business related circle of friends and acquaintances.
Facebook Groups allow you to send mass messages to all active members.
You can restrict access to a group and choose to accept only selected members. There are three types of groups available: open, closed and secret. While on open groups anybody can join and read the wall, closed and secret groups allow you to effectively select your audience.
Two ways of using Groups to your advantage as a marketer: You can create your own group and at the same time, join related groups where if you are admitted, you can also share posts and news.
Facebook insights are not available for Facebook Groups. As a consequence, it may be harder for you to keep track of everything that happens inside your group.
Groups are harder to customize. They miss some visual and SEO elements that are available for Pages.
It’s harder for people to find specific groups unless they are connected to people who already joined or they know exactly what to search for.
Develop a marketing campaign with Facebook Groups
Most of us know how to set up a Facebook Page due to the fact that every step is similar to the set up of a personal account.
The content strategy is also similar with the exception that for a page, you get to focus more on the brand and brand related news.
This is why I will focus the rest of the article on Facebook Groups.
Let’s see first how you can create such a group and move from this point forward with other important information you need to know.
How to start a Facebook Group
How can you create your first Facebook Group?
The first thing you need to do is choose a topic for your group. You can create a group on any topic and therefore if there are several topics you are interested in and your marketing campaign may profit from them, you can create several groups.
In this particular case, as a marketer, I suggest you to find a topic your customers or business partners are interested in. For instance, if you are selling bicycles, it might be wise to create a group on biking and cycling related sports. The group will make an excellent platform where you will be able to interact with other passionate bikers and build the right audience for your business.
Now that you have selected your topic, let’s proceed further and actually create the group.
Here are the steps you need to undertake:
1. Access Facebook.com and log in to your personal account.
2. On the right top side of your Facebook home page, click on the down arrow to open the sub-menu.
Look for the “Create Group” option and click on it.
The same menu is available if you want to access you already created a group and manage or modify it.
3. A new pop-up window will appear. From here, you get to name your group, select whether to make it public or not and add your first email addresses for people to join it.
4. Add the first people you want to make part of your group and click on “Create”. That’s it. Now, you have your own group you can build a marketing strategy upon.
5. Create your first post. As I have already said, posting in a group is similar to posting on your own, personal account. Here’s a screenshot of how can you do it.
What should you post first? Well, you need to introduce yourself and if you are on a branded group, introduce your business.
Tell your audience who you are, why you are here and of course, why do you think you can contribute to their overall knowledge with insightful information.
But wait, there’s more!
You can also design the appearance of your group and introduce some branded visuals in order to help people better understand who you are and what are your values. You cannot change everything at this point. However, you can upload your own Cover Photo, which can be similar to the cover photo of your page or personal account.
This header section is very important because it can make a difference when it comes to visual design and visual marketing.
Finally, remember that your group is not the only group that may be of help to you, as a marketer. You can also become a member of a whole bunch of other related groups. As an active member, you get access to a lot of new and valuable information and at the same time, to new ways of marketing your own business or brand.
Facebook Groups Marketing
There are two types of marketing strategies you can build on Groups. The first one is based on content marketing and as the name suggests, involves a strategy of scheduled posts on specific groups while the other is based on awareness.
The awareness strategy is also related to content marketing but it involves a more specific type of content that focuses on brand news, industry news, promotions and sales that link directly to the company’s website or blog.
Basically, both of these strategies are similar in form and nature. You need to get access to a group, get involved with the community and post your information online. Both strategies imply a strategic planning, involvement o your part, commenting, open communication and so on. Here’s what you need to know at this point:
1. How can you grow your own group? How to promote Facebook Group?
Can you advertise a Facebook Group?
The first thing you need to think about s whether you have or not a budget for promotion. If indeed, you have a budget allocated or this task, then I recommend you to also set up a Facebook page for your group.
You need a Facebook page if you consider growing your group and your business via banner ads and post boosts.
Why is this option recommended?
Well, if you want to grow your group, the fastest way to do this is via Facebook ads.
What happens when you don’t have a budget for advertising? Can you still grow your Facebook Group and benefit from it on your ongoing marketing campaigns?
Well, of course, you can. However, you can still use your Facebook Page in order to drive people to your group.
Here’s an example from a dog training service:
As you can see, they have posted on their timeline, inviting people to join their group. You can also do this but it is advisable to do it regularly so that you can convince as many people as possible to join your group.
Of course, it’s best if you already have a large audience on your Facebook page.
You can also use external third party tools, such as Hootsuite to advertise and grow your groups via pages. There’s a free plan available and of course, several types of professional plans if you are working for an agency or as a professional marketer.
Also, you can promote your group via other groups. Once you get the membership status, you are free to post on other groups. As long as you are not spamming the audience with irrelevant messages, there’s a good chance your posts will be accepted.
According to Bloomberg, there are over 1 billion groups on Facebook. Therefore, there’s a good chance you will find several related groups you can subscribe to.
2. How can you discover more groups?
Groups on Facebook are micro-communities were people who share similar interests gather and exchange valuable pieces of information. With thousands of groups available today on this social media platform, it’s almost impossible not to find at least a bunch of such communities you can share your data with.
How can you do this?
Well, it is quite easy if you know your way around Facebook.
All you need to do is to sign in to your account and search for the Explore menu.
Here, you can find “Groups”. Click on it.
Once you are there, the next step is to select the “Discover” tab and search groups related to your interests.
As you browse the database, you will be able to discover public and closed groups. Read the description, learn about the group’s mission and make sure you are able to fit in before asking to join it.
It is also important to read the rules of the group in order to make sure you are not going to get banned after you have just posted your first couple of messages.
3. How can you use groups to build awareness of your brand?
Create your group and join several other groups that fit your overall strategy and business profile. Then, start posting on all of them.
In order to be more successful, create a strategy and schedule your posts according to it.
Remember, however, that you need to provide valuable information for the people registered with the group in order to be able to become relevant to them. It’s not enough to just drop a link and get out. Most of the people will tune out if they think you are there just to promote yourself or your business.
The best strategy is to post at least five or more posts and let people know you before introducing yourself and drop a personal link. Also, it may be great if you take part in group conversations actively and answer some of the members’ questions as well.
Be active, be proactive, be useful and share your knowledge. These are the steps that you should undertake in order to achieve success.
4. How can you use groups to sell your products?
People love bargains and this is why they hang around groups and communities that market and feature sales and promotions. If you have an eCommerce store or a related sale business, maybe Facebook Groups will not help you grow your business better than other channels. However, it may help you to get read of some of the extra stuff you have in stock as long as you know how to market your promotions and sales.
There are a lot of communities that are focused on selling goods. You just need to find the right ones. And, maybe, even try to push up your goods on related groups formed by people interested in what you are selling.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s say you are selling toys for toddlers. It’s a good choice to subscribe to groups focused on sales but it may also be a good choice to join groups frequented by young mothers who talk about their daily lives. They will always be interested in good and cheap products they can buy for their children.
If you are able to advertise your products effectively, you may be surprised at how quickly you can improve your sales numbers when you are posting your promotions on the right groups.
Also, it’s important to write good descriptions to your products and make your posts genuine. If you post them as an individual, even better, as people seem to other people more friendlier than brands.
Here’s an example of a great post with a great description:
Notice the description. It is short, easy to read but at the same time, quite descriptive for the product being sold. This may be a good strategy even for eCommerce websites if you post once in a while a product that can be advertised as a bargain on a Facebook Group.
What other information should you include in your description?
Age of the product/item
The full price of the product (in order to advertise a sale)
Number of items available
Finally, here’s another piece of advice you might consider when you want to advertise your products on Facebook Groups: BE HONEST!
Yes, honesty is the best policy when you deal with people. And Facebook groups are created and frequented by real people, not by advertisers, marketers, and webmasters. Don’t lie about your products, tell the truth about their features and conditions. It only takes a few negative reviews to lose the audience’s trust.
And, trust is everything when it comes to commerce.
5. How can you use groups to get more influence?
If you are not in sales but still eager to market your business with groups, one of the best approaches is to provide valuable information to the audience and build up a reputation.
How can you benefit from such a reputation?
Well, every community values professionals and experts that are able to provide them with help and information regarding their daily routines.
As I have already said, you need to show that you have expertise in your field. You need to show the community they can rely on you and your valuable advice. Once you get there, your reputation grows and so will your business, regardless of the industry you are active in.
Also, the groups will provide you a high level of engagement and a unique chance to get to know the people and talk directly to them. Of course, you will benefit more if the group belongs to your business and it is branded by yourself. In other words, you will get better results if you create your own group and manage to attract the right audience to it.
6. Build trust with members of your group
Trust is essential in marketing as well, even if you are not selling products or services. Here are some tips that might help you build trust with your audience:
Be present. Show your face as frequently as you can. Post, comment, answer questions. Show that you care, show that you know things.
Show the audience you’re an expert and that they can rely on you.
Get influential people to join your group. This step may be trickier but once you get to convince one individual, others may follow. The more influential voices in your community, the better your group will be viewed and valued by the audience.
Facebook gives us the opportunity to create fruitful marketing strategies and build our brands and businesses from scratch. The most powerful channels available on this popular social network are the Facebook Pages and the Facebook Groups.
While pages are similar to the personal accounts everybody needs to have in order to be able to read and follow friends and businesses on Facebook, Groups are the new forums. They give us the opportunity to promote our businesses and to engage directly with a diverse audience.
What do you think about these two channels? Do you use them both or just one of them?