How to Build a Strong Sense of Community on Facebook
Building a Facebook community is a lot more difficult than just posting daily and throwing up a poll once in a while. You have to engage your Facebook followers, just like you would in real life. Your Facebook community wants to have a conversation with you; they’re not looking for sales pitches all. the. time.
So, how do you replicate the feeling of a community, a tribe, on a computer? Using Facebook Live is one way, but Facebook has two other tools you can use to strengthen your community. One is obvious, the other, not so much.
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Getting back to business basics: You must market your business to your target audience or they won’t know you exist. And when it comes to marketing, why not use every tool available to you? When marketing on Facebook, one tool that is often overlooked is the Facebook Events tool.
Facebook Events are great way to get extra publicity for your business for a couple of reasons. First, once you’ve created an event, Facebook does a lot of the heavy lifting for you by reminding everyone who says they’re “interested” or “going” that the event is coming up. Second, you can share the event’s URL in social media posts, blog posts and DMs, essentially funneling people toward signing up for the event. However, a Facebook Event take a little planning to get it just right.
So grab your calendar and your brainstorming notebook and let’s get creative!
Getting Started with Facebook Events
Begin with your reasons for holding an event. What is the goal of the event? If you’re just opening your coaching doors, then a “Grand Opening” makes sense. Even if you’ve been coaching for a while, host a “Client Appreciation” event for your current clients, or a “Celebrating 10 Years in Business” event where you reintroduce yourself to the public in hopes of attracting prospects. Did you just write a book? Host a “Book Launch” event. Want to start networking with local business owners in your community? Host a “Get to Know You” event. You’ll get the most interest in your events if there is a clear reason for hosting.
Now, think about where you want to hold this event. If you have a physical location, your physical address is the best place to hold a Grand Opening. People will naturally wander into your business to meet you. If you work from home and don’t want to disrupt your family’s routine, find a small but intimate restaurant or pub that has a room you can rent out. Consider it a meet-and-greet party with light finger foods.
Even if your business is 100% online you can still create an event, but direct them instead to your business page at a certain time for a live video (ahem, check out my Facebook Events for examples) or direct them to a webinar room. In both of these instances, you’ll need to plan what you’ll say and present – just like a webinar – because you can’t rely on small talk as you would if you met people in real life. You could also create an event for a specific time you’ll be available in a Facebook Group for questions. I’m sure if you brainstorm a little, you’ll come up with even more creative ways of using Facebook Events.
Before publishing you event, design a photo that accurately portrays your event and that grabs people’s attention. Facebook event photos should be 1920 x 1080 pixels. (Image size requirements change frequently. Bookmark Hubspot’s image size page, which is always updated, and check it before making graphics.) Publish your event and then ask your graphic designer or VA to resize your photo for other social media platforms so you can start cross promoting. (Or use Canva for Business to do it for you.)
Cross-Promoting Your Event
Promoting your event via social media is the easiest way to reach a large number of people, so use all your platforms to cross-promote. However, only use those platforms that you use on a regular basis; don’t use your event to, say, build a Twitter following. You’ll fall flat because no one will know you, so why would they want to join your party? Promote your Facebook Event only to those who already follow you for the best results.
Facebook Ads are a tremendous way to expand your reach to attract new people to your event. You can easily set the demographics of your target market, as well as a budget and the duration for which the ads should run. Plan your ads and promotions so you can build buzz and anticipation for the event, but also send reminder ads as the event date gets closer.
Lastly, enjoy your event! You worked hard and deserve to have some fun. After you recover from the event, write down notes about what went well or not so well and create a checklist so you know exactly what needs to happen, and in which order, when you plan your next event.
Facebook Groups are an obvious way to build a sense of community with your Facebook followers. If you want to interact more personally with potential clients, offer a Facebook group where you’ll get into deeper discussions related to your area of expertise. Consider this part of your funnel: after they follow your Facebook Business Page, send them an invite to your group through Messenger. Getting these prospects into a group gives you a new level of intimacy where you can get to know them better and understand their challenges.
Choosing the Correct Privacy Settings for Your Group
Facebook has three different privacy settings for groups: Public, Closed or Secret. The setting you choose is dependent upon your goals for the group.
Public groups are rather self-explanatory: everyone on Facebook can find your group, see the group’s name, description and the member list. While members still need to request to join a Public group, there’s no expectation of privacy and viewers can see all the published posts when they scan the group page. Consider this one step above a Business Page, where you can interact with people who have already expressed an interest in what you do.
Closed groups allow a bit more privacy in that only group members can see what is posted. Anyone can still find the group name and see the description, but postings and the member list will be private and only group members can see that info. This type of group also attracts people who are interested in your products or services, but offers more privacy so they can post frequently or share details of their lives without making it available to the entire world of Facebook.
Secret groups take privacy one step further in that no one can do a search and find your group on Facebook. Only current and former members can see the group name and description and only former members can ask to re-join the group. This setting is ideal if you want to cultivate a VIP or invitation-only atmosphere, especially if you’ll use this as a mastermind or brainstorming group where top secret business information will be shared.
Do You Need a Group? How to Decide
Facebook Groups are very easy to set up, but ask yourself if you really need and enjoy this type of social mingling. Keeping groups active and interesting takes work – on a daily basis – and if you forget to post even once, your engagement will start to lag and people may lose interest. So be sure you love social media and you love to help your target audience.
Use your group to answer Frequently Asked Questions or to address customer service questions. Ask members for market research input as to what types of products they would love to see next. Use your group to host Facebook Live Q&A sessions. Offer something else exclusive to group members to keep them active.
While you can still ask these same questions on your Business Page, you may get more answers in this intimate group setting, especially since these members have already pre-qualified themselves as being interested in what you offer.
How have you used Facebook to foster a sense of community? Share it in the comments so we can learn too.