Social Media Blogs by Aliza Sherman
Aliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

Get Greater Engagement with Facebook Groups

Get Greater Engagement with Facebook Groups

With all the changes Facebook is making to its Pages feature recently, it is clear the social network’s focus for businesses is shifting. Exploring Facebook Groups as an option to communicate with your customers and prospects may make sense for your social media marketing efforts. Groups are more interactive, set up to encourage conversations amongst the group members.

The main sections of a Facebook Group are:

  • About - Basic description of the group’s purpose.
  • Discussion - The news feed where posts appear.
  • Rooms - Live video chats with group members.
  • Topics - Up to three popular topics from group discussions.
  • Members - A list of group members.
  • Events - A calendar of events (these can be added from your Page).
  • Media - Any images or video uploaded to the Group.
  • Files - Upload or create documents for download by group members.

Using Facebook Groups requires a different approach than a Page, namely that you are encouraging - and actively participating - in conversations. Announcements can be part of your messaging mix, but the emphasis is on interactions.

Here are some ways to jumpstart the conversations in a Facebook Group.

Survey for the Sweet Spots

The best way to get started with your Facebook Group - or to step in today to invigorate it - is to survey your members to see what they would like to hear from you and to get out of being part of the group. Knowing your audience helps you better craft messaging and resources to share with the group.

While you can use the Poll post feature to get quick insights, a more fleshed out survey using a tool like SurveyMonkey would provide you with more information. Use the responses you get from your members to be more targeted with your messaging.

Post Regularly

In the same way you should plan your messaging on your Facebook Page, you should have an editorial schedule for the posts you’ll make in your Group. You can schedule posts in Groups, however, keep an eye on responses so you can be part of the conversation. Don’t simply post without checking in regularly to help nudge the conversation along.

Mix Up the Post Types

Facebook Group posts can be formatted as standard messages in the news feed that you can then mark as an Announcement so the post "pins" to the top of the feed. You can also opt to post a poll or, if you’re asking a question, Facebook will give you the option to mark it as a question post.

Other types of Facebook Group posts include Host a Q&A to encourage members to ask you a question to showcase your expertise and indirectly market your products and services. Use a "Write a prompt" post to encourage comment and discussion. Facebook formats these types of posts as text on colored background with the option to choose the colors or gradients.

To get the conversation going choose Ask For Recommendations. If the recommendation is about a business with a location, Facebook creates a map to show where the business is located. If you’re looking to attract more attention, don’t just post a video - broadcast a live video.

As you can see, there are multiple ways to change up not only the content of what you post but how you present it to your group members. Adding variety can stand out in the news feed and encourage interactions.

Make Clear Calls to Action

While attracting attention and getting members to interact with you and one another is the basis of Facebook Groups, the key to any effective social media marketing is to translate those connections into actions. The best way to get members to act - contact you for more information, sign up for something, buy or donate - is to make the ask.

Most post types can be paired with a call to action or a link where members can interact further. Try putting a call to action in a comment on your post as another way to add information that might not fit into the post type.

A poll post is a call to action on its own since you are asking people to respond. While you can use polls to generate interest and enthusiasm, be more strategic with your use of polls by planning out the questions you’d like to ask and tying them to business goals. Ask members what they look for in products like yours or what pain points they are trying to overcome. Craft your poll to help you tease out consumer insights.

Use Visuals But…

Visuals do attract attention in social media but to a point. The right photographs or graphics can also do the trick. Use multiple photographs to change things up, to share more details, or to tell a story such as "How our products get made."

You don’t always have to use visuals to get interaction. A well-placed, compelling text-only post could get just as much response as a post with a video or image. Choose how you illustrate your posts carefully to make sure the visuals match the message. Determine when visuals aren’t needed, and post accordingly.

As you can see, Facebook Groups provide many options for crafting and posting messages to your members. They may take more time to manage than a Page, but you’ll get closer to your customers - and cultivate more prospective customers - by being more present and engaged.

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