I've been meaning to write about this for a while now because I think it can really help other small businesses looking for ways to grow. It's a little lengthy but I hope that if you're serious about growing your business you'll take the time to read this.
It's no surprise that social media plays a big part for everyone regardless of the type of business you have. We use it to connect, to share and to help our business grow. Over the years it had ups and downs and it feels as if every week there's some kind of new change or algorithm that leaves us scratching our head on how to best use social media as a business.
Having grown my own facebook page to over 112,000, and understanding that only 6% of my following actually ends up seeing my posts organically, I wanted to explore different aspects of social media because although organic reach is better on Instagram today, I do believe that one day it will follow the same path as a Facebook fan page.
I remember when I first started my business, social media was still fairly new and organic reach was easy. It was simple. When someone liked or followed you're page, you would show up in their newsfeed. Although back then I didn't have a large following, what I did have was an incredible amount of interaction with those people on my page. I remember how wonderful it felt to post something and have actual conversations with people from all over the world.
Over the last few years, I switched gears a little, looking for ways to have that kind of connection again and I've finally found it in creating an actual community GROUP for my customers and clients.
And if you're reading this today and thinking; we'll how could THIS be any better than running a fan page, or Instagram page, then keep reading because today I'm going over my top X reasons why I love using a facebook group for my business.
Out of all the things I love most about my group, it's the people within it. With over 14,000 members, it's a place filled with wonderful creatives.
On my fan page or Instagram page, it can often feel as if I am standing on stage speaking at thousands of people with a giant megaphone (with 6% that can actually hear and see me and the other 94% with earplugs and blindfolds on that I can pay to reach...).
Within my group, they know me by my name, and we have a community that is built on being creative and being kind. Instead of standing on stage speaking AT people, it feels more like we're all hanging out together in a cozy coffee shop. Chatting, sharing, connecting with one another. And that my friend, feels pretty amazing! Not to mention, no one has headphones or blindfolds on so it makes connecting and talking a whole lot easier!
#2 IT'S PERSONAL
Another thing I love about a group is that within it you get to know people by their name, not just their business. I have a much easier time connecting to someone and I think the same goes for the people in my group. They like being able to see me as a person, not just as a business.
#3 GROW YOUR TEAM BY BUILDING A COMMUNITY
Since I am the only person managing my business, I also view those in the group as my top supporters and value their input greatly. When I am working on a new product or idea, I ask them for feedback and get to hear from hundreds of them on what they would love to see. Large companies pay thousands of dollars to have people sit around a table to brainstorm on how to improve something for their customers. With a community-based group, you'll have it right at your fingertips. They feel like their part of the team.
#4 ORGANIC REACH
Of course, we live in a time where people want to focus on the number of followers they have on Instagram or Facebook because it's something they can SHOW. You don't really see anyone bragging about how awesome of a community group they have. But the reality of it is that my group of 14,000 members, is outperforming my Facebook (112,000) and Instagram (22,000) by a long shot. If there was a way to move all my social following into my group, I'd do it in a heartbeat!
#5 IT'S PRIVATE
Facebook groups can be set to be private, so their not often mentioned, but as I said in the post above since it's outperforming my Instagram and Facebook fan page. Having a private lounge for my customers is ideal. I care much more about building a community around my business, than being popular on social media. And this type of community works better with a group, then that's what I'll focus on.
#6 COMMUNITY OVER NUMBERS
Running a business is a lot of hard work. One thing I try to do monthly is view where I am spending my time, and ask myself; Is there anything that I am spending a lot of time on but not really seeing a good return on? Often social media is on that list because it takes a lot of time to plan, organize and schedule social media posts to only reach under 6% of my audience. If you own a business you know what that feels like. By having a group, I can easily see that it's worth it. Having built this community is priceless for me and I couldn't imagine not having it be part of my business.
#7 BE PART OF THE WHOLE PROCESS
As a creative business owner, I spend a great amount of time creating tools for fellow photographers. Before I had my group, it was a little sad as I never really got to see what people were creating with the tools I was creating. Occasionally I'd get an email from a customer thanking me for my presets and showing me their session but there was a big disconnect with my customers.
Once I had my group, my customers also had a space to share. Instantly I got to see what others were creating using my presets and I absolutely LOVE that about my group. Of course, as a photographer myself I get excited over shooting my own sessions, but seeing others use my presets for theirs is so special. Without a group, I would never get to see this part of my business.
#8 LESS WORK AND GREATER INTERACTION
If you're using Facebook or Instagram for your business you're already putting in the effort into creating content, you might as well put it in a place that people see it. Since there's not an issue with organic reach within groups, those posts actually are seen by active members rather than only 6% of them. If you feel like adding groups would be more work on you, then hopefully you can see that the work your putting into social media is already being done, you'd just be adding it in a place where people get to see it. Simply re-post the content you're creating in your group and you'll quickly see how many more people interact with it!
#9 GROUPS WORK BETTER THAN FAN PAGES & INSTAGRAM
I spent years running my business without having a group. I felt like it would be an additional thing on my plate to manage and I wasn't sure it would really be worth it. Now that I've done it, I couldn't recommend it more. Running a business is hard work and it's difficult to try new things and give them time to work. As a mother, and business owner I am very picky about where I spend my time and want to make sure that I spend it in places that truly work for my business. Marketing should always be a well-rounded strategy. I believe the best marketing strategy has a little of everything (Including Social Media, Organic Traffic, Email marketing, etc.) but when it comes to what works best on social media today, I'd say it's hands down groups!
#10 ANYONE CAN USE A GROUP TO BENEFIT THEIR BUSINESS
Now, of course, every business is different and you might read this and think to yourself that a group really wouldn't work well for what you have, so let me take a few different business models and explain how they too can benefit from having their own group.
PHOTOGRAPHERS; Photographers could create a community-based group by adding ALL past clients into the group. They could easily keep those clients updated on upcoming styled sessions or shoots and fill spots. In addition to marketing to past clients, it's incredibly easy to have those clients add their friends to the group if they feel like they would also benefit from it. Let's say you're planning styled motherhood sessions for mothers day, you could let your clients know to add all their mama friends that they feel might enjoy getting in front of the camera with their little ones. You can use the group to give a behind the scenes look at what you do, educate them on what to wear or prepare for sessions. You could showcase new products you want to offer to current and past clients and get their feedback on what they would love to see. Thinking about adding a new coffee table album? Ask them directly what kind of cover style they would love most.
SOFTWARE; In addition to Modern Market, my husband and I also manage the Essential Studio Manager which is very different than running a photography or e-commerce business. The group is our #1 way to generate new leads for the site. It's our place to ask our users how things are working, or what features they want to see next. Having a community where we can connect has been the base of the business because it allows us to build a business based on what our customers need and want rather than having to guess on it.
LOGO DESIGNER; In this case, you could use your group to showcase new designs for current customers as well as create a place where your customers can share their work or brand using your logo and designs. Just like my group, it would give you a place to actually see your designs in use by customers giving you a beautiful portfolio to showcase to new customers who are thinking about re-vamping their brand.
MEMBERSHIP/CLASS; I've held classes and used Facebook groups as a way to connect to everyone. It's really helpful since it's private and easy to have conversations there. If you're running some kind of class or membership site, creating a private group for members is key in building a two-way conversation with those people. I could easily go over any kind of business and show that having a group would benefit them more than a fan page or Instagram page. My hope is that if you've read this, you'll consider starting a group of your own. I wish I would have started sooner and encourage everyone else to do the same!
Now, when it comes to social media you hear a whole lot of talk about fan pages and Instagram accounts. The top people and businesses in the industry clearly use them, but what they don't show is how they utilize private groups. I guarantee that any business out there that is doing good, is also using groups to build their community. It's not as easy to show off as a large Instagram following, but that doesn't mean it won't outperform it by a long shot!
If you're a photographer, come join my group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1119129811529861
INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE?!
If there's enough interest, I'd love to put together an easy to follow 7-day guide on starting your own group which will walk you through the steps of starting a group, figuring out what content you'll be posting, and showing you how to build a group that quickly gets filled with customers and clients. Comment below if this sounds like something you would want to be part of and I'll put it together!