Facebook Groups are my secret sauce. I used them to recruit 150 writers in three months to help start a publication. A year later, I began freelancing for a company that sells software to digital marketers. Then using a special tool called Facebook Graph, we created a local digital marketing community including thirty-plus potential customers who love our brand, all in under a month.
I know better than anyone how hard it can be trying to build a local community through in-person networking. It takes a significant amount of time and discourages many should-be leaders. The answer to all these problems lies in utilizing Facebook branding and outreach.
By the time you’re done with this step-by-step guide you’ll be the leader of your very own local niche community. Let’s get started.
Step 1: Define your niche
Picking your niche can be very difficult. If you’re already a business owner it’s easier; however, for most of us, we struggle when thinking of where our passion lies. The truth is that you can go through your entire life wondering what you should do, or you can just start.
If you decide to start, here are a few questions to answer to help narrow down your niche:
- Can I promote this product or service for a couple of years?
- Do I enjoy whatever I’m promoting?
- Do I show passion when I talk about it?
- Do I want to become a local leader in this niche?
Step 2: Create a mission statement
Before you create a Facebook group and start inviting people, you must have a mission statement. Your mission statement must encompass what your group represents and how it betters their life. Also, it’s critical that the mission statement is excellent because it’s visible to everyone who’s in your group and on your corresponding Facebook fan page.
Here are the four main components of any great mission statement:
Think About Long-Term vs. Short-Term
Do you want your community’s mission statement to reflect its short-term or long-term goals? Don’t try to find a balance, just choose one since specificity is key.
Step 3: Create a Facebook group
Click on GROUPS on the left-hand column of your homepage, and then click on Create Group.
You’ll see this popup:
Leave the “Add this group to your favorites” checked; this makes the group easier to find. Furthermore, the privacy setting you pick depends on the group you’re creating. Rule of thumb is that the best privacy setting is the one that will encourage your users to engage.
Now that your group is created, where do you put the mission statement?
In the description field on the left-hand side, put the posting guidelines first, then your mission statement. This strategy will keep your group safer from users that post spam. I suggest lightly warning your members against posting self-promotional content, advertisements, or other types of media that doesn’t fit your group’s mission statement.
What you put as your cover photo is critical. I recommend a group photo of your core members for social validation or even a great picture of the venue where you might regularly hold get-togethers. As long as your cover photo exemplifies a benefit the group provides whether the venue’s view (like in the cover photo above) or other types of social validation, then it works.
Step 4: Create A Reward
Without a benefit to joining your group, you won’t receive members. So, before you start inviting people, it’s time to brainstorm.
When will they receive rewards?
Your group will remain stale if the members don’t receive benefits. You must reward your group on a consistent basis. Maybe the reward is a great speaker each week or a cool yoga lesson. Keep it relevant to your group’s interests and make sure it has enough value to encourage engagement.
How can you change-up your reward?
People get bored with rewards that don’t change. We’re naturally attracted to new things that provide value. If you can supply a different valuable reward on a consistent basis, then you’re attendees will remain engaged.
Low cost, high value
Producing high-value rewards is hard. It’s important you find the balance between high value and low cost.
The more touch points, the better
The more touch points where you can insert value, the better. From live Hangouts to having members converse in-person and listen to great speakers, you want to provide value where they spend most of their time.
Everyone places a different value
Keep in mind that the more value your individual members attribute to rewards, the more you should personalize them. Consequently, you will establish a more personable and concrete relationship with them.
Step 5: Ensure conversion
Before you begin reaching out to people, it’s vital that you learn to brand yourself.
Attractive profiles result in a high response rate when sending messages
Leaders with a positive social perception generate more engagement. Correspondingly, I suggest high-quality photos or paying a professional photographer to take photos of you to put on your personal Facebook profile.
Make sure to take off any content that appears contradicting to your community’s mission statement. Also, those old photos of you partying in college should be removed, too. Striking the right balance between being personable and a strong community leader takes practice.
I had my photos professionally taken.
Take a look:
Relevant profiles result in the highest response rate
People in your group naturally want a leader who genuinely represents what they’re presenting. If you’re promoting a group about yoga, then have some yoga pictures. If you do that, then you’re more likely to look like a leader in your local niche.
A relevant pinned post
As much as we don’t want to believe it, people have a tendency to go through your entire profile. So make sure your latest post is relevant to your group’s niche and has strong social validation with a high number of “Likes.”
If they can find it, then make it relevant
If you have a large group, some people will look through your entire profile in search of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Make sure you’re prepared by deleting any content that doesn’t help your brand.
Step 6: Recruit Core Members
Don’t message people about your group if there’s no social validation because you’re the only member. It’s vital that you get a couple of core members who will help you establish the group.
Think of your group as an established and prominent organization – there are normally a president, vice president, and a chief marketing officer. Assign your core members job titles and responsibility, and it will spark their engagement. But make sure you know how to limit their control.
So how do you reach out to new users when starting out?
One of the best ways to recruit your founding members is to utilize Facebook graph. Begin by identifying the friends you already connect to on Facebook by putting in the right search phrases into Facebook graph search. You can utilize graph search to find people by their job title, company, location, languages, and what they like.
Here are four examples of phrases you can search:
- Friends of My Friends Who Like X Page
- Friends of My Friends Who Work at X Company
- Fans of X Page That Live In Y City
- People who like PAGE NAME 1 and PAGE NAME 2 and live in CITY NAME
Here’s an example:
If you’re having a hard time brainstorming search ideas, then use Facebook Audience.
How to use Facebook Audience:
First click on Ads Manager on the left-hand side of your homepage.
Then click on Audience Insights.
Here you can research your ideal target member in-depth. Moreover, let’s say you want to start a local digital marketing group, then analyze people who like a relevant company – let’s say Digital Marketer.
You can see a ton of data on this type of customer including what pages they like, their normal activities, and even purchase habits. This data will help you craft a more personable message when you eventually reach out to recruit.
Notice how people who like Digital Marketer also like Moz, a SEO software? You can utilize this information with Facebook graph search.
Search based on interests
Since I’m interested in knowing more about my target member’s interests, I search “Interests liked by people who like Digital Marketer.” This helps me customize my pitch and identify additional people who are interested in joining my local digital marketing group.
Remember, if you’re shooting out a message to someone about joining your relevant group that offers free value, then it’s not spam. These people are interested in what you’re offering. Thinking of it as you doing them a favor by breaking the ice.
“See More” option
If you’re not connected to the person who you’re sending a message to, then after you press the message button, you can hit See More. Now you’ll see an option to pay a dollar to send them a message straight to their primary inbox. This can be an extremely effective method to recruit members if your conversion rates are high enough.
After you have a solid group of core members, you can ask them to apply the same recruiting method you used to find new members. I recommend only asking your most passionate members to help you with this, otherwise you will scare off newcomers.
Step 7: Creating Outreach Templates
These are the ten core points for the perfect Facebook Message to recruit new members:
Start with your common connection.
State another common interest for messaging.
3. Pain point
It’s difficult to connect with people who have the same interests and bring a local community together around those interests.
Talk about how this local group helps connect people with similar interests.
Talk about the excellent time everyone has connecting and improving themselves. Also, mention any giveaways and speakers you have.
If you’re an experienced digital marketer, then mention the number of years you’ve worked in the industry.
Here you want to mention quickly your location or any other features worth talking about.
8. Reiterate benefits
9. Reiterate solution
10. Call to action and questions
Here’s a good example: “I hope to see you at our upcoming meeting this [date]. Please reach out if you have any questions. Join the group here: [URL to Facebook group].
Sample Outreach Messages
I wanted to connect because I noticed you like digital marketing, and more specifically, content marketing. It’s so hard to bring people in [location] with the same passions together. So, I created a community called [community name] where we talk about content marketing and digital marketing.
Everyone has a great time and makes valuable connections. As a digital marketer with several years of experience, it’s so much fun to meet up with similar people in a fun and relaxing setting. We have an incredible location in downtown with free beer and other refreshments. You should come to [name of community] so you can have fun and make new friends.
I hope to see you at our next meeting! Please let me know if you have any questions. Join the group here: [URL to Facebook group]”
No Response Follow-Up:
If a couple of days passed without a reply, send a follow-up message. A follow-up message communicates that you care about them and the group prospering. Remember, sending the follow-up message is just as critical as sending the primary one.
Just in case you forgot, I wanted to reach out because I noticed you like digital marketing and more specifically, content marketing. This is why I created the Facebook group, [name of community], for local people like us where we talk about these interests.
It’s an excellent time, and we all make incredible connections. We have a stunning location in downtown with free beer and other refreshments. Can you do me a small favor and let me know if you’re interested?
Please feel free to ask me any questions. If this piques your interest, join the group here: [URL to Facebook group]”
Step 8: Creating Engagement
1. First comment
Encourage people to introduce themselves to the Facebook group. They should mention their passions and professional interests. To ease the process, send them a direct personal message of encouragement.
2. Small win
I recommend giving something of value away that new members can immediately use. A good example is an REI discount for a local hiking group. Also, posting pictures from group get-togethers on social media does wonders for your Facebook group and fan page engagement.
3. Make it personal
A Facebook community has higher engagement if people get to know each other on a more personal level. To facilitate this, you need to take the first step in opening up. If you can, then it will give others the courage to step out of their comfort zone, too.
There you have it! After following these steps you’ll have an engaged, interested niche facebook community. No more Meetups and dead-end networking. The power is in your hands to lead your own community exactly as you want. Drive conversations in the directions you want and reap all the benefits of a devoted group of followers.