A couple of years ago I created and facilitated a free Facebook group (called “Our Highest Work”) and in late 2015 decided to put it on hold.
Here’s why I stopped using my Facebook Group, and why I don't recommend this strategy to any of my clients:
My "group" had basically become my fan page -- without the advantages of fan pages!
I was posting my new content there, but besides that, there was little other discussion, since I didn’t allow other members to promote their own content or offerings.
(This is a normal rule for Facebook Groups: don’t post your own content or offerings to someone else’s group, unless it is explicitly welcome. The reason for this rule is that if you open it up for anyone to post their content, it becomes a dumping ground of many, many promotional posts, without much engagement or value. It’s no longer a group… but simply a news feed of random people trying to sell you their thing or wanting you to read their blog post.)
Back to the fact that my free group had become just a place for me to post my content — it was no longer a real community. It didn’t feel right to use the “group” on Facebook to just promote my own content.
FB Business Pages have the huge advantage of FB Ads
The main problem with FB Groups is that you can’t reliably reach your group members.
Your postings to your group often don’t show up in members’ news feed.
With a Facebook Business Page (otherwise known as a “Fan Page”) you can reliably reach your fans using Facebook Ads (especially the “Reach” type of ad.)
If you’re trying to build a business, and want to use Facebook, then I highly recommend that you learn how to use Facebook Ads. It’s the cheapest reliable way to reach fans as well as new people who are likely to enjoy your content and offerings.
Admittedly, I am biased:
(1) Facebook Ads have worked very well for me , with a high return on investment,
and (2) as a result, I decided to teach and sell a course on Facebook Marketing/Ads.
Do you have the time or energy to moderate a group?
I’ve seen it again and again — people with good intentions about creating community (and/or ulterior motives about promoting their own offerings) start a Facebook Group, and then they realize how much work it is to facilitate a Group!
I always recommend that we work towards purity of intentions in marketing. Every person’s posting in a group has equal weight, unless you use the “Announcements” feature, which seems disingenuous if you’re trying to promote your own offerings yet preventing other members from doing so.
If a group is active, it’ll take you more time than you think, to keep the group’s discussion on point, and to moderate the self-promotion from members. It requires quite some energy to make any FB group worthwhile.
Smart moderators often try to turn their group into a paid membership. I can respect that, but it’ll still take a lot of time which I’d rather be spending doing these things instead:
(1) creating content / building my fan page
(2) getting to know my fans from the standpoint of “You’re in my audience, how can I serve you better with my content and offerings?”
and (3) serving my own clients, and creating courses.
I do use a Facebook Group but it’s not free, and it's not a “membership program” that’s a few bucks a month. It’s part of my Coaching Program which is $111/month per member. That makes it worth my while to thoughtfully moderate the group activity.
If your free group is not active, well, you’ve come to the same place I mentioned above: you’ve got a blog but you can’t reliably reach your members!
How to reliably reach your audience?
With a Facebook Group, you’re at the mercy of the FB News Feed algorithm to reach your members. And if you can’t reliably reach them, what’s the point?
With a Facebook Business/Fan Page, you can reliably reach your fans with FB Ads.
Another tool to consider: Linkedin Group. You can send a “manager announcement” up to once a week, which go into the email inboxes of most of your group members, no matter how small or large your group is. (Group members are automatically opted in to receive Manager Announcement emails, unless they unsubscribe.)
However, I don't want to spend the time and energy to properly moderate a Linkedin group, even though I own one with several thousand members. (Instead I’ve delegated the group management to one of my clients, who can benefit from sending manager announcements to the group.)
Bottom Line? Build up your Facebook Fan Page instead.
Create content on your Facebook Business/Fan Page, and use Facebook Ads to (1) reach the right new people for your content and offerings, and (2) to reliably reach your fans.
And create a Facebook Group only if you want to use it as a paid membership (with a high enough fee to make it worth your while), or as part of serving your premium clients.
If you like engaging in a community, then go ahead and participate in other people’s Facebook Groups, when you have the time. This gives you the benefits without the responsibility of having to manage your own group!
To learn my strategies for effectively using Facebook Ads to reach your fans as well as grow your audience of true fans, you might consider my Facebook course.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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