Back in 2007, Facebook Groups were all the rage. This was due to the fact that FB founder Mark Zuckerberg had granted access to his social networking site to everyone 13+ older in mid-September 2006. Once the initial frenzy of the ability to achieve globalization, reach friends across the universe, and make new friends, had died down; businesses were looking to capitalize from a surge in users and indeed, a study from Cohen’s article, “Library 2.0 Initiatives in Academic Libraries” note that “group membership numbers in Facebook tend to increase daily, often dramatically, especially in the first days after a group is formed” (Cohen, pp.146, 2007).
To this day, Facebook Groups continue to thrive because of their ability to attract new customers, and engage current ones to serve as a marketing tool. In her article, “How to Use Facebook Groups to Grow your Business and Engage Customers,” author Stacey McLachlan cites FB’s ‘Groups’ as a place for users to discuss, learn about products, and gain access to exclusive knowledge – basically FB Groups are used primarily as a platform for discourse.
With regard to the business aspect of it, Facebook’s algorithm is designed to prioritize its own content with high engagement. Therefore, the necessity to post regularly as well as interacting with users, is highly recommended. This will allow for a greater newsfeed reach.
How to Create a Facebook Group for Business:
Once a Facebook Group has been created, the next step is to add it as an ‘admin.’ This is done by;
- Clicking ‘Pages’ in the left-hand column and selecting the appropriate page
- Select the ‘Groups Tab’ in the left-hand column
- Click ‘Create Group’
- The next step is adding members, customizing the page with photos, descriptions, and policies.
How to Grow a Facebook Group:
Tips for growing a Facebook group starts with the configuration of its interface. Therefore, the title, category and description have to be relevant, to-the-point, and enticing enough for people to join the group. Transparency from the get-go is a necessity for the fact that group members can put a face to the name, while important details such as; contact information, website, phone number, and location will help members find as much information as possible before they are forced to contact the business directly.
Networking using an existing friends’ base is one way to add value to the Facebook group. This is because of the viral effect it has on Facebook, with friends of new members being notified that they’ve joined a new group – which will hopefully spark some interest.
How a Facebook Group is Utilized:
Facebook Groups can be used as a customer support tool by addressing any issues users may have with a particular product or service. Alternatively, users can aid each other with certain issues and share their own experiences, creating a unified stage with which efficiency and camaraderie transpire.
For businesses, the group platform is another source of revenue; for example, followers can receive exclusive, members-only deals and be privy to last-gasp sales before they’re mass-marketed to non-members.
The key to growing and retaining customers is by valuing them as a community and engaging them with discourse designed to further the brand initiative. Furthermore, this social media branding model allows the consumer to indirectly take responsibility for growing an organization, taking pressure off the employees to identify news ideas and improvements.
One example of this is the ability to test new content ideas before they come fully come to fruition. By regularly checking the group chat, content creators can see what content gains the most traction and what ideas pop-up in the comments’ section. Even with little feedback and low interaction, the page reach remains unscathed.
Reaching out to customers not only makes them feel valued, but it also moves the business one step closer to customer satisfaction. Asking members about their preferences ensures a direct line of communication that relies on customer input, rather than guess work or telling the audience what they’re getting.
Engagement with group members – especially with regards to responsive customer care (complaints, product/service queries), is an effective means of customer service – at least according to a study by clientheartbeat who announced that 80% of U.S. customers prefer paying more for a product or service to ensure a superior customer service.
Keys to Superior Customer Service on Facebook
Examples of quality customer service using Facebook include the following;
- Addressing ALL Inquiries: While it’s arguably unnecessary to address ALL posts, it is imperative to respond to ALL inquiries, especially if they revolve around issues with a product or service, questions about operating hours, and possible phishing scam bugs. This efficiency and proactive attitude will be reciprocated by the customer and appreciated by other group members.
- Be Clear and Helpful: Providing comprehensive details regarding a product or service will limit the number of concerns and confusion surrounding said service. Additionally, addressing any concerns with an immediate, detailed response should lead to a quicker subscription rate.
- Turning Complaints into Compliments: Dealing with a compliment isn’t always looked at as an opportunity to demonstrate exceptional customer service, but satisfying a disgruntled customer could also lead to a sale down the line, and inspires confidence throughout the organization from a customer standpoint.
- Resolve an Issue: While addressing the issue is a step in the right direction, providing a solution shows that issues don’t always have to be sent to HQ and be time-consuming.
- Consistency is Key: Dealing with the odd customer issue and neglecting others shows a lack of consistency and will deter members from purchasing a product or subscribing to a service. Be consistent throughout social media, even if the organization isn’t consistent in other departments.
- Buying-in to Customers’ Personalities: While professionalism is key, adapting tone to the customer’s speech shows versatility and a personable organization. For example, if a client uses informal speech, then the business’ social media representative has a plethora of emoticon’s, exclamation marks, and Gif’s with which to respond accordingly and in a friendly manner. Even if it’s a customer comment regarding a positive experience with the product or service, show that the company cares about it’s audience.
- Manage Facebook Content: While giving the freedom for members to post what they feel, some remarks need to be flagged for inappropriate behaviour, and therefore content does need to be managed accordingly, and to prevent hate speech from being spewed.
Using Community Events as a Networking Opportunity
Promoting community around an event can be a source of discussion on Facebook, while the event itself can be used as a chance to further the product with word-of-mouth and by posting pictures and videos from the event to the Facebook page.
Customer Appreciation Page
By creating a Customer Appreciation Page, the company creates a bond that customers will feel is exclusive to them. This in turn should create trust, and eagerness to continue using the business.
Internet Monitoring Tool
Monitoring the marketing strategy requires an Internet marketing tool, and brand24.com is a good example of a tool that filters the positive, negative, and neutral mentions using advanced sentiment detection while notifying the business when negative mentions pop-up, in a bit to engage a disgruntled customer before it’s too late.
With regards to tracking the group metrics and tactics; the focus must be on the following;
- Number of members in the group
- Number of NEW members who join in a day/week/month
- Ratio of NEW members who’ve left the group
- Ratio of members who are your Facebook friends vs those who aren’t
- Activity on Wall Posts and Discussion Boards
- Members who’ve accepted invitations to join events
- Links posted to the group that are connected to blogs/websites should have parameters appended so they can be segmented separately in the analytics.
Parameters are attached to the end of a URL – they are extensions that help define specific content or actions based on the data being passed.
In order to append these parameters to the end of a URL, a ‘?’ is added followed by the parameter. To add multiple parameters, an ‘&’ is added in-between each.
Facebook Groups vs. Facebook Pages
The debate between the effectiveness of FB Groups vs. FB Pages is largely dependent on who brand stakeholders are attempting to communicate with. This is because of the goals the brand is attempting to achieve while focusing on what audience they’re trying to reach. For example, a team leader trying to communicate with their coworkers will have better success communicating through a Facebook Group. Where Facebook Pages is better utilized is when the same stakeholders try to communicate with current, past, and potential future customers.
FB Groups vs. FB Pages
According to CauseVox, the debate between Groups and Pages is based around a set of questions regarding the organizations’ desired goals:
- Is Facebook being used for announcements and updates about the organization?
- Is the intention to produce content and post updates?
- Is the intention to establish an official, public presence for the organization?
If so, starting a Facebook Page is the best bet.
Meanwhile, if the intention is the following, creating a Facebook Group is the better option:
- Is there a community who desires a place to connect with each other, and engage in discourse?
- Is the intention to have a Facebook application largely populated by member content?
- Is the intention to establish a warm image of the organization to its subscribers?
Facebook Pages were originally intended to provide brands and celebrities a more far-reaching version of the Groups application, and was largely lauded because of the success of Facebook Ads within its creation.
- Facebook’s platform allows for promotion of posts
- Ads can be targeted toward certain demographics
- Facebook does not publicly link admin profiles to the page unless admins manually link themselves
- Analytics are provided for the page the get more detailed as the follower count grows
- Upcoming posts can be scheduled to publish automatically
- Pages are public and visible to everyone, which makes it susceptible to spam
- Users can easily set-up pages which impersonate the brand/organization, therefore verification is necessary
- Inactivity from admins will result in an inactive page feed
- Even if the number of followers increase, posts may have a limited reach due to Facebook wanting to incentivize page owners to pay in order to boost posts
- Admins have more control over the privacy of members and posts
- Admins have the ability to set a code of conduct or rules and regulations
- Admins can ban users who break the rules
- There is limited reach and limited monetization of content
- As groups grow larger, moderation becomes more difficult
- Admins’ personal Facebook profiles are publicly available for members to see
The power of social media – in particular Facebook to act as a tool of globalization, means businesses have the ability to reach out to potential clients and offer them a personal experience that give them the feeling of exclusivity, efficiency, and care.
The groups’ option is also an effective tool for gaining insights into people’s preferences, as well as their online behaviour.
By now, you should have the tools to carry-out further research into YOUR needs and desires with regards to the look of YOUR social media presence.
In particular, you now know the advantages and disadvantages of Facebook Groups, their effectiveness in building a community, and the ability to retain customers through efficiency and being personable thanks to Facebook Groups’ usability.
1st on the List can help implement those desires into a complete and thorough business plan that will put you one step ahead of the rest.