Grow your business from the comfort of your pyjamas!
Facebook is a place that differs in purposes for each person. For many it’s simply a place to share news articles, amusing memes and generally set the world to rights. For others, it can be a rich source of positivity, despite all the negative associations that come with the open forum of social media.
It is also undoubtedly a powerful tool for business. This is not limited to running a shop directly on the platform or using it to target audiences with advertising, but also finding new customers and connections to grow enterprises. Essentially, Facebook can provide all the benefits of traditional business networking, all from the comfort of your pyjamas.
The key factor is the wealth of business-orientated groups and communities waiting to be found. There is no limit to the number you can join, meaning you can spread yourself across as many groups you feel able to keep up with.
Here are some tips to help you take your first steps into business groups and communities on Facebook.
Do your research
Facebook’s search tool allows you to search specially for Group, which you can filter between Public - your friends are able to see comments and posts you make - and Closed - only members can see your activities. This means you won’t be able to see any posts in a Closed group before deciding if you want to join.
But you will be able to see the number of members and the average number of daily posts being made for all search results. This is a great indication of how likely you are to gain traction for your posts, as well as the variety of people you might be able to connect with and help out.
in Public groups, look at the kind of content members are sharing. Some might be dominated by direct sales messages, others might be more discussion and advice based. Like most networking, the more involved you feel you can be, the more you will get out of it. Think about the kind of engagements you want from your posts and if there’s evidence of those interactions.
There’s local, then there is hyper-local
If you have a product or service unrestricted by geography, you can consider joining groups that operate on a national scale. The scope of social media also means you can search for groups in your immediate region, county, city or even specific town. This is great if your business is designed to offer services within a fixed location. Naturally, if you own a physical bricks and mortar business, consider from how far you’d like to attract customers.
Remember that you can use groups to offer advice and support, not just with the aim of immediately growing your customer base. There’s the option of also joining groups dedicated to your trade or profession, allowing you to trade knowledge and information with likeminded people. This can be an invaluable resource if you’re just starting a career in a new industry.
Read the Rules
Before requesting to join any group, always read the rules. Good Administrators set clear guidelines towards the kinds of posts and behaviour expected from members. Check whether you’re allowed to make posts that openly advertise, as opposed to create discussion and debate. It could be that adverts are only allowed on certain days, in which case, make a note and pay attention to group activity during the other times. There could be clues as to how you structure and phrase your sales pitches.
Once you’ve answered any qualifying questions that gateway direct entry, you’ll have to wait until your membership is approved. Once you’re a member, make sure you have a strong opening post ready. Consider how you can introduce yourself in a friendly and noticeable manner. As with all social media platforms, video is the most engaging form of content, so perhaps you could record an intro using your smartphone or webcam.
If your business already has Active video content, find a suitable example within the Group rules and use it. Don’t be afraid to use a video in the same way in multiple groups, perhaps with alteration to the post text to see which style works best.
Whether you post a video or an image, be sure to offer something more than you expect in return. The sooner you can engage with members, the more you’ll be motivated to remain engaged yourself. It also helps immediately being building trust amongst other users.
Encourage and support others
The easiest thing you can do for anyone on Facebook, is give a post a Like. If you see someone requesting advice but are unable to directly help, a simple Like can help boost their post’s visibility to other members. Be judicious, however, otherwise your endorsements will cancel each other out and your credibility might suffer.
When appropriate, leave a comment, which is even greater social currency. Resist the urge to make a joke or anything not directly useful to the conversation. There’s a time and a place for doing so, but remember you’re representing your business, so maintain a professional demeanour.
Digital networking isn't a replacement for in person networking; nothing can replace the ability to engage people face to face. But, Facebook can be a great tool for building your online presence past just posting to your page.
As with all types of online marketing, finding your target market is key. Whether you provide B2B or B2C, products or services, there will be a Facebook group filled with potential customers to engage with.
If you're looking to improve your digital marketing, get likes/shares, blog exchanges, advice or testimonials, why not come and join us on the Small Business Support UK Facebook Group.