8 Simple Steps to Creating a Facebook Group From Scratch
This time last year I had all but given up on Facebook.
My newsfeed had become a barrage of irrelevant ads and I was frustrated by the lack of control over what I was seeing.
Then I discovered Facebook groups. After joining one particularly helpful, engaged group, I found dozens more.
I of course found plenty that were either mildly abusive and/or lifeless, but I swiftly excused myself from them.
Over the months, I’ve seen time and again a successful formula for running a Facebook group, but what about creating one from scratch?
Yes, I’m teaching from experience here – I’m particularly proud of my League of Creative Introverts – but I knew I had to get advice from fellow Facebook group hosts.
This post brings together some of the gems I’ve found from interviewing these pro-hosts (prosts?) and hopefully will give you all the know-how you need to create your own Facebook group.
1. Have a purpose
Before you get carried away and stuck into coming up with a cute name and a glitzy cover photo, ask yourself WHY you’re doing this.
Do you want to use your Facebook group to meet peers and share ideas? Or are you using it to teach your community about your field of expertise?
Do you want to keep it small, or keep growing? This is actually important to consider – bigger is not necessarily better!
One thing I’ve seen (and heard from members and hosts) of larger groups is that the dynamics change dramatically after a certain number of members.
Because of this, I decided to stop promoting my own Facebook group as free entry, and offer it only to members who join through the official League of Creative Introverts page.
It’s totally up to you: just keep in mind what you want your group to feel like. Roughly, the 3/10 rule is a good indication of tipping points (eg. a group of 3 will feel a certain way, but when it hits 10 members the dynamics change. When it hits 30, it changes again, and when it hits 100… then 300… then 1000… It’s a real thing.)
I love this gem from Jordana Jaffe, co-founder of Gena and Jordana’s Magical Business:
Ask yourself why you’re starting it – are you doing it because it truly excites you or because you’ve seen the strategy work for other people. If it’s the latter, I encourage you to find another platform. Success comes from doing things consistently and if you don’t genuinely enjoy hanging out in Facebook groups, then it’s going to be really difficult to maintain the success of it.
2. Know your people
Oh man – market research? That’s no fun!
Actually, it doesn’t have to be too painful.
If you have an audience on any social media platform, if you have a mailing list, if you have a blog, you have your information.
If you don’t, it’s time to go back to Business 101 and do a little digging around.
Knowing who you expect to join this group is key to giving people what they want.
Consider asking your existing audience (wherever it is) to answer a quick survey.
Using a service like Survey Monkey, find out if they’d even be interested in joining an online community – what would they want to gain from it and so on.
It’s also going to help when it comes to posting content for the group.
Most of the posts I create on the LCI are to do with creative projects, showcasing work, problem solving, online marketing. But sometimes it’s fun to throw in some cheesy quotes and pretty much anything involving cats.
It’s not for everyone, but it is for us!
3. Set a schedule
Without having a schedule set in advance each month, I literally would never find the time to post as regularly as I do in my group.
Having a schedule also allows my group members to know what to expect from me. They know that Saturday is a day to share their creative work from the week, and on Tuesdays we share tips.
You could even use my free editable Facebook group planner for exactly that – planning your posts in advance.
Alyssa Barnes, host of Web Appeal, reminded me that an engaged Facebook group isn’t going to happen without some digi-elbow grease. You have to put in consistent effort – especially in the beginning:
You have to put in the time and energy to engage your group’s members. Ask questions. Provide daily prompts. Share resources. Get to know your community.
4. Have a USP
As Facebook groups aren’t exactly the untapped resource they might have been a year or two ago, it does help to offer some kind of unique selling point (USP) to your community.
Again, going back to tip #1 might help. What do you want this group for?
If you’re expertise is in crochet, and you’ve seen how other crochet groups run things, what could you do better?
What makes your group special? Even better: what makes your group members special?
Make this clear in your ‘manifesto’ – ie. your group description.
5. Focus your marketing
This is arguably the toughest of the steps to take, but I strongly recommend this if you expect to get anyone joining your group.
The biggest source of traffic is my podcast right now. I have a link on my front page of my blog, but I have promoted it in a handful of episodes of my podcast.
I get quite a few people who refer it to new freelancers or freelancers who miss the support of a workplace. To be honest, I like it like that, it contributes to the friendly, welcoming vibe of the group.
Choose your ONE key platform and spend at least 3 weeks promoting your group – and ONLY your group.
This is going to be different for everyone, but whatever your main form of communication is with your audience (your blog, your mailing list, Twitter, Youtube…) you need to be consistently putting out the news that YES! You DO have a Facebook group and remind everyone of what they can expect to get inside.
Now I’m NOT recommending making 100% of your tweets or emails to be about your group (that would get old fast) but I am recommending making 100% of your promotional messages about the group (eg. if you post once a day on a platform, make 2 posts a week about your group).
Then just keep this up for at least 3 weeks. After that, you can chill out – but by then you should have a nice number of members to help you spread the word.
Top tip: After that initial 3-week ‘launch’ phase, consider asking your members to share your group with their friends. If you have already provided them with value, and show your gratitude, then most will be happy to return the favour.
6. Lay down the law
Emma’s number #1 tip for running a successful group stressed the value of this:
Set rules! Seriously, I know it’s a buzzkill, but setting rules will keep the spam levels down (and give you something to refer to if you have to give someone a warning).
You can’t expect your group to be a booming success and a perfect place to hang out: this is the internet I’m afraid.
Trolls and spammers lurk around every virtual corner, but there IS something you can do to help keep things kosher.
You could also include rules in a post and ‘Pin it’ to the top of the page, or just write some rules in your group’s description.
7. Invite influencers
Emphasis on invite – it’s a BIG no-no to go adding members without their permission.
So, how do you get influencers to join?
Step 1 is to make sure they know about it.
One way is to share their content (blog posts by the influencer etc) in your group, making sure to tag the influencer.
They might be so flattered that they join.
Now, keep in mind they’ll only see this if your group is public.
If it’s a private group, I would step things up a notch and move to step 2:
Yes, it’s time consuming, but if done courteously, it is a much more effective approach.
Let them know what they can get from being in the group. If you share a similar audience, let them know they can reach more people by being a member of the group.
You could even collaborate with them, running a joint webinar to the group, or running a product giveaway to the group… let your imagination run wild with this one!
8. Boost a post
Ads aren’t for everyone, but unfortunately they are the most effective way to reach an audience on Facebook these days – when used correctly.
More bad news: you can’t (yet) run ads directly to a Facebook group.
BUT! You can do this:
- Create a post with a link to your Facebook group
- Create a new Ad, selecting “Boost your posts”
- Choose the post you just created with the group link
Alternatively, you could run an ad to a page or post on your website, that links to your Facebook group.
Another bonus to doing this is you can collect email addresses of members, as well as providing much more information about your group to potential members than Facebook allows.
BONUS: Consider running a challenge
Another tip from Jordana was to run a short, free challenge to your existing fans and followers.
Part of signing up to this challenge will be membership to your group.
You could even run the challenge on the Facebook group itself – just send a reminder email each day of the challenge of where to go to find it.
Plus, this is a great way to keep challengers accountable for their success on the challenge – and most will be happy to join.
For some, it might be an added incentive for joining the challenge (who doesn’t work harder when there’s a group egging you on?)
Yup, creating a Facebook group from scratch is a lot of effort – but if you ask me it’s totally worth it.
Benny pretty much sums up how I feel about my group:
It’s great to have such positive people and I’m able to have a voice as well to this community. Plus I love hearing about their wins, helping them, and hearing about their own life.
If you’re serious about creating a Facebook group – and an engaged one at that – then I do recommend grabbing the free workbook How to Create a Facebook Group From Scratch.
It walks you though the steps above – and most importantly, gets you DOING them 😉