In a time when online communities seem to be the way of the world, it’s so easy to look at all of the Facebook group communities around us and think “I can do that!” And the truth is…YES! You absolutely can! I built my Facebook community from 0 to 3000 members in less than a year. Organically.
Recently, I was lucky enough to go live with The Lady Boss Collective and talk about my journey creating a Facebook community. I’ve learned a lot along the way and want to share some of these tips with you. As such, here are my 7 tips for creating an online community!
1. Get Clear on your Ideal Client
Don’t be in a rush to start a Facebook group until you are really clear about who your ideal client is or who your audience is. Make sure you’re clear on why you are starting the group. When you start to create a community, ask yourself questions like:
- “Do I want to sell things to this group?”
- “What is the purpose?”
- “What do I hope people will gain from being in this group?”
- “Am I starting a group to teach people something?”
Every type of community exists out there that you can imagine. So naturally, you have to get clear on your purpose for your community before you start it. Just like anything, you have to be clear with the purpose and have goals. Not only have purpose and goals, but make sure that you’re staying aligned to those goals consistently.
Creating a Facebook community can have huge results, but not without effort. You have to be willing to hustle. Building an online community takes work, and like all good things, your community needs to be nurtured and cared for in order for growth.
With clarity, spreading the word about your online community is both easy and is a great way to gain growth, by learning exactly how the purpose of your group can help its members.
2. Spread the Word
Find other groups that are aligned with yours and ask them to spread the word. Offer value or incentive to them for helping you reach a bigger audience. Tell them you are offering this group and explain how you think your communities would be cohesive and complementary to each other. Be religious about going into groups and looking for people who are asking about your group topic, and then, share some advice or helpful information and invite them to your community. When you initiate Facebook engagement posts in complementary groups, you give yourself credibility and give others a resource.
Some other ways to promote your online community would be to get active on Instagram and LinkedIn. Find some key partners to really advocate for you as well. Part of creating a community involves building relationships. Determine how you can also bring value to other people’s communities so that they want to stick with you. There are tons of opportunities for growth when you’re helping other people build their communities as well.
3. Get Admin Help
A Facebook group done properly is a lot of work. People who have really successful groups usually have admins as well. You cannot run a really successful business and keep up on a group properly without either making yourself crazy or having a team member.
Community managers are really key and very important to successful Facebook groups. You need to decide how much you will post and plan out your action steps to make it a profitable group. I post three times a week minimum and then I sometimes do extra posts sporadically. I go live once a week and get a guest speaker once a month; because I have community managers helping me run my group, I’m able to make time to engage with my group members.
Now, this sounds intimidating if you don’t have a large following or a booming business (yet). You don’t have to outsource right away. Online communities are completely do-able by yourself, especially in the beginning, but be clear with yourself about what the purpose of your community is so you can direct your admin when the time comes.
As your community starts to grow, consider asking for volunteers to do some of the “work.” The people that are in your community are there for a reason, you’ll be surprised at people’s willingness to help when it involves something they enjoy.
4. Engagement is Key
Usually, people join a Facebook group because they want to be a part of a community that can support them and help them. They’ve joined your group to learn from you and to hear from you. Actively engaging with your group is extremely important in order to have a successful online community. I like to engage with my followers through mini-live coaching sessions. Something will come up, and I’ll think, I’ve got to share this info! I then pop right into the group and share my knowledge. And I can easily do this because I’ve set up a system that works with my schedule. When you’ve put systems in place in place to make your processes easier and have admin help that makes sure your group is running smoothly, it frees up time and makes it so much easier to engage with your community.
Put simply, start conversations. Create organic (original) content that taps into your community members’ emotions. Ask questions that do not require long responses, make it easy for them to engage with you and the rest of the group. People tend to skim when they are scrolling through just about anything on the internet; so, creating questions that catch your follower’s attention and are easy to answer quickly is a great way to create engagement within your community
Dana Malstaff, the author of Boss Mom, talks about other great engagement strategies in her interview on how to cultivate community with Facebook groups. Check out her suggestions on how to enhance engagement in your communities! I loved her points around cultivation.
5. Bigger is NOT Better
Something to also keep in mind is that from time to time you should go through your group and clean it up. Rachel Miller, the moolah marketer, is a fantastic resource in terms of Facebook growth and Facebook communities.
One of the things she teaches is to clean up the group. On an evening when you’re watching TV, go through the member list and look for people without a Facebook picture on their profile. You’ll want to remove them because of inactivity. That’s because it’s not about the numbers. It’s about engagement and about wanting people who are participating. People who have been in the group for six months but haven’t responded or participated might not need to be in the group.
One of the biggest engagement posts I ever got was when I told everyone I was doing a clean-up. I said, “This isn’t about volume. This is about having the most active and supportive group. If you want to be here, I need to know about it.” I ended up with 800 comments on that post. And that serves my steadfast purpose and responsibility to educate my group more so that they know that they need to be active.
You need to remember to have a really good welcome sequence and put out reminders because new people are joining all the time. You may feel like you are creating duplicate content, but your new members may not have seen the reminder you put out three weeks ago. You have to bring those things back to the surface. Outsourcing is the key to all of this.
6. Keep Track of Your Systems
If you don’t have a thriving business yet, you can totally do it yourself. But, just be prepared to document your systems. Keep track of how you’re doing it. How are you capturing email addresses, if you choose to do that? What are the questions? How are you maintaining the group? Write it all down so that when you’re ready to outsource to somebody, you can just hand the process over to them.
7. Learn a Little About Algorithms
The internet depends on things called algorithms to get people the information they are looking for. Think of them as recipes for search results. While there are no definite answers because algorithms are constantly changing, when it comes to creating an online community like a Facebook group, it pays to do a little research on their algorithms.
For example, a website that creates blog posts even just once a week has a better chance of being noticed, and liked, by Google’s algorithm, over a website that posts blogs sporadically.
Facebook’s algorithm sees processes, such as “likes” and “comments,” as recipes for a great post. The more comments a post has on it, the more likely it is to be seen. Make sure you’re engaging with your group members by posting things that get them involved with other members; have admins post content regularly, and be sure to be authentic. Build your Facebook community with intent; people like authenticity and organic information.
Just like anything, you have to be clear with the purpose, have goals, and make sure that you’re staying aligned to them. Outsource so you don’t drive yourself into the ground. And, have a system in place for keeping track of your systems and processes so everything is laid out in a clear manner.
Facebook groups can be very powerful tools for networking, selling, or sharing resources. Get clear on what content you want to put out there, make it happen, and then enjoy watching your community grow!