5 Ways Facebook Groups Can Help Your Business Thrive

With changes to Facebook's Newsfeed shrinking organic reach to minuscule levels, it's clear that marketers need to diversify their approach in order to offset traffic losses and better protect against future updates.

And, while paying for Facebook ads is always an option (one that at this point you should be using, I must sadly add), it may also be outside the budget of some smaller companies.

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Luckily, there is a lower-cost, engagement-driving alternative: Facebook Groups. PHANTOM POWER Marketing has been using Facebook Groups as part of our Facebook Marketing Plans for nearly ten years. And while some things have changed during that time, one very important constant remains. It is a low to no-cost “engagement loophole” where you can maintain a connection with your audience, despite how Newsfeeds shift.

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If you haven't plunged into the world of Facebook Groups, here are five things you need to know.

1. A Focus on Collaboration

While many consider Facebook Page is predominately considered a broadcasting platform, Facebook Groups are focused on open and equal discussion. The experience is designed to be collaborative, with participants having the ability to take part in the conversation.

I know what you're thinking: "how are Facebook Groups valuable if they focus on collaboration?"

Initially, this may seem like a drawback from a marketing perspective, as Facebook groups are not ad-centric, however it actually gives you a chance to engage with users in a meaningful and authentic way.

Group members have a definite interest in the topics being discussed, which enables brands who are group admins to gather relevant information, and talk directly with a targeted audience. That's what makes Facebook Groups a great option for discovery and connection, particularly as engagement levels fall for brands and publishers.

2. You Can Create a New Group

If you need specific feedback, or would like to have discussions in a particular niche, then you can create a group designed to do just that.

What sort of reasons would there be to start a group? Nearly anything.

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A product or service launch is one excellent example, enabling you to drum up interest and learn the thoughts of potential customers.

Looking for feedback on an existing offering? Create a group and get the information you need. The possibilities are essentially endless.

Facebook Group Settings

When you create a group, you have the ability to set it to "public," where anyone can see the posts; "closed," where anyone can find the group but only members can view the posts; or "secret," where members have to add a person directly for them to gain access. You can also control whether anyone can post to the group or if those rights should only be given to group admins.

Ultimately, which option is best depends on your goals, so consider what you want to accomplish before making a choice.

If you're looking to drive engagement in general, then a public group where everyone can participate is your best bet. For providing support to customers after the sale, a closed group where anyone can post could be a better choice. This approach provides members with some serious value without you having to risk a forceful takeover of the group's purpose.

3. ...or Join an Existing One

In some cases, a Facebook Group will already exist within your target niche, such as a current events forum for your industry. In those cases, you can request to join it if you want to be part of the conversation.

Why would you want to join an existing group? For the built-in audience.

An established group already has members, so you're tapping into a pre-existing resource. That means you get to reach out to potential customers without having to source them yourself. Now, doesn't that sound like a significant opportunity?

4. Contributing to the Conversation

When you join or create a group, you may be tempted to get your sales pitch out there quickly. After all, that's what this is for, right? Wrong.

Just as you need to create quality content for your Facebook Page, you shouldn't blanket message the group with blatant advertising. In fact, each Facebook Group PHANTOM POWER Marketing has created on behalf of clients, with some clients having upwards of four, we prohibit advertising of any kind. However anyone is welcome to contribute content of interest that engages members, answers questions and incites discussion.

Use the Group, and your voice, to establish yourself as an authority in your field.

RELATED: The Critical Importance of Content Marketing This will create a buzz around your brand, drawing in Facebook users and separating yourself from your competition.

5. Bypassing Newsfeed Armageddon

Another distinct benefit of using Facebook Groups is that new posts appear in more areas than just the Newsfeed. Yes, the Newsfeed appearance is still there, but it's easy for new information to get lost there.

Where else do they appear? In the user's notifications.

That's right, they get a separate notification when new information is added. No more getting buried in the Newsfeed.

Just be forewarned that a high level of activity (resulting in a plethora of notifications) may lead some users to disable the notification. And, since the posts can get lost in the Newsfeed, they may forget the group exists (another reason PHANTOM POWER prohibits advertising in our groups).

This means that you need to be strategic about groups, especially the ones you start, to keep engagement high. If you aren't prepared to make sure the group provides value to others, then this isn't the right option for you.

Are Facebook Groups the Answer?

While getting involved in existing groups or creating new ones might not be a 'one-stop shop' for all of your marketing needs, Facebook Groups can be incredibly powerful, and are brimming with opportunity, particularly now that the Organic Facebook that once was for businesses, is no more.

Since the feature is free to use, there really isn't any risk to giving it a try, so why wouldn't you take advantage of Facebook Groups to help forward your marketing efforts?

YOUR TURN

In the end, Facebook Groups can be an excellent way to combat the losses everyone is experiencing amid Facebook's Newsfeed changes. How has adding Groups to your repertoire given you a new way to engage with Facebook users? How have you used Groups to engage with your prospects, provide content of value, gain direct access to your audience and promote your brand as a voice of authority?

Sound off on the PHANTOM POWER Marketing Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly MARKETING & NEW MEDIA™ email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

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