Find a Community and Grow Your eCommerce Business With Facebook Groups

Find a Community and Grow Your eCommerce Business With Facebook Groups

In the world of modern marketing, everyone has an opinion about Facebook Groups. Of course, I have my views too. The point is that there’s a lot of conflicting information online and cutting through the noise can be difficult.

This stems from the general confusion around social media right now and the intense pressure of advertising and marketing efforts in the social space. Facebook – by far the largest social platform ranked by number of users – has become a constant barrage of posts and ads. So, while Mark Zuckerberg is looking for a new place to store his huge pile of cash, the rest of us are trying to cut through all the clutter to get some real value out of the platform that Mark built.

Facebook Groups are currently a great way to get that value.

In this post, we’re going to walk through how to find the best Facebook Groups to join for your eCommerce business. But first, let’s review my rules for participating in Facebook Groups as a marketing professional.

My 3 Rules of Facebook Group Marketing (Trust Me)

Facebook Group Rule #1: It’s NOT About You

Whether it’s Coffee Drinkers in Omaha or Needlepoint Fans in Minnesota, the great thing about Facebook Groups is that people join willingly as an expression of their genuine interest in that topic. If you are trying to market coffee products and services in Nebraska, that “Coffee Drinkers of Omaha” group is comprised of just about the perfect set of target customers as you are ever likely to find. WooHoo!

But here’s the rub … if all those Cornhusker-loving Nebraska caffeine addicts see you posting a bunch of discount offers and promos for your new coffee shop, they will likely kick you out of the group. That’s not what Facebook Groups are supposed to be about.

One of the current thought-leaders in internet and social media marketing is Gary Vaynerchuk. He is a content-generating machine – seriously … this guy is everywhere. But one of his core philosophies is what he calls “Jab, Jab, Jab … Right Hook.” It basically means that you need to deliver a lot of value first … long before you ever get the opportunity to make a pitch for your business.

Think of Facebook Groups that way. You first need to join the “community” of real people in that particular Facebook Group. Then you need to be active in that community by participating in discussions and posting interesting and entertaining things related to the topic while liking and sharing interesting posts by others in the group. You need to offer resources and advice about the topics posted without ulterior motives (no selling).

If you do all these things, all those coffee-lovers will eventually notice you and your effort. They will start to visit your business and personal Facebook pages to see who you are. They will reach out to you and ask questions. They will start tagging you in their posts to make sure that you notice what they are posting. And they will visit your website. All these things establish your brand in your target market. If you do it right, being recognized as a solid contributor and expert in the right Facebook Group will perform the REAL magic of successful business – you’ll build relationships with real people.

And all it costs you is time and the effort of talking about a topic that you should be passionate about already.

Facebook Group Rule #2: This Is Long-Game Thinking

These days, when you measure the impact of advertising the results can be almost immediate. When you send out a marketing email, within 24 hours you can gauge open and click-through rates. If you hang a 50%-off sign in your window, you know if people liked the offer by the end of the day. Even Facebook Ads report clicks and purchases in real time. A successful effort in Facebook Groups is NOT about getting more business tomorrow. It’s about building your brand and business over the long-haul by joining a community of interested and engaged people.

Sure … every once in a while, you will post something and get an immediate return. But the real value – the kind that endures – will build up over months and years. That’s the way of all things. It’s a cliché, but it’s true – consistency and reliability wins the race in Facebook Groups.

Facebook Group Rule #3: Trolls Not Allowed

I have watched small business owners follow all the advice in Rule #1 and Rule #2, then bomb out because they went negative. That’s not to say that they joined a discussion that was legitimately critical of something. To use our Nebraska Coffee Shop example, if there is a post and conversation thread discussing the poor coffee harvest or the failure of a new line of espresso machines, that’s all fair game. “Going negative” means something else entirely.

One of the unwritten rules of marketing is, “Don’t Be a Jerk.” Even if everyone else out there is criticizing one of your competitors, stay out of it. If a group member posts something that is just plain uninformed or in bad taste, leave it alone. Let the rest of the community correct them and deal with any issue. You can’t afford to waste a single ounce of reputation, good will, or positive energy. Besides … you don’t have time to get in an internet flame-war with anyone.

OK … those are the rules, and I stand by them. Now let’s find the perfect Facebook Group for you.

Find the Right Facebook Group for Your eCommerce Business

Joining the right Facebook Group can be like getting instant followers. If you post to a group, everyone in that group has the opportunity to see your content whether or not they follow you personally. They can engage with it by commenting, sharing, and Liking it – all of which helps you build your reputation.

Let all the other guys out there brag that they have 500 followers and you only have 50. Followers can be bought, and family and friends will follow just to be polite. If you are an active, respected member of a Facebook Group with 500 members you’re the one who’s winning on social. Not only do you have more people seeing your posts online, but you KNOW that every single one of them is on target and engaged with the topic.

Finding Facebook Groups is relatively easy. It all starts with a search inside Facebook. You’ve probably used this search function to find family or friends online. This search field is located on the top left corner of your Facebook page.

Search for Facebook Groups

We can use this search to find Facebook Groups that we’d be interested in. Let’s say that we are in the business of selling craft beers and beer-making supplies in the Seattle area. We start by searching for the word “beer.”

Refine Your Search to Only Facebook Groups

When you do, the default setting will show you all the recent posts by your existing followers and friends that mention “beer” on top, with other kinds of results scrolling down below. But notice that a new navigation bar appears that allows you to refine your search.

Listing of Facebook Groups

If you click on “Groups” in that navigation bar, the results now show you relevant groups in Facebook. At first glance, that group on top looks pretty good. It’s called “Beer People” and has more than 9000 members! But make sure that you read the details. This group is “loosely centered in Minnesota.” If you are doing business nationally, this might be great. But if you want to cater to the local market, you might need to narrow your search.

Let’s refine our search a bit and enter “beer Seattle.”

Refine Your Facebook Group Search

Now we’re getting somewhere. We’ve located an active group – Beer Tasting Seattle – with more than 4000 members. And we can see that it’s a growing group since there are currently 52 “new” members. If we click on this group we can learn even more about them.

We've Found a Great Facebook Group for Our Business

That click brings us to the group’s entry page. But we can’t see anything yet because – as you can see – this is a “closed group.” There are three types of Facebook Groups: Public, Closed, and Secret. Public Groups allow random visitors to view, Like, and Share content from the group’s posts. But visitors will not be able to create new posts unless they’re members. Closed groups – like Beer Tasting Seattle – allow folks to see the group page and some of the members, but not any of the content. You have to join the group to view, Like, Share, and post.

Secret Groups cannot be found by searching. They are only available via invitation – a group admin or member has to send you an invitation to join. It’s nothing sinister … well, we hope not. If you are ever invited to one of these secret groups you will not likely find Knights Templar plotting the overthrow of foreign governments. Lots of individuals and businesses create “Secret Groups” to use Facebook as a kind of private communication and organization tool for projects. Most people never even know they exist.

Since Beer Tasting Seattle is a closed group and we are a beer company based in the area, we might want to join the group and try it out. But remember – these groups are a bit wary about who gets access to their members. Some groups are set for immediate/instant approval upon request. Others require a group admin to approve each potential member. And some groups – just like this one – even make prospective group members fill out a short online questionnaire.

Some Careful Facebook Groups Make Prospect Members Prove Themselves

The point is that – if you remember back to my 3 Rules of Facebook Group Marketing – group members want to make sure that you are an actual person interested in the topic and NOT just a person looking to troll and advertise. You need to convince them that you belong in their group. If you are in a business that you care about and have respectful and authoritative opinions on the topic at hand, this should not be a problem.

If your motivations are pure, you’ll be accepted and on your way.

Finding Even More Relevant Facebook Groups

Let me take you back for a moment to when we first arrived at the Deer Tasting Seattle page. Facebook assumes that – since we clicked on the link to this group – we might be interested in other similar groups. Of course we are! So, if you scroll down a bit on that landing page, in the right column you will come across a section called “Suggested Groups.”

You Can Find More Great Facebook Groups

In this case, if you do business across the Pacific Northwest, this is a treasure trove of opportunity to join other related Facebook Groups in your region.

Should I Worry About Facebook Group Size?

In your search, you will see groups of all sizes. The largest group is not necessarily the best one for you. What you want to look for are active groups that are as close to your target community as possible. If you are in the business of photography equipment, a 200-member group that is actively discussing the latest lenses and editing techniques located in your home state might be a better fit than a 1000-member group where everyone is just sharing the latest selfie they took on their iPhone.

Always look for the community that is active first, then pick the one you fit best in. The size of the group should be your third criteria. I guarantee you that if you find people who are just as passionate and interested as you, they will help you spread the word to a wider audience.

How Many Facebook Groups Should I Join?

It’s easy to get excited and join a dozen groups right away. Resist that impulse. Start with one. Get involved and post. Remember that consistency is key. People will want to see you participating and being a good community member. If – after a few months – you find that you can handle more or you want to find a more active community, then join another.

If you are doing this on your own, I would suggest that you stay fully involve with no more than three or four groups. You will be investing time and attention in these groups and each of us only has so many hours in the day.

A Brief Word on Making Your Own Facebook Group

Any Facebook User can create their own group on virtually any topic. But the Facebook landscape is littered with attempts. As you explore you will find thousands of groups with two or three members and others that have been long abandoned without a post in months or years. 

I am not saying that you should never make your own group. But if you are new at it, you might want to join a few groups and learn the ins and outs before you take on becoming an admin to your own. Building a new community from scratch is hard. It can be worthwhile, but most of the time it’s better to become a valued member of an existing community. 

Go Forth and Facebook Group

This is everything that you need to get started finding and joining Facebook Groups that will help you grow your community, your brand, and your business by forging relationships. Remember the 3 Rules of Facebook Group Marketing and you will find success – and even some new friends – in the process.

Thanks for reading!

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