Observing, around 45-50 business groups and being regularly involved with at least 5-10 of them every day I learned how vital they can be for any brand. A lot of international online business owners are earning six figure income, growing their customer base rapidly and creating their online brand all through their Facebook groups, so why should we lag behind?
Without going into much detail of why building a community or tribe can be important for your brand, I’m taking Seth Godin’s help to hit the right cord in fewest words possible.
I recently interviewed Pradeep Kumar, one of the top ten bloggers in India. He successfully runs his blog Hellbound Bloggers and a thriving Facebook group with more than 10k members and he had tons of valuable insights to share.
Advantage of a Facebook Group Over Facebook Page
“If you take a page, it’s like Brand (vs) Audience. But if you take a group, it’s like the Public face of the brand (vs) Audience. Take Mark Zuckerberg for example, whenever he updates a post, he has this habit of replying to some of the interesting comments, I think this definitely enhances his personal branding + his valuable asset – Facebook.
This is what a group does, the brand can directly interact with the audience via a group. I feel good when I speak to a real person instead of a page. Facebook groups got additional features than pages these days, take “Polls” for example.
I think it’ll be wise for brands to experiment with Facebook groups now, we even have the option to link Facebook Pages + Groups. It’s like I can directly use my Facebook page to comment on my Facebook group. Awesome right?”
On His First Ever Community
“I think it was around 2007 or 2008 when I came across the term ‘blog,’ maybe I saw it when I was busy using Orkut or Yahoo! Messenger somewhere in a browsing center. After that, my brother started a blog and then I came across the term ‘AdSense.’
So this is when I actually connected ‘Blog’ + ‘Money‘ years back. Eventually, I started my very own blog, copy/pasted articles first, then later began to write my own random silly things, and we finally made it to a proper blog.
We started to make money, we got readers, and we were learning a lot. But back those days, we didn’t exactly have portals like Facebook & Twitter, at least not very popular compared to Orkut or MySpace.
When I learned about all these things, I was entering my college first year. So before joining, I thought of creating a community (or group) in Orkut for our college 2008 batch. I was pretty sure I’ll find at least 5-10 folks quickly, that means I can make friends even before joining the college. I got connected with around 20+ folks from various streams like ECE, CSE, EEE, etc. It was surprising to me, like, when I met them in the college for the 1st time, I didn’t feel like a 3rd person, it was like… we became friends instantly. I’m still in touch with most of them.
So, this is my first and foremost experience of successfully building a community and making something valuable out of it.”
On Starting A Facebook Group
“I think it’s obvious, I was a noob at marketing & managing people at that time, I was able to successfully create a forum and announce it publicly. 100s of people congratulated me, but I couldn’t even make 10% of that to make the forum active. Then I realized, managing a forum is pretty different & difficult than managing a blog. We closed our forum half-heartedly.
After a few years, several users started to create/use Facebook groups on a regular basis. Even Facebook added new features to groups. That’s when I thought why not create one for us. We kickstarted our HellBound Bloggers (HBB) Facebook group right away.
On Growing Members
I recently asked a question in our HBB FB group… “What is your blog’s niche?” We got 100+ comments for this post with Bloggers sharing their blog’s niche.
Our group was very slow, but the brand ‘HBB’ helped us to build it as a valuable community. Right now, we have almost 10k members, we are learning & sharing a lot in our group. Each & every day I read all the posts, I can’t imagine the kind of knowledge & inspiration I get from those updates.”
On Creating Engagement
“Whenever I add a new member, I open his/her profile, see their blog link or other social media profiles, analyze the kind of person he/she is. I might not learn a lot, but this will definitely help me to see whether this group will be beneficial to them or not. If we can’t give an actual answer in the group, we’ll make sure we give an approximate answer at least.
“Want to start a blog? Not able to get the right topics? We have 100+ niche ideas here → http://hbb.me/bnideas”
I’ll probably share this on my profile and on Twitter. If you look at the content I shared, it’s just a simple one, just click on the link and you’ll be taken to the group, but you can’t view it, you need to join the group to see the content. I’m not forcing the user here, but this is how it works, so be a part and enjoy the benefits.
There is no special reason why I started our Facebook group(s), but there is indeed a special reason why I’m still (and always) running them, it’s like a family to me now, I spend most of my time there interacting with them, it’s not a serious group(s), it’s just like a school, college or a family function. You can be fun and informational at the same time.
Now, we kickstarted our very own forum again (yes, again!). I realized I learned a lot from our groups, so it’s time for me to face my past and succeed now. HBB Forum is accessible at https://forum.hellboundbloggers.com.
Whenever an advertiser emails us and asks about our blog’s social reach, I proudly share our group’s link and say we have a community powered by 10k Bloggers from India and other countries. I think these are more than enough for us right now.”
Common Mistakes And Ground Rules
“Even if you have a community with 1000 members, you can’t expect them to post something on the group regularly. You should do something to trigger them and make them interact with the groups. This is a common mistake people often get confused about, without your involvement, you can’t expect your members to take the initiative and make the group interactive.
1. Avoid Off-Topics: Say, for our BookWritten brand, we want our members to discuss books alone, they can discuss anything related to this. But if they want to talk about ‘best restaurants’ or ‘which is the best place for trekking,’ then that will be completely irrelevant.
2. Avoid Self-Promotion: In our HBB brand, we have plenty of Bloggers, if they want to share their blog posts in our group, then it’s definitely gonna be a huge mess, so we often restrict this and avoid self-promotional content on the group!
3. Avoid Affiliate/Referral Links[For Bloggers]: Okay, so, if Bluehost has a cool web hosting offer, you might be tempted to share this with our group members, but unfortunately, you are not allowed to use your affiliate or referral link here. Having a group with almost 10k members, this is a strict rule we have, if a single person shares an affiliate link and makes money out of it, then it’s going to be viral and trigger all our members to do the same. Making money is a dangerous concept here. If someone asks for a web hosting service, you can use your affiliate link in the comments though, no issues.”
Take Action Now:
“Let’s say XYZ is the Founder & CEO of this Healthy Juice brand, and he/she bootstraps the company with no extra funding and wants to start a Facebook group to get more customers”
Create a Facebook group with the brand name ABC can be created initially and they can add their team members to the group first. Maybe like 4-5 or even 7-9 members should be fine. [Think Of A Name For Your Group + Hook(to inspire action)]
Set group’s privacy settings to “Secret” and brainstorm about all the possible strategies to improve their ‘brand’ overall.
Encourage 4-5 athletes/influencers/bloggers to join the group, give them a sample drink for free, ask them to share their honest view about this. I’m not sure how biased or unbiased it’ll be, but if you are going to add the right people, then I think you’ll get your verdict pretty quick.
Find other Facebook groups related to these and engage there, you can promote your group there naturally.
There is no limit for the members count for a group, but you need good moderators to manage it properly, if your brand becomes popular, then you might even have 1M members in your group, that is 1M or more potential customers I would say.
Unlike Facebook page, for which you can easily use Ads and boost, you can’t do that for a Facebook group. You need proper strategies here. You can conduct a giveaway on your official page, and ask them to join the group!
You can collaborate with Food Bloggers to promote your brand and your group… it’s just a trial and error method mostly, see what works for you and what doesn’t work for you early.”
Hola! I hope you liked the article. After interviewing Pradeep I got extremely inspired to revamp my Facebook Group. Join my exclusive private group, share insight, ask questions, discuss growth strategies and learn from each other.