How to build an engaged community in Facebook groups

Kat Haylock
Kat Haylock

Posted: Tue 12th May 2020

Deasha Waddup is the founder of Social Treats, an agency that offers social media management and coaching for small businesses. She's an expert when it comes to building Facebook groups and growing engaged communities.

Deasha joined us for our Lunch and Learn webinar to discuss how to start a Facebook group (also known as a Facebook community) and get the most out of your members.

How do you start a Facebook community?

One of the ways Deasha attracts users to a group is by optimising her personal profile. If you're starting a community focused on pilates, for example, then make sure your profile shows your interest in the subject.

Deasha recommends talking as much as possible about your group too, because you never know when people will be interested.

"I email my list to let them know that I've created a group. I also have a link in my email signature and I'll put it on my 'Thank you' page too. Talk about it in interviews or in press releases. It will help to generate more interest," she said.

It's important to get involved in the group yourself, particularly when it's new. Deasha tries to post in the group as much as possible to encourage engagement.

"Be in the group! Once I start a group, I'll be Live in that group every day sharing value and tips and bits about my life. Be a supporter and ask questions. Share everything with your audience to build trust up every day. It will help to grow the group."

What topics can I build a community around?

This is a common question, but Deasha explains that the diversity of Facebook groups is huge. Whether you want to start a group around yoga, home schooling or gardening, there are plenty of opportunities out there.

"I always tell clients to think about something their target audience has in common - something you can generate interest in," Deasha said.

Is there an ideal number of people to have in a community?

Facebook provides insights when you have over 50 people in a group, so generally it's best to try and get 50 or more members. That way, you'll have more analytics to look at. However, large groups with thousands of members will be harder to manage and can become spammy.

Deasha prefers smaller groups, because it's easier to create a friendly community. People can get to know each other, be supportive and give back. Rather than aiming for a large number, focus on your community engagement and encouraging members to be active.

Is it better to post every day on a business page or put more content in a group?

Since other people can't post onto your business page, you'll involve the community more by posting in a group.

"I always see Facebook pages as the window. I post content there just so people know I exist. But Facebook groups are where all the good stuff is - that's where I'm getting to know people. Plus, Facebook's algorithms mean that groups show up higher than a Facebook page too," Deasha explained.

How do I encourage other people in the group to share and get to know each other?

Deasha recommends asking really simple questions. If people aren't spending long on Facebook, they won't have the time to answer difficult or thought-provoking points.

"The key to getting engagement is to ask questions that people don't have to think about. Where do you live? What country are you from? Right now, I ask if people are isolating themselves in lockdown or doing something else. It's something people can quickly answer and you can start that engagement," she said.

However, it's important to make sure the question is still relevant to your audience. Asking your community about their favourite colour isn't going to start a conversation that's meaningful to anyone - unless, Deasha adds, you're part of an artistic community.

Would you advise making the group public or private?

Since Facebook has announced that you'll no longer be able to make private groups public, it's an important consideration. Deasha advises people to think about what best suits their community.

"It depends entirely on the content. If you want to grow the group into a public platform, then make it public. But if you want it to be a community that feels safe, think about making it private. If it's a personal subject, you might feel safer sharing information when you know only group members can see it."

If someone cuts into the group and they don't have a good vibe, how do you manage that?

Deasha's response is simple and straight to the point.

"Kick them out! It's your community at the end of the day. If you're not vibing with that person, you can ban them so they can't see the group or come back in. Or you can give them a warning and if they still don't buck up their ideas, kick them out!"

I'm starting a paid-for group based on membership. Should I start a free one alongside it?

This depends a lot on how much you're expecting people to pay to join your group. Some of Deasha's clients have paid programmes that cost thousands of pounds, so it makes sense for them to have a free group too. That way, they can nurture users before they're ready to make a commitment.

On the other hand, if you have a programme that's £20 or £30, you don't necessarily need a free group for that nurture process.

"Groups are quite labour intensive, so it's whether you've got the time to manage both and whether they'll benefit your customers on a long-term basis," Deasha explained.

You can connect with Deasha and learn more about her social media training through her Enterprise Nation profile. Sign up to Enterprise Nation here.

Kat Haylock
Kat Haylock
Kat is a writer for Enterprise Nation, The Pitch and Side Hustle Club. She's worked with small businesses for the last four years, championing Britain's startup scene and anyone who has snacks. 

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