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Facebook Groups And The Elephant In The Room

There’s an elephant in the room and we’re not going to sit here and pretend we don’t see it. I mean how can we? It’s large and it is looming.

Can we talk Facebook community management? I have managed communities for years and Facebook communities since February 2012.  A group leader wanted to know why the members of the group she leads don’t engage (participate or become involved).

I’m going to give you a piece of the skinny on some of the Virtual Assistant(VA) or Virtual Service Provider(VSP) groups:

1. You’re just not a favorite, but you can be. 
People have their favorite groups and that’s where they are going to engage first.
Is your group pinned to their shortcuts? If not you’re probably not a favorite.
If you’re asking the same questions that are being asked in their favorite groups it’s unlikely you’ll get any responses and engagement. By the time they get to your group (that is if they are visiting your group at all) they’re burned out of the same questions over and over.

Things like “what’s your favorite tech tip?” are overrated.
On any given Tuesday or Thursday group members run the risk of being bombarded with the good ole Tech Tip post. Some group leaders have automated it so it post in their group every Tuesday and Thursday and people are noticing. It has become an elephant in the room.

It’s common for members to join, turn off notifications and unfollow a group. This is one of the reasons some groups remove inactive members. But that’s a lot of work and each group leader must decide if it’s worth the time and resource investment to take that approach.

2. Your value-to-hustle ratio needs an adjustment. 
To get engagement you have to be engaging. That translates into many things but you can definitely include content, management, dynamics, value and presence at the top. They aren’t the only things but they fall in the top ten for sure. I received an inbox from someone saying they hadn’t seen the group leader in a particular group and when they do see them post something it’s to sell their product or service. Woah. I noticed this quite some time ago for that group. Yes group leaders people are watching you. They are watching what I call your value-to-hustle ratio.

I absolutely do not blame you for marketing in the group you spend time scheduling automatic post in, why shouldn’t you? You should. Just be aware people are watching you; provide genuine engagement from time to time along with those automated post.
Your ‘posted by Hootsuite’ is showing! They haven’t seen you in weeks while your community managers hold things down and even though they haven’t left your group they’re turned off  and not buying your products and services.
Pop in and say a sincere hello, it goes a long way. Be present.

3. They don’t know you.  
While we would like to think group dynamics are all about pretty pictures and witty post a large percent is about ‘positioning’ and what the group leaders (moderators included) are bringing to the table. Do the people see you as a trusted advisor? When I say what you’re bringing to the table I don’t mean making everything about you all the time. Bringing something to the table includes helping to spotlight others. How you do that is up to you.
Since joining groups is free people easily join groups with topics or names that interest them.
If they don’t know you or don’t feel you know your stuff they’ll likely hang in the shadows.

Did they join because it was a suggested group in the side bar? Did they join because you did a sponsored post that had an irresistible unicorn sprinkling fairy dust while jumping over a rainbow in the video clip? I mean who can resist that? Now that they are in the group what can you offer them that will make them want to engage and will also provide a return on your investment of time and resources?

1. Post at a time when your group is most active.
2. Every group has ‘social influencers’, who are they and how can you rally behind them?
3. Use content that is interactive. Posting thoughts, questions and the ole Tech Tuesday type post causes burnout.
4. Get personable. Add value by saying hello to new members by name and introducing the admins.
5. Use a pinned video to anchor. No one wants to join a group and wander aimlessly around. Direct the flow of
traffic in your group. Where can they find your resources (under files, in description, on your website etc.)?
6.  Use the banner image to make group wide announcements or to direct traffic to an announcement.
7. Don’t push your products all the time.  The pushy salesman tactic just
doesn’t work and it’s unattractive. They may not leave your group but they will turn notifications off.
Serve and be generous.

Because Facebook groups are free it seems everyone starts one for every reason imaginable. Those that start one to have a built-in audience for their products and services will have to work that much more to engage their audience in unique ways. It can be done. Facebook already shows Suggested Groups in the right side bar and those suggested groups may be your competitor for products and services. All other things being equal if you’re not present and engaging people will click join and interact in groups that are.

One way to find out what they want is to ask them in an interactive way. Maybe their favorite group isn’t giving them something and you can fill that need.

As I always say, you can’t stand out from the crowd by doing exactly what the crowd does. ~njs

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