How Treating Your Business' Facebook Group Like a Backyard BBQ Increases Engagement
By Bella Vasta
As a marketer, you should approach your Facebook page like you would your front yard.
It should be well-manicured, to show the world what you want them to see.
Maybe there is a “Happy Independence Day” sign hanging on your porch. A flag. Some nice new flowers you planted. Your front yard is there to properly display an intentional message to the world.
The backyard, however, is where the party happens.
It is where the pool is, where you invite people to join you, where you host a get-together, where you want people to have a happy experience and get to know each other.
You won’t invite people to your backyard and then go inside and take a nap, right?
You are there to entertain them, feed them, and make sure they have a great time. In the world of digital marketing, your backyard is your Facebook group.
Facebook Pages used to be the place we were trying to get engagement, but are now turning into that well-manicured front yard and.
Groups are where the real party is today.
I recorded this video to show you exactly what I mean:
Facebook Groups: Front Yard vs Backyard from Bella Vasta on Vimeo.
It is important to understand this shift because it is where marketers can have the biggest impact.
Why Are Facebook Groups so Important Today?
400 million people are already members of Facebook Groups they find meaningful, but Facebook has a goal of making this one billion by 2020.
In fact, in April of 2019, Facebook rolled out updates that will make it easier to discover and engage in groups. Plus, they're making changes to the entire platform so Groups is part of a more seamless experience.
Group content is now visible in Watch and Marketplace and users can share content from Groups directly to their News Feed (depending on the privacy settings). Users can even post directly to groups from the status bar at the top of their page.
Finally, and most importantly, content from groups will now be shown right in the News Feed. This means users will be shown engaging group content and discussions as they scroll through their main feed.
What do all these changes mean for marketers? Well, it means Facebook Groups are a fantastic and free resource available to us and we should capitalize on this opportunity.
Marketers and marketing agencies need to bulk up on their ability to support clients with group moderators or community admins to help them plan, strategize, and be the face of their brand in these groups.
However, remember: just because Facebook is focusing on Groups, doesn’t mean that everyone should start one.
Make sure your audience is actually active on Facebook and will be attracted to joining a group.
Even if they are, you need a clear strategy in place and someone dedicated to the success of the group(s) your brand will have.
In order to achieve success, we need engagement, so today I am going to give you 11 ways to keep your backyard party (your Facebook group) going!
11 Ways To Keep Your Backyard Party Going And Engage Your Facebook Group Members:
1. Use The Polling Feature
Facebook polls are a great feature to gather information about the people in your group, while also increasing engagement.
Think of each poll as a way to get to know your party-goers better so you can adjust the music or food to what they like.
Do they prefer guac or salsa? Find out so you can serve what they enjoy!
You can keep them playful and fun or you can use them for market research to improve your services or products. You can allow them to pick the next class you are going to teach, find out who is interested in a topic, or just gather some insight from your group.
This is what a poll in a Facebook group looks like.
Ninja Tip: Ask a poll question that helps you identify ideal clients in your group and then slide into their DMs and start a conversation!
Example: I was launching a webinar only for people who had Independent Contractors in their company. So I polled my group: Who here has Independent Contractors? Then, when I announced the webinar I personally DMed these people and tagged them in the comments to personally invite them to the webinar. It worked like a charm!
2. Host Video Meet-ups
A wise man once said “video says it better” and ain’t that the truth! There is just something so trustworthy about being able to look at someone’s face and see their expressions and even their environment. It's not a backyard BBQ without everyone gathered around the grill chatting, right?
So, why not take that same experience to Facebook?
IMPACT Elite Community Hangout
Hosting video meet-ups (I typically use Zoom) will give your group a more personal feel and help your members connect deeper with one another. Even if they’ve never met in person, these video interactions will help them feel as if they have.
Here's an example of one of my Zoom meet-ups.
Consider creating a monthly event for your group where you invite them to join you on Zoom to learn a new skill from you or a guest speaker, discuss a recent event in your industry, or answer any questions they have.
3. Solicit Opinions of Your Members
Show your group that you value their opinions by getting them involved in an upcoming project you’re working on.
Maybe you have a new book that you’re writing or a new product about to launch.
If you’re struggling between a few options for colors, names, or designs, give your group a sneak peek and let them help you decide (this is also another time you could use the poll feature).
On top of increasing engagement in your group, this allows your members to feel like they are a part of your team, a valued insider in your business.
You are asking their opinion and allowing them to feel like they are involved in the developing process of a product or service you are going to be releasing. It also teases what you have coming up and builds up the “insider knowledge” or curiosity factor. What you ask them for doesn’t even have to be a business decision.
4. Prompt Discussions
Say you have a blog or podcast coming out about marketing on Thursday.
On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, you could start posting things that will get discussions flowing about the subject so that the communication airwaves are primed for your podcast or blog post on Thursday.
You can ask them how they feel about the topic, what are their experiences, you might even be able to get a few quotes from them to add to the upcoming content. This discussion will get their minds prepared for when you do publish your materials.
5. Share Breaking News
Whether you share a link, go Live, or write a post, be sure to share breaking news within your industry or related to your products or services with your group as soon as you hear or see it.
As an expert, if you hear news relating to your industry or new technology that will change the way your audience uses your product, you want to be there to tell them all about it and walk them through how they can navigate the changes.
Jump Consulting is a pet industry consulting agency that helps pet sitting and dog walking business owners. Here, they are alerting their community to a pet food recall, knowing that many pet sitting and dog walking companies will share it with their own community. This helps establish authority and acts as a resource for their followers.
These types of posts or Lives are great for answering questions and creating engagement between members on how they feel about the news, it also makes your group the place to go in the future when there’s more breaking news!
I was going into the empty shop on the corner, what the latest votes were coming up in city council, or a great resource for a need I had.
Being the person in the know is always a great idea.
6. Highlight Your Members
Facebook has made it easier for us to recognize active group members with badges like Rising Star, Conversation Starter, and others.
Badges give people the ability to be recognized for their contribution to the community. It also allows others to know if people are new, conversation starter, admin, or more.
Above is showing a new member with the waving hand and the admin with the star badge.
On top of using the Facebook badges to show members you appreciate their contributions, consider rewarding active member with a special shoutout post each month or messaging them directly to share how much you appreciate them being a part of your group.
You can post this to the feed, pin it, add their picture to your cover profile, send them a special card in the mail. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
7. Pin Challenges
Creating challenges (or competitions) in your group can be a clever way to keep your community engaged, informed, and entertained -- everything we want, right?
There are many different types of challenges you can try out, like having members step out of their comfort zone by going Live on their own page about a particular topic or challenging them to find and share content about a topic.
You could challenge them to simply participate in your group’s story feed or maybe it could be a fitness challenge where they have to film themselves.
Don’t be afraid to have fun with it, but make sure challenges are tailored to what you’re sharing in your group and what your members want to see or learn!
8. Host an AMA (Ask Me Anything)
When your Facebook group is active, it’s easy to miss a question or two that gets asked, so consider hosting an AMA event!
You can go Live (or host it on Zoom) by yourself or with an expert to give people the opportunity to ask as many questions as they like at one time and get the answer in real-time.
When doing this, you can also create an event in your group so your members can RSVP and save the event to their calendar.
This also makes it possible for people to ask their questions ahead of time and creates one single place where all the questions can live. This way you can prepare your answers in advance.
9. Encourage People to Share Their Location
Create a recommendation post inviting your members to put their businesses on the map.
They can tag their business Facebook page on the thread to add it to the recommendations, creating a network for the whole group to see and continue adding to in the future.
This is a post that you could pin to your announcements to allow new members to find other businesses near them to engage with and add their own, allowing for more long-term engagement.
10. Create Watch Parties
Facebook watch parties allow you to host a live, group viewing of a video where your members can interact and ask questions while watching.
When planning yours, pick a time when you think many of your members will be online (another great time to use the poll feature) and announce the watch party ahead of time.
Once the watch party starts, you can then chat with your members while watching and you’ll be able to skip ahead or go back in the video depending on what is being asked by your members to show them relevant information.
It’s like if you were all watching an episode of your favorite TV show in the same room together.
11. Use Video Comments
Video is taking over social media, especially Facebook. The platform even let’s you now respond to posts using video, so why not take advantage of it to boost engagement?
The next time someone asks a question in your group, rather than responding with a long detailed text comment, consider recording a short video to explain or even show them the answer.
You can even create a post asking your members to respond in the comments with a video, allowing your members to get to know each other as more than just text and a profile picture.
Make Your Backyard BBQ The Place To Be
See all of the different ways you can keep your Facebook group members engaged and keep your backyard party going (and growing)?
Clearly, there isn’t one right or wrong way and it will really depend completely on your group and what they like.
Take some time to think about how your members engage and what they respond to. What do your party guests like the most?
Sometimes you have to try out a few games or playlists to find what matches your crowd.
Test out a few of the options on this list and pay attention to your analytics to see what’s working at your party.
Pretty soon you will have the coolest backyard BBQ in the neighborhood, the place where everyone wants to hang out. You’ll become the destination!
For more information on Facebook groups join me in my own Facebook group: Facebook Group Masters or visit my website bellavasta.com.
Wondering where to begin?