The Not So Secret Advantages of Online Groups

Groups are hidden gems on social media. Almost every platform has a way to gather a group of individuals and allow them to speak about a single common interest. Facebook has their groups – secret, closed or public, Twitter has the ability to have lists and twitter parties surrounding a similar hashtag, LinkedIn has its groups and Pinterest has shared boards.

Groups give us a safe place to speak to others that share our similarities. We join these groups to share a common interest and it is often those interests that allow us to make stronger business and personal connections. Here is the not so secret about groups – they are the best place to begin to build relationships.

Social media is not a quick fix for any business. I can repeat this until I am blue in the face – this is a LONG GAME. 30 days will get you bupkis on social. It takes time to build solid relationships with those interested in your business and groups are the best place to begin to build. Start conversations by commenting on their thread, answering a question and being social.

This is also where you can get into trouble – don’t do the sales thing. Meaning – don’t be “sales”.

I know, we are born salesmen. It’s truly in our DNA. Darren Hardy said it best – watch any toddler work a room for something they want and then tell me that we weren’t born to sell. Have you ever watched how they do it? Often its pure persistence, asking over and over for what they want. Yet when you are working to build relationships online (and really in life) it should be more about the other person than you. Don’t tell them that they need to contact you right away. Ask questions, truly join the conversation. It is usually after the third or even fifth interaction with someone that they might find out what I do for a living.

Give more than you expect in return. Answer questions without thinking about what will come

back to you and position yourself as someone who is willing to help versus just talk about themselves. This is so important in groups because you can easily become blacklisted. Talk too much about your business and you will be blocked. Come off as sleazy with no interest in the group members and you will be kicked out. And don’t just be one huge ad, constantly posting about what you do. Post things that will benefit others, share insight and motivation. Be MORE than your business, be the FACE of your business with a personality that others will want to share with.

Facebook has recently updated their groups and how they interact with their business pages. Something that business marketers have been dying to have – a business page can now link to a group and interact AS YOUR PAGE.

THIS IS HUGE.

A snapshot of a few of my personal and page groups.

Why? Because previously you had to go in as your personal Facebook profile and speak to prospective clients. Now you can create groups that are formed from your own page and interact and attract potential clients. For example: I have a fitness page (FITSISTERS) that runs monthly fitness motivation groups. Previously we had to interact as our individual profiles, but now we can act as our page, constantly promoting our page, our daily posts and recruiting prospective clients. We have multiple groups to serve specific targeted groups. We have our  simple fitness motivation groups where we post to attract new perspective clients and then specific groups where we have our paying clients who get one on one attention.

Another client of mine is a company that hosts networking groups. Now they can connect and post daily to keep the conversations focused and the group useful to its users.

As a Facebook page you can now create any group that will benefit your business. Are you a business coach? Form a group for budding entrepreneurs. Kids crafts or a local tradesman? Mom groups are gold, I know, I’m in at least two of them. MLM? Create a group based on your shared interests from your power 5.

Facebook isn’t the only platform where groups are an important part of attracting the right market. On LinkedIn, groups are often your bread and butter. When you join a group it expands your network and gives you access to the hundreds or thousands of members in the group. As a business it can also be a gateway to something much more.

Social Media Examiner is a website that does a blog, podcast, social media marketer networking events and now they have what they are calling the Social Media Marketing Society. I am a huge fan of Michael Steltzner and everything they do at SME. How did I find out about them? I was in their LinkedIn group for social media marketers.

Excellent resource and example of possibilities.

The group often had conversations started by the admins and discussions were rampant. Then they had a fantastic idea – they monetized it. They took their group to new levels by taking it to a paid group. Then they went one step more – they have launched the Social Media Marketing Society where they will have discussions and trainings. They slowly built a group of dedicated individuals by providing valuable content and priceless trainings, and have now monetized it. Brilliant.

Twitter has lists and the ability to have hashtag parties. Lists are something where you basically group together a bunch of people that you follow who have common interests. Other people can look at lists that are set to public and you often want to label them as something complimentary to those in the lists. For example someone put me on a list called Beautiful Moms. I can tell you that I was extremely humbled and flattered when that happened. Its just a simple list with moms on Twitter, but calling it Beautiful Moms made me want to check out the owner of this list and ensure that I looked at the group they had added me too. What types of lists can you create that your core audience would find valuable?

Remember, every single move you make on social media is to attract your core demographic. You may love the show NCIS, but is that something your key demographic loves? Does it really have anything to do with your business? This is the difference between followers and fans and clients and customers. When you ensure that your actions are truly focused on your target audience you are attracting future business, not just another stat.

I mentioned hashtag parties. This is where you make an announcement that you will be live on Twitter for a certain amount of time for a specific purpose. Those that want to speak to you need to use a specific hashtag to get your attention. Sometimes if a Twitter party is particularly successful you can turn that hashtag and those that interacted with you into a list as well.

As for Pinterest – having a shared board allows you to attract others that you think may be interested in your product or service. The board doesn’t need to necessarily be directly related to your brand, but something that will bring the ideal client.

I have a client who owns a custom stair building business. We have designed boards based on seasonal weddings where they use stairs in the wedding in some way. This would be an excellent board to share with photographers, florists and anyone else who may be interested in this demographic. Sharing this type of board with other professionals is an immediate way to gain followers from other businesses that may have similar interests. It is also an excellent way to attract businesses to work with you on joint projects or as a source for referrals.

Have you used groups to grow your business? What have been your greatest successes? I would love to hear from you so comment below!

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