Facing Up: How to Create Successful Facebook Groups
The population of social network Facebook now exceeds all countries apart from China and India, yet the vast majority of Facebook groups fail to amass a following of more than one thousand. With social media fast becoming part of mainstream marketing, New Media Knowledge sought to find out exactly how companies could benefit from Facebook groups.
Facebook has been – in sheer numbers – the most successful social network so far. With a population of 400 million and still growing, many marketers are keen to access the wealth of data and targeted audiences that Facebook offers. Forming groups and fan pages are a just one way to engage with people interested in a particular field or company.
By far the most successful brand on Facebook so far is Seattle-based coffee chain, Starbucks, with 5,650,000 followers in its official group. Yet according to recent statistics, only 23 per cent of Facebook groups contain more than 1,000 members, potentially limiting the impact for many brands.
To learn more on how to use Facebook for business, NMK’s Chris Lee caught up with Claire Stokoe, social media engineer at Worthing-based digital marketing agency, Fresh Egg.
Briefly introduce Fresh Egg to us
Fresh Egg is an all-service agency. We’re mostly involved in search engine optimisation (SEO), Web build, design, copywriting, pay-per-click (PPC) marketing and analytics.
So what’s the difference between a Facebook fan page and a group page?
Group pages are capped at 5,000 members, but the main advantage is that you can send blast emails out but with a cap of 5,000 it keeps it under the umbrella of charity or event, more so than a brand. Groups also allow you to give permission for who joins.
A fan page is set up for business so you can add more people and applications.
Why should a company set up a Facebook page if they haven’t done so already?
It’s instant engagement with your consumers. 400 million people just can’t be ignored. You have to go where people are when it comes to social media. Having a vastly focus group that is totally free to test out ideas is a main bonus, as are access to analytics.
Facebook has more than 400 million users world-wide, yet 77 per cent of groups have less than 1,000 members. Why have groups struggled to attract members?
Quite possibly the reason many aren’t making a thousand is because they’re not doing it very well. Maybe they’re not listening, engaging, or there’s not enough content on there, never any updates.
Any big brand is going to get a lot of people joining it anyway because of the association. If you’ve got a thousand members following you – are they active, are they dormant, did they join because you asked them to, are you interacting with them? It’s about making the most of what you’ve got.
What are the key elements of a successful Facebook page?
You should update content from other areas, feeding in from other networks. Ping.fm automatically pushes content out there from your blog or your Twitter stream, YouTube, Tumblr, Flickr. You can be somewhere else doing something else, but [the Facebook page] is updating automatically.
One page that I always use as an example is [hire-by-the-hour car rental service] Zipcar. They’ve got a great presence on Facebook. They’re consistently updating it, loading up images, they’ve got a big, active fan base, they’ve even developed games and users can leave feedback. It’s a real fun place to be even if you’re not a customer. They’ve got around 30,000 fans.
Engage and be active.
How do you go about attracting people?
You can launch it off a competition, utilise existing networks and ask your customers to join - most customers will. Offers, vouchers, submissions, it depends on the approach, it really does.
Make sure you know who the people are who first joined – even make the early ones administrators, send them free gifts, make them feel special. There’s not enough of that going on.
How can you cost-justify it?
It’s not worth putting all your eggs in one basket. Look at your target market before launching your social media campaign. Facebook’s like Twitter – you have to include it in your social media.
Unless you’ve got a niche product I wouldn’t focus solely on Facebook.
Facebook uses its own mark-up language – FBML – and programmers are few and far between. How can you get around that and design an effective page using free tools?
It’s an interesting question because if you don’t have a lot of money you can get away with it. I used PageRage and they provide templates or you can make your own. If you’ve got Firefox (browser) it sits in your toolbar. Facebook pages can look fantastic without profession designers.
What are your top tips for creating successful Facebook pages?
Know who your audience is. You need to make sure you’re targeting the right people, know what kind of information you’re going to put in there and know who’s going to manage it. Are you committed to it? Do you really want it to work? If it’s just an add-on to your PR then don’t do it, it’s something you need to do 100 per cent.
Listen to what people are saying about your brand or the products you’re selling. What are people talking about, what gets them excited, where do they hang out? All the tools are out there, it’s not that difficult, it’s just time consuming.
For the full interview, listen to the author’s podcast.