Last week I covered all of my best strategies for starting and growing your own Facebook Group, but we only covered half of what it takes to run a successful online community. Beyond figuring out your audience and all the content you need to post, in the end it comes down to engaging with them and knowing when to make adjustments to your approach. So let’s jump into Part 2!
Engage With Your Audience
I feel like the word “engage” gets thrown around a lot within the marketing world and we lose track of what it really means. I always try to keep it in perspective, remembering a quote from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people, than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
So, take this best-seller’s proven advice and get interested in your audience!
You can do this in a lot of ways, but I’ve found 4 particularly successful options that work for everyone.
1. Ask Lots of Questions
One of the best ways to show you’re interested in someone is to actively listen and ask thoughtful questions. This applies equally to an individual as it does to groups of people. So, ask away!
One of the best ways to do this in Facebook Groups is with Polls. Creating polls gives you an opportunity to ask questions that your audience can respond to quickly. By finding topics your audience is interested in, you can drastically increase your group engagement.
Alternatively, you can ask questions that require examples or a thoughtful response. This is a great option for building deeper relationships with your audience. Here are two examples of these types of posts from The Agent Inner Circle Private Facebook Group:
2. Respond to EVERYTHING
One of the biggest mistakes I constantly see people making, is posting something and never responding to any of the comments they generated. This is problematic for two reasons:
First and foremost, you want to develop the reputation that anytime someone posts or comments on a post in your group, that at the very least they’ll get a response from you. Sometimes people are fearful of getting involved because they’re not sure what response they’ll get, if any. By alleviating this fear, you make it a lot more likely that people will engage.
Second, from a technical standpoint, Facebook prioritizes content that starts conversations. So, threads of comments (i.e. comment>response>response… and so on) are more valuable than lots of individual comments with no conversation attached. This is why your best bet is to respond to every comment, and refer to Step 1 (ask more questions) to keep the conversation going.
3. Recognize and Appreciate
Another great option for showing your interest in your audience is to recognize and appreciate them. I suggest you recognize and welcome new members into your group every week, but I like to go a step further and ask our new members specific questions about their businesses and lives. This is just a minimum though – to take it up a notch, try publicly thanking and acknowledging your members for all their great deeds, personal wins and contributions. Share their posts, tag them in yours. Get creative because thanking and recognizing people in a public forum is a great way to generate reciprocity. .
4. Encourage Engagement
My last strategy for encouraging engagement doesn’t actually happen in your Facebook Group, it happens with you. I think it’s tremendously important to personally interact with as many people in your group as possible, especially those who get involved on their own. It’s amazing how much it can mean to someone when you take a moment to reach out and say – “I think the post you put up was awesome. Thank you.” Personal encouragement goes a long way towards building relationships in an online setting, so set aside some time to focus on this.
Track and Adjust
After you’ve built your audience, structured all of your content and engaged with your group, your job still isn’t quite done. Like most online initiatives, you have the opportunity to track your progress and adjust what you’re doing. If you do this consistently, you can dial in all of the strategies we’ve covered and build a massively successful group of your own!
The trick is knowing what to track in the first place. Facebook offers you the option to look at Growth and Engagement statistics for your group… but it’s not all valuable information, and they don’t give you everything you need to see to track effectively.
Start by looking at your Growth numbers. This includes charts of your Total Members and Active Members. What they don’t give you is a comparison of the two, which I think is one of your most important metrics. Essentially, comparing the two tells you what percentage of your group is active. Growing group membership without the equivalent activity is actually counterproductive.
Once you’ve got an overall sense of the direction your group is headed, you’ll want to look at Facebook’s Engagement statistics. First, take a look at your Popular Days and Popular Times. This will give you an idea of the best days and times to post content to your specific audience.
Next, check out your Top Posts. This will give you an idea of the content your group engaged the most with. You might have a sense of this from the posts themselves, but Facebook ranks them over the last 28 days and shows you how many people actually saw the post in their newsfeed.
Go Build It!!
Whether you want to build a neighborhood community, a group for your colleagues, or an industry insider group (like we have), I’ve given you my strategies for doing it and have every bit of confidence you can do it yourself.
As I mentioned at the beginning, building a group takes some dedication and hard work but I wanted to make things a little easier for you. As you may have noticed throughout the article I mentioned a number of resources we use to build our group. Normally, I wouldn’t release these worksheets publicly, but I know how helpful they can be and want you to have access. However, this isn’t something I can just give away, and I haven’t even decided how long I’m going to leave them on the site. So, for a very limited time I’m going to be offering my Facebook Group Building Kit for Real Estate Agents for $27.99.
Whether you decide to invest in this kit or not, I wish you the best of luck creating your own community and if you ever have questions – or want to share your success!! – please don’t hesitate to reach out.