If you aren't a part of any blogging related Facebook groups yet, you're missing out on an amazing opportunity to better yourself and your blog! I'm going to be completely honest here: blogging can get really lonely. Most of us don't have a community of people who understand blogging in our personal lives, so we sit quietly by ourselves on our laptops chasing our dreams.
Eventually, loneliness will set in. You'll start to get lost in your own head. You'll have unanswered questions, thoughts of self-doubt, and general overwhelm. It'll become difficult to step outside of yourself for a minute and examine your work with a critical eye. Your blog will suffer, and you might just drive yourself a little crazy!
So join some Facebook groups!
When you find the right groups to join, you're going to experience a community of people that help to validate your dream and encourage you to strive for better. You'll receive help and support during your most discouraging or overwhelming periods. And you'll have opportunities to promote your blog on a more personal level than you get with Pinterest.
The key, though, is to know how to make the most out of these groups. If you don't use these groups properly, you could really harm your chances of bettering your blog. Best case scenario, you don't see any returns for your efforts. Worst case scenario, you'll seriously damage your reputation.
So let's take some time to dive into the Facebook group dynamic so you can exponentially improve your blogging experience!
Facebook is a social media platform, obviously. As such, the primary goal is to create community!
As humans, we are wired to engage in communities. I'm an introvert, so I know how that kind of stinks sometimes, but the fact remains. We need other people. We need to belong somewhere.
Facebook groups create the opportunity for you to be a part of a community of bloggers that are all on a similar journey.
These are people that understand your insecurities about putting your content out there. They understand that the technical aspect of building your website is stressful, overwhelming, and completely headache inducing. The people there know that it's frustrating trying to get those first few email subscribers.
They understand. They know where you're at, and many of them know how to get you where you want to go! Who wouldn't want to be in a community like that?
The problem is, many people don't engage with this community in the right way. If you don't know how to network organically, you're not going to build the valuable connections you need to thrive. So how do you interact in a Facebook group?
- Be genuine.
This is going to be a theme for this post, so let's get make it clear now.
Don't turn every interaction into a promotion of your post. Groups typically have rules in their description, and many of them allow you to link to your blog if your post answers a question someone poses. However, a lot of people abuse this power, and frankly, no one likes them.
Forget about the fact that you're building a business and expanding your reach. That's not really the end game with a Facebook group.
Remember that your goal is to communicate! You're just there to talk and listen. Have some fun!
- Be a friend.
This is very closely aligned with being genuine. If you're here to make friends, then be one!
Be helpful, be kind, be welcoming. Connect on a personal level. Don't forget that every name in that group is a living person with interests, experiences and families outside of their blogs.
These are real opportunities to make great friends if you take the time to connect with the people you're drawn to!
- Don't spam.
Don't start friending everyone in the group to try to expand your reach.
Everyone is using their personal profiles to be a part of these groups, and they probably aren't going to accept a friend request just because you're in the same group.
Their family members are connected to their personal profiles. Their personal stories have been shared on their profiles. Most people are guarded about this stuff, so remember the last two rules: be genuine, and be a friend.
And definitely, don't start messaging random people just to pitch something to them.
And don't spam the group itself either. Posting excessively in an attempt to promote your blog will just get you kicked out.
Let the connections build naturally, just like you would in person!
Help and Support
The next great aspect of blogging Facebook groups is the opportunity to give and receive advice.
Honestly, some of the most defining moments for my blog stemmed from advice given to me in Facebook groups! But again, there are right ways and wrong ways to navigate this aspect of the communities.
- Give good advice.
Give the kind of advice that you want to receive, because chances are, you'll be asking a question at some point. Offer real, thorough answers that will truly help the asker navigate whatever is troubling them.
Don't just say "Join Pinterest," tell them what to DO once they make a Pinterest account. Don't just say "Make a recipe free," give them specific ideas for a freebie that'll truly help them build a list for their food blog.
My first three subscribers were the result of my advice. I gave thorough, albeit long-winded, answers on a regular basis in the few groups I was in, and several times I was asked for a link to my blog so they could read more from me!
- Question threads aren't promotion threads.
Despite what I just said about getting subscribers from answering questions, don't expect this kind of transaction! People pick up on that stuff, and it doesn't come across well. Who likes to receive advice with strings attached? Not me.
If your post will actually help, and the rules allow it, then you can share your post. But chances are, their question can be answered with an actual explanation typed out. People will see right through you if you're linking to your post that's only on the periphery of the issue.
- Give back.
If you're asking a lot of questions, be sure to offer something to the group (and no, promoting your opt-in freebie isn't what I mean.) Engage on other people's posts too! Keep the group alive.
Have you ever heard of the emotional/relationship bank? It's common relationship advice.
The basic idea is that when you do something for another person, you're making deposits into your relationship bank. When you give them time, gifts, love, or anything, really, you're putting something in. Then, when they do something for you, you're making withdrawals.
If you keep taking more and more out of that bank without putting something back, you're going to run the bank dry and eventually ruin the relationship. That's how people end up feeling underappreciated and taken advantage of.
Similarly, when you're in a community, you need to give back. Don't just demand help all the time from these groups because they're free and they're there. Offer something in return, as a thank you for giving you the opportunity to interact with the people in the group.
Notice how I made this the last section? I believe the best form of promotion is through a positive, genuine reputation. And I believe these reputations are built through communities.
As such, the order in which I structured this post (Community, Support, then Promotion) is an example of the trickle-down effect I see with Facebook groups.
Many people see Facebook groups solely as promotion tools. And true, some of them are even organized that way and can be great for boosting traffic.
But the most fulfilling groups are going to be community first, promotion second. (Or, I guess in the case of this post, promotion third.)
So now that we're here, let's talk about the best ways to handle promoting your blog in Facebook groups!
- Follow. The. Rules.
Every Facebook group should have very specific rules in the group description. If not, they're likely a pinned post at the top of the page.
Please, out of respect for every other member, follow the rules. If the rules say you can only promote your blog post on Wednesdays, don't promote on Saturday. It's a solid way to annoy everyone and get yourself kicked out of the group.
- Plan ahead.
Every group has a different promotion schedule, and it can be a real nightmare trying to remember when to promote where. Chances are, you'll start to miss promo days and have to wait an entire week to share content with that group. So be smart about it.
Use Google Calendar or ToDoist to schedule the promotion days for each group you're in. I even recommend putting the rules in the names of the scheduled events.
Here's an example of how I've scheduled my promos in Google Calendar:
And here's an example of how I've begun testing out Todoist for the same purpose. The key is to use the option to type the due date. Then you can type "every Friday" or "every weekday" and it'll create a recurring event.
- Be detailed and specific.
Don't just drop a link and run! Add a brief (like, 2 or 3 sentences) description for your blog or blog post alongside your link. This serves several purposes.
First, it may draw more people in if they don't understand the name/title.
Second, it'll stand out a bit more in a thread where everyone is dropping links, making it more likely to get clicked on!
And finally, it just looks more professional! You seem more prepared and strategic (because you are!) for taking the time to create a pitch for your content, and that's always a great first impression.
- Don't waste your time.
Stay away from Follow All threads. (You post your link, then you have to follow every other person who posts, and in return, they all follow you.)
I've done a couple for Pinterest followers, and I can't really say that it benefited me. They're very time consuming and bring very little return.
You may get a bunch more Pinterest followers, but they're not going to be a relevant audience!
Plus, chances are, a bunch of them will just unfollow you shortly after the thread closes. Guilty. (Sorry fitness bloggers. Your niche is not my thing. I like buffalo wings too much.)
Gauge this based off your time freedom, but chances are, you don't have any more hours in the day than I do. Posts that require you to share or comment on other blog posts in exchange for your right to post on a thread don't always generate good returns.
I've tried, and the traffic that they generate are not my ideal audience, and it's been a waste of effort. I personally haven't received a single converted subscriber from this kind of traffic.
Instead, if you're short on time, just find threads that allow you to post without having to engage on other posts. You may not necessarily get as many clicks, but the people who do click will be more in line with your ideal audience. It definitely wouldn't hurt to go through and interact with another poster if what they've shared interests you though!
If you're concerned about not getting clicks if you're not on a mandated thread, just remember another important aspect of marketing. Sometimes, it's less about building a following so much as it's about putting your name out there.
There is a serious advantage to becoming a familiar face! Consistently placing your content in front of the same eyes will eventually yield great results, promise.
- Promote in the right places.
Some Facebook groups allow you to post on the main feed rather than commenting in a thread. This increases your chances of showing up in the personal feeds of the other members.
This is a great opportunity for promotion! If I'm being honest, the only time I find myself clicking through other people's promos are when their posts show up on my personal feed, for this very reason.
You won't find nearly as many groups that allow main-feed-promotion, but I highly recommending finding one or two.
- Promote the right stuff.
Most likely, Facebook group promo threads won't bring you nearly as much traffic as, say, Pinterest.
As such, I wouldn't use them to promote just anything! You want to promote the content that will catch people's eye (especially if they're not paying attention) and draw them in.
Share you best content on these groups. You typically only get one shot a week, so make it count! Share a post that will really drive traffic in.
And don't be afraid to use these groups to draw people to a landing page to opt-in to your email list! I've seen a ton of bloggers build their beginner lists exponentially using promo groups.
Track the effects!
A lot of people abandon Facebook group promotion because they just don't feel like they're getting any returns from it. And honestly, this may be true! But how do you really know?
I found this awesome tutorial by Marie of Girl Knows Tech for tracking the specific traffic you receive from each Facebook group with Google Analytics! How cool is that?
Using this information, you'll be able to decide if a certain group isn't worth your time. Or you'll be able to see if you should be putting more time into promoting on a certain group. Or you can choose to just abandon Facebook groups altogether! The fact of the matter is, when you have the data to back it up, you can make an informed, strategic decision.
So remember: Community, Support, and then Promotion.
If you focus on these three aspects of Facebook groups, you'll definitely reap the benefits. You'll see changes in your blog, as well as your entrepreneurship journey!
So tell me, what is you favorite Facebook group that you're a part of? If you haven't joined any, what has been your favorite social media platform to reach your audience?
Let me know in the comments, or start a conversation with me personally at email@example.com!
Until next time!
- Katie Scott