It’s a Q&A episode of the Heart-Centred Business Podcast today, which means I have a fabulous question from one of our listeners and I am going to answer it. Our question today is about the best strategy for growing a Facebook group.

If this is something that you have had on your radar, then this is going to be a really juicy episode for you.

Let’s dive on in!

Today’s question comes from the fabulous Precious Stephens. You can find Precious at preciousstevens.com or on Instagram at @_preciousstevens.

Precious asked:

“What is the best strategy for growing your Facebook group? Is it better to run an ad to a lead magnet and then send people to your group? Or run ads directly to the group so it performs better because it’s keeping people on Facebook?”

This is a really interesting question, and I’ve got a multi-layered response as usual.

Let’s dive into this one because there are a few key things that I want to cover first before we dive into ad strategy…

First and foremost, I don’t generally recommend creating a Facebook group as a marketing strategy. I particularly do not recommend it when you’re in the early stages of business.

There are a few reasons for that, but the number one reason is that this strategy is actually unscalable.

What I mean by unscalable is that once you put a post into your own Facebook group, if it does well, there is no way for you to be able to buy more reach for that post.

Due to the fact that there’s no advertising in Facebook communities and posts within Facebook groups are being de-preferenced in the Facebook algorithm, when I post in my own community of 35,000 people, I get less reach than when I post on my page with 7,000 followers.

When it comes to scalability and having a business and a marketing strategy that you can grow without having to invest more time and energy, Facebook groups and having your own Facebook group is actually way down the list in terms of priorities for me.

The reason being is that there are easier ways to grow and connect with your audience, and scalable ways for you to be able to do that, that will help you to be able to ensure that you’re reaching all of your audience.

When it comes to marketing strategies, particularly in startup, I think at this point in time, Facebook groups have had their day.

When I first started the Heart-Centred Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs community back in 2014, Facebook groups were fairly new. There were definitely some pretty established groups out there, but they were very preferenced in the algorithms from Facebook.

If you had a Facebook group, your reach within that community would be very high.

It was very easy to get your content in front of your audience in a Facebook group – much easier than it was to do with a page.

That has changed.

I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t give you advice that I think is going to stand the test of time, and if I didn’t just first highlight some of the challenges that you would have in incorporating having a Facebook group as one of your core marketing strategies.

Facebook is not a priority for me when it comes to:

  • Lead generation for my launches
  • Making sales in my business
  • Growing my audience on social media and in my list

That Facebook community started as a peer support network for me.

When I was starting my business, I wanted to be in a space where we could talk about our businesses and not feel like no one was allowed to, but also not do it in such a way where it was spammy and overrun with promos.

I created the kind of group that I wanted to hang out in.

That group is still one of my favourite places to hang out online these days, but I don’t hang out in that community as a marketing strategy.

Even though it’s my community and even though there are 35,000 people in there and it’s technically my largest audience, I can reach 35,000 people in one day with $100 in ad spend.

In order for me to reach all 35,000 members of my Facebook community, it would take me months and months of consistent presence, really showing up and making sure that people were commenting on my posts. I would probably have to use some strategies that would encourage or incentivise people to be commenting on my posts in the group.

It would actually take a lot of time and energy for me to reach the same amount of people.

I LOVE and adore my group and the space that it’s created. I love how much people in that group are connecting with each other – people have met their best friends, people have met the person who ended up being their maid of honour at their wedding, people have met best friends who then have thrown them baby showers – the group is an amazing space! There are amazing connections made in there.

It’s an amazing advertising opportunity for other people to post into that community, but as far as my priorities when it comes to marketing, if I’m going into a launch or something along the lines of that, posting in my own group is about sixth or seventh on the list.

I am much more focused on:

  • Emailing my list
  • Posting on my own social media
  • My paid and organic strategies on my page
  • Instagram

I would do all of those things first and be focused on those well before I focused on doing any promos into my own Facebook community.

Yes, we do have that all set up pretty much on autopilot now when I’m doing promos, and the time that I spend in the Heart-Centred Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs group is very much just me-time. It’s me engaging with the community, it’s me going in there for support, and it’s me seeing what everyone is up to.

But it’s not necessarily a smart and scalable marketing strategy.

I wanted to just speak to that first, and I thought one of the most powerful ways I could do that for you is to give you one of the most critical numbers… and that is the reach of my posts.

At the moment, I have 7,000 followers on my Facebook page, and I have 35,000 members in the Heart-Centred Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs group.

Today, I did two promotions for my launch workshop that I am going to be running (it will have run by the time this podcast episode goes live).

I used a fairly similar image but it was a different photo of me, I used a fairly similar structure in terms of the promo, and I posted at the exact same time of day, which is a good time of day for my audience.

I did the post in the group first and then I did the post on my Facebook page.

Within five hours, the post in the group had reached 192 people, and the post on my page had reached 420 people.

You can see that even though the audience on my page is smaller, the reach there is actually larger organically.

I have been particularly active in the Heart-Centred Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs group over the last few weeks. I am not neglecting that space.

There are definitely signs to me that are pointing to Facebook groups getting deprioritised and put down the algorithm, and I’m seeing that for myself.

I also have an amazing colleague, his name is Brandon Love, and he has two companies – one is called Crumble Co and the other is called Bewilderment – and with both of those product-based businesses, he actually has huge Facebook communities for them.

He was sharing recently that he started a brand new Facebook group for Bewilderment, and even though he had created a ginormous group of a few 1,000 people in a very short time when he was launching that brand, when he was posting in that group which was his own group, he was struggling to get reach of over 200 to 300 people.

That is for a fresh group with new members that has recently had a huge growth spurt.

It’s his community that he has built, yet he cannot access that community – he cannot reach them.

I think it’s really important. Don’t just take my word for it, go and have a look at what’s going on in different communities and what you’re seeing, but I just wanted to give that a full conversation because I think there are a lot of people teaching old school Facebook group strategies out there. There are a lot of beliefs around what a Facebook group will give you in terms of your marketing.

And those beliefs just are not true these days.

You want to make sure you’re up to date with the latest and understanding what’s going on with the algorithms because Facebook groups have been down on my list in terms of startup strategies for the last three to four years.

There are a lot of marketers out there who are still yet to catch up with this.

I also quickly just want to say that one of the things that I’ve seen people recommend and talk about as an alternative or as a strategy to get better reach in your own Facebook community is that they tag their members.

That this is not a strategy that’s grounded in consent.

I know that there are workarounds and ways that you can beat the algorithm on Facebook, but I’m yet to find workarounds for reach within your own Facebook community that I think meet the principles of the consent-driven strategy.

People didn’t join your community and give consent for you to constantly be tagging them and filling up their notifications, so I think that it’s an important boundary that I wouldn’t cross.

There are other strategies that I could mention as well, but I think the number one thing I would say to that if you wouldn’t like to be treated that way from a strategy perspective, if you unwittingly joined a community where you didn’t realise you were going to get tagged every second day, would you be happy with that kind of behaviour, and would a reasonable person feel like that was a reasonable expectation of joining the community that you’re going to be tagged over and over again?

It’s just one example of one of the strategies that’s been recommended and I don’t agree with that strategy for that reason.

With all of that being said, there are a few exceptions where I would recommend creating a Facebook community.

One of those is when your area of expertise or the content that you’re speaking about is something that you would struggle to create ads for anyway.

It would be things like:

  • Sex
  • Periods
  • Relationships where you’re talking about sexual relationships

Also some of the health and wellbeing spaces like women’s health. An example of this for me are groups that I’m a part of as part of my exploration of breast implant illness (a whole other story, you can watch the YouTube video I did on it here: CLICK ME – pretty much I’m getting my breast implant removed because I’m experiencing breast implant illness from this reconstructive breast implant that I had.

One of the reasons why those groups work so well as a strategy and really work as a group rather than a page is because there are certain types of conversations, posts and photos that Facebook would not allow on a page that you can actually share within a group

People are also more likely to engage in the conversation in there because it feels like a safer space.

That’s a business type where I think that that strategy might work.

There are a few other exceptions that I would say do lend themselves to having a Facebook group as part of your marketing strategy.

The other thing I want to say is that some people just want to start a Facebook group because they want to have a space for a community.

They want to start a Facebook group because their podcast has a ginormous listenership, and they want to bring everyone into a Facebook community so they can talk to each other.

It’s not necessarily part of the marketing strategy, it’s part of the community and nurturing strategy.

Absolutely!!! I think that Facebook groups are an amazing way for you to nurture your audience and to create that sense of community around a topic or around a podcast, etc.

But again, I just want you to be discerning about: What is the job that you want this group to do? And is a group actually the best strategy for the job?

With all of that in mind, if you do want to create a Facebook community and you’re wanting to grow your Facebook group, then ads are one of five strategies that I would recommend.

I’m going to do the ads as the last thing that I would talk about because I wouldn’t use ads to grow a Facebook community in the first instance, I would focus on organic growth first, and then I would dive into an ad strategy.

Here are my five strategies…

1. Engagement

This is the number one thing you need to make sure you are really nurturing

I don’t mean engagement by people just commenting on YOUR posts.

If you are creating a Facebook community, one of the fastest ways to get that community to grow is for that group to be recommended to people.

For that group to be recommended to people, the algorithm needs to match up that the type of people who match the same characteristics or behaviours as you are posting and commenting a lot in this community.

Your number one driver of engagement, which will also drive organic growth, is creating guidelines, boundaries and encouragement for your audience to be posting their own posts in the group.

You want to make sure that you are creating conversation starters, and you’re encouraging and prompting people (that’s why I love hashtags and theme days).

You want to have ways where you’re giving people some guidance on what to share, what to post about, how to post about it, how to start their own conversations and share their own posts because that is actually the number one growth driver for Facebook groups.

By engagement, I don’t just mean people commenting on your posts, I mean people posting their own posts and people commenting on each other’s posts as well.

Have a think about the strategies that you can use to drive up engagement in your community. Hashtags and theme days are some of my favourites – you can also have prompts, competitions, games that you play within the community, and different ways to encourage people to be posting within that space.

2. Group longevity

You want to make sure that people are actually visiting that group once they’ve joined it, because if people aren’t visiting the group, it will start to really go off people’s radars. They won’t be getting any notifications about it anymore, and the posts that they see from that group will start to really die down.

We want to create a purpose for people being in that group beyond just listening to you.

If you just want a space where people are going to listen to, create your Facebook page and scale up your organic reach there.

It’s much easier and much more straightforward than you think. It’s not as bad as the fearmonger’s out there would lead you to believe.

You don’t need a lot of audience on a Facebook page to start making sales. Once you’re making a few sales, you’ve got the money coming in to invest in ads to grow and scale up the reach on that page anyway.

You want to give this group a purpose beyond just listening to you, because that’s what pages are for.

If you’re in the Heart-Centred Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs group, you will notice that it’s not the Tash Corbin show. That community exists to create a platform for all members to grow their business, to advertise their products and services, to teach each other, to share their advice, to be able to connect with other like-minded like-hearted people and to build their networks.

That is the purpose of the community.

Those relationships can and do thrive without my presence.

My administration team does an amazing job of keeping that space safe, keeping it spam-free and making sure it’s a fair space for everyone.

If I wasn’t to show up in that group for a year, it wouldn’t make that much of a difference to the group. There’s so much reason for people to be in that group consistently. People make thousands of dollars of sales in the Heart-Centred Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs group.

It doesn’t require my intervention for them to do that.

There’s a huge purpose for people coming to visit that group and post in that group consistently beyond listening to me.

Yeah sure, they get to listen to me here and there sometimes. But most of the time, they’re there posting about themselves. They are there learning and growing their business. It’s nothing to do with me specifically.

3. Have a freebie where you’re encouraging people to join your group

This is where we start actively or proactively recruiting members and not relying on organic growth itself (but you definitely do need the engagement and the purpose beyond you as a foundation before you start recruiting people into your community).

If you want to go out and actively recruit people into your community, then make sure that in your free resources or even on your webinars or anything where you’ve got opt-ins, lead magnets or gated content, that you are encouraging people to come and join your Facebook community.

There might be an opportunity for them to ask you questions within that community. Or it simply might be that they can continue the conversation and learning more about how to achieve that outcome by coming and joining your community.

Again, I would recommend promoting that free resource organically first so that you can make sure it does its job.

Tip number three is to have to join your group as a call to action or a way to continue engaging on your gated content (that is content where people need to give you their email address to sign up for it – things such as eBooks, lead magnets, webinars, challenges, etc.).

4. Share your group on all other platforms

Having link backs to your group on your website, having a call to action for people to come into your group at the end of your podcast, having a call to action for people to join your group in your blogs and other ungated content.

On your Facebook page, consistently promote your Facebook group and tell people why it’s going to be of value to them.

On your Instagram, again, make sure that you’re letting people know that your Facebook community is one of the most powerful places they can engage with you and also achieve outcomes.

Give them the value proposition of being part of that community.

Make sure that the link is readily accessible for people in your link tree or however you display links on Instagram (remembering you can’t put your links into your posts).

They are the organic strategies that I would be recommending first and foremost to grow your Facebook community in the first instance.

5. Ads!!

Once you’ve got that working and you feel like the group is starting to get some momentum, then we want to start trialling some ad strategy.

The answer to which of those two strategies is best for growing the group is that it’s going to be running the ad directly to the group if that’s the job that you want that ad to do. However, I wouldn’t recommend that ad type unless you have proven you’re making sales from your own Facebook group.

If you are not yet making sales from your Facebook group, then creating ads to send people to a Facebook group, to grow a Facebook group and to make no sales is not a smart business strategy. There are very few reasons why I would ever recommend that someone grows a Facebook group without it having a line of sight back to making sales in your business.

You’re just creating a lot of work for yourself with no result for the business.

(I’m a business strategist so I would want it to do its job!)

The other type of ad that you were talking about, Precious, was to run an ad to a lead magnet and then send them to the group once they’ve signed up for the lead magnet. I think that’s a smarter strategy because it may be more expensive for each lead that you get but you’re getting them on your list first and foremost.

Your list is a much more scalable, reachable and valuable audience to grow compared to a Facebook group.

If they are on your list, but they don’t join your Facebook group, you can still reach them and you have that asset that’s building in your business.

The conversion rate of someone from your list buying from you is exponentially higher than the conversion rate of someone joining your group and then buying from you.

I would actually recommend running an ad to a lead magnet and then as an aside (or in the first few emails or as part of that lead magnet), encouraging people to join your group as an overall stronger strategy for your business.

This is a little complex because I don’t know all the details of every single person’s business, but I wanted to be thorough in giving my response to how to grow a Facebook community.

I have one final thing to say about growing a Facebook group…

You can really use what is going on in your business right now and particularly your launches as a way to get the initial growth of a Facebook community.

If you’re looking for a way to have a burst of people join your Facebook group, have a burst of engagement in that Facebook group and really get it snowballing quickly, my suggestion is to start a Facebook group that goes with a challenge.

You’re running a five-day challenge or a 14-day challenge and that group is where the training goes and it’s where people come and share their own posts about what they’re doing each day in that challenge.

If you start a Facebook group that way, you’re starting it with monumental engagement and a really good growth strategy for the initial 300 to 500 people coming in to join it.

That momentum is going to create organic growth of its own, and hopefully, you’ll be able to sustain that momentum, engagement and connection amongst the members beyond the period of time where you’re running that challenge.

Running a five-day challenge is a really great strategy for growing a Facebook group initially because it’s creating so much engagement and so much growth in a burst. Then you can get into some routines and habits to sustain that growth and sustain that engagement.

A lot of the early hard work is done for you.

Hopefully, Precious and anyone else who was thinking about starting a Facebook group or looking to grow their Facebook group, this has been particularly valuable for you. There’s a little food for thought in there about what the right strategy is for your business depending on where you’re at in your journey and what job you want that group to do.

If you would like to ask any questions for this podcast, make sure you go to tashcorbin.com/question and you can pop your question in there. I will be able to answer your question on a future podcast episode.

Before you go, one of the things I want to say in closing about Facebook groups is that you don’t need to start your own Facebook group to benefit from some of the amazing opportunities that come from having a Facebook group.

One of the things that I encourage people to do is actually just use the existing groups that are out there.

I am not only encouraging people to come and join the Heart-Centred Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs Facebook group, but I’m also encouraging them to use it as a platform to get early, easy reach for their business, and to start making sales without having to build their own audience.

You can borrow mine!

There are a lot of people in the Heart-Centred Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs group who have way more reach within that community than I do. It is such a beautifully connected high trust space already, that people will inherently trust each other more within that group and buy from within that group before they go looking elsewhere.

If you are looking for a readily accessible audience – particularly if you’re looking for women and non-binary folk who are entrepreneurs or in the space of thinking about becoming entrepreneurs – then come and borrow my audience.

You don’t even need to start your own group!

I’m paying for that group to be administered. I have created the engagement within that community. And I even have a free course on how you can make sales in that group.

It’s called the Heart-Centred Groups training.

If you go and do that four-module training, I will show you how you can make sales, create your own audience, recruit people to your own page, and really become known and be seen as a leader within other groups (doesn’t just have to be the Heart-Centre community) without you ever having to invest the time, energy or money that it takes to grow and facilitate and administer a group of your own.

Particularly for those of you who are in the early stages of business who don’t necessarily have your own audience on your own platforms – I’m literally encouraging you to go and borrow mine.

To gain access to this freebie, go to tashcorbin.com/hcgroups.

As always, come on over to the Heart-Centred Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs group and share any questions or lightbulb moments you’ve had using #podcastaha and the episode number (281).

Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.

Tash Corbin Business Mentor and Strategist