Free Facebook group - Tash Corbin Heart-Centred Business PodcastCan you guess which asset I’ve built in my business that I get asked about the most?

The one that people desperately want to replicate, and know exactly how I did it?

The one that people want to know exactly how they can do it too?

And yet, it’s the one thing I don’t recommend anyone else does in online business, especially not in the early stages…

Starting and facilitating a free Facebook group.

This is going to be such a juicy episode, because so many people assume that I recommend having a free Facebook group as a marketing strategy. But I actually actively try and dissuade everyone from doing it!!!

Why? What?

BUT TASH! WHY?

Let’s dive into this one. Trust me, you’ll want to understand this in depth. 

Free Facebook groups Tash Corbin Podcast


Here for the links referenced in the show notes?

Register for the Heart-Centred Groups waitlist: tashcorbin.com/hcgroups

Submit your question for the podcast – tashcorbin.com/question

Check out the Heart-Centred Business Conference – www.heartcentredbusinessconference.com

Check out the Heart-Centred Virtual Business Conference – www.heartcentredbusinessconference.com/virtual


 

EPISODE 395: Listen using the player below, or click the links to your fave platform to subscribe and listen over there:

Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on SpotifListen on YouTube

Before I dive in: When it comes to any strategy decision in your business, it is always your choice.

I am not one to stand in the way of anyone who really wants to create a free Facebook group and build a community. Particularly if you’ve got specific ideas and strategies on how you’re going to use it and build it.

BUT… I want to be clear: If i was starting my business over from scratch, and the HCSDE Group didn’t exist today, I would be VERY hesitant to start it. It is not something that I recommend, or is needed in order to grow your business online and particularly not to fast-track your business growth online.

Why are people so convinced they should start a FB Group?

The belief that you’ll get more reach: So many people are sold this idea that you can reach more people with a group, because organic reach on FB Pages is so low. But that’s actually not true.

I can tell you that I have just under 9000 followers on my Facebook page, and my average reach of each post on that page is around 1000. When I post in the Heart-Centred community, which has 35,000 members, the average reach of most posts is 200-300 people. And that’s having been consistent in that group, facilitating that group, and building that group completely organically over the last 10 years.

Furthermore, if I wanted to get a post on my PAGE in front of more of my audience, yes, I could use the @followers tag (I don’t) for organic reach, but I also could just pay $20 and boost a post to my followers. It’s not that expensive, and I wouldn’t have to do much work to reach them. However, if I had the same goal in the Heart-Centred community, I would need to use the @everyone tag (which I don’t do), or I would need to force people to engage with my content in some way. I know in some groups they do this by forcing everyone to share their offers in the comments of an admin post, or in other ways… but long-term, this is terrible for group engagement and growth.

Here’s the thing: The Heart-Centred community is not a core part of my marketing strategy.

When I tell people this, over and over, they still don’t believe me. But it’s true!

Yes, there are definitely benefits to having the group: Namely, the volume of members creates credibility and social proof. But there are far easier ways to amass an audience of 35,000 people, especially today – because the group actually got to 35,000 members organically, through FB recommendations, it was not by my design.

Facebook once recommended groups in multiple spaces on the app and website – the right hand column on your newsfeed, scattered through the newsfeed, and even in your notifications.

Facebook doesn’t do ANY of that anymore.

You may have noticed that membership of the HCSDE Group has declined in the last couple of years.

I’m not surprised by that, because I don’t actively focus on growing the community. It is not a part of my marketing strategy. It is not a space where I am able to readily reach and get in front of the largest portion of my audience.

I do not recommend starting a Facebook group or buying into the belief that a Facebook group is somehow better for your reach than just focusing on building a Facebook business page.

In a Facebook group, your reach is always capped – by the number of members.

When you have a group like mine (I think it’s actually 34,000 and something now, we’ve actually dropped back below 35,000), sure, being able to get in front of all of those people is pretty spectacular. But I have never once in the entirety of the history of the community ever had a post that has reached more than 6,000 of those members. How did I reach that many of the members? I asked them to comment on the post to help spread the word about a rule change, or a new opportunity.

I don’t do that for posts that promote something of mine. I don’t do that for posts that are promoting my free webinar or talking about my own business. The only posts that I ask people to comment on are related to the specific group experience, or opportunities I am providing for members. That’s it.

Sure, I could ask them to engage on my posts about my business, but that’s not why they are there. I could use the @everyone tag, but people would unsubscribe from it, or leave. The group wouldn’t be as engaged if I forced everyone to consume my content, and shoved my promos in their notifications and their feeds all the time. And that’s not why I have the group. It just doesn’t feel congruent to make the group about me when at it’s core, it’s a peer support group.

I’m a member like everyone else. 

I am not a member of that group to turn it into the Tash Corbin show… to hold the microphone and not let anyone ever have a turn with it.

And to be honest, if I turned it into the Tash show – it wouldn’t be as engaged or popular as it is.The engagement in the group is WHY it’s so engaged, so amazing, so spectacular (and a lot of dodgy business coaches try and take advantage of that).

The Heart-Centred community has been studied by universities as a model of genuine shared leadership in online spaces. That doesn’t happen when you don’t actually embrace shared leadership.

I don’t know about you, but if I’m in a group that uses the @everyone tag, I either turn off the tag, or I leave the group. We are seeing Facebook groups haemorrhaging members at the moment, because people are overusing the tag, or making people comment in threads rather than allowing them to create their own posts. There needs to be VALUE for the community in engaging, not just helpful content.

If I want to hear from you and you only, I will just follow your page. 

So – I don’t use the @everyone tag, I don’t force people to post in threads or comment on my content, and I can’t run ads in the group. So in a nutshell, there is no way for me to get my business content in front of every single member of the group.

Plus, groups aren’t growing the way they used to. If you don’t have an existing audience, you’ll struggle for group growth without a paid strategy.

And yet how many business mentors still recommend starting a free group as a way to get great reach and grow your business?

People have even sent me screenshots recently that when they go to visit another group, they get a pop-up telling them to go to the HCSDE group instead, because it’s more engaged. But it’s only being shown to existing members at the moment. Facebook is diverting people away from low engagement groups and to high engagement groups. But there is just no organic growth of that community.

Let’s talk about getting reach on a page instead. 

As I said earlier, if I have a post, let’s say it’s a promotion of an upcoming webinar, and I want to ensure my followers see it – I can do that with an ad for around $50 max. I can click the boost post button, tell FB to show it to my followers, and it will happen. In about 2 days. Compared to spending hours, and weeks trying to get people to see my content organically, I just think it’s far more straightforward and simple.

And I know that isn’t possible for everyone just yet. But until then, hang out in other people’s groups, and build your skills in growing and getting reach on your FB Page instead.

There will come a time where it’s no longer viable for you to invest more time to get more reach. It will be time for you to invest money to get more reach instead. And you’ll be able to pay for it, because your organic strategies will be getting sales.

With a group AND a page, you can confuse your audience. 

In my business, if you want to be in a space where it’s my content, it’s about my business, and you’re learning from and connecting with me – come to my page.

If you want to be in a space where you’re connecting with other entrepreneurs, promoting your business, sharing advice, and being supported – come to the group.

That’s far more straightforward to understand, than streaming to both, or swapping between the two spaces.

For most people who want to start a Facebook group to grow their business, it’s like they’re creating a duplicate of their Facebook page, but they’re just doing it in group form. But hopefully I have demonstrated now, that it’s not necessarily the smartest move, and the promise of better reach isn’t actually realised for most people who create their own groups. (Unless of course you just use the @everyone tag, force everyone to engage with your content, and turn it into a duplicate of your page, that’s not at all scalable….)

I haven’t even discussed the admin workload of hosting a group yet!

I have been very open with the Heart-Centred Community about the team cost in administration of the group. When I talk about the cost, I have lots of people who volunteer to do admin duties, which is so lovely, but that won’t work.

For any space that I facilitate, it must be inclusive, it must be anti-racist, it must be an LGBTQ-friendly space, and we do not tolerate any content that discriminates or causes harm to marginalised people. In order to ensure that the admin team are doing that effectively and consistently, they need training and mentorship. I also need to be able to direct them as an employer, not ask them as a volunteer. It’s critical that the team are able to administer that group in a way that is not silencing marginalised people around certain conversations.

In the final quarter of 2023, the admin cost of the HCSDE Group was over $3,000 a month.

This is a free community in which I do not market myself any more than any other member of that community. The group is an act of service, it’s a gift to the members, and it’s a space for us to be supported, practice our messaging, grow our audiences, find biz besties, and learn from each other with a view to scaling up our own platforms. I love that I can offer that opportunity for members.

But it absolutely costs me more than it makes me.

I want to be honest about that, because I think a lot of people assume the group is a big net benefit for my business – but if I put that $3000 in to FB ads, I would grow my mailing list by 1500-2000 people every single month. That would be faaaar more profitable for my business.

I continue to provide the opportunity, because I see how needed it is – and it gives me so much as a member too.

I’ve met some of my best business friends in that community. When I had my engagement party, there were more group members than family members that came to it!

The Heart-Centred community does not exist for the benefit of my business; it exists for the benefit of me as a human, and the benefit of all members.

To see members making sales, learning how to create consent-based marketing strategies and practice them… seeing people do their first ever Facebook live in that space because it feels safer than doing it publicly on their own page… oh that lights me up, and that’s what makes me feel like it is such a precious place and that I want to keep it going.

But as I said, if you are someone who has limited time or limited money to invest in the growth of your business, and your number one priority right now is growing your client base, growing your mailing list, growing your income from your business, Facebook groups are not the smartest, nor the most efficient strategy to do it.

The beautiful thing is, you can be a leader in other people’s Facebook groups.

Simply by learning how to be a consistent and present leader in other people’s spaces, you can get the benefit of the access to groups like the Heart-Centred community, without having to build one of your own. There are lots of Facebook groups out there that have a similar model, in that you are able to promote your services on certain days in your own posts. You are able to show up and share advice, you can really get to know people, and grow your network fabulously.

Put the time you would dedicate to growing your own group into showing up in a couple of other spaces, and recruit them back to your own platform by being a giving, present, generous group member.

I built the group to be able to share it with people like you. And I would love for you to come and share in that space. I have no ego around who is the most well known person in that space, or who is the person who is seen as a leader in that space.

You get to be seen as a leader in the community. Become known there, not because you’ve surreptitiously convinced people to accept your friend request, or because you pretended to be interested in buying from them (we had a bit of that happening in the past)… be a leader, simply because you show up consistently and generously. Become known because you actively participate in things like the games that we play, the getting to know you exercises. Get to know who’s who in the group and connect with members. Before you know it, you’ll be part of the fun, shared history moments that we have as a group as well.

Be a leader by coming to group events.

We have free meetups in several places around the world (you can even host one – just reach out to us!). We have a conference every year – there’s an in-person conference in Noosa in September each year, and our virtual conference in March. Coming to those events builds your presence, helps you to become known, and it grows your network – with peers, with providers, and with clients.

The Heart-Centred Business Conference exists because community members asked for it. I’ve been hosting the in-person conference since 2017, and the virtual one since 2020.

Check out the in-person conference at www.heartcentredbusinessconference.com (tickets are currently sold out, but there is a waitlist for tickets that may be up for re-sale).

Check out virtual conference at www.heartcentredbusinessconference.com/virtual (tickets for 2025 will be opening in April!)

If you support the events that support the community, and involve the community, whether the free ones or the paid, you can establish yourself as a leader, and build an audience of your own.

And you’ll never have to worry about spending money on admin, or watching out for conversations to blow up, or having to get up at 6am to deal with a random conversation between members that has turned ugly and started to digress into homophobia and transphobia (Yep, that happens). You get to borrow my group instead, and be encouraged (by me and the members) to promote yourself, and your business, to be seen, to show up, to stand out… I love it and live for it and I want that to be your experience!

Please – come and make the most of the community!

If you would like to learn more about making money in other people’s Facebook groups, in a way that is consent-based, respectful of boundaries, and aligned with smart business strategy… I have a fabulous free offer for you!

I have a new version of my Heart-Centred Groups course coming out soon – This is a course that we offer to all new members of the group, but if you’ve been there a while, you may have been too early for it, or maybe you watched the first version but want a refresher.

Here’s the link to request it when it’s ready – comment on the post and we will let you know when it’s open: CLICK HERE.

I understand that it sounds like it’s a bit negative about Facebook groups. Sometimes when I do episodes like this, or I do Facebook Lives where I’m talking about all of the challenges of facilitating a free Facebook group like this, people assume that I’m on the verge of closing it down, or I need a lot of help with being able to run it. But that’s not the case. I’m just being realistic. I’m being honest about what happens behind the scenes with that group, because I know that I’m one of the few who is open about it.

I have no doubt, that if I told you it’s a dream, and it makes me thousands of dollars, you’d believe me. You’d probably buy a $1000 course from me to learn how to do it for yourself. It wouldn’t be real, and it wouldn’t be true. It wouldn’t actually be me doing a good job of mentoring you, because I believe I’d be doing you a disservice.

Because honestly, I don’t think it’s a great idea. I wouldn’t do it if I was starting a business today.

I think there are far more efficient and far more cost effective ways for you to grow your own audience, in a more scalable way. If you have any questions about this episode, or you’ve got some #buttashes, be sure to send through an email or DM. You’re also welcome to submit a question at tashcorbin.com/question.

I look forward to the discussion on this one because I do think that there are a lot of assumptions people make about groups.

And of course until next time, I cannot wait to see you shine!

Tash Corbin Business Mentor and Strategist