Facebook has done its best to take the social out of ‘social network’.
I’m not making that statement to besmirch the name of Mark Zuckerberg’s creation, but to note that things have changed, as they always do, and will continue to.
Organic reach is dead. It continues to get worse, and Facebook HQ admitted as much in December 2013:
We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.
Facebook said that it made these changes to enhance the user’s experience, but obviously this (like anything else) is a money-making venture. The intention was to kill organic reach to funnel companies towards paying for exposure, because you know, why should anybody get anything for free?
The result is that if you want your content seen by a wide audience, you’re probably going to have to pay for it.
I know a lot of non-Internet marketing professionals (civilians) who discuss Facebook with an ‘ugh’ attitude. You know those people too. While I don’t exactly argue with people with their dissatisfaction towards a free social media site, I tell them that Facebook is what you make of it. You can still choose who your friends are, what pages you follow, etc.
You can talk to who you want to talk to, and if Radical Political Opinion Guy is getting on your last nerve, he’s as easy to shut off as a light switch.
You have that power.
Social media marketers can make Facebook what they want it to be as well. I’m not opposed to paying for advertisements (in fact, we at QCM are very pro-paying-for-advertisements), but Facebook’s capabilities are so vast that a single-minded approach can you leave you missing out on some golden opportunities.
You have the ability to put the ‘social’ back in ‘social network’.
Facebook Groups: The Answer to Marketing for Free
By the end of my freshman year of college, I must have been in fifty Facebook Groups. They were all over the place in terms of subject matter: inside jokes, people of similar characteristics and interests, organizing pickup soccer games, etc. This was during the era where marketing was non-existent on Facebook, so these were mainly places to talk to people and goof off.
This was eight years ago, and despite a million-and-a-half changes to Facebook’s infrastructure, Groups are still here. They’re here, and they’re being underutilized.
Yes, I’m encouraging you to create a Group for your business or service.
Groups are still incredibly easy to create, and from there you’ll be able to invite anybody that you’d like. I’m not suggesting this replace your Page for a Group. This isn’t a new sales platform; think about it like a community.
For example, ‘The Queen City Media Group’ sounds a whole lot like Queen City Media’s Facebook Page. What if the Group was called ‘QCM Hosts: Internet Marketing’? Now we have a subject for discussion, and a way to collect people with a common interest that pertains to your company.
When you grow a Group, you are creating a community of people who have some sort of interest in your product. And by doing this, you have a powerful resource that gets taught in Marketing 101.
There are very few companies that can genuinely say “I think everyone is a potential customer” and throw their money every which way, deciding that their target market is Earth. Coca-Cola might be able to get away with that line of thinking, but generally, casting a narrower, intelligent net is going to come with a greater reward (when considering time, money, and effort as your resources).
With your Group, you have an engaged community to target. They are interested in what you have to offer, and as I’ll explain in the next section, your job is to keep them engaged and wanting more.
So your Group has a few core members and some people you’ve targeted as potentially interested users. You have two important tasks from here: keeping current group members interested and engaged, and increasing your following through the group.
First, being helpful is as important as anything. This might seem obvious, but treating every member of your group with respect will go a long way in building trust. People respect personable, honest responses. So remember that no engagement from your group should go unnoticed; every comment, praise, or complaint should receive a timely and personal response.
You should also embrace input. Invite people into discussions, ask questions, put your finger on the pulse of the people. Businesses used to (and still do, in some cases) pay large amounts of money to survey anonymous segments of the population about their product.
Here, you have your community of active users in one place.
Personal interactions have quite an effect on people. Yes, we’re talking about ‘personal interactions’ in the 2014 ‘Personal Interactions Are Texting Someone Happy Birthday’ sense. But I swear you’ll never believe the way that people will go to bat for you if they trust your message and values. You should never be too big for your customers.
They’ll notice when you care about their opinions.
Your group doesn’t have to be all business, all the time either. Have some general conversations, ask them how their day is. Talk about events or developments going on in your city. Use hot topics in the news to connect to them in ways that don’t include your service.
A great way to cultivate new users is to make your group fun and compelling. If you make it a worthwhile place to be, your users will be inviting their peers to take part in the group. I know I get excited about the prospect of people telling their friends “Hey, Jason’s new Facebook Group has been really awesome lately. Join in on the fun!”.
Facebook Groups are just one way to gain free exposure through social media. As often as Facebook changes the rules to favor their bottom line, it is always going to give users the ability to interact with each other. Every interaction is an opportunity to display your value.
Do You think you do a good job in your field?
It’s time to get out there and show it! You have every opportunity to.