Facebook Groups For Business Case Study: Foodaplenty

This is the first case in a series about using Facebook Groups to grow your brand, engage with your community and of course, ultimately, market your business. Today’s case is:

Foodaplenty Blog Network, managed by: Foodaplenty

Facebook for Business - Part 2

At time of writing, the group is at 420 people with new members joining everyday. It’s among one that’s very active on Facebook but beyond that. Foodaplenty does a great job of involving their members in various projects that are outside of Facebook like their Must-Try Favorite Recipes from Foodaplenty Blog Network Members. Very smart! So we asked them how they do it.

Why did you start the Foodaplenty Blog Network Facebook Group?

One of the key ingredients to a successful online business is connection to others in your niche, but I find that many bloggers tend to work in isolation. When you have friends, you have people who will promote your content, share your products and provide you with valuable insight and advice. I wanted to create that for food bloggers, so they could support one another.

In addition, there is benefit for us. Obviously, the group gives us an avenue to introduce members to our products and servers. But more importantly, if we create a great environment for food bloggers, they are going to become our cheerleaders and help our business grow. It’s really a win-win for everyone.

Why Facebook Groups over a forum on your own site?

Over the years, I’ve set up a number of interactive groups and forums and have always seen the tremendous value in bringing together likeminded people for discussion and to support one another. Tapping into Facebook’s large and captive audience is a no-brainer. It’s a place people go to daily, so they’re always reminded of your group. While starting a forum in 2002 made sense for me, it would be much more difficult to gain traction in 2014 with the social media distraction out there.

Why did you choose to have closed group?

One drawback to Facebook Groups is that people tend to see them as public property. By keeping the group closed, we have control over things from the very beginning. You can’t come in unless we say you can and you have to follow our rules.

Add to that, while the group isn’t Secret and we know that nothing on Facebook is really private, we did want to provide some kind of privacy to our members. We wanted them to be able to discuss business-related issues without having them broadcast to the world in general.

What’s one thing you’d suggest people do to grow their groups?

I’d suggest not worrying too much about the numbers, but providing value to your members and ensuring there is value for yourself. If you focus on numbers, you’ll fill your group with less targeted and not as engaged members.

To grow your group, use your other online assets to bring people in. Tell your mailing list and blog members. One technique that really works well is to make a post within the group that will be of interest to your subscribers or blog readers and tell them about it. They just have to ask to join the group to participate in that post.

Also, encourage your members to promote your group as well. Tell them they can invite people. If you have an affiliate program that can create links to outside websites, give them an affiliate link to your group. That way, they can earn a commission if a member eventually makes a purchase from you. Oops that was kind of like two or more things. 🙂

What are some suggestions you can give to help keep the group orderly and not overrun with SPAM or off topic chatter?

This has always been important to me and is all about control. You want to make sure members know this is your group and they can’t do what they want. There are a few key factors in accomplishing this:

  • Using a closed group, or even a secret group, if that’s appropriate for your situation. If you allow anyone in without barriers, members will tend to see the group as public property.
  • Brand the group name with your business name. Make sure the name makes it clear who owns the group.
  • Use the pinned post to establish the rules, but use care when writing the rules. You don’t want to sound militant, but want your rules to sound like logical points that keep the group beneficial to everyone involved.
  • Create “spam” posts for your members. We don’t call them “spam” posts, but “Master Threads” and they are designated places where people can promote themselves. For example, we have a “Master Latest Blog Post” thread. This helps us avoid a proliferation of self-promotional posts and it’s also a central area where people kind the latest work of their fellow members. In a group that is designed for mutual support, this is important.
<– This is a great tip!

A lot of people think their group should be really active and have a lot of posts each day, but I think that creates group fatigue and members are more likely to turn notifications off. I’d rather have fewer posts and have more members keep their notifications on, so they’re aware of new posts right away.

What’s the one thing people must do to keep their group members engaged?

Always think of how you can help your members. The more you think about them and what they want, the more they’re going to pay attention. Don’t make posts because you think you should post. Put some thought into it and post things that will be helpful to them or will get their attention.

What’s the one thing people should avoid in setting up or structuring their groups?

I’m not a “never” kind of person. I think people need to determine their own needs guided by their individual goals…so I can’t answer that. Just make sure you think things through and understand why you’re doing everything.

How does having a group translate to growing a business, (increasing sales, reaching new customers, etc) which is the end goal for most of us?

Again, it comes down to knowing what your audience wants. When you create a highly-targeted group that would benefit from your products and/or services, the connection becomes easier. They’re going to WANT to hear about what you have to offer.

The easiest way to connect your group back to your business is to get people into your opt-in list with free tools or resources they’ll want to opt into, so do that regularly. You can also offer members special discounts or advanced notice of products. Just make sure to keep a good balance where members feel the group itself is beneficial, rather than just a commercial for your business.

Lynette Chandler

Lynette Chandler

Co-owner at TechBasedMarketing
A marketing loving geek who thrives on finding ways to use tech to grow businesses and boost productivity. Make tech work for you too. Get her 10-Step Guide to Systemize and Automate Your Business so you can grow without wearing yourself out.
Lynette Chandler

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  1. Some great tips there – particularly the one with the signpost beside it 😉
    I tried to get so many Facebook groups going, but went about them all completely the wrong way. It’s starting off that I find the most difficult bit – when you have maybe *two* people in there! It becomes difficult to keep up momentum without regular feedback.

    I do think forums are a thing of the past in most cases when compared to FB groups.
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    • I totally understand you there. Perhaps instead of trying to get momentum with a handful of people and hope those will bring people in, the initial push needs to be both seeding the group and going on a membership drive. I’ve only been privileged to witness the startup of one group and we started by emailing our customers which worked out well. Also, you can’t advertise groups like you can a page but we put some dollars into page engagement and from there, invited people to our group.