When Facebook first launched, it was a purely personal thing for the majority of users, including me. It was somewhere I chatted to friends and shared (endless) photos of my dog. But in the last few years, the way I use Facebook has changed and the same is true for most people. Yes, it is still home to amusing memes and people selling dodgy-looking sofas, but if you think that’s all Facebook has to offer, then you’re missing out on the platform’s potential to help you grow your business and get more visitors to your events.
And one of the best ways you can drum up more interest in your business - or a specific event you are organising - is by using Facebook groups. Of course, you could (and should) start up your own Facebook group, but that’s a topic for another blog post. But there’s lots you can be doing as an active participant in other people’s groups when it comes to raising awareness of your events.
Here is a simple three-step plan to promote your event in Facebook groups, based on my approach for the events I am working on - and they are tips you can start using right now.
Research the best groups in your field and join them. It sounds so simple and that’s because it is! Your target audience is already on Facebook, you just need to work out which groups they are hanging out in. If the event you are publicising is a fundraiser for an animal charity, for example, then it makes sense that groups dedicated to animal welfare will be full of the types of people you want to connect with. Do spend some time working out which groups are the best fit for you - is it well moderated? Do the discussions look interesting? Do lots of people engage with the posts? Make sure you ask these questions, and more, before you jump on in. If you do get carried away and join 20 groups, the updates may get overwhelming and confusing, so my advice would be to pick a couple of really good ones and start chatting.
Take your time to get to know a group’s dynamic. Please don’t join a group and then instantly post a link to your event, it’s the social media equivalent of cold calling and I don’t think anyone wants that in their Facebook group. If your conference, workshop or exhibition is coming up soon and you’re eager to spread the word then I understand that it’s tempting to risk annoying Facebook group owners by sharing your event’s details. But it’s just not an effective way of attracting delegates (and some groups do have a zero-tolerance approach to this type of ‘spamming’). Ideally you should be already active in the right Facebook groups months before your event is taking place, which will give you ample time to get to know the group, how its members interact and what sort of content they seem to like.
Be helpful! Once you’ve spent some time reading other people’s posts in your groups, then do join in the conversations. Don’t be that person who only posts when they get the chance to promote themselves - it's annoying and doesn't work as a social media strategy. You’ll get much more out of having genuine conversations with like-minded people. Of course, it is fine to mention your business or event, if it naturally comes up in conversation, but give it time for people to get to know you and what you’re about. Once the other group members know a bit more about you, they may well ask for your expertise on a particular topic anyway, which is a far more powerful sales tool for your event than simply posting a link on day one in a group.
I hope you’ve found this blog post helpful - please do let me know how you approach Facebook groups by following me on Twitter or Instagram, or by connecting with me on LinkedIn. You could also join my brand new Facebook group! It’s called Lucy Dixon’s content clinic, and it’s for people to share ideas and ask questions about creating content, whether you need help coming up with blog headlines or you’re wondering how long a press release should be. Hope to see you there soon.