Want to build an amazing, connected community on Facebook, that actually makes you money?
I’m here to tell you, it IS possible!
I recently talked with Dana Malstaff, founder and CEO of Boss Mom, and author of Boss Mom: The Ultimate Guide to Raising a Business & Nurturing Your Family Like a Pro.
She’s also the founder of the Boss Mom Facebook group, which has grown to over 50,000 members. Besides offering online support and training to her group members, she hosts Boss Mom local meetups in over 80 cities.
Talk about a movement, right?!
Dana has obviously managed to build and grow an extremely successful group. So I wanted to pick her brain to get answers to questions like:
- Should you have a Facebook page, a Facebook group, or both?
- How do you get people into your group (and not just anyone…the right people)?
- What kinds of content should you share in your group to get the most engagement?
- What types of businesses should be using Facebook groups?
Keep reading to learn how YOU can create an active, engaged and profitable Facebook group!
Should You Have a Facebook Page, Facebook Group, or Both?
Since this is one of the first questions business owners ask when it comes to Facebook, let’s address it right out of the gate!
Many businesses have a Facebook page, but aren’t sure whether they should also have a group; some people even wonder if they should discard their page altogether and focus exclusively on building their group.
According to Dana, group and pages serve two very different functions. Facebook pages, she says, are much like a menu outside of a restaurant: you look at it before deciding whether or not you want to come in.
Most people use their page as a sort of billboard to showcase their content, their Facebook lives, or their podcasts, and basically to just keep their fans in the loop with what they’re up to.
In this way, pages, according to Dana, are very much about YOU…and not so much about engagement.
A Facebook group, on the other hand, should be an ecosystem. It should be able to run largely on its own, and shouldn’t be dependent on you.
If you create your group the right away, Dana says, it should operate like a little city or town that essentially runs on its own: “All of a sudden you have an ecosystem and it's not dependent on you. And in this day and age where we are constantly creating content, constantly being online, constantly having to do…I think the idea that something could run without us having to be the engine…is very liberating.”
Dana really saw this in action a couple of years ago when her dad passed away. For several months, Dana was unable to participate in her own group. However, during that time, the group continued to grow, and people didn’t stop engaging…because she had created an engine that could run without her direct involvement.
Another benefit of having a Facebook group is the sense of community and belonging that you just don’t get with a page.
Building A Community
Years ago, I remember Ryan Deiss saying, “People will buy content, and they’ll pay for training… but they stay for community.”
This is so true!
If your group is a place where people feel accepted, where they feel seen, and where they feel like they’re being heard, there’s a sense of family. Everyone is on the same path, and there’s a really interesting dynamic that just doesn’t happen anywhere else on social media.
Being an entrepreneur can be isolating, and it’s easy to start feeling…quite frankly…crazy.
But when we’re surrounded by people who have the same interests and passions as us, we suddenly feel much less so: “We're surrounded by proximity, and workspaces, or our neighborhoods with people that we didn't choose. And those people may be wonderful, but they don't always share our exact passions; and inadvertently, even though they care about us, they [may] end up making us feel bad about what we love to do.”
How to Get the Right People into Your Facebook Group
Getting people to join your group is usually the first challenge you’ll face.
Asking friends and family to join your group can bolster your numbers in the beginning, but in the end, Dana doesn’t recommend this. These people won’t actually be interested in your topic or niche. Instead, she says it’s better to only bring the right people into your group, even if that means having a slower start.
One strategy Dana has used to grow her membership is getting featured on shows and podcasts. Dana has actually been featured on 1-2 shows every week for the past 6 years!
While this may sound like a ton of work, it can actually end up saving you time. Here’s why: It lets you grow you group without having to create a ton of new content. Instead of constantly writing blog posts, doing lives on different topics, and doing new trainings each week, you can say the same things to different people – as opposed to saying different things to the same people.
Another way Dana gets a lot of people into her group is through Facebook’s suggested groups feature. Because her group is so active and engaged, it’s often suggested to people based on their interests, activities and interactions.
I asked Dana how Facebook chooses which groups to recommend, and she admitted it’s a bit of a moving target. However, she compares the process to how lookalike audiences work when you’re doing Facebook ads: “It's going to take a lookalike audience of the people that are in your group and it is going to start recommending it to people that look like the people that are in your group right now.”
What Types of Content to Post in Your Group
We already talked about how your Facebook page content tends to be more about you: what you’re doing, and what you’re trying to promote.
However, your group content should definitely be mostly about your members.
According to Dana, the best way to do this is to ask the right questions.
There are two types of questions she recommends asking: decision-support questions and opinion questions.
1. Decision-Support Questions.
This is where you’re asking for feedback from your group members, kind of like a focus group. For example, you could show people three photos for your podcast cover, and ask them to vote for their favorite. According to Dana, there’s no better way to build a buzz for your new products or offers, and no better way to get engagement.
However, she recommends against using polls when asking these questions, as they’re very unhelpful from an engagement perspective. Instead, ask people to comment with their answer. This will give you much more insight into their views, and can even give you the words you should be using in your marketing. This also keeps people engaging with the post, which means the post is going to show up in people’s feeds for longer.
2. Opinion questions.
This one is just like it sounds! Ask your members for their opinions on a variety of topics.
For instance, since Dana is in the process of starting a YouTube channel, she asked her members what kind of shows they prefer; and when she was trying to figure out what kind of workbook to create, she asked them to share examples of their favorite workbook.
Not only did this help them with their content and design, it created engagement and helped their members feel like they were connected with what Dana was doing.
Creating Engaging Content
Besides asking questions, another tip Dana has for creating engaging content is to be vulnerable with your members.
People LOVE when we’re honest and open, sharing when we’re a hot mess and when we make mistakes!
None of us are perfect, and we don’t need to be. The more authentic we are, and the more we can get under the surface, the better…and the more our members will be able to relate to us.
Dana also recommends celebrating with your members.
When Dana’s group was smaller, they would do a virtual dance party every time they welcomed 100 new members. She’d do a Facebook Live, and everyone would dance together.
(Now that Dana gets 100 new members every day, they save the dance parties for every 5K new members).
Creating Rules and Boundaries
Another method Dana recommends for keeping up engagement is to create strong rules and boundaries within your group. From the very beginning, Dana didn’t allow motivational quotes, teaching posts, or social shares in the group, because they don’t facilitate engagement.
Instead, she’s trained her members to think of the group as a think tank, where members can ask questions and give support in the comments: “That’s where a lot of the magic happens”, Dana says.
Finally, though it may sound counterintuitive, Dana actually doesn’t recommend teaching inside your Facebook group.
You can have a YouTube channel, a podcast, or a blog, and those are all great places for teaching. However, your Facebook group isn’t a platform for you to teach…it’s a place for you to facilitate conversations.
In doing so, you end up becoming the leader, and get the same clout and benefits as if you were teaching all the time. However, when you teach, people tend to shut off and just listen…and this isn’t great for engagement.
How to Get More Engagement in Your Group
Wondering how to get more engagement in your group? The key is understanding how the Facebook algorithm works.
We’ve known for many years that the reach of page posts is very low; however, as more and more new groups are being created, the same issue is beginning to happen in groups.
With pages, the key to beating the algorithm has been to get people engaging with your posts. If people regularly engage with your posts, Facebook is going to show them more and more of your stuff.
The same holds true with groups. If you’re the only one posting in your group, and no one else is posting or engaging, Facebook isn’t going to show your group posts in your members’ feeds.
One way around this, according to Dana, is to ensure you have engagement in the group every single day.
The more we can get people to engage, the more people will see your group posts, and the more they think, “Hey, something's happening in this group”. And, this is the way to really expand your group.
In Dana’s group, they get between 70 and 75% of their 50,000 members engaging in some way every month, and they have around 4-5,000 new posts each month.
Now THIS is engagement!
When Should You Add Moderators to Your Group?
In the beginning, you’ll likely do all the moderating of your group yourself. However, as your group grows, you’ll probably find it necessary to add a small team of moderators.
These mods help out by deleting posts or comments, notifying people who aren’t following the rules, and just generally helping to create a positive, engaging vibe in the group.
While Dana says her moderators are all volunteers, she does her best to reward her mods through supporting them, lifting them up, and through helping them grow their own groups.
As soon as possible, Dana also recommends having a person who is dedicated to adding people to the group. In Dana’s group, this is a particularly important role, as they ask for emails when people join the group (they add around 1K people to their email list each month using this strategy!).
Dana recommends having a separate group just for admins and moderators to have discussions about the group, such as: What should I do about this post? What should I do about this person? This person broke a rule; what should we do about that?
However, Dana also says that if you set up good rules and boundaries in the first place, you won’t have nearly as much to manage as you think you might. When your members know the rules, they’ll report posts or tag you in posts to let you know if someone is breaking them.
This really helps your group stay on track, and allows for the space to grow.
Is it Necessary to Have a Content Plan for Your Group?
We already talked about how questions are one of the most effective types of content Dana uses in her group. But I was curious if she recommends having a content plan for our groups, or whether we can just “wing it”.
Dana recommends having an idea of what you’re going to focus on for the month ahead. In order to do this, she suggests focusing on two big questions:
What do you want to build buzz for?
And what do you want to actively promote?
Building buzz isn’t about asking people to buy something or subscribe to something – it’s about priming them to have your stuff top of mind. It helps build up familiarity, so that when you do actively promote something and you want people to buy, they’ve already been hearing about it and thinking about it for a while.Building buzz isn’t about asking people to buy something or subscribe to something – it’s about priming them to have your stuff top of mind.Click To Tweet
Second, you can create posts to actively promote an offer. According to Dana, this is largely how they’ve grown Boss Mom: through posts within the group announcing flash sales of smaller products.
Besides continually building buzz and promoting your offers, Dana also recommends going live once each week.
In her group, she alternates between two types of lives: “permission” lives, and trainings.
For her, permission lives involve giving her members permission to be themselves. They’re about acknowledging that it’s okay to be a hot mess some of the time, that they’re not crazy, and that they’re not alone.
Then on alternating weeks, she does lives trainings based on what her groups wants her to teach.
What Type of Group Should You Have?
This is a really common question, especially among those who have never had a group before.
As you likely know, Facebook offers three types of groups: public, private and hidden.
Dana recommends against having a public group. In a public group, you have no control over who comes into the group, and there’s no way to ensure people have read your rules.
In fact, you can’t even be sure they’re real people!
Then there are hidden groups. These are closed, private groups, where people will need to be sent a link to find and join the group; the group won’t even show up in Facebook Search.
Hidden groups are great if you are on an advisory board, or other types of invite-only groups.
But other than that, Dana recommends using a private group.
With private groups, you have the ability to ask new members to answer three questions before they join. This is a great feature for helping to moderate the group.
Have a paid group? Dana recommends using a private group for this, rather than a hidden one. Not only are hidden groups a pain to find, but you want people to be able to see and know that you have paid groups or programs they can join.
What Types of Businesses Should be Using Facebook Groups?
Facebook groups are great for many different types of businesses.
However, according to Dana, it may be harder to have and grow groups where you’re talking about highly-sensitive information (like trauma, life coaching, etc.). These types of groups will require a lot more effort from you, as there’s a larger necessity for a feeling of safety and protection.
That said, it can still absolutely work, and there are massively thriving groups in that space. Dana has seen large, thriving groups for divorced moms, for any type of diet you can imagine, for women who love to ride horses, etc. According to Dana, the more specific you can be in terms of your niche, the better.
Obviously, Facebook groups are great for business-oriented topics. However, because this niche is really saturated on Facebook, it will be even more important to be smart about how you name your group. Dana recommends against using a catchy name; instead, think in terms of which keywords people are searching for.
Name your group based on what your group is, and what you’re doing. You’re not trying to be huge, you’re trying to be really specific, and you’re connecting people in that space; you can then grow from there.
Having a Free Group Versus a Paid One
Finally, I wanted to get Dana’s thoughts on having a free group versus a paid one…and how to transition between the two.
According to Dana, your free group should be much more about facilitating conversations. Your goal is to make sure everyone else is “raised up”, and that you’re walking that line between giving permission and training – like we talked about earlier.
And most of all, remember: your group isn’t all about you!
On the other hand, your paid group will definitely be a bit more about you, as people have signed up specifically to hear more from you.
For Dana, her paid group is where she spends a lot of her time, as that’s where she’s getting her income. It’s all about getting people results, so obviously that will require much more of her time and attention.
The rules are different in her paid group as well. They still don’t necessarily allow promotional content; however, if a member is launching something and the group can help heighten those results, they try to do that.
One thing Dana does every week in her group is ask the members of her paid group for their “ah-ha” moments. She then screenshots those testimonials (with their permission), and shares them in the free group. This helps facilitate moving people over from the free group to the paid one.
A huge thanks to Dana for joining me for this conversation. Facebook groups are huge right now, and understanding how others are building and growing big, engaged, profitable groups is just the inspiration we all need!
Want to watch my full interview with Dana? Check it out here.
Need more guidance for growing your group? Check out these helpful posts:
Which of the strategies above are you going to implement in your group(s)? Let me know in the comments below!