When you think of using Facebook for your blog, what comes to mind?
Declining organic reach? Pay to play? Sharing endless memes just to get engagement? Posting your latest blog post only to hear crickets?
But hang on, didn’t all the conversation move from our blog comments to Facebook? Well, yes, that’s where a lot of conversation is happening because that’s where a lot of our audience hangs out now, somewhere among the 1.28 billion people who login to Facebook daily to spend their (on average) 20 minutes.
3 days ago Facebook ticked over the major milestone of 2 billion monthly users, over half of whom use Facebook groups. That’s right, more than 1 billion people are using Facebook groups. That’s where the conversation and community is happening and it’s something you can easily create for your blog.
Here’s how you can move to where the conversation is and develop community for your blog in 5 different ways with Facebook groups.
1. Groups for your eCourse or other Education
One of the most common uses of Facebook groups by bloggers are ones set up to support a course or an event. Before Facebook, many bloggers used private forums on their blog, or used comments following the course content for any conversation with participants.
Now, most bloggers use Facebook to set up a group where their course participants can ask questions and support each other as they move through the course.
One of the main considerations is what to do when the course ends.
Do you close the group?
Do you step out and let the participants stay in touch and manage the group themselves?
Do you keep the group and add new intakes of course members to the same group?
The latter is a great way to manage a group for those courses that have a definitive start and end date with the blogger providing a lot of input during each course intake. In between intakes the blogger can pull back a bit and let the conversation be more self-sustaining.
This is how blogger Nicole Avery (also our productivity expert for ProBlogger) manages her Planned and Present course, which is great for members who may not have completed the course at the same pace as it was delivered. Nicole provides evergreen access to the course materials and having an ever active group of members means you can jump back in at any time for the support you need.
An alternative is to close each group as the course ends, or move the members to more of a self-managed alumni group. Consider this if you feel like managing a group full time may burn you out.
For an evergreen course where people can join and start the course at any time, or for a free group like the ProBlogger Community which has an education focus, be prepared to be ‘on’ all the time. Having a structure and content plan for your group will help you manage it. As it grows you may need to consider asking moderators to help you as admins for the group.
2. Mastermind and Membership Groups
As bloggers we are usually flying solo, or working in virtual teams. Gone are the chats around the ‘office water cooler’ and Friday night office drinks. You can’t just stop by desk of a colleague or set up a brainstorming meeting in the boardroom.
In recent years, blogger masterminds meetups have become really popular – either as a component of an event like Chris Ducker’s Tropical Think Tank event (where Darren spoke a few years ago) or as events themselves. They give bloggers the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other and use the collective experience at the table to help advance each member.
With the cost and logistics of getting together on a regular basis being a barrier, many masterminds are now organised online through the use of regular group video calls like Skype or Google Hangout. A Facebook group is a great way to organise the group and provide opportunity for interaction between mastermind sessions. I’m part of a small self-organised mastermind group of bloggers that has started using a Facebook group to supplement our regular calls. It’s far more interactive than contacting each other via email.
Another type of Mastermind group that works well, without the structure of video meetings, is a larger collection of members who pay to be part of the group. A good example of this is Dan Norris’ Mastermind Group (above) which started as the 7 Day Start Up group. Dan initially started a free public group, which grew quickly and became very busy. Dan then offered a smaller group which members could join for an annual fee. This has resulted in a group of quality members with a breadth of experience who are there to learn from and help each other. The difference is that they have skin in the game, they’ve paid to be there and are not just dropping in and out to promote themselves or solicit.
3. Create a Support/Community Group for your Readers
Blogging Facebook groups don’t have to be about blogging and for bloggers. This type of group is less about you and more about your audience. Starting a group for your subscribers or readers helps to bring the conversation back to your own turf. When comments started migrating from our blogs to Facebook posts (which quickly disappear into your feed history), many bloggers mourned that shift. Conversation was fleeting, and if you looked at the blog it didn’t look like there was a community anymore.
A Facebook group for your readers creates a new home for conversation, and as a closed group, often a more honest and transparent interaction both with your readers and between them. When the Facebook algorithm reduced organic reach of pages, many bloggers started groups as a way to promote their posts and salvage traffic to their blogs.
Stacey Roberts of Veggie Mama started her group thinking it might fill the gap of falling organic reach, but it evolved into something much better. The Veggie Mama Gang is less about her blog and more about her readers supporting, entertaining and generally hanging out with each other. Sure, the talk occasionally reverts to recipes, but it has become so much more than that. For Stacey it has allowed her to get to know her readers in a much more real way, and she enjoys the connections being made between readers too – a hallmark of great community.
Stacey doesn’t actively promote the group – it’s a secret group which her readers can join by emailing her.
4. Groups for Reader Feedback
Closely related to a community group for your blog, is a group with a more specific brief. One that helps you garner feedback from your readers on something you are creating. Kelly Exeter from A Life Less Frantic has used Facebook groups to help her write her books.
Kelly Exeter is currently working on her fourth book, Overthinkers Anonymous. This group is for fellow overthinkers (she is one too) who are interested in the interesting things she turns up during the researching for and writing of the book.
Kelly invite her regular readers to join the group and provide feedback on things like concepts that she’s trying to articulate through to preferences for book cover artwork. It’s a great collaboration and her readers feel a part of the development of the book, and therefore the final product. It’s both crowdsourcing and marketing perfection – creating something based on what people actually want and is relevant to them.
Similarly, you could create a group to invite readers to be beta-testers of a new course you are creating, or to discuss ideas for posts that you can write for the blog. There really is no limit on what you could ask your community for feedback on. At the end of the day, involving them in the process is the most valuable part.
5. Groups to Grow your List
Back in the day, your blog was where people discovered you, either via a search, social media or a referral from a friend. These days the way someone first discovers you is just as likely to be a Facebook group. When someone finds a community they feel a part of, they’re more likely to invite others to join. With the bonus of Facebook suggesting groups to other friends, a Facebook group is a great way to curate potential subscribers to your blog and email list.
Jill and Josh Stanton from Screw the Nine to Five use their Facebook group as the top of their funnel. Instead of driving people to sign up to their email list, Jill and Josh actively promote their group. You can see here on Twitter where they’ve created a domain which is forwarded to their Facebook group.
Their rationale is that you’re more likely to warm up to them and what they offer in a group, as part of an evident community, than being solely on the receiving end of an autoresponder email series. The next step is to earn your email address, once you’re already warmed up and engaged with them in the group. You can learn more about how they’ve done this via this great interview with Natalie Sisson.
Nikki Parkinson from Styling You also uses a group to grow her community and facilitate her popular #everydaystyle challenges. Whilst you can join it directly via the Groups button on her Facebook page, she also uses the group as an opt-in for her email list. If you stumble on her group you’ll be prompted to sign up to her email list via one of the questions available to group admins when people request to join.
Both the Screw the Nine to Five and Styling You Everyday Style Community pages are sizeable, thriving communities. Darren interviewed Nikki on the podcast recently where she revealed there is a comment every 5 seconds in the group and she has 3 personal assistants moderating and managing the group. The Screw the Nine to Five group has grown to over 45,000 members and has become so noisy that Jill felt it ‘lost the magic’ because of people using it as a platform for their own self promotion, rants and research. So Jill and Josh are closing their group and starting a new one on July 1.
One of the biggest issues for them was the amount of “admin time required to delete all of the ‘bullsh*t’ posts” (Jill is quite sweary!). So, if you’re considering a larger group that isn’t gated by purchasing a product or course, then you will want to ensure you have firm rules and expectations set about how you want the group to run. You can check out the new rules Jill has put in place for their new group here. Facebook has also announced new tools for admins to manage their groups, including Group analytics, membership request filtering, removed member clean-up, scheduled posts and group-to-group linking.
So, are you ready to start a group for your blog? What type? Maybe you already have a group? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Really a good post. Thank you for this.
Ooh, great to see Disqus on Problogger.
I’m not sure how practical the signing up to a mailing list via the admin questions in a group are. You surely have to comb through every request, copying email addresses one by one (many of which may already be on your list).
Or am I missing something ?
I think it’s more encouraging them to join rather than mandating it, so that it doesn’t become another admin task.
Ah ok – can’t hurt I suppose!
I love using Facebook Groups, I have learned a lot just by joining and participating in them. I’ve also met some great bloggers in the process.
While I personally don’t think I’ll start one anytime soon, I can definitely see how it can be used to grow an email list. The groups that I am a member of are pretty big.
People go there to collaborate and help each other out. If the owner of the group is savvy enough, they could definitely use the group to offer their products, affiliate products or even grow their email list.
Right now, I am focused on other areas in my business. I can’t seem to add anything else to my business, otherwise I would be spreading myself too thin.
It’s definitely good to know what can be achieved with Facebook groups, just in case I ever do decide to create one.
Thanks for sharing, have a great day :)
It sounds like you have a common sense approach to your business – it’s definitely not a good idea to spread yourself too thin, and managing a Facebook group can make that a reality very quickly!
Great post! Facebook group is for creating a specific community to share news/events and discuss topics relevant to the specific group. It’s a great way to learn about other people’s views and opinions; and a cheap venue to gather those opinions.
Great post! I’m just beginning to work with Facebook groups. I found it a bit intimidating at first, but your information only deepens my confidence that I am going in the right direction. Thanks!
Well done for jumping in and getting one going!
Hi Laney, Great post. I take part in several groups, and have made some good friends through them.
Thanks for including my course Laney! I am loving some of the new Groups features. Great post!
I’ve been a big fan of Facebook groups since I used a group as an ambassador group for the launch of my first book, they have worked really well for me. Thanks for the mention for my mastermind group too Laney!
It’s a great group Dan – even though I tend to be a bit of a lurker, I’m taking it all in ;)
I’ve now got 5 Facebook groups that I manage and I have 1 assistant managing the largest group for me as there is no way I could do it all and still create fresh content regularly! I’ve found my Blog facebook group (the other 4 are for paid programs) is growing at a much faster rate than my Facebook blog Page – and because people can post their own stuff there it creates a much better community than a page.
Hi Imogen! Yes, groups are certainly where the conversation is at, rather than pages these days.
I use my Facebook group to help other bloggers network and find readers for their blog.
Facebook group is really good wherein everyone can share great ideas and opinions. It is also a way to meet people from a different places in a one group discussion. Thanks for sharing this post.
yes i have multi users group. Thanks now i know what’s the demand
Facebook is one of my favorite social network. I have joined some Facebook groups related to blogging and internet marketing. Its really helps me to grow my blog. Thanks for this beautiful article.
Hi Laney. Great post. I have a fb page for my blog. However, the reach of posts are very low compared to the page likes.I do agree with the article about creating facebook groups as they are more effective now. Thanks for sharing the post.
very nice post
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great post! your information helps in making good blogs.
thank you https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/45f9cc29ce3cdcb4840b9922576f846d38f5bc00976aecb9e5260decd04c9443.jpg
Thank you for the post. I am currently reading several books on this topic for my EMBA class. Your post added some real value to what I have read on this topic.
Yeah I am agree with those terms coz I do implement these strategy for my clients.
Thanks for sharing this post with us.
Really good post. Actually I started using facebook groups to attract some audience to my blog and ebooks on amazon, but you showed me some new ways how I can use them. Thanks for this article and keep doing good work.
Sharing post to relevant Facebook group is really a great trick to promote content and will also help to build a strong community. Thanks for the interesting post.
It can be, if the group guidelines allow/encourage that. Some don’t :)
I have a Facebook group for my blog readers. They share their problems and I try my best to solve. I have seen many people having a group just to connect many minded people. It’s like a membership group.
I am going to try that.
Thanks for sharing with us.
hi, this is Hemant raj
thanks for sharing….
I love the We Travel We Blog Facebook Group run by Meg Jerrard. Killer community for promoting other bloggers and getting tons of social shares. Win-win. I also dig Elizabeth Bradley’s Blogging Boost group which is big on engagement, asking questions and sharing answers. Kinda like Quora in many ways. Super post here; very helpful for folks who want to establish their blogs through Facebook.
Loved it. A different take on something that we all use and are struggling with. Great!
I’ve been wanting to start a group for my business, however, someone started a group under my business name.
I haven’t applied for a federal trademark, but do understand I have some protection at the state level.
On one hand I feel I should contact Fb and have the group shut down. On the other hand I could let it be, start my own group, and snipe off (through messenger) those who post with issues I solve.
I’d like to hear your opinion on the subject. I’m sure there are other businesses who go to start a group and find someone has under their biz name.
I’m not sure if you have enough basis to ask FB to shut down the group. The only way to find out is to try. I’m not sure that targeting the other group’s members via messenger is the best approach. Many people see that as spam and as a tactic has been talked about negatively is some groups I’m in. You would be better to reply to their questions as yourself, without being self promotional, and focus on being useful. Although the group owner is probably going to see through that and kick you out if they feel you’re poaching members. Honestly, the best thing to do is start your own group and focus on the value you can bring to your community.
Great post with nice insights, @laneygalliganproblogger:disqus. I started a FB group as an extension of a free email course, where I had been sharing updates about future courses. But I still get stuck as to how to make it dynamic and exciting.
Sometimes the easiest way is to ask your group members what they want :)
Thanks for sharing this useful information on blogs. Its
really helpful for me to improve my blog performance.
Nice Content to get benefit in our blog through facebook. Thanks for this information.
I still maintain a couple of blogs and don’t have any of these pages set up or join one. It has become even overwhelming managing four sites and maintaining groups like these. However, I will see if I can join them, although I still doubt that.
I recommend focusing on what you need to first. Taking on groups is a commitment, so I wouldn’t do it until you’re ready.
Hi there! Would you mind if I share your blog with social media? There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Many thanks
Yes, of course
Interesting article. I’ve been thinking about starting a FB group, and I am wondering about the time commitment as well as still thinking about the concept. This is good information.
The time commitment is certainly a consideration. Be prepared to ask for help if your group and engagement grows fast.
Thanks for the info. I am in the process of putting together an e-book and the thought of creating a group page to foster communication about it is great. Thanks again.
I’ve run the other way when it came to FB Groups – Too much “Sales” talk and not enough “community” for me – but do see your points on the benefits.
My natural goal to fill a nitch has brought me to thinking about opening a group following a popular post I did a few years ago that is still a “need” for many in my plus size community. As a single mom that works a f/t job it is more than a little worrisome as there is always a lot of Admin work tangled in to the groups I’ve joined and left. Is there a “How To” or a “FB Group Creating 101?” Ha!
Was pondering regarding a method to improve the quality content of
my blogs and attract more viewership and readership statistics. Luckily I
chanced upon this link. Great and interesting post.
Facebook groups are great! All you have to do is be part of the community and act socially, even when you are representing a brand. Work extra in order to also make new friends on these groups because you need them. Make sure you are not doing some very common social media mistakes: www [.] digitalauthority [.]me/social-media-mistakes.
I know that facebook has millions of users. But when it comes to increasing the publicity for blogs, all I know is that all you would need to do is create a page and then post your articles there.
It turns out, facebook can help your blog in more ways than one!
Thank you very much for sharing this information.
These are some great points.
Plus, facebook groups also allows you to interact on a more personal level with your readers or prospective readers. It would be a great way to earn prominence and loyalty for your blog.
The biggest benefit of clearly communicating the benefits of your group is that it becomes filled with your ideal customers instead of random people.
It really puts more focus on the understanding of using the blogs smartly to elevate the level of success in digital world…
I’ve tried creating FB Groups before but not for my blogging purposes. My biggest problem is that I’d start a group and get little to no engagement. It would basically be me checking in with myself, so I worry how starting a group for my blog, that doesn’t have a lot of subscribers, work out.
Now one of my FB Groups I have is for a popular game series and people love it. I actually started that group and had people joining because I ran a giveaway. Plus, I was a member of a more popular that was related to the same game.
It would be really great to have a community built around my blog. Like this post mentioned – it’s more personal. I love the interaction within the groups too.