Building a strong and engaged online community is essential in today’s digital world. That’s why it’s no surprise that Facebook jumped on board with their announced in June 2017 about a range of fresh features and a new mission for Facebook Groups: “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
It’s hard to ignore Facebook, as it’s the most active social media platform in the world.
Online communities offer a space for people with common interests to come together and discuss topics relevant and important to them. But where should you choose to plant your community’s roots? It’s hard to ignore Facebook, as it’s the most active social media platform in the world, and you can find a group and an audience for just about anything! As a web designer or developer, these groups can be a great place to keep up with trends, connect with others in the industry, or find new clients.
Before you start thinking about creating a group of your own, it’s a good idea to join a few groups to get a better sense of what content works, how people engage, and the value these groups bring to the community.
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Starting a Facebook Group
With millions of Facebook groups already available to join, you’ll need to establish what unique value your group will offer. Starting with a smaller niche demographic can be an excellent way to test out how to run a group and connect with your community and clients. For example, if you’ve done work in a particular industry and have insight and knowledge about that industry, create a group that brings people in that industry together so you can share your expertise.
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Keep in mind that in the early stages of the group, it can take a lot of work to continually keep people interested and coming back to engage with your content and discussions. Over time, the group can start to take on a life of its own and you may not need to post as frequently, but it’s important that you remain active and involved.
Here are a few great examples of community groups that have grown while remaining highly engaged:
Ecommerce Entrepreneurs — created by A Better Lemonade Stand
Ecommerce Specialists – created by Motif
Shopify Entrepreneurs – created by Hey Carson
Shopify Ecommerce Group – created by Shopify Store Owners
Ecommerce Mastermind – created by Shopify Store Owners
Pro Tip: If you're thinking of creating a group related to Shopify, make sure you refer to our brand and trademark guide before using any Shopify branding assets.
The Facebook Group Checklist
Before you dive into creating your Facebook group, let’s take a step back and look at how you can plan to build a successful community. Here’s a sneak peek at the community building checklist we’ve created before we launch a new community.
This list is forever evolving after new learnings and platform changes, but it covers the basics to get started. Even if you don’t end up sticking to the plan, it is always a good idea to have a basic framework in place to help grow an engaged community.
Tasks to Launch a Facebook Group
Establish the Group Settings:
Determine who will manage the group. This includes:
Create rules and a group description:
Create a content calendar to facilitate discussion (we recommend at least 2-4 weeks worth of content until the group takes on a life of its own).
Marketing your Facebook Group
Currently, Facebook makes it a bit challenging to promote your group to the world, but here are a few workarounds you can try.
Promote your group through your other social channels. We suggest sharing a link advertising the group to your personal Facebook and Twitter.
Currently it’s not possible to promote your group through the group alone. If you’re looking to get your group in front of a larger audience, here’s a hack we’ve come across to boost your group outside of your audience network:
- Create a custom audience that you want to target.
- Draft a new post on your Facebook Business Page and add the link to your group.
- Rather than clicking “Publish,” select “Boost post” and select the audience and budget you want to use. Click “Set budget.”
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Once you’ve started to grow the group and people are adding content and having valuable discussions, you can try sending out an invite to your email list or writing a blog post about the new community.
Remember, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the group member count and forget why the community was started in the first place. You could have hundreds of thousands of members, but if the engagement is low or the content is irrelevant, it’s useless to everyone — including you.
Measuring the impact of your group
How can you measure a feeling? This is something we here on the Shopify Partner Community Team have been asking ourselves. It’s hard to measure the connections and feeling you get from being part of a community.
Thankfully, there are some measurements that can help us evaluate the use of online communities, even if we can’t accurately measure the emotions behind them. A few metrics that we look at include engagement and community growth — how often are people responding and contributing to discussions within your group? At what rate is your community growing?. To make this easier, Facebook recently released Group Insights which gives you access to basic data on when members join and the overall engagement.
Another option is going above and beyond Facebook Group insights. Why not ask your group members directly what kind of value they are getting out of the group? Facebook offers the ability to publish a poll to do just this. This is an excellent way to see what kind of content the group wants to see more of, and find out what might motivate members to become more active.
Lastly, track any links you post in the group, including upcoming events, promotional material, or blog posts. You can quickly shorten and track links using a tool like Bitly or Google URL Shortener.
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There’s no doubt that these days, many people turn online to feel part of a community. You should capitalize on this trend by starting a Facebook group of your own and providing value to people who share interests, skills, or needs.
What tips do you have for launching an online community or group? What social platform have you found to be most successful for your brand?