Why I Don’t Have a Free Facebook Group for My Business

 

Do you want to start a Facebook Group for your business?

Perhaps you already have one. Perhaps you’re thinking about it. It’s something I’ve considered many times over the years.

With the changes to the Facebook algorithms this past January, Facebook groups are being touted by many as the saviour of Facebook marketing for small business.

It makes sense, in a way – with Facebook more heavily emphasising community and connection with friends and family, posts from groups are being shown way more in our feeds than ever before.

But I’m still not going to start a free Facebook group.

I made this decision many years ago, and I’ve stuck to it, despite the changing landscape of Facebook.

With the rise of groups, and many people encouraging businesses of all stripes – including makers – to start and grow their own groups, I wanted to share my thoughts on the topic, and discuss why I choose not to have a free group – but why you might.

 

Time

 

This was always a huge deciding factor for me, and it’s only been reinforced lately. I’ve seen a number of folks who invested immense amounts of time into growing huge Facebook groups who have since had to shut them down.

Why?

Because they simply didn’t have the time to manage them.

Some of them had to hire multiple moderators to help them. But even then, it got to the point where they had to let the group go.

Now, I have a couple of Facebook groups.

I’ve had my Set Up Shop group since I started running that course in 2013. I am only active in that group when I’m running a live course, usually twice a year.

I have other groups for other courses.

My main group is, of course, my Thriver Circle group, which I am active in every single weekday.

So I know, from personal experience, how much time groups take to run.

If you’ve never run one, this is a really, really important point.

They take a LOT of time. I cannot stress this enough.

Not only do you have to manage people joining, moderate conversations, enforce your rules… you also have to work hard to keep the group engaged and lively.

With a free group, there will always been tons of competition – tons of other similar groups that your members could easily end up spending their time in instead of yours.

Of course, that is true with my groups, too… but the difference is, I am being compensated for the time I spend on them, because all of the people in them have paid to have access.

Now, to be clear, they haven’t paid to have access to the group per se. They’ve paid for access to my courses, or to my community, and Facebook is simply the platform I choose to use to run my community forum.

If Facebook turned around tomorrow and shut my groups down? I would just take those people elsewhere. Because they aren’t there to be in a Facebook group – they’re there to be part of a community I’ve created.

 

Access

 

This definitely follows on from number 1.

I have limited time. I run 2 businesses. I have a life outside of my work!

When I started the Thriver Circle, I decided to use Facebook as the place to host my community forum. I chose it because I knew it would foster interaction, because when you have your forum elsewhere (such as on your stand-alone site) you have to work a lot harder to remind people to come over and participate.

I wanted my members to have access to me, and to each other, in a simple, easy-to-access environment. It’s easy for them to access the group, and each other. This is a big upside of a Facebook group, and why they’ve become so successful.

Moreover, one of the benefits of being part of the Circle is that members have direct access to me.

They can ask me questions, and they know I’ll answer.

They’ve invested in me – and I’m invested in them.

I knew that I would not have the energy to give myself constantly to people in a free Facebook group. I wanted to save my energy for the people who have invested in learning from me. Because when people make an investment in learning from you, I believe they dive deeper, and put more of themselves into the process.

Following on from this: if I had a free Facebook group alongside my course and membership groups, I don’t believe it would be fair to my students.

The ones who have paid for my time and expertise.

I believe I’d be doing them a disservice.

This is a very big part of why I still choose to not have a free group. Because I owe my paying students my energy and guidance, and I want to make sure they are getting the best of me.

 

Ownership

 

You do not own your Facebook group. Facebook owns your Facebook group.

Herein lies the risk of building your community or marketing on a platform that you do not own. There is always the chance that it can be taken away from you. Or that it won’t work so well any more when they change things (just look at what’s happening to Facebook Pages and Instagram feeds).

If you invest enormous amounts of time in growing your community and presence on Facebook, it could definitely have wonderful benefits for your business.

The reason it works well is that people are on Facebook anyways, so if they are in your group, and get your notifications, they are consistently reminded of your business.

But you do not own it.

What do you own?

You own your own website.

You own your mailing list.

You own your business.

That’s about it.

Really think deeply about this when you’re making the choice of where to spend your limited marketing time and energy.

If you want to build a business that is based around community – where it’s important that the community have access to each other, not just you, then a Facebook group or something similar may be a great choice for you.

But I would strongly recommend that you spend at least an equal amount of time fostering and growing your mailing list. The thing you own.

You can combine the two! Use your group to promote your list. Let people in your group know about special deals that they can only get if they are on your list. That is a strategy that could work really well.

But don’t fall into the trap of spending all of your time growing a group that you don’t have ownership of. Move those people onto your list, so that no matter what happens to Facebook, you will still have a way to connect with them.

 

Should You Have a Free Group?

 

Am I a member of free groups? Of course! There are a number that I am a member of, and participate in semi-regularly.

I’m not anti-free-Facebook-groups.

They’re simply not the right choice for me, at this time.

They could be a great choice for you, but just keep in mind the three issues I outlined above: time, access, and ownership.

Make sure, if you do start a group, you’re going into it with eyes wide open so you can make your group an asset, rather than a liability.

 

 

[HBT #4] Claim Your Name

 

Handmade Biz Tip #4 – Why you should claim your name… everywhere!

 

Love the show? You can show your support by:

  • Leaving a review on the C&T FB page.
  • Leaving a review on iTunes.
  • Donating a few dollars towards the costs of producing the pod.
  • Joining the Thriver Circle – without the members of the Circle, this podcast would not be possible.

Get 10% off a Shop or Website Critique in February

Happy February, all!

I hope you had an awesome start to the year, and that your business is doing well.

Speaking of that…

If there’s one thing we all need to do – and do well – it’s to have an awesome website & shop to highlight our business online.

I’m in the midst of re-designing all of my sites at the moment (next up, Create & Thrive!) and it’s a big task… but an important one.

People do judge your business by how your site looks… and they do it within just a few seconds.

So – is your website catching people’s attention?

Is what you sell super-clear?

Do you make it easy for people to navigate it?

If you’ve got an Etsy shop (or a shop on another venue) are you taking advantage of the personalisation features?

Are your photos showing off your products in a way that invites people to click and find out more?

There are SO many elements to building a successful site and shop online.

But when we’re in the midst of it – when we’ve done it ourselves – it can be really hard to take a step back and objectively evaluate all of these things.

This is where I step in and raise my hand 🙂

The only direct service I offer is shop & website critiques.

I call it my Shop Scrutiny Service.

 

This month only, I am giving 10% off the cost of critiques to the members of my community – the Thriver Circle.

 

‘But Jess – my site isn’t ready for critique yet, argh!’

or

‘But Jess, I’m taking Set Up Shop with you in March to set up my site… what if I want that site critiqued?’

If you’re not quite ready right this minute? I’ve got awesome news for you!

If you sign up for the Circle and buy a critique during February, you can schedule it up to 6 months in the future.

So, you can book a date anywhere from now until August 31st, 2018.

Once you’ve bought your critique, I’ll get in touch, and we’ll schedule a time that works for you.

I do have limited time in my schedule to get these done, so it will be on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis for those of you who want it straight away.

 

If you want to take advantage of this offer, simply:

 

1. Click here to join the Thriver Circle. If you don’t know what the benefits of membership are, click here to find out.

2. When you log in, there will be a link on the Welcome page to a post on the Circle blog that will give you a discount code.

3. That post will also include the link to follow to purchase your critique! You can see the 2 options for critiques right here.

 

This discount will be valid from Feb 1st to Feb 28th, 2018, and ONLY to current members of the Thriver Circle.

So, if you want to get an expert eye on your online shop or website, this is an awesome opportunity – I’d love to help you make your online presence the best it can be!

~ Jess

 

[134] Sharing Our Success Stories

 

 

Hey Thriver!

This little episode is more of an introduction and invitation than anything else. I’m going to start a new series of episodes on the podcast sharing the stories of successful makers.

 

These aren’t interviews – they are me, sharing and pondering the stories of successful makers, answering questions such as:

How did they get started?

What does success mean to them?

What marketing strategies worked for them?

Their biggest challenges and biggest successes.

Work/life balance… and much more.

 

If you are still growing your business, my hope is that you will find these stories inspirational and informational.

If you already have a successful handmade business – I want to feature you!

You can share your success story here.

I forgot to mention this in the episode, but I wanted to give props to my friend Chris Guillebeau and his podcast Side Hustle School for the inspiration behind this new series. His is a daily podcast sharing the stories of successful side-hustlers – I recommend you check it out for some inspiration!

 

Join us for the #EtsyRenewalProject!

Hey Thriver,

In the public January Q&A video, I had a lot of questions about Etsy pop up.

One of the issues that arose was the issue of renewing.

This is a marketing strategy that I have used right from the very beginning – when I opened my Etsy shop in 2008.

In my own personal experience? The more consistently I renew, the more sales I get. I personally see this as an advertising/marketing cost – and it’s got the biggest ROI of anything else I’ve tried.

If you’re not familiar with it, this is the process of going in and renewing products that are already active in your store (they have NOT expired). You basically ‘reset’ the timeline on them. This does not change the listing in any way – it just refreshes it so it has a brand-new four month life.

The theory behind this is that by renewing products, you get a ‘bump’ in the Etsy search results, as recency of listing is one of the factors their search algorithm takes into account when deciding where to rank you items. And, when this happens, people are therefore more likely to see – and click on – your listings.

During the video, I proposed the possibility of doing a project in the Thriver Circle whereby those of us with Etsy shops would spend 1 month consistently renewing items, to see what effect it has on our traffic and sales.

So – now’s the time!

If you don’t yet have an Etsy shop (but would like to) remember – you can still take this opportunity to see what happens with the other members of the experiment. I think having a cohort of people all doing this at the same time will be a super-interesting exercise!

If you’re not already in the Circle, and you’d like to join in for this project, I recommend you join us before Feb 1st, so you can get all the details of the project and be ready to go when we kick off!

Also, there are 2 other things happening in the Circle in Feb.

1. I’m giving 10% off the cost of my Shop Scrutiny service to TC members who book and pay in Feb (though you can have up to 6 months between booking and me doing the critique). If you book a full critique, you’ll basically get 1 1/2 months of TC membership for free!

2. In the members-only podcast ep, I tell you why you need to stop feeling bad about charging money for your craft!

Join the Circle here, or find out more about membership.

Jess 🙂

P.P.S. If you’re already a member, just make sure you’re logged in, and click here for the full details!

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