Updated: Jun 10
I realise 600 may not be the big, headline grabbing number you’re used to seeing in this online space but what it does represent is steady, consistent, sustainable growth that we can all achieve without having to spend all day on Facebook.
My numbers looked something like this:
Month 1 – 250
Month 2 - 450
Month 3 - 600
I'll take you through my set up, launch and my week by week growth strategy. I'll share exactly what I did (and didn't do) and some of the thinking behind these decisions.
Let’s start at the beginning, why did I choose a Facebook group?
I made the decision based on strategy, preference and my business coach recommended it as a good way forward for me. I know my ideal clients spend lots of time in Facebook groups and my peers have used them successfully to grow their businesses.
I like the philosophy and mission behind Facebook groups. They’re about building meaningful communities and having conversations with people. I love the fact they’re private and I have control over who comes in unlike other platforms. This makes it a little easier to create a safe environment to talk, ask questions and engage with each other.
I see running a group as a bit like hosting a party which I love to do, you invite people in, give them a lovely welcome, check they’ve got everything they need and introduce them to someone they might enjoy speaking to and generally make sure they have a great time.
Be clear on who you want to invite to your party
Before you start to plan your Facebook group it’s important to be clear on who you’ll be inviting into your group. If your goal is to use your group as part of your marketing strategy like me then you’ll want to fill your group with your ideal clients.
If you haven’t quite worked out who you want to work with then I’d hold off starting your group as you could end up putting in loads of work to build up a community full of the wrong people. If you aren’t sure about whether or not to niche you can get my thinking on it HERE
Before I get started on how I approached building my Facebook group I just want to highlight that this post is based on my experience and as with most things in business there’s always more than one way to do it.
SET UP AND PREPARATION
My Group Manifesto
The first thing I did was to create my group manifesto, which is essentially my vision for the group. This wasn’t a fancy marketing document it was literally a few bullet points in the back of my notepad which I wrote over a glass of wine. I jotted down the groups purpose, values, spirit and tone. I thought about what I wanted members to get from it and how I wanted them to describe it to other people.
I went back through all my research on my ideal client to ensure I was clear on how the group could best serve their needs and add as much value as possible. As a former content marketeer value marketing is the foundation of my whole sales and marketing approach.
It was this thinking that helped me write the About section for the group and gave me the bones of my content plan.
Naming the group
This was almost as tricky as naming my children. These are the things I considered and in an ideal world ‘should’ be included in a name:
Who the group is for?
What the group is about?
Does it stand out?
Does it include the key words your ideal clients might use when searching for groups?
I noted down all the words that came to mind, researched what my audience googles and then got my thesaurus out. I ended up with a list of words including:
Women, She, Her, business, Service based, Clients, Customers, Money, Income, Grow, Win, Successful, Profitable, Sales, Marketing, Content, Strategy.
I played around with a few ideas and ditched the ones that were overused, or I didn’t like. I short listed 3 options and shared them with some of my clients and friends. I didn’t achieve everything I wanted but I like the name and that was important to me. So, She’s Winning Clients was born.
The information you can get here is so useful. I’ve experimented with a couple of different questions, but I’ve settled on these for now:
1. Where did you hear about the group?
2. What’s your biggest challenge in your business right now?
3. If you’d like to receive my FREE guide, “5 simple ways to get clients” please leave your email address....
Knowing how members find me has been useful as it tells me what’s working and what’s not when it comes to my audience building strategy and actions so I can tweak and make changes to this as I go.
Understanding my members biggest challenge means I can meet them where they are, double check they are my ideal client and serve relevant content. It also helps me craft my copy if I know what type of language they use and will therefore resonate with them.
I set up my email database and created a lead magnet (freebie) at the same time as I launched my group. I use the lead magnet to attract people to the group by saying “as a thank you for joining I’ll send you a copy of my guide, 5 simple ways to get clients it includes everything I did to get my first 10 paying clients.” About 60% of my members leave their email addresses.
LAUNCHING THE GROUP
I wanted to open my group with a few members already there, I reckoned it would be more fun than talking to myself. So, for 10 days prior to opening the doors I created a bit of noise around my group by doing the following 3 things:
1. I told all my connections and clients about the group and invited them to join. I also asked them to forward the group details to anyone they knew who might be interested. This included friends, family, WhatsApp groups, essentially everyone I had an email or number for.
2. I was active (and still am) in other Facebook groups that share my ideal audience. I asked for tips and advice about setting up a group which resulted in me getting some great advice and a few people asked if they could join. I also promoted the group on weekly promo threads.
3. I used my other social channels, LinkedIn and my personal Instagram and Facebook accounts to promote it. I also asked my connections to share it or tag people who would be a good fit.
I opened the doors to the group with about 55 members. Which meant my first welcome post was a lovely celebration and it received 76 comments which gave me a lovely start and a confidence boost which was much needed as next up was my first video!!
My philosophy from day one was to run the group like it had 1000 members in it regardless of the actual number. The effort, value, and commitment I delivered would not be less because I had a small audience. There’d be no holding back till the group was bigger.
This included video, my first was a pre-recorded introduction to myself and the group. I felt a bit uncomfortable with videos at the beginning, but I knew that by doing them would be the quickest way to feeling more comfortable with it. And it was. I appreciate diving headfirst into something like video isn’t for everyone and I’ve worked with lots of clients where a gradual, more gentle approach has worked brilliantly.
GROWING THE GROUP WEEK BY WEEK
I’m a huge believer in setting measurable goals as it keeps us focused on achieving the results we want so I set growth targets for my group. I wanted to grow the group by at least 350 members in my first 3 months, so I broke this down to 100 per month, then 25 members per week, plus 50 at launch. I created a list of ideas to achieve my goals, some I actioned and some I didn’t. Here’s what I did:
Activity in other Facebook groups
I made spending time in Facebook groups a daily habit, usually 20 minutes in the morning 6 days a week with an extra 5-10 minutes in the evening to follow up and reply to comments.
I joined way too many groups to find the ones that were the right for me, but I generally only use around 15-20 of them.
The following posts have resulted, on average in 15-30 new members joining my group every week since it launched:
1. Traditional promo posts in business groups
I have a couple of prepared posts I can quickly pop into these threads. I do find mixing up the copy and changing it does help over time. I’ve experimented with the content and the length of the posts. My most effective copy includes who the group is for (as you want to be attracting your ideal audience), why they should join (what’s the benefit to them) and why you are best placed to help (your expertise). The challenge is to get this across concisely as the snappier the better whilst not forgetting a sprinkling of personality. I've also found promoting the LIVES I’m doing in the group that week works well too.
2. Value threads such as weekly goals, tips and share you wins.
I try and comment on some of these posts every week for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I want to contribute to the groups I’m in and not just pitch up once a week to post on their weekly promo thread. Plus I really enjoy reading the comments on these threads, so I genuinely want to contribute. Secondly it sometimes results in members finding their way to my group because they’ve gained some value from my comment or chatted to me in the thread.
For this to work make sure it’s easy for people to find you as you generally won’t be leaving links to your group on these posts. Can they easily find you from your personal profile? For example, are you using your banner on your personal profile page so they can click through that way? (I believe this is known in the industry as bread crumbing).
3. Sharing high value content such as my blog posts and lead magnet (free pdf guide)
I promoted these wherever and whenever I can. Most of my blog posts link back to my Facebook group so members are finding the group this way too.
My first event
I held a one-day event called, ‘Grow your audience’ inside my group. It was designed to help my audience and my group grow. I invited 5 fabulous guest experts to join me and together we delivered 10 LIVE trainings through the day. I promoted it inside and outside the group and ran a competition which incentivized people to invite their business buddies to come along too. The added bonus which I hadn’t considered at the time is that some of my guest experts promoted the event to their audiences.
I added about 70 members from this event which was a great boost to my numbers, and it took my total for my first 3 months to 600.
You can catch all 10 videos from my 'Grow your Audience' day on replay HERE if your a member of my group.
Here’s what I didn’t do:
Spend hours and hours adding value in other groups and waiting for relevant conversations to pop up.
I didn’t use the search bars in other groups to hunt for relevant topics to contribute to, it’s just not for me. If I came across relevant conversations naturally in my feed, then yes I’d participate if I had time within the time boundaries I set for social media.
I didn’t go out into other groups and do guest Lives. I planned to and it was in my original strategy, but I just didn’t get round to it and I was achieving my weekly targets without doing it. I did do one and it gained zero new members which didn’t motivate me to commit more time to it. However, this is something I’m going to test properly as there are lots of other benefits from a visibility perspective and I haven’t really given it a chance. I’ve targeted myself to do 10 guest LIVES before Christmas, so I’ll let you know how I get on.
I didn’t write standalone posts in other groups. Maybe I should try this.
I haven’t tried a challenge. These are common and really successful for lots of group owners. This route doesn't really appeal to me at the moment so I'll focus on other ideas for now but I might consider giving it a go at some point in the future.
I haven’t used a DM strategy to recruit members (I don’t do cold DMs as a general rule but I could put more effort into building relationships this way with people I already know) The only DMs I sent were to a few connections on LinkedIn that I felt would be a good fit, but these were very targeted and we were already connected.
It's not all about the numbers when growing a Facebook Group, it’s also about creating engagement and a great community and eventually getting clients. It’s early days for me on this front and I’m still finding my rhythm. The group is almost 5 months old as I write this and it has over 800 members. It’s growing steadily by about 100 members per month. I’m learning so much about my audience and growing a community. There is some engagement and chat in the group which is gradually increasing as my numbers grows. Engagement and relationship building is something I’d like to really focus and build on, so I’ll be experimenting much more with new ideas and content over the coming weeks which may mean my growth slows as I divert my time. Perhaps Facebook will start helping me a little more and suggest my group to more people. I did notice this begin to happen when I reached around 500 members but its infrequent.
I can’t end this post without talking about selling as that at the end of the day is why we use groups, to market our business. Initially I hadn’t planned to sell to my group for the first 6 months I just didn’t think it would be engaged enough but I changed my mind when a couple of members DM'd me asking how to work with me. This gave me the nudge I needed to change my approach on this. I started to gently promote my services after about 4 weeks, I wanted both my members and me to ease into selling. In my first 3 months I've had 3 clients from my group which was both unexpected and reassuring.
But the best sales story is that of my group members. The free content I'm sharing in the group is resulting in members winning clients which makes me so happy, after all it's the whole purpose of the group. This post was shared in the group after a member followed some of my tips following a LIVE which resulted in 4 new booking.
My first 3 months have been great with lots of wins along the way but I'm in no doubt that a Facebook group is a long-term marketing strategy and not a quick win. It requires patience, time and hard work.
MY BIGGEST LEARNINGS AND THE ADVICE I’VE GIVEN MYSELF
Experiment, test things out and learn from them. If something doesn’t work don’t worry about it, it’s completely normal, some things will and some things won’t. The key is not to carry on doing the same thing if its not working, mix it up, tweak it or try something new.
Don’t overdo it on the content front. I feel like I did in the early days. Not every LIVE has to be a structured training video. I’m now experimenting with more informal chats and adding in guest speakers to take the pressure off the content creation so it’s sustainable. We don’t need to make this hard for ourselves.
Do not become a slave to social media if this is something you care about (I do). Set boundaries and time limits. Take time out, turn it off and take regular digital detoxes. I worry about the negative impact increasing time spent on social media has on our wellbeing and mindset.
Share more of yourself, this doesn’t come naturally to me as I’ve always been quite private (this narrative is currently being re-written so watch this space)
Add in more selling content and continually refine your messaging.
Try some new formats that sit outside the group such as free virtual get togethers or a book club (I’d love to get to know people more and I love chatting as opposed to typing).
Don’t compare your progress to others. We’re all different, commit different amounts of time to it and some niches are harder to grow than others.
And my final message to you is to enjoy it and have some fun. You want people to enjoy their time in your group and to come back with their friends.
Lovely words from some of my group members.
POST UPDATE - after about 9 month of successfully running my Facebook group I hit the pause button for 2 reasons. Firstly I didn't like being on Facebook on a consistent basis. I began to gain real traction from my other marketing activities, and generating clients in much less time so I wanted to explore what would happen if I invested more time away from Facebook. My experiment is still in progress but so far so good........updates to come soon.
WORK WITH ME
If you'd like some support in deciding how best to market your business and attract more clients, then I’d love to invite you to a 20 minute call to explore just that, click HERE to request a meeting.