Welcome to Part 3 of Kahn Media’s KM 101 series, where we provide easy-to-understand information and guidelines for businesses that want to pivot to a “digital-first” model or enhance their online marketing efforts. Click on the links below to read our other KM 101 articles.

As the social media landscape has evolved and matured, the relevance of certain platforms has changed. Launched to the general public in 2006, Facebook grew rapidly to become the first truly global social network, and it currently claims nearly 2.5 billion users worldwide. Over time, however, what has made Facebook so popular — the ability to connect with people and share photos, likes and comments — lost its appeal for young people when their parents and grandparents joined the network and could see what they were up to.

Some young people migrated to other platforms like Snapchat and TikTok, while others matured into people in their 30s and 40s with families of their own who no longer care if Aunt Evelyn comments on their photos. But Facebook is first and foremost a business, and as its user base changed Facebook’s model changed to stay relevant and continue to stimulate growth and activity. For billions of people, Facebook has become their go-to source for news, information and commerce. Nearly every business has a presence on Facebook, but to take full advantage of the social network’s potential, businesses need to look beyond their brand page.

Why Communities Matter
For many years, businesses focused primarily on building a following. It was simple — the more fans and likes, the better. These days, however, thanks to changes in Facebook’s algorithms, the situation is more complex. Businesses can’t just depend on their following. A following is just a number. A community, on the other hand, is a place where passionate people actively interact with your brand’s products and services. A community isn’t what you build for your customers, it’s what you build with them.

By its very design, Facebook is the ideal environment for thriving online communities. So, what’s the difference between building a following and building a community?

Follow these 3 Tips for Building a Community on Facebook:

1. Connect with Your Audience on a Personal Level
You can’t just put content out there and hope people will interact with it. By connecting with your audience on a more personal level, you build trust and establish a more emotional connection. The goal is to develop an audience that’s motivated by their enthusiasm for your brand and its products/services.

2. Motivate Your Audience to Curate Content
When it comes to community, it’s important to focus more on the content than on your brand. If the content captures their attention, your brand will benefit in the long run. User-generated content (UGC) is honest and authentic, showing your audience what your products are like in the real world and adding credibility to your brand.

3. Listen to Your Audience
Rather than focusing on telling your brand’s story, listen to your audience and what they have to say. Actively encourage them to speak up and share their experiences. People want to be heard and feel as though they matter.

Facebook Groups: Your Brand’s Backyard
If you want to build a community, then you need to use Facebook Groups. They provide a powerful tool for creating a community by engaging with your fans on a consistent basis. Your company’s Facebook page is your brand’s front yard — it’s where you keep the grass cut and the hedges trimmed, where you put the most effort into the image of what the rest of the world sees. Facebook Groups, on the other hand, are your brand’s backyard — it’s where you and your fans can relax, where everyone can let their hair down and be themselves. Facebook Groups are where you can interact with your audience on a more personal level.

Unlike a following, the size of your Facebook Group — your community — isn’t critical. Engagement is what matters. You need a solid strategy for building your Facebook Group, and the following tips will help you get started.

10 Tips to Creatively Engage Your Facebook Group to Keep People Coming Back:

1. Different Moderators
If you’re pressed for time or don’t know what to say in your group, try having different moderators in your group. Multiple moderators provide different voices, perspectives and connections that allow your group’s content to stay fresh. 

2. Live Streams
Host live streams every month to directly engage with your community. Plan out your live streams and create events so you can send out invites to your community. 

3. Transform Content
Turn your live stream into future content by creating notes and attaching it with the video. Your notes can include time markers of when certain topics are discussed and what questions are answered during the event. 

4. Zoom Meetings
Increase your engagement in your group by hosting meetings on Zoom where you can interact and bond with members. This encourages members to be active participants in the group rather than just lurkers. 

5. Testimonials and Hero Stories
Feature hero stories and testimonials by getting your audience on camera to share their successes. People will want to be selected to share their experiences, and such stories add a sense of community because members can relate with one another. 

6. Challenges
Run competitive challenges with compelling prizes. This creates a competitive environment where your community is encouraged to work towards a goal. Regular challenges and giveaways will keep your audience anticipating the next one. 

7. Giveaways
Give away prizes and gifts to keep your community motivated to stay involved and actively participate. 

8. Guest Speakers
Bring in guest speakers who are known within your niche or industry. This keeps your group’s content fresh and your community hungry for more.

9. Courses and Topics
Increase participation in your group by offering courses and posting engaging discussion topics. 

10. Video Threads
Start video response only threads. These add a more personal and emotional touch to the discussion at hand and allow members to be more comfortable with one another. 

Facebook Groups Done Right
What does a successful Facebook Group look like? Take a look at these examples of brands that use winning strategies to build communities.

Ford Ranger Owners Group (2019+)

Vehicle owners’ groups are a great forum for owners to ask questions, discuss projects and share ideas. With a popular new platform such as the Ford Ranger, which has growing aftermarket support, members love to share new products and brands that they are trying out and offer feedback to the rest of the community. Owners’ groups like this are available for most mainstream automotive makes and models, but are often looked at as a resource (some are private to maintain exclusivity). Members who are truly devoted to an idea or product are essential to creating and expanding your community. 

Gold’s Gym Challenge

Starting a new fitness routine can be daunting. Every year, Gold’s Gym hosts a 12-week fitness program for members called the Gold’s Gym Challenge. To provide extra support for participants, Gold’s Gym created a Facebook Group as a space for participants to share tips and progress as they progress on their journey. Participants keep the group active by sharing honest content that’s not only compelling but motivating for others. 

Instant Pot Community

The Instant Pot Community is an excellent example of a group that unites members who share common interests, with “superfans” contributing to increased engagement. With over 2.5 million members, the brand’s Facebook Group is a space for users to share recipes, ask questions and seek troubleshooting advice for the popular electric cooker. Instant Pot doesn’t use the group to promote its products other than giveaways and to provide support for community members and superfans.

Working Together
Remember, a community isn’t what you build for your customers, it’s what you build with them. If you want your customers to trust your company or brand, that street runs both ways — you need to trust your customers, too. If they have purchased your products or services, or expressed interest in them, you’ve gotten their attention. What you need to do is hold their attention. And that happens when they feel personally invested. Humans are social animals. We want to be connected with others, especially when our interests or passions are involved. Be that source of connection for your customers and fans.

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