Starting a Facebook Group: How to Build an Online Community to Help You Grow

Starting a Facebook Group: How to Build an Online Community to Help You Grow
Starting a Facebook group

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.

Looking to join a group of active Shopify Partners?

We recently launched the Shopify Partners Group for our partner community and those that are interested in learning more about designing and developing on Shopify.

Use the code COMMUNITY to join.


Join the Shopify Partners Facebook group

Starting a Facebook Group

Starting a Facebook group: 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.

You might also like: How Accessing the Partner Ecosystem Can Help You Grow Your Business.

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 Digital Develop

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

Starting a Facebook group: 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:

  • Group name
  • Who can access the group? Will it be open, closed, or private?
  • Target audience

Determine who will manage the group. This includes:

  • Monitoring the requests to join
  • Checking for spam or inappropriate behavior
  • Answering questions

Create rules and a group description:

  • What is this group for?
  • What do we want people to do in the group?
  • Our rules and guidelines for commenting and posting
  • Our rights as group moderators (i.e., we can kick anyone out if they break these rules)

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).

  • Activities
  • Questions
  • Interesting articles
  • General comments relevant to the group

Group branding

  • Banner image (size: 784 x 250 px)
  • Email marketing image if you plan to send an email promoting the group to your clients (size: 600 x 700 px)
  • Image to promote the group on other social channels (size: Twitter 1024 x 512 px, Instagram 1080 x 1080 px, LinkedIn 552 x 368 px)

Growth strategy:

  • Email marketing campaign and messaging
  • Any messaging for promotion material on other social channels
  • Budget for boosted posts on Facebook
  • Review other opportunities to promote the group


Marketing your Facebook Group

Starting a Facebook group: 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.

Social

Promote your group through your other social channels. When we launched our Facebook group, we shared a link advertising the group to all those that follow the Shopify Partners Facebook Business Page, and shared a link on Twitter as well.

Starting a Facebook group: Shopify Partner Facebook group

Paid promotion

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:

  1. Create a custom audience that you want to target.
  2. Draft a new post on your Facebook Business Page and add the link to your group.
  3. Rather than clicking “Publish,” select “Boost post” and select the audience and budget you want to use. Click “Set budget.”

You might also like: The Power of Community: How Nurturing Your Network Can Propel Your Business.

Additional promotion

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

Starting a Facebook group: Measuring the impact

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.

You might also like: 11 Actionable Social Media Tips for Your Web Design and Development Business.

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?

About the Author

Lauren is the Social Media Strategist for the Shopify Partners Team. Whenever she’s not crafting the perfect tweet, you can find her experimenting with new recipes and concocting the perfect Old Fashioned.

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