The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly: Finding the RIGHT Facebook Groups for You
In the past year or so, I've noticed that Facebook groups are on the rise. When I launched Sweet Tea, LLC, in fact, I opted NOT to create a Facebook page, but a Facebook group instead. About a year ago, I found myself as a member of about 75 Facebook groups for bloggers & entrepreneurs, until one day, in a fit of frustration, I removed myself from more than half of those groups.
There are some seriously amazing, engaged, and active Facebook groups out there, but it isn't always easy knowing where to find the ones that are right for you and your blog. I've put together some tips today that I hope will help you navigate the murky waters of Facebook groups, sharing The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly. I want to help you Find the Right Facebook Groups for You.
If you're a blogger, you've probably noticed that it's becoming more and more difficult to reach your audience through Facebook pages. I know some bloggers point to their engagement and number of Facebook fans as evidence of success, but when you really break it down, the number of people who click through to one of your own posts to engage with it on your blog is minimal.
A lot of bloggers, myself included, have started private Facebook groups. My first group, Sweet Tea & Friends, was created for the community of readers for my home decor blog, Sweet Tea & Saving Grace. I wanted a better way to interact with the readers I had built friendships with, and a way for them to interact with one another - a feature that Facebook pages doesn't really provide.
In addition to these types of Facebook groups, there are literally thousands of Facebook groups for bloggers of every niche and all kinds of creative entrepreneurs. New ones pop up everyday, which makes it difficult to not only keep up, but to know where to start.
My opinions are just that - opinions. So by no means are any of the things I say in this blog post meant to be taken as God's honest truth, but I want to share some things that turn me off, and turn me on, to private Facebook groups, including tips for finding the right ones for you and being an awesome Facebook group member yourself.
WHY I LEFT HALF OF MY FACEBOOK GROUPS
Some of the Facebook groups I used to be a member of just got stale or boring, but others turned me off for different reasons:
- The host doesn't give anyone else a chance to shine.I hate this. Those Facebook groups with the "it's all about me" attitude? Nobody likes that, but somehow people stay in the group. I definitely thinks it's perfectly fine for a group host to share their own content and products, but when that's the primary motive of the group, and it's super obvious that the host only cares about themselves, I'm out.
- The host never makes an appearance.On the opposite end of the spectrum from #1 is the mysterious vanishing group host. They started the group, but when it starts to grow, all you hear are crickets. She doesn't respond to anything, even when a group member tags her in a post. Are you really so busy that you can't make an appearance every couple of days?
- The host and a few select group members have formed a "cool kids" table.Please tell me we're not in high school anymore, ladies. I've seen it all too often: the host is buddies with some of the group members, and she only promotes their content and ideas. If someone else in the group has a thought that might be considered outside of their comfort zone, it either gets ignored or deleted for no apparent reason.
- Enough with the "you share my post, I share yours" crap already.Forgive me if I sound like a whiny little blogger right now, but allow me a moment. Raise your hand if you have been on Facebook, casually scrolling your feed, and you see THE SAME EXACT POST fifteen times? There's a reason for that. I personally can't stand Facebook groups that exist for the sole purpose of sharing each other's content. That's not true engagement, y'all. It's not. It's inflated numbers that mean jack diddly. I hate it and I won't be a part of it.
- It's my way or the highway mindset.Trust me, I'm not alone on this one, I promise. I have clients and blog friends who share in the sentiment. There are bloggers out there who feel as if they should pave the way for every new blogger on the block, guiding them to be "successful". And that's great! What's not great is the idea that these new bloggers need to do things exactly the same way as the host blogger or they won't be "successful" like her. Let me tell you something. Success if how you define it. It's not somebody else's version of success. It's not using a specific hosting company or using a certain blog theme or anything else like that. Reading an ebook (including mine) won't make you "successful". You know what makes you successful? HARD freaking WORK, my friend. And time, and blood, sweat and tears.
But, they're not all bad. There are some gems out there in Facebook land, although it can be overwhelming when you try to find the right ones for you.
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT FACEBOOK GROUPS FOR YOUR BLOG
There isn't a one-size-fits-all Facebook group, which is, honestly, a good thing, because that would be terribly boring. Try these tips for finding the groups that fit your needs & your niche:
- Go where your friends are - you know, your REAL friends whom you trust to steer you in the right direction. Ask people you genuinely trust for their favorite Facebook groups.
- Know your niche, then search on Facebook for groups that fit it.
- Have a goal: social media sharing, blog education, insights into specific social media sites, creative entrepreneurship, just friends openly talking "blog", etc.
- Group size: Do you prefer large groups with tons of interaction, or small groups with more personal connections?
- Who is the host? Visit their blog to see if you like their voice & content before joining their Facebook group.
- Give yourself a trial period. Join a group you are interested in, then make a note on your calendar to assess after 4-6 weeks. If you don't like it after that time, leave. If you do like it, stick around.
HOW TO BE AN AWESOME FACEBOOK GROUP MEMBER
It frustrates me a bit when bloggers join Facebook groups, never once participate in any thread, then decide it's not for them. Of course it isn't - you weren't there! If you really want to see if a Facebook group is the right fit for you, you have to actually participate.
- Be super helpful: If you can contribute in any way to a topic, do so. Don't be sleazy, though, trying to sell your products or services. Just be genuinely helpful.
- Ask questions: Don't ever be afraid to ask a question, because there are no such things as stupid ones. I promise, if you have that question, there's probably someone else in the group with the same question but they've been too afraid to ask.
- Ask permission, not forgiveness: Read the rules and try your best to follow them. When in doubt, private message the host and ask permission BEFORE posting. Trust me, we don't like being meany pants and deleting your post simply because you didn't follow the group rules.
- Share good stuff: If you've discovered a really helpful tool or read an encouraging blog post, share it with the group (as long as it's relevant).
- Don't blatantly self-promote: Most groups at some point offer a share thread allowing you to share a link to your blog, a blog post, or your social media channels. If you don't see those threads, ask the host if she has them, but don't just blatantly start a thread for the sole purpose of getting eyes on your content. (The same holds true for using your affiliate links.)
MY FAVORITE FACEBOOK GROUPS
I'll admit, I'm not super active in any of the Facebook groups in which I'm a member, but I do make a point to pop in every few days to see what's going on and to see if I can help in any way. And when I have a question or need advice, I know where to go!
Create If Writing, hosted by Kirsten Oliphant, is a community for writers, bloggers, & creatives who want to be invigorated and practically equipped!
Let's keep Christ the center of our businesses, careers and lives. Come find a place of encouragement, support, accountability and networking with other sisters in Christ! Hosted by Lauren Black.
This group, hosted by Jill Stanton, is designed to help surround you with people who "get" you. People who understand your dreams. People who are here to answer questions, give feedback and provide support. People who are here to talk you off the ledge if you feel like giving up. And most importantly this group is for people who are hell-bent on taking their 9-to-5's and screwing them!
And of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't share my own group with you:
This group is designed for individuals who are interested in growing their blog organically, maintaining an authentic voice, learning and sharing their knowledge, and building a community of like-minded & awesome individuals.
I hope to see you in the community very soon!
Have a favorite Facebook group? Share it in the comments below!