Why I am Killing my Free Facebook Group.
First, let me just say, if you are one of the current members in my Free Trailblazers Group, I am sorry, but I will be deleting that group this weekend. I do want to thank you for your support in this endeavor (and trial run) but I do not feel the group is working for my business for several reasons, which I will explain below. Because of this decision, the group is going to be closed.
Doing my recent annual review and planning has made me see several things that need to change this year at Pepper It Marketing. One of them will be a few upgrades to my Blogging and SEO Basics training programs, another is the Free Facebook Group death, and a few more will be happening later on as well.
I am not saying the reasons for my changes will be the same for anyone using a free Facebook group as part of your marketing toolbox, but for my business it just is not working and is in fact, interfering with my other marketing efforts. If you feel this may be the case with you as well, then read on to see if what I have discovered is also happening with you.
And if you feel different, the article might give you ideas of what can work and be possible using these free groups to build your business.
In 2017, Facebook made some changes to Facebook groups and then in January of 2018 when Facebook totally changed their mission and their algorithm people flocked to Facebook groups as a way to get more engagement online.
At the time, I mostly watched and learned… to see what would happen. I still had (and have still) my belief and training that Facebook Pages are a better option for most business because of the added benefits they offer. Things like being optimized by search engines, added tabs and tools to help market your business, options for integration with email marketing systems for list building … and more.
A big reason behind this uptick in everyone using free Facebook groups this past year was the algorithm change in January of 2018 (you can read about it here). Facebook stated that their users would be getting more notifications in their newsfeed from people and pages they connect with. That is a big goal of a lot of businesses – to have their fans and people connected to their page to see more content, interact and take action to become a lead or a prospect or a sale.
The theory was business pages would have their content seen by more people if they had more likes, comments and reactions to the posts on the pages.
Everyone felt after this big Facebook change that because comments in groups happen by people and more often than they do on pages, that groups should be a more critical piece of the marketing. The idea was that they could use the groups to get more reach and ultimately more engagement.
I could see people were talking about the groups making a difference, and I even have one client who was doing well with theirs too. Sooo… I took the plunge and invested in a training specific to Facebook groups and then started my own group – The Pepper It Marketing Trailblazers.
The training I bought was a program that shared the success steps the trainer had building her own Facebook group to 30,000 plus and then from it made her income by selling people into the training program I bought. Teaching people how to do the same. It was a $1,600 program and not only did I learn the steps she did, I also learned how to NOT make a training program. Yes, the first thing I learned was how valuable my own training programs are. (Remember this for part of the story below.)
This training program I bought was very disappointing… it had 4 modules, with 2-3-minute videos that came with PDFs for each module. That was it. That was the entire training along with access to a private Facebook group and a once a month Live Q & A session. It did help, but the biggest value I did get from it was the lessons on what not to do.
My Insiders Club program comes with the Facebook group access, the new monthly training sessions and Live review sessions, and the lessons have hours of video, not minutes. The lessons on video are to support the handouts and worksheets and checklists; to provide step by step training that explains in detail the lessons. Making it as easy as possible to learn.
But I use my investments in other programs like this, not only for my own development and added training, but as a way to make sure my own programs are as valuable as possible.
So, after all that training and building my own group… why am I killing the Facebook group?
One main reason… it was taking valuable time away from my own paid groups and the other marketing channels I use to build leads. Channels that are working just as well, and in fact, better to market my programs and services.
Some of the advice in the training program on Facebook groups and others similar ones like it – is to keep the community in the group engaged with daily posts and prompts geared to solicit engagement and comments back and forth.
But as with anything on Facebook, the business page / owner needs to be the initial prompter of the engagement – at least for most typical small businesses – so that you begin to encourage the two-way engagement. If you are a big brand or influencer, it can be very different. But this lesson is for people like you – and me, the small business owner.
Our reality is different than Tim Hortons, or Coca Cola or celebrities like Tim McGraw or you know, my dream guy, Kevin Costner… we have smaller pages with limited audiences that we work hard to build and get that engagement.
For some businesses, free Facebook groups will work, but it is not ideal for everyone, and it may take you away from other effective marketing tactics too. Which is what was happening with mine. I was spending so much time trying to build a new group from the ground up and engage with people that caused me other problems.
- I was not spending as much time on my Facebook Page engaging with the 7,000+ people already connected. I didn’t abandon them, but I was dividing my time and efforts with the page of 7000 and a group of under 100. Looking back, I should have just been spending my time on the Page with the people I had there already. Trying new things to change and improve the engagement.
- I found it was hard not to cross a line of giving away too much of the farm for free. I have two other private Facebook groups for people in my programs. Paid students. Now with this group s training via the Facebook group is NOT part of those programs. But I found it difficult to NOT want to change and do more there because I was doing it in this free group. My mind was stuck on this thought… “I have to give my paying students more than the free group folks.” and in doing so it caused me to change how I was delivering my programs and my time.
My spidey sense says a new change will soon be on the horizon for businesses and how we use Facebook. I feel it coming …
How do I know this may be the case?
One big reason… the trainer I bought the program from, and several other big-name users who had Facebook groups, have abandoned or closed their own Facebook groups.
Some with tens of thousands of members. Some of these people have started new groups, some closed them altogether.
As I have been analyzing some of the activity groups and pages, there is a commonality I have noticed…Facebook Fatigue.
Fatigue from the owner and Fatigue from the members.
The owners are posting those daily prompts they teach about, and they are getting no or very low activity. Just like all of us small ducks out here in the big pond.
I also found that some of these leaders who still have their groups or have made new ones are struggling to get that engagement – and even in their paid membership groups. One in fact, has started a new group and does not allow members to start discussions or posts. What kind of engaging is that? It is not – it is a one-sided conversation.
… and guess what, the leader I took the training from – she has gotten to the point of doing these daily prompts word for word – exactly the same. Same exact words and same exact picture every week. Copy and paste. Well, that was the big wake up call for me.
When someone who preaches this for a living is not even following their own advice… It makes you re-think what you are doing yourself.
This was the moment I made the decision to review all the aspects of what I have been doing with this group and with my other online channels during this time… and the decision has been made. The group has got to go.
So, this week, I will be deleting the Trailblazers Facebook group, which I will be sad to see go, as I really liked the name!
You can watch for changes coming on the Pepper It Marketing Facebook Page and as it has been my policy for the past 10 years, feel free to post on this page or ask questions and I will do my best to get you an answer!
Keep in mind, this is my decision for my community and my business. It will not necessarily be the same for everyone. As I said before I have one client rocking it, with members posting daily and engaging with her posts. I have another whose group is not getting any engagement either, and this week we are making plans on closing her group, too.
The important lesson here is to step back and review your own marketing and check if the group you have is working for you or against you, and then make your decision based on those results. If it is working – congratulations! Keep up the good work. If it is not, then you may also need to consider the same decision I have.
Online Marketing with IMPACT so you Get Clients! My passion is helping to guide people just like you, dietitians, coaches and service based business owners, who are often frustrated with all the advice and ideas out there and all the wasted time spent on marketing that gets you nowhere. Check out all the free resources on my Pepper It Marketing website, especially this guide for Online and Content Marketing. I also offer several self-study training programs to help you get more traffic to your website, more leads on your email list so you can make More Sales!