I'm mindful that as I write this, archiving my free Facebook group maybe isn't big news to everyone. You've seen more prominent names and people with bigger groups close down their free groups. But it is a big deal to me, and I wanted to share why and what I've learnt along the way.
I know I find learning by people going behind the scenes and sharing what's worked and what hasn't worked in their business powerful and helpful. So I'm doing more of this kind of content and teaching in 2022.
I started my Facebook group back in 2018. Initially, it was engaged. I would go live at least weekly, sharing tips and advice, plus I'd do free webinars. Originally, it's where I found my clients and where my members came from. But over the years, I saw a decline in engagement.
I will not "just" blame Facebook, the algorithm, or say, "Facebook groups don't work anymore". However, many of us are in far too many groups that we aren't active in anymore!
I'm not sure what came first, me putting less effort into the group? Or the lack of engagement?
Mistake number 1: The group is now called The Inspiring Women in Business Facebook Group and has around 1.4K members. I've had it for a few years now, but I kept changing the group name and purpose rather than starting a new group as my business changed.
Mistake (or learning!) number 2: I heard some random advice that said, "once you grow your group to 1000 members, start engaging, and it "looks after itself" why on earth did I believe this and use this as a strategy??
Mistake (or learning !) number 3: I also focused on my podcast and email list. I felt a bit stretched being on so many marketing channels, but I kept trying to grow the group anyway!
Mistake (or learning !) number 4: I stopped showing up regularly and stopped making an effort to engage the group.
So I decided last year to do a test and develop a plan where I would test out engagement and results from Instagram versus my Facebook Group before I decided whether to close it or not. And Instagram won hands down. I'm not saying Instagram is easy, though. That also takes time and effort, significantly as the platform is changing allllll the time.
I also tested out setting up pop up Facebook groups for short live promotions, which worked well alongside email marketing and launch activities rather than trying to use one free group for everything.
My words for this year were "to do less good", so this is why I'm cutting down how many channels I'm on and doing a better job on fewer channels.
You also need to sell, and you need to sell early - as Janet Murray said about her own experience of Facebook Groups:
"I speak to so many business owners who started Facebook groups as a way of generating leads and sales for their business who feel frustrated because the moment they try to sell in their group, people get upset or offended. How dare you sell in the group you've invested time and money in growing. This is known as Baby Bird Syndrome – a phrase coined by sales expert Jessica Lorimer. Baby Bird Syndrome happens when your audience gets so reliant on your free content that when you suggest they actually buy something from you, they feel abandoned, fretful and may even lash out at you. This is why you need to sell in your group – and sell early.It could still be worth having a free Facebook group in 2022, but if you want it to attract leads/sales for your business, you need a strategy. Without that, it could be a waste of time and money. If your current group isn't working, you need to ask yourself some tough questions about whether you've created the right kind of group for the people. It is possible to 'rescue' a group that's not working, but sometimes it's better to start from scratch". Janet Murray.
Or you could focus your efforts elsewhere. You cannot do everything, and you cannot be everywhere.
So I would pick focusing on building my email list and creating content overgrowing a Facebook group. That's not to say I won't have a Facebook Group again in the future, and I do have a very engaged Facebook group for my paid membership. Remember, though, you don't have to be everywhere, and your list is yours, whereas social media is borrowed land.
P.S. Whenever you're ready, here are three ways I can help you…