Are you thinking of setting up a Facebook group for your pet business?
Maybe you already have one and it’s a little bit quiet so you want to get it going again?
Or you’ve got a group and you’re putting loads of time and effort into it, but you’re feeling like you’re getting nothing back?
Perhaps you’re worried that it’s turning into a nightmare and you’re not sure whether you want to carry on with it.
Facebook groups can seem like a bit of a beast to tame sometimes, and it’s really easy to feel overwhelmed and overworked by them.
That’s why I spoke to Samantha Hill, a Facebook group expert.
In this episode, she shares how to set up a Facebook group, how to put rules in place and how to get the right people to join.
You’ll learn her secrets to how to keep people in there and keep them entertained.
Plus the difference between paid and free groups and how you can make money from Facebook groups.
Listen in on the player link below or you can continue reading as a blog post.
Sam’s background and how she became a Facebook Group expert
As well as being a Facebook group expert Sam is Community Manager for some of the biggest marketers in the world.
She said: “I ran a knitting business for 11 years, and I built my own community.
“When I sold it I missed the community element, so I decided to take it online and I was offered an opportunity to be Janet Murray’s community manager.
“It’s just grown from there!”
Samantha now has a range of clients of all different sectors, from virtual events, psychologists to a baker and baby group.
What is the difference between a group and a page?
Facebook group and page benefits for businesses can be confusing, Samantha helped explain what the difference is.
She said: “Think of your Facebook page as your shop window, so if you were walking past, it looks beautiful, clients will see it and become interested.
“The Facebook group is where you step inside. That’s where you get all the good stuff – the information and access to the owner.
“Product and service businesses can benefit from having a Facebook group but you shouldn’t just open one because everyone has one.”
How niche businesses can use Facebook groups
If you’re a dog trainer for a specific breed you might think about opening a Facebook group.
Samantha said: “Groups work really well when people are talking about the same thing, and have an interest in that one topic, for instance a certain type of dog breed.
“You give your clients and potential clients support and groups like that can run themselves.
“You can have discussions with them and each dog owner in there would want to know about the others and help each other out which is what makes it a community.”
What if you’re starting your Facebook group from scratch?
If you’ve not dipped your toe into the world of Facebook groups, don’t worry.
Samantha said: “Be strict with the three questions you can ask when you first set the group up. Think about what type of person you want in the group.
“For example, if you were setting up a group for owners with rescue dogs, ask ‘do you have a rescue dog?’
“You can say no to people wanting to join as this will help you weed out the wrong clients.
“You’re better off having lower numbers with the right people than large numbers who are all wrong.”
Should you have a free group or a paid for group?
Samantha said: “The first question I ask anyone is ‘what is your group for?’ because your group is meant to make you money eventually.
“Be clear that you are a business and that there are going to be things that are for sale.”
How do pop up groups work?
Free groups can be great to do as a pop up to try to get new clients and awareness for your business, for example in the free Publicity for Pet Businesses challenge.
Samantha said: “Once the challenge is over, don’t leave the group open. Give them the option of where you want them to go, is it your free group or your paid group?”
What rules should you set up in your group?
Facebook allows you to set up rules so you can stop people from spamming or selling their own items, and outline how members should behave.
Sam says: “Rule one is always ‘no spam, no promotion’ and l always add ‘be kind’ so if someone starts an argument you can refer back to the rules and kick them out.
“I would also add ‘no direct messaging other members’ because this can lead to people selling products and using your group to benefit themselves.”
What if someone breaks the rules?
Samantha said: “If something is said privately, respond privately letting them know what they have done and refer back to the rules, if it is public do the same but publicly.
“I normally use a two strike rule, so two strikes and they are out.”
How to promote your Facebook group
Once you have your group set up you want to get people there and get the group buzzing.
Sam says: “When you first start you need to be there a lot.
“Get to know everybody and as your group gets busier you can step back and let the conversation happen.
“Ask simple questions that people answer easily to build engagement.”
What makes the group a community?
I found with Publicity Tips for Pet Businesses, people ask questions and other members will answer so it’s not always me being the first to give a reply.
I also use weekly threads like Win Wednesday and Share Your Stuff on a Friday where I ask people to share their achievements.
Samantha explains: “ Conversation threads can really help encourage the community feel too, for example in a business group it could be an accountability post.
“If you have a few threads every week where people can get involved and comment it will encourage other people to get involved.”
How to make sure you don’t give all your time to Facebook
Samantha said: “If you’re starting to feel like it’s taking all of your time you could consider getting a virtual assistant or some help from a community manager.
“This person can help you monitor the group and watch the posts. If the group is a paid membership a VA or community manager can really help you.”
What else are Facebook groups good for
They can be a goldmine for ideas for courses, classes and content. Many of my podcast episodes start as questions or ideas from groups.
“If you’ve got a group of people that like what you do, ask them questions – you can get so much information,” says Sam.
What if your group isn’t working? When is it time to say goodbye?
Facebook groups can sometimes die to death, so what do you do if you’re in this situation, when do you know it’s time to pull the plug?
Samantha said: “I think you can always try reviving it with a community manager, I’ve been called in to help groups in this situation.
“But sometimes it doesn’t work and it’s at that point you have to just be honest with yourself and close it.
“They don’t work for every single business owner, and some people absolutely hate running them so my advice for them would be to close it.
“You need to love doing it because that will show.”
Find out more about Samantha Hill
Sam’s website: www.samanthajhill.co.uk
Find her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/samantha_j_hill/
Follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sjhillsocial
Check out her Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/theCommunityLoungeuk
Visit the Publicity for Pet Businesses Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/publicitytipsforpetbusinesses
If you found this episode helpful, you might like How to take the pain out of content planning with Janet Murray or How to improve your Instagram photos with Liz Gregg.