I’m a member of a tonne of Facebook groups, as you may remember I wrote a post last year on using Facebook groups to market your business.
But over the last year or so I’ve really noticed the difference between what I think are good facebook groups and those that, well, just aren’t!
I am very lucky to have started what I consider to be an excellent group on Facebook (Suffolk Business Stars), in fact this group is so successful that one of our members decided to start a version for Norfolk and one for Essex too, but these other groups haven’t been as successful (although they are slowly picking up) and this got me to wondering why.
First it helped me define what I believe to be a good group or a not so good group;
A good group
Regularly gains new members.
Is useful for it’s members.
Posts are less sales oriented.
Leads to clicks to blogs, websites, Facebook pages etc
Leads to sales
Has plenty of interaction.
A not-so good group
Has posts but from a smaller variety of members.
Posts are more sales oriented
Little or no interaction between the members.
Then I started thinking about why or how that might happen.
But looking solely at my own group was never going to give me all the answers I needed … So I looked at the other groups I am a member of and got in touch with the inspiring Lesley Kershaw that runs the WomansWork group on Facebook and she kindly agreed to be interviewed about it.
The WomansWork group on Facebook came as a natural evolution from the popular newsletters that Lesley had been sending out for a few years, Lesley puts email newsletters together for many companies, and as a result of this she was always being sent fantastic articles and snippets of information for inclusion in these. She found she regularly had a surplus of information that was too good to waste so she started a new newsletter to send out to the female entrepreneurs she knew locally. For free! Very soon her email list grew, her contributed list grew and now she sends her ‘notebooks’ out to 11 counties of East Anglia and the East Midlands.
The WomansWork Notebooks are fantastic and if you live in the one of the counties mentioned above I strongly recommend you sign up to receive them.
So she started the group on Facebook as a supplement to this, as another way of helping the business people that contributed to her notebooks reach each other and grow their businesses.
Some of the things that Lesley believe contribute to WomansWork being a useful group are the fact that there was already a sense of community in the group due to the Notebooks, and the fact that the attitude of the women in the group has always been one of giving rather than taking, and this has lead to the group members inviting new people to the group.
The group has always been diverse and has a range of business women from bloggers to beauticians, tax accountants to typesetters. Although it has a geographical bias to East Anglia due to the Notebooks, the facebook group has diffused over a much larger area and now even has members from the United States.
Speaking from a purely personal perspective I believe that the success of the WomansWork group has more to do with Lesley than she realises, I’ve noticed that she puts her stamp of approval on many things that happen in the group, sometimes a comment and often a thumbs up on things that people post, but also on replies etc. This subtle approval helps the members know that it really is OK to add people to the group, post a blog post there, tell people about a sale etc.
When I spoke to Lesley I found that we had a lot of attitudes in common, neither of us had started our groups with the intention of having all the attention on us – quite the opposite in fact as we are both keen to learn from other businesses and let them shine!
When I started Suffolk Business Stars I did so because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to network physically for some months and I wanted to stay in touch with people I already networked with and create and opportunity for me to meet more.
I also knew that although the Ipswich area has over 30,000 small business it was mainly the same couple of 100 or so that could be seen networking, and that I had met many different business owners online that NEVER went to these networking events! So I thought that setting up a group on Facebook could be a great substitute for physical networking. Although I never imagined it would take of like it did – Suffolk Business Stars now has almost 700 members with more joining all the time!
But although I emulate Lesley’s actions and frequently click like or comment on posts, the real success of the group comes because we both also get out of the way of our fantastic members and let them shine! The true measure of the success of the group comes from the benefit the members get from it, I was thrilled recently when I read the following posted on the wall of my group;
“I would just like to say how much I enjoy this group. It has really help me get started with my business and I have met some lovely people from here. I knew when I was training to become a Nutritional Therapist that this would involve promoting my business and other aspects of being self employed, but I never knew how complex and mind scrambling that this could be. I thought I would just be a Nutritional Therapist and didn’t think about becoming a ‘business women’ as such.
So thank you for all helping me and making this easier xxxx”
That’s not down to me, I hope I helped of course, but it’s down to the collective, that’s what makes a group great, not 1 member but all of them … that is the power of collaboration and I hope very much it’s something you experience!
Over to you – Are you a member of a group like this? If not why not start your own?
Gemma Thompson is a communicator and endlessly curious. Use of Facebook & Twitter led to excellent brand awareness for her start-up business a few years ago. In less than a year she had a substantial ROI – £4,083 of business for £950 hours spend, and was being asked to teach others how she was doing it! She is now a full time social media consultant. If you want to start changing your life and growing your business through twitter, facebook, blogging or LinkedIn get in touch.