In terms of total monthly active users, Facebook remains the largest social network in the world by a very significant margin. According to recent statistics, Mark Zuckerberg’s social network has somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.7 billion monthly active users. The next two networks on the list “only” clock in at about 1.0 billion monthly active users and they are WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, both of which are owned by Facebook too.
If you have the least bit of interest in making money on the Internet, especially if part of your objective is to establish an online brand and to leverage that brand for profit, then Facebook simply cannot be ignored. And they know it.
That’s why, at least in the last couple of years, we’ve been witnessing the slow and utterly painful death of organic reach on Facebook. Your Facebook page used to be a great way to reach out to fans and keep them in the loop with everything happening in your online world. But when you’re only reaching a tiny fraction of the people who have actively “liked” your page, it can be difficult to maintain and grow that influence. Facebook Boost can only get you so far and it may not be terribly sustainable over the long run.
So, what’s the solution? In order to move forward, it seems we need to look backward. The future, at least in the short term, could be with Facebook Groups.
Many people don’t realize that Groups should be considered a tool or product that is somewhat separate from the main Facebook platform. It doesn’t quite operate exactly the same way as the “regular” part of the social network where individuals are sharing with other individuals. Groups are probably closer to forums, but not really.
And groups cannot be ignored. Of the approximately 1.7 billion people who use Facebook every month, over 1 billion are active in one or more groups. The groups serve as online communities for people with a common interest, but they can also be used as a business tool to help you succeed online.
I’m a member of the YVR Bloggers open group shown above. It’s a place where bloggers in the Metro Vancouver area get together to discuss blogging, collaborate on projects, and share what we’ve been working on. And part of that means we can use it to promote our own stuff too.
Perhaps here’s an even better example. I’m also a member of the Canada Fighting Game Community. Unlike the “open” status of the YVR Bloggers group, this group is “closed” so membership must be approved by own of the admins. It’s still discoverable by strangers, so unlike “secret” groups, it isn’t hidden from search.
But here’s the thing. On the surface, this group looks like an online community where gamers from across Canada can talk about Street Fighter and their other favorite fighting games. You don’t have to dig much deeper to learn that this group was formed by Lap Chi Duong, the man responsible for the Canada Cup series of fighting game tournaments.
He may or may not profit directly from organizing and hosting those tournaments (some people say he actually loses money), but it’s clear enough that the Facebook Group is being used for his promotional purposes too. It further establishes him as a pillar of the Canadian video game scene and the global fighting game community at large.
The organic reach and engagement within focused groups like these are oftentimes much better than what you might experience with a regular branded page. If you want to reach your audience, growing and nurturing a targeted Facebook group could represent a huge opportunity.
I created a Facebook group for my blog way back in 2007 and it has effectively been dormant since 2010 when I completely flipped my efforts over to the corresponding Facebook page instead. “Resurrection” might not be exactly the right word, since the group never really “died,” but it might be time to breathe new life into this sleeping giant.
Do you have a Facebook group that ties into your blog or online business? What would you do to encourage the highest level of engagement from your audience?