May 14, 2018

Finding Community on Facebook with Groups

Facebook as a social network is all about community, but there are many different ways to connect with people on this channel. We've already talked about Pages and the importance of separating your personal and professional presence to represent your creative brand. Pages are an excellent way to keep Fans informed. But what should you do if you want deeper conversation and community? How about a Facebook Group.

Facebook Group vs. Page

  • Pages are public. Anyone can Like them to follow content shared. While you should aim for two way communication and engaging content, Pages are less ideal for discussion. 
  • Groups, on the other hand, can be public or private depending on how you want to manage the members. You can invite people to join or require that they "apply" for access. No matter the setting you choose, the goal of a Group is conversation and deeper interaction than the engagement you might get on Page posts.
  • There are also differences in the format and how content is shared. Pages feature what the admins post while groups can be filled with posts from any and all members. 
  • In most cases, you should start with a Page to represent your business, and then incorporate Groups into your strategy for two key reasons: Connecting with Fans and Peers.
  • Learn more about the different options on Facebook: Pages, Groups, Profiles, etc.

Connecting with Fans

  • Creating your own Group for your art allows you to bring your buyers together as a community in a place they can talk openly about your work. You might post prompts to get their feedback and input. The controlled nature of a Group can be especially beneficial if the conversation is more personal in nature because people are more likely to share when they feel comfortable about who else is in that community.
  • An exclusive Group can offer a unique way to reward loyalty. Maybe only buyers can join and you give them freebies or early notice about new work. 
  • Another way to use Groups for your business is to position yourself as an expert by sharing knowledge and answering questions. The conversation can be driven by the expertise you have to contribute to your potential buyers or clients.
  • Groups can also be a great source of user generated content involving your art or handmade items. Just be sure you ask permission to share anything from your Group outside of that community. 

Connecting with Peers

  • The other side of the coin is using Groups to find other artists and creative entrepreneurs to support one another. There are countless options already set up and active on Facebook, by Location, Medium and other Categories. All you have to do is search.
  • These Groups can keep you informed of Open Calls and other Opportunities.
  • Many also allow you to sell and trade art supplies with others in the industry. 
  • Use your community to get feedback on pieces to improve your work. By sharing what you have in progress or problems, you can challenge yourself to grow and learn from the experience of others. Collaboration over competition!
  • The global nature of Facebook makes it easy for your to expand your reach beyond a local circle of peers to people all over the world in the same medium or exploring the same subject matter. There's really no limit.

Best Practices

  • If you create your own Group, be sure to pick the best privacy setting for your goal. Public can be joined by anyone. Closed groups require approval so people request to have access. Secret groups are invite only and not discoverable in search.
  • Take a look at the existing Groups to make sure there isn't already one active for your needs. Chances are your peers have already created something, but you probably won't find one made up of your buyers. 
  • Be prepared to keep the Group active and foster it's growth. Some communities will take off and require little moderation, but as you're getting started, you will need to invest time. 
  • Also be sure to set expectations for any new members so they understand why they should join and how to behave in relation to the other members. Most Groups will post guidelines. When you join an existing Group, read the rules so you don't get kicked out. 
  • Don't let yourself get too caught up in any Group drama. Good admins will moderate and prevent the sharing of negativity, but understand that it still happens. Have a specific goal in mind when you join or create a Group so you know what you want to get out of it. 

The moral of the story is the Facebook is a huge community, and you can find your own little pockets to get involved with. Take a look at the conversations already happening and see where you fit in, and feel free to create your own Group if there's a discussion you want to start around your work.