Facebook is changing. Sure, it has been doing so for years, but as many other small businesses have noticed it isn’t driving the traffic or giving you the organic reach we were once used to. In the beginning Facebook was a hub to help small businesses thrive. Frank’s Donuts down the street had just as much of an opportunity to be in someone’s news feed as Krispie Kreme.
Unfortunately as all things do, there are changes which make it much harder to compete without forking over the cash. However, there are alternatives and they don’t cost any money.
I was plugging away posting on my business page as many of you are and having very little to show for it. There were days my posts were only being viewed by a couple dozen or less. And click throughs were just sad. I needed to find an alternative that would reach a larger audience. And I found the solution right under my nose.
Members Only Groups
In addition to managing my own social media, over the last year I have also been in charge of growing and managing the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri’s audience. Within the League we had developed a “Member’s Only” group on Facebook. The page is searchable to anyone, but only viewable if you are accepted into the group (based on if you are a member).
Over the last 6 months I have seen a consistent decline in organic reach on our regular business page and on the opposite end a drastic increase in the use of and exposure of the group page. Seeing this I decided to adjust my strategy. On my personal website (where you are now) I had seen my Facebook referral traffic dip to as low as 20% of total referrals. After adjusting my strategy it is back up to 39.75% being the single largest traffic driver. Closely behind is direct traffic (mostly Instagram in my opinion) at 36.38%. And Pinterest is still only 8.48% of my total traffic, however, I continue to see that number climb (and here’s why).
“Post” Less Communicate More
Instead of focusing on posting content I am focusing on finding communities of people (potential readers or clients) and immersing myself in their established communities. The single largest way I have done so is actively being a part of groups in my niche on both an international and metro area scale.
Many of these groups are private, however, only require signing up for an email newsletter or filling out a form. In each group description you should be able to find rules for how to join (and rules for how to participate). Once a part of the group you can’t be an owl. You can’t lurk and just look, you have to communicate. Answer questions. Give links to insightful articles (your own and others). Be a trusted resource.
Over a period of weeks you will see these people many of whom have become your friends online transition into readers. Position yourself appropriately and you can even convert them to clients or customers.
Be a Resource Not a Sales Pitch
Nobody likes a salesman. And better yet no one likes listening to other people talk about themselves. Turn the tables, focus less on promoting your business and spend more time listening to what your customers want. Give them opportunities to talk about themselves or share their personal story. Listen to their concerns, struggles and road bumps and then turn the tables and offer solutions. Even though it is tempting to start selling you need to first offer a bunch of solutions… for FREE. Your willingness to share will lead to trust which is a crucial in keeping people coming back for more.
Challenges and Opportunities
Utilizing Facebook Groups to drive traffic presents its own series of challenges. Unlike your business page, you can’t analyze analytics. You remain in the dark not knowing how many people have seen your content or how well they are interacting with it. That being said, I think sometimes we focus too heavily on the numbers and forget to look at the real conversions. Are more people having meaningful conversations with you or are you just being “seen” on a bunch of people’s feeds.
Every person will need to utilize different groups to connect with the appropriate audience, however I thought I would share a few of my personal favorites:
Are you currently utilizing Facebook Groups? What are your favorites?