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How tech startups can drive free traffic from Facebook

Written by  Apr 28, 2018

It’s difficult to make Facebook work for brands for free. This trend is likely to continue with the recent announcement that Facebook have started a trial to move non-promoted brand posts out of the news feed.

But there are still free tactics that work. Creating a community of people with shared interests has been a fundamental part of human development for millenia. This is why Facebook Groups can offer a more satisfying experience than your general newsfeed, as they are focused on your shared interests.

Mark Zuckerberg has responded this year to evidence that Facebook can make you depressed. He plans to prioritise “meaningful social interactions” rather than “relevant content” i.e. your friends, over brands. Facebook Groups are a community within Facebook’s platform that users can join, built around common interests or goals. Importantly, they are given high ranking by the algorithm – it’s worth taking this opportunity while this is still true. Put simply, posts from groups appear in people’s feed more often and more prominently now.

From a marketing perspective – and this is especially true for startups looking to grow cost-effectively – being part of the same community as your customers is very influential. It’s important to consider that this isn’t the ideal tactic for all businesses, and lends itself to being most effective for those focusing on content to drive growth.

Can you see your customers convening around a common interest or goal? Does community based engagement align with your marketing strategy?

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And critically, think through any potential negative implications of your potential and actual customers talking to each other. It just takes one customer to misunderstand a product or issue to cause problems and give you a bad name. But for many businesses, this tactic makes perfect sense. You need to decide who your group is targeted at, and then be able to clearly define the benefit of the group to them. The better you can communicate the benefit of the group, the easier it is for the group to be filled with the right people. That means a potential customer and repeat customers – but don’t forget this tactic won’t work if you and the community are not providing benefits above and beyond your product.

The title is very important, as the members will join groups that are clear and specific regarding their shared interests. People join clubs and groups to be around people like themselves. The tribal mentality of humans is one of the most powerful drivers of behaviour. Gymnasiums have such a powerful pull because they instantly bind thousands of strangers together with a common interest. When you get started, you’ll want to set up your group as a ‘Closed’ Group so that only people who join will be able to see your content. This makes the group exclusive, another powerful driver of human behaviour. Quality rather than quantity is important, especially in the early days when the community is forming its identity. This means that you want to make sure that you’re filtering and removing those users who are not adding to the group or who are being deilberately obstructive. To this aim, you can also ask new people who join your group some questions before they are accepted.

You can ‘pin’ a post to the top of the group, it’s a good idea to write up a short ‘rules of engagement’ list so that new members know how to best conform into the culture of the group. This will help you maintain the quality of the content being shared, and stop sharp practices such as hard selling or spam content.

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Although this is a community driven platform, make sure that you highly visible. As the admin you’ll carry some psychological weight, but pre-write your content beforehand. Ensure that you are posting every 2 days or so, and that each post provides direct and actionable benefit back to the community. You can re-use your best performing blog articles, whatever you think will benefit the community the most. Don’t forget to also encourage participation in the group by asking interesting discussion points or creating a poll.

Although there is a cost involved, you can use your business page to run a small budget of ads promoting the group itself. Keep the audience targeting tight, and sell the closed and exclusive nature of your community in the ad copy. Don’t post about the group too much on your page, the audience who like your page might not be interested in your group – that’s natural. And of course – join other relevant groups, but post a number of high quality articles providing value before you invite others to join you.

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