facebook marketing

(352) How to sell in a Facebook group (without annoying your members)

Would you like to make more sales in your Facebook group but are worried about annoying your members?

If this sounds like you, you’ll love this podcast episode on how to sell in your Facebook group - without appearing pushy or ‘selly’.

Whether you’re just starting your Facebook group (or are thinking about it) or have been running one for a while, there’s tons of tactics you can start using today to make more sales in your Facebook group.

I also share how I generated around £8k of sales from a tiny group - in less than 90 days.

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode}

In December 2018, I closed my free Facebook group, which had 13.5k members, because it was no longer generating enough leads and sales for my business.

Looking back, I realise I made the mistake of giving away tons of free content in my group, but not selling nearly enough. This created what the sales expert Jessica Lorimer refers to as ‘baby bird syndrome’ i.e. I had a core group of members who were hooked on my free content, but did not want to invest in my paid products/services. In fact, some members became quite indignant when I ‘dared’ to sell in my own group.

In March 2019, I decided to open a small Facebook group ahead of the launch of my new online membership programme: Build Your Audience.

This group, which has around 200 members, was intended to be a focus group for my new membership programme. I offered free content/training in exchange for feedback and discussion about my new programme.

To avoid ‘baby bird’ syndrome, I decided to ‘train’ my members to be sold to. This meant making offers for my paid products and services right from the off.

In fact, I made the first paid offer just three days after the group opened and generated around 8k in sales in less than 90 days.

With that in mind, here are six tips for selling in your Facebook group - without feeling sleazy.

1. Give your Facebook group a clear focus/niche

If you want to generate leads and sales in your Facebook group, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to sell to members. This doesn’t mean trying to flog them your products/services the minute they join the group, but you should have a clear idea of the journey you want to take them on - which is much easier if you have a clear niche.

For example, if you are a pilates instructor, you might think it is a good idea to start a general Facebook group for people who are interested in pilates. But staying ‘general’ not only makes it difficult to generate content ideas (if you try to appeal to everyone, you usually end up appealing to no one).  It also makes it difficult to lead people towards a specific paid offer/service.

Choosing a tight niche that brings people together with shared backgrounds, interests and experiences e.g. pilates for runners, pilates for busy mums, pilates for women over 40 is likely to be much more successful.

For example, one of my clients pilates instructor Louise Humphrey recently opened a Facebook group specifically for runners who are interested in pilates. Not only is she finding it easier to create content, she is also starting to make sales.

Remember that leads and sales from your Facebook group won’t always be direct - Louise was recently asked to do a series of ‘pilates for runners’ by a running club president - he’d been referred to her group by a friend, was impressed by the content and reached out to Louise without prompting.

Learn more about how to find the right niche for your business. 

2. Qualify your members

Having a large Facebook group may sound impressive, but it’s much better to have a small group, filled with your ideal clients than large numbers of people who don’t. So do be picky about who you let into your group.

Facebook groups currently allow you to pose up to three questions to people who want to join your group. Use these to ‘qualify’ members before they join and don’t be afraid to turn people away who don’t feel like a good fit.

For example, the three questions we ask people who want to join my Build Your Audience Facebook group are:

1. Does your business currently generate enough income for you to live on?

2. Are you more interested in (a) building an audience for an online course/membership (b) attracting more of your ideal clients online (c) both

3. What is your email address? If you decide to share this, please be aware we may send you relevant news/offers. We will not share your email address with anyone else.

This helps me identify people who are at the right stage in their business and might be a good fit for my signature programme, Build Your Audience, further down the line.

If you’re worried about people getting offended about you selling, here’s a great tip for you. One of my clients. Redhound for Dogs founder Debbie Humphreys uses one of her three questions to tell prospective members that there will be paid offers in her group and ask if they are ok with that? No one has ever said ‘no’ to that question, she tells me.

If you make people aware you will be making paid offers in your group, right from the off,  people are far less likely to get upset with you. And if they do, you can remind them that they were told about it when they joined the group. If they’re still not happy, they don’t have to stay in the group.

3. Establish clear rules and boundaries (and don’t be afraid to enforce them)

Having clear rules and boundaries about what is acceptable in your Facebook group (and, crucially, what is not) should help prevent problems further down the line. We have four rules in my Build Your Audience Facebook group:

 

Introducing a ‘no lurkers’ policy was a little controversial at first. But if you're building a Facebook community, the last thing you want is members who absorb all the tips and advice in the group but never give anything in return. And asking people to take a few minutes to introduce themselves is not a big ask. In fact, it can give shyer members the encouragement they need to participate in the group. If they can get over the first barrier - introducing themselves -  everything else will feel much less daunting.

4. Create engaging content

You can’t just set up a group and expect engagement to happen. As the group founder, you need to make it happen. That means showing up in your group every day (in fact, multiple times a day) and providing valuable content. This is something Gordon Burcham talks about in How To Build An Audience Through A Facebook Group. 

Having regular posts - for example, inviting people to set goals on a Monday and/or celebrate their wins on a Friday - will help you stay consistent. It will also help you build a sense of community. If people know you host a Facebook Live on a Friday or a group Q & A on a Tuesday afternoon,  it won’t take long before this becomes part of their routine. And this is what will encourage them to keep showing up, week in and week out.

One of the best ways to find out what kind of content to post in your group is to ask your members what they are struggling with. That question alone can provide you with months worth of content ideas.

Remember also that people love conversation and debate. So if you’re starting great conversations in your group, every single day, people will keep coming back for more. Asking questions and using polls can be a great way to keep the conversation going.

If you are hoping to sell in your group, it can be helpful to divide your content into three ‘types’: awareness, consideration and purchase content so you can gently lead your members through a buying journey - without going straight for the big sell.

Awareness content: this content relates to your area of expertise and general information about the type of products you sell. So as part of the marketing for my Social Media Engagement Playbook, I recorded this podcast episode on how to create social media posts that sell (which I shared in my Facebook group).

Awareness content can also include specific questions that raise awareness of a product/service you are going to sell in the future. For example, prior to launching my Social Media Engagement Playbook, I invited people to vote on which cover they preferred for the publication.

 

Consideration content This is where you get more specific about your product or service in order to help people decide whether to buy. For example, I created this video showing people the inside of my LinkedIn Content Strategy Playbook prior to it going on sale.

Purchase content: this is the straight up selling part, where you might write a social media post, host a Facebook Live or post a video with a clear call-to-action to buy your product/service.

Most people are great at creating awareness content but fall down when it comes to the other two categories – often because they believe that it’ll come across as too ‘salesy’. So if you’re worried about selling too much, chances are, you’re probably not actually selling enough.

5. Sell early (and train your audience to be sold to)

If you don’t make offers for your paid products/services right from the outset, your members will get used to only receiving free content from you. So when you do put out a paid offer, you may find they are resistant to being sold to. In my new Build Your Audience Facebook group I made a paid offer within three days of opening the group - a masterclass on launching an online course.

At just £42 + VAT, it is a relatively small investment - perfect for someone who is just getting to know me and my products/services. I then sold my Social Media Engagement Playbook, another masterclass on how to write social posts that sell before offering my new online membership programme Build Your Audience (the reason for setting the group up in the first place). Further offers included my Social Media Video Playbook and how to launch a planner for your industry masterclass plus meet ups in London and Reading.

To give you an idea of the conversion rate, 48 group members (of around 180 at the time) purchased my Social Media Engagement Playbook and 16 joined my Build Your Audience programme. While the conversion rate began to tail off a little once the novelty of the group wore off, I still made consistent sales.

6. Get your members involved in conversations about your products/services (before you put them on sale)

If you’re worried about appearing pushy or ‘selly’ the best thing you can do is start conversations about your products/services way before you even put them on sale. So for example, as in the example of my Social Media Engagement Playbook, you can ask people to give you feedback on your product/service.

Question posts are brilliant for this. I explain more about how they work in this post on how to write social media posts that sell but this is basically when you ask a question on social media that is so easy for your audience to answer, they can’t help but get involved.

For example, in the run-up to the launch of my playbooks (a series of online guides on a specific aspect of building your audience) I could ask:

  • Which of these topics would be most of interest to you for upcoming playbooks?
  • Which cover do you prefer for my new playbook?
  • Which name do you prefer for my new playbook?
  • Would you be interested in a playbook and masterclass bundle?
  • Which sales page do you prefer for my new playbook - A or B  

Turning these questions into social media content not only allows you to talk about your products/services (without being pushy or ‘selly’), it also gives you genuinely helpful feedback. So it’s actually like a form of therapy for business owners.

Having regular posts - for example, inviting people to set goals on a Monday and/or celebrate their wins on a Friday - will help you stay consistent. It will also help you build a sense of community. If people know you host a Facebook Live on a Friday or a group Q & A on a Tuesday afternoon,  it won’t take long before this becomes part of their routine. And this is what will encourage them to keep showing up, week in and week out.

One of the best ways to find out what kind of content to post in your group is to ask your members what they are struggling with. That question alone can provide you with months worth of content ideas.

Remember also that people love conversation and debate. So if you’re starting great conversations in your group, every single day, people will keep coming back for more. Asking questions and using polls can be a great way to keep the conversation going.

If you are hoping to sell in your group, it can be helpful to divide your content into three ‘types’: awareness, consideration and purchase content so you can gently lead your members through a buying journey - without going straight for the big sell.

Awareness content: this content relates to your area of expertise and general information about the type of products you sell. So as part of the marketing for my Social Media Engagement Playbook, I recorded this podcast episode on how to create social media posts that sell (which I shared in my Facebook group).

Awareness content can also include specific questions that raise awareness of a product/service you are going to sell in the future. For example, prior to launching my Social Media Engagement Playbook, I invited people to vote on which cover they preferred for the publication.

 

Resources

Build Your Audience Facebook Group 

Build Your Audience Programme 

Redhound for Dogs

Pilates For Runners Facebook Group 

[344] How To Build An Audience Through A Facebook Group (podcast) 

How to write social media posts that sell (online masterclass) 

Rev.com*

Kapwing

Social Media Engagement Playbook

LinkedIn Content Strategy Playbook

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn

[329] What’s working on Facebook right now with Liz Melville

Do you feel like Facebook is constantly changing and you can’t keep up?

In this podcast episode, Facebook ads specialist Liz Melville shares her thoughts on what’s working on Facebook right now, including whether we should ditch free Facebook groups, why the algorithm isn’t to blame for poor engagement on your content, plus what you need to know to get started with Facebook ads.

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes}.

Here’s an overview of the advice Liz shares in this episode.

Get good at creating organic Facebook content before spending on paid ads

If you’re struggling to sell your products/services, you may think Facebook ads are the answer to your problems. But remember Facebook ads are just paid content. So if you don’t understand how to write engaging copy for your Facebook page - and how to select the images/videos that will attract your ideal client/customers to your organic content, you’ll end up wasting money on Facebook ads that don’t convert. This is why Liz recommends you get good at creating organic content before investing in paid Facebook ads.

Don’t blame the Facebook algorithm if your content isn’t getting engagement

If you’re posting regularly on your Facebook page but you’re only getting handful of likes and comments - you may wonder if it’s worth having a page at all.

But if this sounds like you, this is nothing to do with the Facebook algorithm. “It’s because your content is rubbish,” says Liz.

The way the Facebook algorithm works is that the more people who are engaging with your content (through comments, likes and share), the more people will be shown your posts.

This means there is a lot you can do to improve your engagement and generate leads and sales for your business (without spending a penny on advertising).

Creating engaging Facebook content is about solving your customers’ problems

Liz believes posting content that helps your ideal customers/clients is the best way to get engagement on your content. Which is why questions, polls and/or anything that encourages your audience to engage in a conversation with you works really well.

Many business owners find themselves in a ‘chicken and egg’ situation with their Facebook page. Because few people are engaging with their page to start with, even great content may not get shown to many people. The only way to break this cycle is to find ways to get your ideal customers/clients over to your page.

Engaging in relevant online communities, adding the link to your Facebook page to your email signature and starting comment pods (groups of business owners in similar industries who commit to commenting on each others’ content) are some of the ways Liz suggests you can break the cycle. But she warns against getting friends/family to like and engage with your page as this may result in your content being shown to the wrong type of people.

Free Facebook groups are still worth the effort -as long as you’re seeing an impact on the bottom line of your business​​

Many business owners are reporting that it’s getting harder to get engagement in Facebook groups. So is it still worth having a free Facebook group? Liz Melville believes it is - as long as you’re seeing an impact on the bottom line of your business.

Liz closed her free Facebook group at the end of 2017 because engagement was poor and she wasn’t seeing an impact on the bottom of her business. Janet closed hers at the end of 2018 for the very same reason. Both are now building their Facebook communities around their page, which is working really well. And they are both still using pop-up Facebook groups for free challenges (as part of their email list-building strategy) and report that setting up smaller, more focused groups that they close at the end of the free challenge is much more effective than having free groups that are open all the time.

Listen to: Why I'm closing my 13.5K Facebook group 

Do your own Facebook ads before you outsource

Liz believes it’s important to do your own Facebook ads - or at least learn how to find your way around Facebook Ads Manager (Facebook’s tool for creating and running ads) before outsourcing to a specialist. If you understand the basics, should you decide to outsource, not only will you be much better equipped to find the right person to handle your Facebook ads, you’ll also be able to diagnose and fix problems if the need arises.

Build a relationship with your audience before you try to sell anything​

One of the biggest mistakes beginners make with Facebook ads is thinking they can ‘cold sell’ their products/services - without building a relationship with prospective customers/clients first. But as Liz points out, people aren’t on Facebook to buy. They’re on Facebook to socialise with their friends/family. So unless you’ve got your targeting absolutely spot on (like the companies who managed to sell Janet a running belt  and ponytail beanie hat because they knew exactly what kind of content their ideal customers would be engaging with) people are unlikely to buy from a person/company they have no prior relationship with. And even if you’re targeting is spot on, most people need a bit of ‘warming up’ before they buy, says Liz.

Understanding your customer journey is key says Liz. She uses a three stage approach she refers to as ‘attract, build and convert’. An effective way to attract your ideal customers/clients can simply be to start by turning a Facebook post that is getting great engagement into an ad (which is different to ‘boosting’ a post, which Liz advises against).  For example, prior to launching her 2019 Media Diary, Janet invited her Facebook followers to vote on the cover they liked best for the diary, which got lots of engagement. According to Liz, this would have been the ideal kind of post to convert into an engagement ad. The next step is to build a relationship with this group of prospective clients/customers by re-targeting them with more engaging content. For example, Janet created a media calendar as a ‘lead magnet’ for her 2019 Media Calendar - a downloadable pdf with key dates/awareness days for January, which is basically a DIY version of the 2019 Media Diary. Facebook users who had downloaded Janet’s free Media Calendar were then re-targeted with ads for the 2019 Media Diary (the ‘convert’ phase)

Read: How to create a media calendar for your business 

As Liz points out in this episode, serving up cold Facebook ads to your audience is a bit like asking someone to get into bed with you on a first date. You need to ‘woo’ your prospective customers/clients before you even attempt to start selling to them.

Podcast shownotes 

  • Liz Melville’s business story (and how she’s honed her niche) (4:44)
  • How to improve your Facebook marketing (8:10)
  • How to increase engagement on your Facebook group or page (14:30)
  • How to create engaging content on Facebook (20:08)
  • Do free Facebook groups have a future? (28:32)
  • What you need to know about Facebook ads (37:15)
  • How to get started with Facebook ads (46:45)

 

NEW PODCAST EPISODE

Do you feel like Facebook is constantly changing and you can’t keep up?  In this podcast episode, Facebook ads specialist Liz Melville shares he thoughts on what’s working on Facebook right now, including whether we should ditch free Facebook groups, why the algorithm isn’t to blame for poor engagement on your content, plus what you need to know to get started with Facebook ads.

You can listen here: http://bit.ly/2RJRok6

Teaser: So it becomes about, ‘How do i get that engagement?’ and most people will say there’s no point me trying because the algorithm is gonna stop people from seeing my content.  And it’s simply not true, you can get that engagement, and if you’re not getting it, it’s because your content is rubbish!

12:38

Here’s what you’ll learn in this episode:

  • Liz Melville’s business story (and how she’s honed her niche) (4:44)
  • How to improve your Facebook marketing (8:10)
  • How to increase engagement on your Facebook group or page (14:30)
  • How to create engaging content on Facebook (20:08)
  • Do free Facebook groups have a future? (28:32)
  • What you need to know about Facebook ads (37:15)
  • How to get started with Facebook ads (46:45)