Facebook, and it’s algorithm, are both a tremendous tool and headache for bloggers. For most of us, our audience is on Facebook. Meeting them there is an essential part of engagement and growth. But with reach down for Pages and paid content drowning out our posts, is it time to look to a new tool? It’s time to diversify your Facebook strategy by considering Groups versus Pages – which is best for your audience and goals?
Although Facebook is now a cornerstone of the online world, it wasn’t all that long ago that a blog Facebook page was the “new” thing. Over just a few short years that presence has evolved into a huge piece of online identity. Now, establishing a Facebook page is an essential branding component for blogs, businesses and anyone with an online professional identity.
All of that growth comes with challenges. Now, the number of Facebook pages is enormous – over 50 million small business pages as of January 2016. That makes for alot of online noise that your audience has to wade through before they can engage with your page. Accompanying that huge number is another startling statistic. According to Facebook, the overall average organic post reach is just 2%! It is still possible to have substantially higher number – my pages average a reach 3x the number of followers and engagement is a steady 10%+ with spikes significantly higher – but it takes constant monitoring and adjusting.
Is there another option?
The answer is both Yes and No. Facebook Groups have offered an alternative way of creating community that is tremendously beneficial, for some bloggers and business owners. The key is understanding how and when to use both Groups and Pages.
What’s The Difference?
Pages, as much of a hassle it may be to wrestle with Facebook, are an incredible tool for any entrepreneur. Equipped with powerful analytics, demographic information, and targeting tools, you have resources at your fingers tips that have previously been limited to large marketing firms with substantial budgets and corporate clients. You can input your email list and tell Facebook to find people that match that audience. You can narrow down an ad’s audience by zip code or interest or age or gender. For those of us who have monetized our blog, this allows a specificity in our social media strategy that is unparalleled. But, it has it’s limits. Facebook’s analytics are not 100% reliable – it’s not uncommon to see a post that says 2 have seen it when it has 30 likes. The most powerful tools – the ability to target those posts – applies to those who have a marketing budget for paid Facebook promotion.
What if you don’t plan to pay for Facebook ads?
There is still value and a reason to maintain and grow your Page.
- Native Facebook scheduling means you don’t need an external service to schedule your social media ahead of time.
- Professionalism means that you need to be where your audience looks for you – and that’s on Facebook. Having an active, relevant Facebook page is an expected part of the game for those operating in the online space.
- When it comes to visibility, your Page is key. If a reader wants to share your blog with a friend, it is likely that they will try to tag your Page – something they can’t do if you’re only maintaining group
If you’ve been reading my blog or are on my email list, you might have noticed that I am a huge fan of Facebook groups. I admin several, am a member of several more and they absorb the majority of my personal social media time. Since a good bit of my work day is spent on Facebook and other social media networks, my newsfeed is typically filled with more professional related topics than personal. As someone who is passionate about online community, that’s just not what I’m looking for on Facebook. So, I choose to spend my time in groups with online friends who share my interests. I am a member of business groups, blogging groups, equestrian groups, photography groups, and military spouse groups – all of which represent different aspects of my life.
But is a group right for your blog and blog audience?
Let’s look at what Groups can do. With Facebook trying to stem user frustration with increased ads, group posts seem to be enjoying more visibility under the current algorithm. If your audience is reading, clicking on and responding to the posts in your group, they are much more likely to see them than the posts on your page. And, in my experience, those comments and likes are easier to get in an established group. The inherent nature of groups – multiple people talking back and forth – encourages engagement in a way that is hard to match on a page. If your blog niche is built around a common interest, then a group is a great way to let your audience connect with each other through that shared interest. For me, this has always been the most gratifying aspect of blogging and groups are a powerful tool in facilitating a place for that connection to be made.
Kristen Smith this group is an amazing resource. I’m just starting out as well (I’ve been writing intermittently for just over a year now) and since joining this group I’ve learnt so much! –Amanda, member of Mil-Blogging Buddies (a group for military community bloggers)
The downside with groups is that they take do take time and attention to grow. There is no native scheduler available inside Facebook groups so unless you plan on posting everything in real time (and that’s a quick road to burn out!), you’ll need to invest in one of the schedulers that allows you to post to Groups. I use Coschedule because after testing, I found it to have the best visibility for my audience. Just like your page, you’ll need to moderate it. When you bring more voices to the conversation, you also exponentially increase the chances of disagreement. As the owner of the group, you have a responsibility to your members to create and nurture an atmosphere free of harassment, bullying and nastiness.
It is also important to note that you’ll need to take time and effort to grow your group. Starting conversations, inviting new members and making sure it consistently delivers value to your members is on you. Not sure how to do that? Come on back on Thursday for well-tested formula for group success!
Is it for you?
In general, a group is a good experiment to try if your blog has a central topic your audience can unite around. Healthy recipes, parenting, a love of DIY, military life, entrepreneurs, pets – the potential is endless!
What is stopping you from leveraging the power of Facebook Groups to grow your reach and circle of influence?