Here is how I organically grew my new Facebook Group from scratch to 531 members – all previously strangers – in 30 days.
I would define the process in two words: hard work.
First I researched how dozens of other Facebook Groups grew and realized that online ads played a big part in their growth.
Some people like to experiment without the use of online ads, like me.
First things first, I chose a niche. It was a little rocky at first because I chose a confusing name for my community without taking into consideration that SEO is important for titles (give me a break, this was my first crack at Facebook Group community-building).
My original group title was “Promote Your Passion!”
Ew, what does that even mean?
Then I realized a few days into it that no one would search for that, aside from people looking for a one-night stand.
I defined my niche and changed the name to “Entrepreneur Passion!”
Much better – the title clearly defines who I’m going after – passionate entrepreneurs.
You might be going for dog trainers.
Or elementary school math teachers.
Or fast food restaurant employees.
Whoever you want in your group, get clear on who that avatar is.
Next we need to set up your page.
Make sure you have a kickass cover photo, just like you would for your company Facebook Page or personal profile. This is absolutely critical as future members will see this as the first consideration for joining your group.
If you use a blurry, irrelevant, spammy, untrustworthy photo, you will attract the wrong crowd.
Then take some time to write up your group’s description. This is the second piece that potential members will see in Facebook search results.
Here’s what I use, let’s dissect it:
“This is a group for entrepreneurs, freelancers, hobbyists and hustlers looking to grow their passion projects into real businesses.
We host daily live videos and expert interviews to answer your top business questions. Let’s learn together!
From marketing to business advice, learn how to build a following for what you love to do.
Share inspiring quotes, images and goals for the week.
Share exciting business wins.
** Please no spam, self-promotions or inappropriate language. Help others, ask questions and have fun!”
In the first paragraph I describe who the group is for (don’t put “everyone”!).
Then I describe some cool, engaging, daily content to look forward to and what members will learn.
Lastly I mention the no-spam posting policy, which I feel is important to include (some people still do it anyways).
Take time to craft a description that is relevant to your niche.
Next you’ll want to decide whether you should have a closed or open Facebook Group. I recommend keeping your group closed to start, as you will want qualified, relevant members to join, not just Average Joe on the street.
Closing the group also allows you to do something quite valuable: ask qualifying questions.
This is an absolute MUST if you want to grow your email list following as well.
You can ask members who show an interest in joining to see if they’d like to leave their email. Here is the question I ask:
“Would you like to learn tips to grow your following? If yes, include your email here.”
It’s a simple, innocent question, and 30-40% of my members share their emails willingly.
That’s permission-based marketing right there!
You can ask up to three qualifying questions, but I’m not interested in making the experience too complicated to join, so I stick with two.
Make sure you also get a custom link for your Facebook Group. This link should be added to all of your popular social media profiles for promotional purposes – for me, I only included the link in my Facebook profile and Page. Not optimal exposure on my end, but everyone’s approach is different.
Also, I would recommend using your Facebook Page as the Group Admin, especially if it aligns with your marketing strategy. The benefit here is you will receive organic Facebook Likes for that Page as people who join your group will check you out (aren’t we all profile stalkers?).
Now you’re probably wondering how to get people to click that Join button, and I’m going to lay it all out for you. This is the fun part, and it really only takes three main steps (although I’ll share other growth strategies too).
I join the top Facebook Groups related to my chosen niche (in this case it’s entrepreneurship), up to a maximum of five. I join popular groups with at least 5,000 highly engaged members. Chances are you can find popular groups in your niche as well. I stick with five groups because it can be quite distracting to receive notifications from dozens of groups, especially when I want to have a laser-focus on my growth goals.
I ask questions and get involved in the groups. This shows I’m actually interested in the topic and in helping others. Plus I get potential business leads for being genuinely helpful 🙂
I individually private message 50 members from these groups every day. This is critical if you would like to reach 500+ organic members in 30 days. Reach out to 50 new people every day, every 24 hours. There is a message limit on how many times you can request to chat with people before you need to start typing in those annoying security captchas, and that is 50.
Here is the script I use to connect with these people:
“Hey [MEMBER NAME], glad to see a fellow [GROUP NAME] member! Thought you might like to join an exclusive [YOUR NICHE] community to help [BENEFIT GIVEN] here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/YOURGROUPNAME/”
I head over to the “recently joined” members area and hit up each new person who has Facebook Messenger activated on the list.
Then the next day I’ll hit up one of the other five Facebook Groups.
I never add anyone manually (except for my brother, he wanted to be added).
15-20% of the people I message will then request to join my group by their own will, just because most people feel special when someone invites them to an exclusive community.
The majority of my Facebook Group’s growth thus far has been the result of these 50 daily messages.
But I wanted more growth than this. Who doesn’t?
After joining the five relevant Facebook Groups, I posted my link to each group with Admin permission. I found some success here, but wish I had asked the Admins to pin my group post for a day. Here was my message for a social media marketing group:
“Hey fellow social media marketers!
Question for you. What is your favorite social media platform and why? Would love to hear some success stories from the group.
For our fellow entrepreneurs here, thought I’d share my fun new Facebook Group in case you’d like to join:
(Admins, absolutely no hard feelings if you need to remove my post)”
I threw in a couple of emojis and called it a day. Some Admins approved the post, others took it down. I managed to get a few new members from my efforts. The important thing is to ask a question at the beginning, before sharing your group link. That increases the likelihood of your post getting accepted and read by others.
After getting involved with the relevant groups, I then started to look at all of the blogs that talked about entrepreneur Facebook Groups. I messaged the bloggers to get my group listed.
90% of bloggers never responded, even though most had actually requested that readers share interesting group links!
Then I thought I’d comment on the blog posts mentioning Facebook Groups. Usually I’d commend the blogger’s fantastic post, followed by my Facebook Group link. I’m not sure if this really drives results, but at least my link is out there for others to check out now.
From a long-term perspective, I like the PR outreach strategy of connecting with top bloggers and getting them to mention my group, either in the form of a listicle or guest post. This takes time and ongoing relationship-building to see success. As a short-term strategy, I would use blogger outreach as a secondary focus.
One method that really took off near the end of the month was giving away gifts in exchange for members adding their friends to the group. One of my members brought her entire team of 15+ people on!
Create a free content giveaway related to your niche (mine was a PDF guide on marketing strategies). It’s important that you give something of value to encourage your members to participate in future. I called my giveaway post “Giveaway Wednesday!” to make it fun for the group.
One thing I wish I had done was pin my giveaway post to the top that day. Then new members would have joined in on the fun too.
Next, I headed to Twitter and did a whole lotta experimentin’.
What I love about Twitter is I was somehow allowed to message hundreds of people without receiving any type of spam warning. Maybe it was because I was fairly personal with my messages, although I still had a script in use when commenting on Twitter posts:
“Thanks for the share [NAME]! This exclusive community of passionate people could really be a great fit for you: https://www.facebook.com/groups/YOURGROUPNAME/”
I always went with some variation of this message.
To make my outreach easier I’d search with important keywords. Since I was going after entrepreneurs, I searched for anyone tweeting the following:
“need job” (these people might be starting a passion project in their spare time)
…You get the idea. Use the search to find people who would be interested in your group. Sort by the latest tweets and have at ‘er.
Out of 100 Twitter messages, I’d likely receive five more new members on average. The challenge is having someone click the tweet link when it will lead the person to another social media platform.
From a user experience perspective, I’m already facing an uphill battle to convert these users over. Now they have to load their Facebook app to see the group. What if they’re not logged in? What if they don’t like Facebook? Too many obstacles, hence the lower conversion.
Add in the fact that Twitter has the lowest engagement rate of all top social media platforms and I might as well throw my hands in the air.
Nevertheless, I like the limitlessness of the platform and recommend you try it out.
Next I tried LinkedIn. After 15 messages to others, I was permanently blocked from sending my group link. So much for that.
As you’re building your Facebook Group, take time to create daily posts and engage with members. I make an effort to like and comment on every group member’s comment with the intention of building a highly engaged, frequently visited community.
Go to other Facebook Groups and see what questions receive the most engagement – replicate those success stories for your group.
Implement a rhythm of weekly scheduled posts to re-inforce your existence. Use polls, images, files, and live video to increase engagement.
Live video is a fantastic way to increase your engagement with group members. You will receive a three-fold increase in engagement, just from live video content alone.
Attrition is natural in any community. People will always leave your group without saying goodbye. Combat this by disapproving spammy posts and creating content that members would find valuable and engaging. It really comes down to relevancy as you’re hopefully adding the right people to the group.
After trying these growth strategies, it’s definitely worthwhile to experiment with Facebook Ads.
For proper organic growth and testing purposes, I refrained from using ads in this test. I also did not invite anyone, except my brother (with permission).
If you follow all of these steps for your business, I guarantee you will be able to get to 500 members very quickly. Once you hit 500, people will start to naturally find you in search and join based on popularity alone.
Once you’ve built an engaged following, you’ll be able to use your group as a selling tool – people will want to buy from you based on your hard work, advice, and valuable content.