How to Start and Grow a Facebook Group (for your online course)

How to Start and Grow a Facebook Group (for your online course)

Anna Gray, host of Our Community Café and an expert in Facebook groups, talks with me about some of the key strategies for starting and growing your Facebook group.

Anna is a mother of two daughters whom they adopted from China and is celebrating her 20th wedding anniversary in a few weeks.

She is an operating room nurse in addition to running her online business. [OMG! How does she do it ALL?] She has been launching and growing Facebook groups for over nine years. She lives and breathes Facebook groups!

She has experience in building some highly interactive Facebook groups and, admittedly, has also made some mistakes along the way that she wants us to avoid.

Question # 1. Anna, many of my Course Creators need to grow their audience for their online course and they want to do it organically. Is a Facebook group a good way to do that?  

Answer: Yes, absolutely! Facebook groups are perfect for most businesses. If you are a service-based business, like a coach, consultant or have an online course, then a Facebook group is perfect for you. Service based businesses are there to serve and have relationships with people and Facebook groups promote relationships.

Why? Because you are building a community where you are giving people an opportunity to connect with each other and that helps you build trust with your audience.

Question # 2.   Anna, What are some of the first steps Course Creators should follow in setting up their group?

Answer: Anna said to look at what your service is first. What are you providing? Look at the big picture and ask the question, “What is the journey I want my member to go on?" 

She said that many Facebook group owners build a community with as many members as they can and then throw a lot of content at them. Then, they wonder why they have a dead Facebook group.

Instead you want to start at the beginning by picturing the customer journey. Think about how your members will transform in this group.

As an example, in her group, she promotes community. She wants her members to be a part of a community and have those meaningful conversations. She said it’s not the content in the group that makes the group special, but the conversation in the group that builds up a community.

You want your members talking with each other; about their problems and how to solve them. That’s what makes a community special.

The bottom line: Conversations build the community support and trust. We want people talking with each other and Facebook rewards conversations in Facebook groups.

Facebook rewards conversations in Facebook groups

Question #3. Anna, I hear a lot, “I don’t want open a Facebook group and just have a few people in it.” What’s it like in the initial stages (like the first few weeks) of launching your group. What should you do?

Answer: Anna said that everyone has to get over this obstacle. Even she, who hosts a group about community, started her group from scratch.

She said to think about this. You are sitting by a campfire, hanging out with your friends, just sitting there having a conversation. That’s how you start with your Facebook group. It’s very low key and easy for people to be a part of. Tell them that “I’m just getting this group off the ground and it’s a start up group.” They will appreciate your honesty.

Question #4. What are some of the best ways to find your ideal customer for your Facebook group.

Answer: Don’t be surprised when I answer…other Facebook groups! I’m a huge proponent of finding your ideal customer in other Facebook groups. When you’re helpful and provide value in other Facebook groups, people will take notice.

It’s not about spamming. It’s about answering questions, networking and just being helpful.

If you are in a group that you really enjoy or connect with people, it’s a perfect place to connect with someone who’s your ideal customer or someone who may know your ideal customer.

This will take time and work. It’s not about instant gratification. It’s about putting in the hard work to get the right person in your group.

What’s the value? You provide value by showing up. As an example, I have a friend who’s a travel blogger. She provides “off the beaten path” travel  itineraries. There are a lot of great travel Facebook groups. She goes into travel Facebook groups and answers questions by just being helpful. By doing this she has positioned herself as the go to expert.

Question #5. Some of my Course Creators already have a Facebook group, but they complain that it’s dead. Basically no one is interacting. Is there a cure for this?

Answer: This is a great question. My advice is don’t give up on it yet. First, look at who did show up in the past. Also, evaluate at your own behavior. Have you been consistent in the group? Once per week is not enough! If you are only showing up once per week, it just won’t work. Facebook is a “fast freeway.” How will you capture your member’s attention if you are only showing up once per week?

Next, I want you to reengage to test the waters. One way to do this is just confess. Tell them that you have been missing in action, but.....

You will be surprised at how many people are still there and value your presence and what you have to offer.

If you receive some good comments and feedback, then keep the group. Those people still find you valuable and you should not start from scratch. Go back to what I said previously about evaluating your customer journey and think about how you need to engage with your group going forward.

If you don’t want to do a confession post, you can also reengage with simple Facebook hacks like gifs. Facebook loves when you use their technology and you get more brownie points for using their own technology.

These efforts will give you a very good idea of whether or not you should keep the group or not.

Encourage interaction in your Facebook group

Question #6. How much should we be posting every week? Once per day, twice per day, etc. We are so busy, and a concern is that a Facebook group will take up so much of our time.

Answer: You’re right, online business owners are overwhelmed. It’s one of the reasons why people don’t open Facebook groups because they are worried about the extra work.

We do need to post once per day to be seen, but I want you to make it one juicy, meaty post.

Why? Going back to the Facebook freeway analogy, we are busy as people. When do your members check their posts? Rather than trying to find them, when you create one good conversational post with a call to action, you will catch someone on the Facebook freeway.

Even if your post dies down during the day, you can give your posts a little love throughout the day. Such as commenting on someone’s post, adding a picture, gif, etc. … Facebook likes action and community conversation. They will give you brownies points. When a post gets “love”, it goes back into the feed.

There will be failed posts and that’s ok. We use that as a learning tool. We’re human…not perfect. One juicy post a day, with a call to action, will go so far in engaging with your community.

Question #7. Any other tips you have for us about Facebook groups?

Answer: Just give it a chance. They can be so great for growing your audience organically. It’s 100% doable. Take a step back and be an exception to the rule. You can have a great group without taking up much of your time.

Want to listen to the interview with Anna? Click below. (Warning: this was an informal conversation and be forewarned that we were interrupted by puppy and a phone call!)

Thank you, Anna, for all your great guidance and suggestions on Facebook groups! Do you want more tips from Anna about Facebook groups and building the community for your online course? Join her weekly workshop here: