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Two growth hacks for the price of one

I was thinking about the problems around reach for Facebook pages, where legitimate pages with interesting content cannot reach their audience. I noticed the scale of the problem when it occurred to me that although I like a lot of pages I was only seeing the updates from Facebook pages with huge numbers of likes, or those updates shared by good friends, or updates that were sponsored. So I was seeing useless junk like this below:

Facebook has made a number of changes to how pages can reach users, meaning that if you manage a page, you’ll see the organic audience for your posts shrinking and shrinking. That is, unless you want to pay for the privilege of reaching your audience. Understandably, a lot of people are up in arms about Facebook shifting the goal posts like this.

But then I noticed something else, and it struck me.

Groups.

About six months ago I started seeing posts from a small closed group that I couldn’t remember even joining. It was group for the cult webcomic Achewood

I would see what felt like every update from this group in my Newsfeed. When I wake up in the morning and check my phone, I know I’ll probably see an update from a member of the Achewood community in my recent news feed, along with updates from my friends and the occasional annoying sponsored post.


I didn’t mind seeing these posts, and although I only rarely clicked them, I didn’t begrudge them being there at all. It just struck me as strange that this group was having such success displaying posts to its members.

I decided to so some research on how groups work, and how they are different from pages. Like I always do when something on Facebook is confusing me, I decided to see what Jon Loomer thinks about it.

2 important differences between pages and groups:

#1 Rather than conversations on pages which go from owner-to-all, on groups they work as all-to-all.

#2 When it comes to alerts, on groups all members are notified of each activity, against no alerts on pages. 


This leads me to think that because posts in groups are created by the community, rather than by just the page owner, updates are seen by everyone by default! 

This would bear out why I saw this post from a group which was dormant, presumed dead.


Testing on my own groups

In one small closed group for which I’m an admin (meaning I could see how many members ‘saw’ a post) I saw that 65% of the group saw almost every post, sometimes it was slightly more. I had a look at the members of the group (I know them all professionally) and I could identify about two thirds of them who regularly check their Facebook. 

So everyone who was on Facebook near the time of an update saw the update!

But Matt, groups have no neat features like pages do!

Yes I know. As Jon Loomer says, 

‘Groups are great for generating discussion among a community of like-minded peers. 
While there is an admin, that person doesn’t necessarily drive the discussion.’

Ok, so a group isn’t going to work if you want to sell handbags or cricket bats on Facebook necessarily, but when could it? Groups are great for community events, like meet-ups, hackathons or other small professional events that aren’t quite conferences.

But what if you don’t have just a community, what if you have a brand that you want to promote? Here’s two small hacks:


  1. Managing your own group

You want to pick and choose what content you push out through your page, knowing that you have limited reach and if  you post a lot that reach will go down; it’s a balancing act. With a group, you needn’t worry; you can define the tone and direction of conversations on the group by being the power user. 

In the same way you might tweet smaller updates from your brand’s twitter, these updates are ripe for getting a conversation going on your Facebook group and they could lead to sales.

But what if you don’t have a group?


2. Using Graph Search to find your audience’s (or your competitor’s) groups

We know you can’t let all of your fans about your big update without paying for an ad, right? Well there is another way: Use Graph Search.

With Graph Search I can search for ‘groups of people who like Makeshift’ (Makeshift being the name of my page). 

I might not be able to reach these people with my page, but there’s nothing to stop me joining these groups that overlap heavily and sharing the content I want to share there. This way everyone will see it, and you’re still only sharing content with people who are interested in your brand.


The Makeshift group

At Makeshift we tend to spend a lot more time on Twitter than Facebook, but that’s mainly because we enjoy the back-and-forth conversations and sharing that happen when we share content that interests us, as well as content we’ve published ourselves.

But a Facebook group - a place where a community can share ideas and articles and discuss it with each member’s actions given equal weight - sounds like a great idea. So here it is.

Hope to see you over there!

Photo Credit: Todd Huffman via Compfight cc