Recent changes by Facebook make their Groups rather than Facebook Pages a more attractive option for users, including law firms, seeking to increase their brand or general awareness.
The fact is that Facebook’s recent algorithm changes have meant that Facebook pages are not generating the same level of engagement as their groups, showing a drop in organic reach and creating concern among many Facebook users.
Facebook now has over 2 billion active monthly users with 1 billion of those users participate in Facebook Groups which is an ideal audience for any law firm to target.
As Facebook deprioritizes publisher content and potentially makes brand advertising more important, incouding for law firms and others.
They provide an organic and effective way for firms to engage with their audiences.
Facebook’s recent move reads as an emphasis on “active” participation over passive engagement like views. That means any active participation by customers and users via comments or creation should theoretically be rewarded.
Facebook launched “Groups for Pages” over the summer, which enabled Pages to make groups or simply get them linked. Facebook says about a billion people use groups every month. Groups are attractive to brands because they combine community with “authenticity” — and won’t be punished under the new algorithm changes.
If they do so correctly.
Furthermore, creating your own Facebook groups is not only a highly effective way to reach a target market, but it is also inexpensive.
In the marketing world, agency buyers are increasingly pitching Facebook groups to advertisers.
If you’re not already familiar with Facebook Groups, you need to know that it is a community within Facebook’s platform that users can join and participation and engagement within the group is encouraged.
Groups are built around common interests or goals such as marketing, sport and business or professional areas of interest.
And to be successful, they need to also be targeted rather than generic or general.
There are some very cool things you can do to increase your Facebook groups, by having your clients, friends, supporters tell you what they want to know and having people automatically subscribe to your group. See CMXHub research on this point.
Groups are used by more than one billion people internationally and a significant proportion of
that number participate or engage with their groups.
Group or Page?
Facebook pages used to have Page Insights, which let page owners see how their pages are performing, but this feature is now provided in Groups with Group Insights.
Pages have call-to-action buttons to sign up, learn more etc and can be boosted via Facebook ads.
Comments can be liked and shared. Apps and services can be added so that fans can receive further
information, place orders, quotes and so forth.
Facebook Groups now have Insights and their setting may be either public or private (closed or secret).
Open or Closed Group?
There are 3 principal privacy options: public, closed and secret. Public permits anyone to join, while
closed is one where you can request to be added or invited by a member, while secret is a group that
have to be invited or added by a member.
For law firms using groups for marketing purposes a public privacy setting would be more appropriate, permitting anyone to see what is posted, where they are from and the like.
But importantly, a public setting will also permit the posts to be seen on the News feed and on Facebook’s search function, as distinct from a private or secret setting that will only permit current members to see such posts.
A private group would be more appropriate for a class action or personal injury lawsuit claim, for instance, which is limited to claimants rather than the public.
You edit group settings by clicking the three-dots button beneath the co er photo and edit group settings.
Create Your Group
To create your Group click ‘Group’ under the ‘Create’ button on the left sidebar.
You can also create one under the upper right dropdown menu.
Once set up you need to choose the name of the group, which you can alter later, and then add any friends to get the group operating and select the group’s privacy setting (see below).
Add your cover picture – ideally 820px wide by 462px high. On mobile devices the group name and details
will overlay the cover image.
Then choose th3e group type, which would typically be ‘project’, ‘support’ or ‘custom’.
Now, what are the ‘hacks’ to really get your group moving?
1.Write a Good Description
Write a description which can be up to 3000 characters. Use good keywords and descriptions to tell
new members what the rules are and what the group is about.
Include some rules regarding how the group operates and ensuring it is not a wild west situation and properly moderated. It adds to credibility and the value of the group as a whole.
2. Use ‘FOMO’
Promote your group via your firm site with a “Join our Group” note on the front of the site.
You can post relevant comments or updates from members to generate interest from those coming to your site and build the sense of community that you have with your group. Remember the FOMO (fear of missing out) factor which means those seeing what’s happening in the group will stimulate interest among clients, potential clients and others.
3. Use Facebook Tags
>> Add up to five tags so people can find your group. Facebook will also offer suggestions for you
and y ou should offer locations or multiple locations if you are present in different places.
>> Use a customized URL so it’s easy to remember and share with Facebook and during any meetups or conference. Try and keep it short and memorable.
4. Share Your Group
To get your group off the ground you should share it and invite others to join. You can also use the ‘Add Members’ field on the right of your Group. Simply add their name in the field and your friendvhas joined automatically.
Alternatively, you can enter an email address and any personal note and click the ‘invite’ icon on the right.
Invitations are generally going to be better and more acceptable than having friends join automatically
and let them decide whether they wish to participate.
They permit the posting of polls, documents and the standard posts, as well as the ability to buy and
sell on the group.
They also permit chat with group members and members receive notifications of new posts on the Group.
5. Link to Your Facebook Page
Link your group to your Facebook page. This is a simple move to immediately increase visibility to
your Page fans. You can also post, ‘Like’ and comment as your Facebook page in your Facebook Group.
You will also be providing your clients and potential clients with the ability to interact and develop
relationships both with your firm and one another, thus building engagement and social interaction.
To link your Group to your Page click “Groups” on the left sidebar of your Page. If its not available then go to ‘Settings’>’Edit Page’ and then add the Groups.
If you don’t see the “Groups” tab on your Page, go to “Settings” > “Edit Page” and add the “Groups” tab to your Page.
Once you click on Groups you will be prompted to link a group to the Page and you then hit ‘Get Started’.
A popup will then appear to let you select the group and you then select ‘Link’ and you’ve added the Group.
6. Post Regularly
To create good engagement you need to post items regularly. Initially you will probably have few members and its important to provide good posts two or three times a week at least, which you can reduce as the group grows.
7. Plan your posts
You should look at planning posts using a calendar. Make a point of welcoming new members and invite a discussion to generate interest and debate. Having a planning ‘post’ calendar can make your work a great deal easier and provide the necessary on-going content without stressing at the last minute.
8. Use Your Email Signature
Tell people to join your group on your email signature. Apart from adding your firm details you can easily put your Facebook group onto your email to let people know its there and invite them to join. Simple.
9. Answer Questions
It is important – particularly for lawyers – to answer questions and comment on posts as often as possible. This is part of simply “showing up” on your group. Don’t ignore them and it can be as simple as thanking members for posting or making some point.
Certainly in the initial stages you should do so in order to show you’re engaged and interested and to develop your own trust and authority with the group and asking and answering questions is a great way to do that.
By helping to create conversations and responding actively to issues – even with a simple ‘like’ or comment – you will build your kudos with the group.
10. Use analytics
As you might imagine, Facebook collects huge amounts of data from users – whether they be groups, pages or anything else. Some of that is available to you and you should use it.
When group activity increases you will need to be able to understand how the community is working.
Because Facebook is developing its Group Insights (Facebook Group Analytics) to those groups with more than 250 members, you can access important and highly useful information about the group.
This information is obtained through the ‘group insights’ link on the left sidebar. This information
will be highly valuable in seeing what is engaging your audience the most and developing key metrics
to let you assess how the group is performing.
Insights information will provide you with information relating to key information like membership requests, top posts, the level of engagement within the group, the best time to post and similar information to help build your group’s engagement and popularity.
Using the metrics provided by Facebook will let you build your community, posting when engagement is high, tracking active member growth and providing additional attention for top group contributors.
11. Hold Events
As a lawyer, the ability to hold an event that can be something like an “ask me anything” situation is a top way to build the community.
But there are other events you can use, such as panel discussions, talks and community discussions within the group. All will generate interest and engagement.
You can create an event on the left sidebar and once created invite members to attend.
12. Have a Group Chat
There may be occasions when you want to hold real time chats and you can use Facebook Messenger to do so.
To hold a group chat you need to click the three-dots beneath the cover photo and ‘Send Message’, selecting group members to whom you wish to chat with.
Then ‘start chat’. And you’re away.
13. Go Live
You can use video and access your computer camera to welcome and engage with the group also.
It’s simply a question of accessing the video link on your page and you’re away, talking to your group.
You need to have something to say and ensure you’re selecting proper microphone and camera. Say welcome and thank you for watching to make people feel like they are part of the group and often they won’t see the start of the video unless on replay.
Nor does your video need to be long. But personal involvement can create some great engagement using Facebook’s video tool.
14. Run Polls and Quizzes
Polls and quizzes are great for creating engagement. With a quizz you will know the answer but will be seeking feedback from your group. Members will want to provide their take on your question with a quizz and with polls you’re obviously seeking their views on something posed.
With polls you can ask any random but relevant question to generate engagement, however you can also be very specific with polls and ask members what they are looking for in specific terms.
For instance, do they have a particular class action claim? Are they part of any such claim? Do they need good legal advice but have no lawyer? Be specific and find out key information that can actually help generate valuable leads for your firm.
You can automate some of your work on the group using tools such as “Meet Edgar” which is a scheduling tool that gives you ‘hands free driving’ on social media accounts.
Similarly Buffer is another top tool that can make your social media activity easier.
16. Get Notifications
You should advise members that they can select to receive notifications from the group, which is simply a question of clicking on the notifications link beneath the cover pic. They can then select whether they want to be advised about all posts, simply those from friends or highlighted posts.
This means they can get the notifications in their news feeds and which are relevant to them.
The notification settings on mobile devices are slightly different, but can all be accessed to achieve exactly the same result.
Remember that Facebook Groups are getting better in terms of reach and the functionality that Facebook is providing users. As FB pages diminish so will the groups increase and for lawyers seeking to build their client base, their client engagement and their authority in specific areas of legal work, the Facebook Groups are a great way to do so for relatively minimal effort.
John Bowie is LawFuel publisher and writes on law marketing and related issues.
Here are 17 key steps you can take to increase the engagement via Facebook Groups.
3. Have your website name followed by ‘community’ to link through to your Facebook group – eg: lawfuel.com/community/. Drop the link in any relevant content, podcasts or other content you’re providing where you can provide a community support situation for members.