Business, Social Media, Yoga

Using Facebook Groups

Last week I dipped my big toe into the Facebook pool.  Today I want to talk about FB Groups and how they should (and shouldn’t) be utilized. There are huge differences between FB pages and FB Groups. “A Page is meant to be more of a broadcasting platform one-to-many (though obviously you should be engaging with your fans also), whereas Groups are meant more for equal collaboration and discussion amongst a group of people who are related in some way and/or share some sort of similar interest.”  While each can and should be used by yoga business owners for marketing, networking and connecting to their tribe – they can and should be used in different ways. 

Facebook groups can be formed for a number of reasons to accomplish any number of goals. They can be formed by a business or coach for teleclasses or programming, by membership association,  formed to start a movement,  to promote your business and to network.

Here’s the DL on Groups:

  • Facebook Groups can be public, closed (anyone can find Group, only members see posts) or secret (nobody can find the Group unless added by a member).
  • There are two ways to join Groups – a Facebook friend adds you or you ‘ask to join’ and an admin of the Group accepts your request.
  • Groups don’t allow much branding at all. You get only your profile picture (a small square image), and nothing else.
  • Groups don’t allow other tabs/applications. This means you couldn’t run a competition, or have a contact page, welcome page or anything like that.
  • Group posts don’t go to your newsfeed. Instead, you get a ‘notification’ that someone has posted in the group. This can be both good and bad – it’s good because people definitely won’t miss it, no matter how long after you post the content they log onto facebook. HOWEVER, sometimes when there is too much posting going on it just gets so annoying a lot of people choose to change their notification settings so that they don’t receive these anymore. As the posts aren’t fed to your Facebook newsfeed, you effectively forget about the group forever because there is nothing prompting you to visit.
  • Groups allow ‘shared documents’ as well as group chat.
  • Fans of a Page cannot see everyone else who is a fan. Members of a group can see other members of that group.
  • Both Pages and groups can create events, post images, allow commenting/liking, restrict posts to only admins, and create polls.

*This list was created by Cara Pring on The Social Skinny.

I am totally ashamed to admit to how many FB groups I am a member of. It’s a disturbingly high number.  Every so often I go through the list, leave some and update others.  But my membership issues with FB groups isn’t really what I want to talk about today.  I really want to talk about how yoga business owners can use FB Groups for more personalized networking and marketing.

I am all for FB groups, obviously – I participate in them, moderate them and network in them. However in order for them to be beneficial to the members of the group and to the administrators, we need to remember that they serve a different function than Fanpages. There are two killer mistakes I see yoga teachers and studios making when it comes to creating and participating in Facebook Groups:

Mistake #1: Creating a Group instead of a Fanpage

If you’re running a business and using Facebook as a marketing tool to build your tribe and email list, you need a Fanpage.  FanPages are the official profiles for your business. Using a Facebook Page to connect with your students is a form of community development and it’s free advertising. The big bonus here is you don’t have to be a member of Facebook to view a Fanpage. This allows you greater access to your growing tribe and potential new students and a new student pool is essential for studios and teachers!!  A Facebook Page is the page of your “brand” -Own it, use it wisely and grow it organically.

Mistake #2: Joining a networking group and spamming the crap out of them. Networking groups are designed not only to promote, but to support. If you’re just promoting in your networking group, you’re doing it wrong.   Here’s a great example- if you’re in a networking group filled only with other yoga teachers promoting your “introduction to yoga class series” there really isn’t going to get you jack shit for enrollment. Even worse, it’s going to piss off the people you’re trying to network with- why would another studio owner want to enroll in your into to yoga class? She wouldn’t. Networking is the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically :  the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. It’s about cultivating relationships, NOT simply promoting your shit. If you’re just there to promote, you’re better off buying add space and leaving the group. 

The business of Facebook can be tricky, but these days, it’s practically essential to grow your business. Be sure to update regularly, keep your tribe engaged and offer something of value. ALWAYS offer something of value.  If you use your page or group only for promoting your workshop and classes you can kiss brand loyalty goodbye.  Even worse, there’s a good chance that your members and friends won’t be returning to your page anytime soon.

Inspiration

Cleaning your Online Livingroom

A few weeks ago I read a blog post that resonated,  the Art of the Deleting People. Synchronicity in play, I read it at a time when I was feeling the need to hide posts and block users.   I block on the regular. I block bigotry. I block negativity. I block whining.  Block & Hide…it’s the shadow boxing of the Facebook generation.

Earlier this week a good friend posted a FB update: “I’m going to turn my life around after seeing an inspirational picture on Facebook – Said no one, ever.”  It totally irked me and I hid the post in lieu of commenting and getting into a irrational FB discussion. I think it bothered me so much because I do believe that people will move to change their situation when they are surrounded by positivity and encouragement.  That sort of cynicism and misanthropy gets under my skin and makes me aggressive. Negativity begets negativity. no?

I’ve never actually deleted any of my Facebook acquaintances.  There’s a certain level of guilt associated with it. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I don’t want to cause drama. I’ve been deleted before and it has always left me with that WTF feeling. I remember when my former PR agent deleted me after a big fight resulting in us not renewing our contract.  I was stunned. It pissed me off, but mostly I thought it was just so very 8th grade. A 30something year old woman acting like a teenager.  Now I almost understand it. She deleted to move on. (Well, probably not, since she didn’t delete my business partner who had equal share in our decision to not renew- but I choose to take the optimist view).

In the past,  I used Facebook to build my list: promote my yoga classes, promote my health coaching business and doula practice and to promote LBG. It was all about social marketing for gain; more people in my classes, more clients signed on, more tee shirts sold.  Now that I’m not slinging tee shirts, teaching yoga, or coaching health, life and birth  I find myself getting more and more frustrated with my feed. It’s filled with I’m-not-pitching-but-I-am-really-pitching-you-a-sales-pitch posts, women fawning over the same successful 6-figure business women, “friends” I don’t even recognize and friends that are no longer an active part of my life.  My online living room is in shambles and doesn’t reflect where I am in the present moment.  It doesn’t fit and the stupid sales fliers are piling up in the corners, blocking the view of things that currently matter.

So I decided to clean up shop.

I didn’t hide or block. I deleted. I let go, and moved on.  My life is in a different place now.  People can always find me here and on Twitter. If there are people that are truly upset with being deleted, then reach out and actually connect with me. You have my phone number, you have my email address. Use it. If you can’t send a message or pick up a phone there’s no merit to being upset that I removed you from my facebook friends list.  To the 450 business connections that I just let go, we’ll reconnect in another time and space when it’s right.

I feel lighter.