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How to make the most of Facebook groups when promoting your online course

With the rapid development of all things digital in general and social media in particular, new marketing ways and opportunities emerge all the time. Today, I am taking a closer look at Facebook groups and their immense potential to build brands and gain widespread awareness.

With people cooped up indoors, they are a great way of coming together, sharing interests, offering feedback and support in these troubling times. It’s important to take the time to understand what these groups are and how they work.

As an e-learning entrepreneur, if you play your cards right and get enough of your audience engaged in a group, you can generate a lucrative snowball effect.

Facebook pages are (very) different from Facebook groups

If you run an established online course business, you probably already have a Facebook page for it. It allows you to present yourself and what you do in a somewhat static manner – it’s like an online billboard that you can update from time to time and use as a platform to share opinions or messages.

Read more: 6 Tips on using Facebook to grow your online business

A business Facebook page can help you see valuable audience analytics, communicate with your target audience, and feature calls to action. On the other hand, a Facebook group is a community of people who congregate around your brand and share information, ideas, and feedback. The group may be public, private, or even secret, created for existing and potential customers who want to communicate among themselves and get to know you and your business better.

Facebook groups are highly effective but need constant maintenance

After being in a few groups for a couple of years, I have learned that where there are conversations, there are also disagreements. Just think of the recent US election – people who share a preference for a particular brand don’t necessarily have convergent political views. With a tiny spark, there can be wildfire in your group.

That’s why a moderator (you or somebody you trust and is willing to act as one, pro-bono or for a fee) needs to be always on the watch and make sure the tone and mood are kept civil and positive. Unlike a business page where it’s quite all right to answer comments or questions after a few hours or even the next day, groups function well because of their high engagement. That can only be maintained by continuous interaction.

Read more: 4 Basic DOs and DON’Ts of responding on social media

The rules need to be clear and reiterated from time to time

The internet can be a wild space, and you want the people in your group to feel safe. That’s why rules are fundamental – they can be about conduct, language, permitted posts, and whatever else you find necessary. It’s usually best to discourage promotions of any kind lest your group wall turns into the Yellow Pages.

We all know trolls are very active, and to avoid them, on top of the "group rules," you should have some sort of screening in place for joining. You can ask one or two easy questions about your products, your brand, or what makes them want to join the group.

If you indiscriminately let everyone in there, there's a good chance that instead of growing your audience, you’ll only end up antagonizing your loyal followers. It may come as a surprise to you, but "Nigerian princes with hidden treasures" are still very active on social media.

Post frequently and at peak intervals

Being active on a Facebook group is even more important than posting regularly on your blog and business page. As soon as you establish a certain rhythm, you will notice that people come back regularly and respond to you and others.

Another great perk of groups is that members feel encouraged to share their own content, thus starting conversations and increasing engagement. Think of your group as a fan club of sorts – people are happy to be there but are also expecting something special.

Make sure you offer some exclusive content, run contests and giveaways, and consider having some physical promotional materials you can offer either at a small price or for free – pens, coasters, bookmarks, notebooks, mugs, masks, or even something as small and symbolic as stickers.

Read more: Why you should consider offering an online course for free

Closing thoughts

Facebook groups are very popular right now. Ninety million small businesses use Facebook for promotional purposes with rather promising results, so you should get on the bandwagon if you aren't already on it. Make the most of the journey using the above tips!

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