Friday, 14 August 2015

How to Turn a Facebook Group into Fan Central

In the first article in my series on building raving fans, I wrote about the difference between influencers and advocates. I looked at the basics of Facebook groups and gave you a set of questions to consider before putting an advocate group together. In this post, I’ll show you how one of my author clients developed an active Facebook group and now uses it as a base camp for advance reader reviews and social media amplifiers.
First Things First
Before she started her Facebook group page, she had an active business Facebook page under her author name. She used the page to link to blog pieces, announce launch parties, invite readers to launch parties of other authors, run contests, and get newsletter sign-ups. She also posted pictures of vacations, favorite recipes, and promoted her Pinterest and Twitter accounts. She ran Facebook ads to promote her free books and newsletter sign-ups as well. She had about 600 fans before she decided to start a Facebook group. If you would like more information on the difference between a Facebook group page and a business page, here is a short informative piece from Facebook.
Start With A Goal
The initial goal was to form a Facebook group of dedicated fans with active social media followings of their own that would grow to 200 members in the first year. Notice the goal has a built-in objective: reach 200 members in the first year. She made her group private so she and another admin could okay everyone who wanted to get in to the group. It was just a formality but allowed them to keep spammers out.
How To Set An Objective
Setting a measurement for a goal can sometimes be tricky. Since this particular author already spent some time on Facebook every week writing content for her author page, she decided that spending additional time developing content for a group would not add that much time to her marketing tasks. There was some time involved up front making a graphic for the cover photo and coming up with a manageable promotion schedule to get the group off the ground.  She decided that she wanted a group that could produce at least 50 advance readers in the first year in addition to 20 or so social media advocates that would share her content and invite others to the group. She based those numbers on the engagement activity she had already seen on her business page.
Why Not Just Use The Author Page?
The author wanted to develop an inner circle. This would be a core group of fans that she could talk with on a regular basis, run ideas by, ask to share her posts, have some fun with, and review her books. Her main Facebook author page was a place to develop reach or get her name out to more readers. But she also wanted to develop a more intimate group of “friends” that were invested in her brand and would develop relationships with other group members as well.
Advocate groups have a bigger stake in a brand. They are already proven fans of your product (books) and since you give them value, they are willing to give back. According to Rob Fugetta’s book Brand Advocates, these inner circle friends are most motivated by helping others. And they are willing to use their platform to build yours.
Give And It Will Be Given To You
Advocate groups like rewards as much as anybody else. Be sure you have a plan to add value to your inner circle. Social media is very much built on reciprocity. Tom Webster, vice president of Edison Research said, “Much influence on the social web is built on a promise of returned favors. We coexist every day on small favors… like if you retweet this, I’ll retweet yours. I’ll like your page if you like mine. The effort to accomplish these things is low—so they are easily done.” Relationships are the currency of the internet.
Your goal to grow your Facebook group needs to be accompanied by a solid plan to add value to your fans to foster a spirit of generosity and thankfulness. Let's call this your strategy.  Our author made a list of “benefits” she wanted to add to her group over the coming year.
  • Two major giveaways exclusive to this group: The 12 Days of Christmas (12 giveaways starting Christmas Day) and another exclusive giveaway in the summer, either related to a book launch or July 4.
  • Offer free advance reader copies of all her books in exchange for fair reviews. This group was dubbed the Advance Reader Team (ART). This group will also be promoted through the author’s newsletter.
  • Regular discussions with members of the group on issues of the day and fun topics.
  • Regular poll questions to solicit feedback on character names, book covers, and pop culture issues.
  • Ask for book recommendations regularly so members can develop a reading list. Fans love to share what they are reading with others.
  • Solicit recipe testers for a series where the author gives out an original recipe in each book.
  • Occasional random book giveaways of her books and books of author friends: 6-8 times per year.
  • Special invites to book launches of other authors with giveaways.
  • Occasional “shout out” video posts and thank you’s to groups members.
  • Other benefits to be determined.
Because this author offered a steady stream of value to her fans (including her own time to answer questions and respond to their posts), she earned the right to ask her group members to help her. They are more than willing to help. These requests included an occasional ask to share an important post, review a book, invite friends to the group, give away a free book to one of their friends, or participate in polls.
Loyalty Is A Slow Build That Lasts
Loyalty comes in degrees and manifests in different forms. Some of your fans are not chatty. Some would rather invite a friend to join the group than post a comment. But the organic growth of Facebook groups, if done right, brings long-term returns. She reached her goal and then some, and has a thriving fan advocate group on Facebook that continues to grow.
What do you think? 

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