I must confess that in my few years of successfully managing clients’ social media platforms, and deciding that it was time for me to create my own niche community for solopreneurs and digital marketing savvies in Nigeria, I had no idea how hard and time-consuming it is to build, engage and manage a thriving community on Facebook, WhatsApp, and BBM Channel!
I didn’t know it required a whole lot of hard work, strategic planning, design, telling stories, understanding human psychology and having patience in getting people to interact with each other in a social group.
I discovered that managing a Facebook group is a whole lot different from a normal Facebook page and therefore, your content can’t be put on autopilot.
This was the situation I found myself, after several months of studying other groups’ strategies
and being a featured guest on a WhatsApp group meetup for African Leaders, I decided to give it a shot the next day being a Saturday afternoon and created my very first WhatsApp group called “Digital Business Insights.”
As I created the channel with shaky hands, my mind was filled with doubts.
“It’s not going to work!”
“What are you going to post?”
“What if people don’t respond?”
“People will see you for who you are and laugh at your mistakes behind your back.”
“You are an introvert Carol! You haven’t even had a normal conversation with your neighbours and you want to manage a social media group with a whole bunch of strangers. What are you going to tell them?”
“Enough!” I silenced the voices in my head. “Well, if I don’t succeed after one week, I’m shutting it down. At least I tried.” I told the imaginary critics.
So I went ahead and created the group. With shaky hands, I added my phone contacts and waited for a miracle to happen.
When nothing happened, I went offline.
After a few hours, I connected my phone to my WiFi and BAM!
The WhatsApp notifications started pouring in.
Guess from where? My New WhatsApp Group!
My new members were already taking charge and asking each other questions.
“What’s the focus of this group?” A contact from Cameroon who filled out a form on my website asked.
“Caroline, you remembered me today?” I blushed because I hadn’t spoken to this other guy in a long while!
“Carol thanks for adding me.” another darling friend and former colleague said.
And the comments kept pouring in.
This was a light bulb moment for me.
I jumped into the conversation before it went cold and started by introducing myself, clarifying the focus of the group and encouraged them to introduce themselves to one another.
Luckily for me, some of them did.
This was a go ahead for me to keep adding more members and repeated the same procedure.
After the introductions died down.
I literally began to hear the imaginary sounds of crickets chirping in the group. The silence was too awkward for me.
That’s when it dawned on me that I was the hostess, the group leader.
You invited us to the party Caroline, so entertain us!
I had to think fast about what to say next to keep the conversation going otherwise these people would leave the ‘party.’
So I began by asking them what they would like to learn from this group.
Some said stuff like wanting to learn how to run profitable online ads, getting clients, etc.
I noted down their questions.
Next, I asked them what lessons they’ve learnt in 2016.
That was my saving grace. The extroverts took over the conversation and started sharing their stories.
I did a sign of the cross. Thank you Lord, now I can rest.
That was how I survived the first day.
And so began my journey as a community manager. I started researching topics to share with the group and I survived the first one week.
I saw no reason to shut down the group after getting positive feedback from the members.
Although I noticed a few of my contacts left the group. I didn’t mind. Maybe they grew tired of the noise or felt that the group wasn’t for them.
I made sure I noted down their names and contacts, never to invite them again.
Next, I decided to resurrect my already dead Facebook Group formerly called Quick Tips Online, now known as Digital Business Insights
I deleted all of the 400+ inactive members and older irrelevant posts.
Next, I renamed my group, changed the URL, and replaced the cover photo with a much cleaner and professional one.
As my Facebook members grew, I got lots of advice from my mentors and applied them.
But the best part of it all is this, I got customers, I got fans who love and respect my efforts, and also got business referrals from these groups.
I never knew I could get so much love from managing a community.
Why Should You Choose Facebook Group over Facebook Page For Business?
1. Support Group: You could launch a Facebook group as a support platform for your current paying clients.
2. Reach: Whatever you post can be seen by most of your members in their news feed unlike Facebook page which is controlled by their algorithm that doesn’t allow most of your fans to see your posts except you pay for advertising.
3. Trust & Thought Leadership: Your members will see you as a trusted thought leader in your industry because they get answers to their questions from you or fellow members.
4. Sales & Referrals: Once you’ve built your brand and audience, you can proceed to monetize your group through the sale of products and services in the future. Also, brands can pay you to advertise their products on your thriving platform.
But You Need A Community Management Strategy
1. Choose a Unique Name for your group:
Like I said before, my former Facebook group’s name was Quick Tips Online. But the name wasn’t unique, it served no purpose. Quick Tips about what exactly? That’s right, so I ditched it for this current one after brainstorming with my friends.
2. Create The Focus for Your Group:
If CNN calls you to explain what your group is about to the world, what will you say?
3. Define Your Ideal Target Audience:
Who are your ideal target audience? What are their needs, interests, demographics? Can you easily convert them into customers? You can download this worksheet
to answer your question.
4. Create Your Group and Give It A Professional Look:
Go ahead and create your group, choose your theme colours that’s unique to your brand and customers’ taste.
5. Create your content theme:
What topics will you share on the groups each day? If you can’t think of any then monitor other related groups for a week to get inspiration or simply ask your members what topics they will be interested in.
6. Plan your editorial calendar:
Don’t post blindly and automate with caution. You could plan your weekly calendar using the following format.
7. Use various content format to engage your community:
Design beautiful images or graphics using canvas or any design software of your choice. Create live videos or share your old videos that is valuable to the group.
8. Share Stories:
I discovered that groups are quite different from pages. Managing a thriving community doesn’t mean adding links to your blog posts on autopilot. You’ve got to put in the work. Ask questions, organize giveaways, comment on other members’ posts, answer questions, if you can’t answer find someone who can.
9. Create Rules & Group Guidelines:
Your members need to know the set guidelines for posting and interacting with each other such as; no spamming, no insults, share valuable information etc. Then either pin the guidelines to the top of your group’s feed or link to it.
10. Monitor Your Group’s Conversation:
Also, get active members or your employees to volunteer as moderators if you can.
11. Spread the word out about your Group:
The tactics I used includes:
- adding the link to my email signature,
- asking members invite their friends,
- asking my first-time email subscribers to join the group,
- introducing myself in new groups I joined and sharing the link in the comments,
- participating in other groups promo days and sharing links to my group.
Hope these tips help you in creating and managing your BBM Channel, Facebook, LinkedIn or WhatsApp group.
Happy Community Management.