November 20, 2019
Using Facebook Groups for Your Shooting Sports Business
If your business has been on Facebook for a while, you might be asking yourself, “Why don’t people like our posts anymore?”
There’s a simple answer, but it’s probably not the one you’re expecting. The truth is that Facebook has been throttling reach on every single post made by every single business for more than three years now.
It doesn’t have anything to do with shooting sports content. It doesn’t have anything to do with free speech. And it doesn’t have anything to do with you. So what is the problem?
Facebook used to be free. Now it’s not.
Paid Versus Free Content
That’s a big piece of information to get your head around. Facebook still feels free. You don’t get a monthly bill, for instance. But, if you’re a business and part of your marketing strategy includes posting on Facebook (and Instagram) you are, in fact, being asked to pay.
Like a lot of things on social media, there’s not an outright, in-your-face message. Your credit card isn’t being charged. You didn’t have to enter payment information when you signed up. But make no mistake, there’s an ask, and it looks like this:
“This post is doing 75-percent better than your other posts. Would you care to boost it?”
That’s right, boosting posts is the way Facebook is asking you to pay for being there, asking you to pay in order to reach your audience.
Every organic post you ever make will only reach 2 to 6 percent of your total fans, with a few exceptions; those exceptions are the ones that create those boost messages. Even when your fans ask to see everything you post, which Facebook makes intentionally difficult to do, they rarely see it all. That’s just not how the newsfeed is set up.
Does that mean you have to run ads constantly? Is this an all-or-nothing game Facebook is playing and, if so, what does that mean when it comes to content your followers want, but Facebook says you can’t post?
Thankfully, there is a way to reach fans and post sensitive content that gets a little closer to what social media was intended for in the first place: engaging your audience and participating in conversations they find valuable. That’s where Facebook Groups come in.
Pages Versus Groups
You probably already know some of the differences between the standard Facebook pages and Facebook groups, but let’s take a look at some of the primary points.
The major difference between the two is that Facebook pages and all the content on them, including comments and reviews, are public. Facebook groups, however, can be secret, they can be closed, or they can be public. The differences between these types of groups can be subtle, and some of the privacy details depend on how your group is set up, but the main differences are:
- Public group: Like a Facebook page, everyone can see everything.
- Closed group: Everyone can see content and members if they click on the group in your sidebar or find it by accident, but can’t participate unless they’re invited.
- Secret group: No one can see that the group exists unless they’re in the group.
There are benefits and drawbacks to each, but the main distinction with all Facebook groups is that groups get more of your content in front of people who have expressly asked to see it. Even Facebook still sees the value in letting its users have more access to things they raise their hands for — and if it’s your business they’re raising their hands for, that’s a potential lifetime customer you can connect with.
There are some things you need to keep in mind when using Facebook groups.
First, take the name literally. A “group” is just that, a bunch of people who get together. On Facebook, they’re getting together for discussion, and it’s up to you to lead the discussion.
Get your content-marketing hat on if you’re going to make Facebook groups work for your business. Your posts can’t be only about a sale or your inventory.
A Facebook group is also a bad place to just talk about yourself. It is, however, a great place to talk about your customers. One good way to moderate a Facebook group is to ask a daily question: Who was the last person you went shooting with? What’s your favorite firearm to have on the range? If you could choose one accessory to have this season, what would it be? And so on. There’s no limit to the number of things you can talk about.
While focusing on your group page, you don’t want to stop posting on your Facebook page’s regular newsfeed. With an active group, though, you can cut the number of regular posts you have to create up to half. Now, that’s not because you should post half as much, but because every other post should be about your group.
Think about it: Because Facebook and Instagram have throttled the content’s reach on your regular page down to next to nothing, make that trickle of content on that regular page count by saying, “Hey, the real conversation is happening over here in the group. Come join us!”
Ultimately, you’ll have to decide if content marketing in Facebook groups is right for your business. You might not have the time to moderate a group, and make no mistake, no group at all is better than a poorly moderated one. But if you find that connecting with your current and potential customers via social media and having discussions with them ultimately moves your bottom line and grows your business, Facebook groups is one of the best ways you’ll ever find to do exactly that.
About the Author
Ben Curnett has been a marketer in the outdoor industry for 15 years as a copywriter and digital marketing strategist. After being awarded best campaign creative for Bridge Day West Virginia by the West Virginia State Tourism Board, Curnett became one of the first marketers in the outdoor industry to focus exclusively on social media marketing. He has worked closely with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter’s ads teams, helping to create one of the first Facebook advertising case studies for small and medium-sized businesses.