Note from Sean: There’s always a lot of debate around Facebook and if it’s the best platform with which to grow a community or business. If done correctly, and in the right niche, Facebook groups can be a powerful asset.
But there’s a right way to do it, and in today’s post, Olivia Angelescu walks you step by step how to grow your subscriber base through Facebook groups.
It was the beginning of 2016, and I was finally ready to build my own freedom business. I had constantly been thinking about this for a few years (I won’t go into any details here about why it took me so long).
I had gone through a lot of online training and all the free webinars I could get my hands on, in my desperate attempt to learn all I could about it (and yes, I am a total courses junkie!).
By the time my simple website was up (I am all for starting before you are ready), I had a crystal clear business idea. And between reading Sean’s article here and Derek Halpern’s article here, I knew one thing:
I NEEDED AN EMAIL LIST, and I needed it FAST!
But where to start?
I had zero connections online, nobody knew me. I was just a random woman from Romania who had this crazy idea that she could suddenly start an online business.
All my corporate friends thought I was crazy. I even remember my mother asking me for the 4th time if I was sure I was not trying to do something illegal online.
I also had another “small” problem: I had no money to invest in marketing.
I had spent all of my budgeted funds on a few expensive online training and courses. Plus, I didn’t want to ask my husband to help me with this, as I was not quite sure if I would be able to make any money at all.
So all I had was a deep desire to make this happen and some free time. And by “some free time” I mean not that much, considering at that time I just had my second baby and I was so sleep deprived!
The Importance of Guest Blogging
But since I was following all the gurus on the planet (well, almost all), I noticed one thing they all had in common: they all talked about how they use guest blogging to grow their lists.
Ramit Sethi, Derek Halpern, Amy Porterfield, and our own Sean Ogle. They were all swearing by the power of guest blogging. I knew that guest blogging would be 100% free and I also loved to write. So it made perfect sense for me to go ahead and try it immediately.
So, I started with guest blogging and yes, this helped me add my first 100 subscribers.
But it also took me a few months. At the beginning I didn’t exactly knowing what I was doing so, I spent a lot of time trying to find good websites to pitch my articles. Now I have an entire process for this that I use for my clients, but this came with a lot of experience.
Also, while guest posting was great, it would take an average of one month from the time my article was accepted until it got published. So the results were not as immediate as I hoped.
But once you become familiar with guest blogging (or you develop an entire process around it, if you are like me) things start to move quicker. I’ve added almost 100 subscribers to my list in the last month using only guest blogging.
I don’t want to expand too much on this because Alp Turan did such a great job already covering the ins and outs of guest posting which you can check out here in the ultimate guide to guest blogging.
By July 2016, I’d been doing a lot of research to find the burning needs of my target audience. I did this both because I really wanted to develop a killer freebie for my opt-in page and also to have a few ideas about what kind of products I could develop in the future.
I think that being a curious person while also a total research geek really helped me because one day I instantly had the feeling that I had finally found the golden goose!
So, great, I had all my ideas but not much else. Here’s what I was starting with:
- A stellar opt-in offer
- No one to promote it to
- Zero marketing budget
One night, when my baby was crying and I couldn’t get any sleep at all, I had this idea that I could build my email list by only using assets I already had.
You see, between all the free and paid online courses and my interest in online marketing and freelancing, I was already part of more than 87 Facebook groups! And they were full of people who I knew needed to hear about my freebie.
But wait, before rolling your eyes about being in so many groups, let me say that I hadn’t had the time to properly explore them all (have I mentioned I was deeply sleep deprived?).
So you know what the best part?
I built my list in 5 days by using only 3 of those groups!
Yes, that‘s right. And now I am going to show you, step by step, how I did it.
Step 1: Research Facebook Groups
I began by spending 2 hours going through each of the Facebook groups I was in and carefully choosing the ones I wanted to use for my experiment. In the end, I had a list of 10 very good groups, but I decided to start with only 3 of them, as this was all I could focus on at that time.
In the process, I also unfollowed more than 40 groups (what was I thinking when I joined them in the first place?). They were nothing but groups where everybody just posted links to their own stuff.
Hint: Try to stay away from those spammy types of groups. Why? It’s simple: people will be attracted to you only if you add real value to their lives (like inspiring them, helping them out for free, teaching them stuff). And if the group is only about pitching, your good stuff will get lost in the shuffle.
If you’re not already a member of any good Facebook groups to start with, here are two ways you can find them in under 5 minutes:
Method 1: Go to your Facebook homepage and type in the Search bar keywords related to your targeted audience.
In my example below, I wanted to find groups where solopreneurs hang out.
Method 2: Or, you can go to your Facebook left side bar and click on Groups.
Then Facebook will show you:
- all the groups your friends have joined
- local groups in your area
- a lot of other groups categorized by topic (Funny, Identity &Relationships, Buy and Sell, Spiritual, Food etc.)
Now you just have to go through as many of them as you can. Carefully read their description (to make sure it is really what you need – a place where your targeted audience is present) and then ask to join at least 30 of them.
I say a big number like 30 because, at the start, you can only see the group description and the number of members. Once you are inside you’ll also get a clear picture of the quality of the discussions within the group.
If you are accepted into a group and you see that the level of discussions inside is not the one you are looking for, do yourself a favor and leave the group immediately. They are a terrible place to find any leads, as there isn’t any space for quality networking when everybody just tries to pitch everybody else.
Step 2: After joining
For every group you joined, carefully read the group guidelines. You can usually find them in a pinned post at the top of the group page. This is important because you want to respect the house rules. It is common curtesy and if you don’t pay attention you can get kicked out.
Accidents can happen, of course, especially if you’re new to the group. If you do accidentally break the rules, make sure you say you’re sorry right away and fix up your content.
Also, for each group, make sure you know if they allow any form of self-promotion before you start posting.
Make a plan
I basically don’t do anything before making a detailed plan first. My husband seems to get quite annoyed by it sometimes, especially right before we have to plan out holiday… I wonder why!
So I took a simple sheet of paper and I drew three columns. At the top of each column, I wrote the name of each of the Facebook groups I was targeting. Then I added three lines for the three days of the week I could spend 30 minutes in each of the groups.
Try to make your introduction as memorable as possible. Compliment the group host (in a sincere way), speak a little bit about yourself and what you do (without adding links to your website), and be as human and relatable as possible. You could also speak about your family, your pet, what you love to do in your free time, etc., anything to start making real connections.
Now, before going to the next step, you have to go into each group and make your powerful introduction, don’t skip this part. If you are new to a group (or if it is a lot of time since you last interacted with the group), then do this first.
The idea is that you want to see those Facebook groups like a room full of real people with whom you will start networking.
So first you will stand up, thank the group host for this opportunity and then effectively introduce yourself, right? Just like in real life.
Step 3: Take action!
For the next three days, I strictly followed my plan. I showed up in the groups two times per day (mornings and late evenings) for at least 15 minutes each. I searched the group for keywords related to my topic or area of expertise and I answered all the questions I could find on it.
When I didn’t find any new questions, I just tried to jump into the latest conversations and help in any way I could. And by helping I don’t mean being generic: I really tried to add as much value as I could.
- I gave my detailed feedback on some logos
- I helped someone find some spelling errors on her new sales page
- I answered a few polls questions
- I just honestly congratulated those who were posting about reaching a milestone
All I did is just basic stuff, but I was completely honest in any feedback I provided and I had the mindset of 100% trying to help. I didn’t spend one second thinking about pitching anything to anyone.
Step 4: Go for it!
On the third day, I posted the same message in all the 3 Facebook groups, at the same time.
Note: Looking back, that is definitely something I have learned a lot from. I didn’t consider that those groups (on roughly the same topic) could have shared members who would see the same message posted by me in all the 3 groups. Some of them considered this to be spammy.
This is not something I would do again, make sure you avoid posting the same thing at the same time in different groups, even if you don’t have any intention of being spammy.
So I posted the three messages introducing my freebie and then I went to bed. The next morning, I woke up to this:
Yes, that’s more than 500 comments from people thanking me and even saying that they are willing to give me money if I was ever selling an expanded version of that freebie. As we all know, this is a very powerful validation that your product idea will sell.
And this was in only one of those groups. The response was amazing in all of them.
I checked my MailChimp account: 360 subscribers in 8 hours!
In the following days, after further updating my initial post in the groups to make my opt-in link more visible and even personally reaching out to many of those who commented on my post, I added another 50 people to my list and wrapped it up at 410 subscribers.
As you can see below, in the print screen taken from my Mailchimp account for that particular list, I started at zero and in July (on the 27th to be more exact) things exploded (at least for me, a total beginner who thought that it will take a lot more than 8 hours to go there).
This and my initial guest blogging results allowed me to quickly build my list from zero to 500 subscribers when I was only starting out.
As you can imagine, what I got was an immediate boost of confidence and motivation that helped me a lot.
So where am I, a few months later? I am proud to say that I still haven’t paid one dollar on marketing and I still use my free time to network in Facebook groups.
Now, because my 1 year old goes to daycare, I tend to have a little extra time. But guess what? I am also very busy working: I am fully booked for my VIP package. Care to guess where I got all my paying clients from?
Yes, still Facebook groups. I have a process now for getting clients from those Facebook groups, especially from the groups that have zero tolerance for any form of self-promotion.
I have learned a lot since my first attempt. For example, I would never make the mistake to post the same thing all over the internet at the same time again. Now, I have an entire process around it which I use all the time. It works.
I am sure it can work for you also. Go ahead and give it a try. As long as you remember the most important rule (to network in those group just like networking in person) you can have tremendous results.
Olivia Angelescu helps solopreneurs and small businesses make more money with simple and effective marketing hacks that really work. No more waiting for years until your biz takes off! She has launched and grown her freedom business without a marketing budget and she shows others how to do the same. Find out more here: http://oliviaangelescu.com/