Leveraging Facebook Groups for Research

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Used correctly, you can utilize Facebook groups for more than just socializing. In this lightning round, we uncover the way we use Facebook groups to do customer research, competitor analysis and increase our reach.

The transcript

Talia: If there’s one thing that I’ve noticed lately, especially during COVID, is that there is a rise in Facebook groups. Now, I don’t know about you Ross, but I have been spending a ton of time in Facebook groups lately. I’ve got my parenting groups on how to cope with basically homeschooling children during COVID. I’ve got my gardening Facebook’s groups, and I am going vegan, so I have been learning a ton about, just getting recipes and all this stuff, all in Facebook groups, and having these conversations. I don’t know, I mean, it feels like even though Facebook groups have been a thing for a very long time, I feel like they’re getting more dominant in my feed and everywhere around me.

Ross: I’m with you a hundred percent. My uptake in Facebook groups has definitely risen over the last three years. They’ve done a great job at making Facebook groups a core piece of the Facebook functionality, for better or worse. There’s no question that some Facebook groups are probably doing a lot of harm in passing along a lot of fake news and creating a lot of negative things in the world. But the gardening groups, the groups that are helping people be better parents, the groups that are helping entrepreneurs launch businesses, even be better gardeners. I’m in all of those groups. I can tell you those ones are making a positive impact, and I think they’re going nowhere, anytime soon. I love them.

Ross: There was a piece that Facebook put out back in 2019, where Facebook announced that they actually have more than 400 million people actually using Facebook groups on a regular basis. That’s massive, right? Like 400 million people. They also recently changed their mantra and their whole essence of being, to be this idea of a platform to connect the world. The only way they can do that is through groups, because if you have a profile, you’re not going to accept a friend request from anyone and everyone, but you will engage with these people during Facebook groups. It’s further cemented, in terms of a priority for Facebook, when you look at the fact that they’ve spent like $10 million during the last Super Bowl to promote Facebook groups as a functionality.

Ross: Then again, fast forward to this most recent year, they actually ran ads during one of the most amazing documentaries. I would also recommend that our listeners check it out, it’s called the Last Dance, it featured the last season of the great dynasty of the Chicago Bulls. They ran an ad during that, again, to promote Facebook groups. There’s no question that Facebook is investing heavily in Facebook groups and it’s going nowhere anytime soon.

Ross: And similar to what you just said, there’s a Facebook group for anything, right? There’s a Facebook group for vegan food. There’s a Facebook group for barbecue. There’s a Facebook group probably talking about podcasts. We even have a Facebook group for this podcast. So you can find these different communities, and I think without question, this is something that a lot of marketers overlook. If you go into these communities, you can learn a lot about your audience, especially because they’ve self identified as being interested in a certain topic. If I want to connect with people who are thinking about going vegan, where do you think I should go? Facebook groups, a hundred percent. I can go into these groups and I can start connecting with people, like yourself, and start asking questions and try to figure out what are they interested in? And I can use that to guide my strategy.

Ross: So Facebook groups as a market research opportunity is a real thing. I think a lot of marketers are sleeping on it. I’m excited about this episode because that’s what we’re going to dive into today. Have you spent any times in Facebook groups outside of, as a personal user, have you used it at all from a market research, or even just a observation, or learning a little bit about a space, or anything like that in the past yourself?

Talia: Absolutely 100%. As we’ve spoken about quite a few times now in different episodes, we run surveys with every single client that we start working with. A lot of these surveys are through email, or on the website itself, but we also do surveying in Facebook groups. A lot of our clients have their own communities, their own Facebook groups, or even if they don’t, as you mentioned, there’s a community, there’s a Facebook group for almost everything. We do run surveys in Facebook groups. We ask questions, we look at the conversations that people are having. We’re identifying the different sentiments that people have towards a certain industry, or their challenges, or their pains that they’re experiencing. And then using that in order to inform our strategy to increase conversions. There’s just so much you can do with Facebook groups as a business in order to research your audience and your entire industry. I’d love to hear from you, and maybe break it down for us, Ross, what are the different ways that we can utilize Facebook groups in order to research? What are your main go-to ways and approach?

Ross: When I think about Facebook groups, I think the first piece is you have to start by understanding the fact that the people who have joined these groups have pretty much self identified with that group as a whole. So if somebody has joined a mum group, they’re probably a mum. If somebody has joined a group of baby shark, it means that they probably have a kid who’s interested in baby shark. If they join a group called Disney fans, they’re probably a fan of Disney. When you start by understanding that the people who joined these groups are going to have a specific niche interest, that’s the first validation that you need to know that this is a group that we need to connect with.

Ross: If I was trying to sell to a bunch of people who ran coffee shops, the first thing I would do is go to Facebook search, I type in coffee shop owners or coffee shop founders, whatever that may be, into the search bar. I would click on groups, to see what groups exist with maybe 500, 200, 250, 300, maybe even thousands of people who run their own coffee shop. I would then join those groups, and I’d start to analyze not only the people who are in this group’s actual profile cats. I know it sounds creepy, but there’s a lot of value and insight that you can get just by looking at people’s personal accounts. I would use that to kind of get a qualitative sense for who are these people that are a part of this group. From there, you want to look at, what are the questions that people in this group are asking? What are the questions that are generating a lot of engagement? What are people talking about, et cetera, and use this to also inform your content strategy.

Ross: What do I mean by that? Let’s say, for example, you’re in this coffee group and you notice that there’s a question that constantly keeps coming up, over and over again, about how different should the price be between a small coffee, and a medium coffee, and a large coffee. If you see that question showing up over and over and over again, in that coffee group, that means that you have an opportunity to take that insight, take that question, and maybe turn it into a long form blog post, where you break down the economics of why a medium coffee should be 10% more than a small coffee, or a large coffee should be 2% more than a medium coffee, whatever that may be. I don’t know the numbers, but if you researched it, you could create a piece of content that could act as the best answer.

Ross: And when you have that best answer, not only are you going to be able to rank in Google when somebody is looking for it, you can also share that content back into this group the next time somebody asks it. So it has a double whammy in terms of the ability to add value to you. Not only can you create content that answers this question, but you can also share that content, based off of research and based off of insight, directly into this Facebook group that you’ve gained the insight from in the first place. So that’s one area that I think is oftentimes overlooked for Facebook groups is the way to use it to guide your content marketing approach and your content strategy as well. I think that’s key.

Talia: I love it. These are things that a lot of companies might aspire to do, but they don’t. I think that if you’re looking for that competitive edge, for more than just creating a blog post and hoping that someone will read it, being able to create the content that people really want, and then share it back into the group where you know that people read and care about this specific topic, is key to growing, to getting more traffic, to getting more conversions, to really growing your business. So I love that approach of getting to know them better and then being able to translate all that information into real action.

Ross: Yeah. I love that. I think that’s the key, right? You have to be able to think about, how can we act on some of this information, how can we act on some of the insight that we’re gathering.

Ross: It can feel overwhelming for some folks when they jump into these groups and they’re like, “Okay, what do I review? What do I need to consume? What do I need to use to really inspire the next step?” My recommendation would be review the best content in those groups as well. So don’t think that you need to review every single post in a group that has been around since 2012. You don’t need to do that. You can actually just review the content that you are seeing generate the most comments, generating the most engagement, generating the most likes, et cetera, and use that to inform your decision making, rather than just trying to go through post by post by post and read the comments. You just sort the content by the top posts, and use that to inspire and figure out what is the best content for you to use moving forward when you think about your own strategy.

Ross: The other piece that is interesting, and you spoke on this briefly, is there’s a lot of opportunity here to gain insight into your actual customers. So brands who want to create Facebook groups for their own customers and create groups where their ideal audience are actually spending time, that is also an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to get market research, not only from a marketing lens, but also your own product development and to create something that you know your audience wants. I’ve seen this happen with a ton of different folks. I think you even use this strategy in some of the work that you do, whether it’s intentional or not I don’t know, but in your group, we optimize, I’ve seen people ask questions, and then you go off and you create amazing resources and assets based off of the questions that you’re seeing. I think people and brands need to do the exact same thing. I think that’s another untapped opportunity where you can use your customers and your fans as being your sounding board and first level market research.

Talia: That’s a great point because many of the times when we look at the “we optimize” group, what I do is I just search for the most asked questions. Then I’ll go and create either a blog post, a presentation, or workshop, or something around that, so that people can learn from it, because I notice that this is what people care about. So it’s a great opportunity for us. It’s also a great way for us to get to know people, and building on that, is that when you’re able to do the research. So starting your own community is one thing, but even if you are a part of other communities, even in your competitors communities, being able to just be that fly on the wall and look at the conversations that people are having, what they are complaining about, the things that they’re missing, the top questions that they’re asking, is a great opportunity for you to then leverage it as copy on your website, or on a landing page, or even in an ad.

Talia: Because when you know that the biggest thing that people are interested in is customer service, then you are able to add that maybe as an FAQ, or maybe use a testimonial on your website that highlights that you have that one-on-one personal touch. It’s all about being there, in the moment, and rereading, and really taking an interest in people and what they’re saying.

Talia: Even adding to that, participating in those conversations and being able to just listen, and being able to just figure out, “Okay, what are people interested in and how can I support them and give them value without expecting too much.” It’s part of building your own authority, but it’s also part of listening, giving value to people, so that when you do have an offer later on, they are more willing to listen to you and accept it and check it out because they know that you normally supply so much value anyway, as a free option. So why not check out the stuff that isn’t? So I feel like that is also a great opportunity when it comes to Facebook groups.

Ross: 100%. Let’s drop the mic. I think that’s exactly the way that we should wrap this thing up. Folks, if you want to see a Facebook group where we are trying to do exactly what we are describing on this episode, go to facebook.com/groups, Action Driven Podcast. Be sure to join our Facebook group, we would love to connect with you in there. All right, let’s sign this off. Talia, tell these fine folks what else they can do to help give us some love.

Talia: Don’t forget to rate us, but only five star reviews, on any of the platforms that you’re listening to, and check out our website, and yeah, we’ll see you next week. Thanks for listening.

Ross: Bye folks.

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Ross & Talia
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