Facebook Groups have been around for a long time, but it’s only been in the past few years that they’ve really taken off. There are small groups for just about every club, team and community on the planet and larger groups that cover everything from Astronomy to the X-Files.
Unlike Facebook Pages, Facebook Groups are gaining in popularity and engagement is at an all-time high. From a marketing standpoint, Facebook Groups beat Pages because they’re highly targeted – where can you find people who collect antique lace? On the antique lace group, of course!
As a handmade seller, there are three good reasons to join multiple Facebook groups: to learn, to network and to sell. That last one is the one that can get you into the most trouble, so let’s take them in the least volatile order.
Facebook Groups as a Learning Tool
No matter how long you’ve been doing what you’re doing, you can always benefit from the experience of others. You might want to join groups dedicated to other small, handmade and / or online sellers. Here you’ll find loads of helpful information in regard to running and marketing your business. These groups are also a great sounding board for new ideas and they can be a great comfort when things aren’t going as planned.
You can also learn from others who do the same kind of creative work. For example, a group for jewelry designers, woodworkers, or fine artists. Within these types of groups you’ll learn about new techniques, hear about a person’s experience with a particular tool or product and find new sources for your materials.
Facebook Groups as a Networking Tool
Once you’ve spent some time getting to know the members of a Facebook Group, you can start to do some networking. Admire another artist’s work? Suggest a collaboration. Are there other members in your city? Suggest a in-person meetup. Is someone offering services you need? Contact them and ask for the friendly Facebook group discount.
What you don’t want to do is constantly push yourself or your services on the group. Step up only when it’s a natural part of the conversation and don’t persist if the other person doesn’t reply. If you’ve been participating regularly, it’s okay to reach out to members using Facebook Messenger but tag them inside the group first. That way, if you’re not following each other, they’ll know to check their “requests” section if they don’t see your message.
Facebook Groups as Marketing Tool
Facebook Groups can be used to help market your business in two ways. Many handmade seller groups run daily or weekly shared promo threads. You post your item for others to share, and in return you share their items on your social channels. Follow the rules. If the days are themed, only participate when you have an item that fits. If you’re supposed to share three items from other sellers, share three items. Sounds simple enough but you’d be surprised by how many people misuse the privilege. Nothing will get you banned faster from a group than ignoring the rules.
And speaking of rules, find out what the promo rules are for every group you’re in. Some allow promotional posts once a week. Others say it’s okay to promote your item or service in response to another member’s question. What you don’t want to do is spam a group with links to your store.
If you take the time to become a valuable member of the group, you’re more likely to find customers among the members, especially if it’s a diverse group of small business owners.
The other way to use Facebook Groups to market your handmade goods is by joining specific Buy / Sell groups. These groups are like online garage sales. Some are designed to reach locals (excellent if you sell large items) and others target people with a specific interest. If you sell vintage or collectibles, you should have no trouble finding a group that fits. It can be a little harder if you sell handmade jewelry or fine art but try a variety of keywords in the Facebook search engine and see what you can come up with.
Being a Good Facebook Group Neighbor
Remember, a group is all about the give and take. If you ask questions, answer some. You don’t have to be an expert. Lots of people are simply looking for an opinion or a kind word. Always be respectful and remember that everyone is coming in with a different point of reference. Those newbie questions can be annoying if you’ve been at this awhile, but it’s not your place to put them in theirs. Let the moderators handle the drama; that’s what they’re there for.
Finding a group that suits your stage of life and your personality can take awhile. Most groups keep their posts hidden until you join, so don’t be afraid to leave right away if you see that it doesn’t suit you. Keep trying. Check out Facebook’s recommendations and ask your online friends for suggestions. Once you find a group that fits, you’ll be amazed at how attached you’ll become in a very short time.
Facebook Groups make it easy to connect with like-minded people from all over the world. Make a new connection; join a Facebook group today.
If you’re an IndieMade store owner or you’re thinking of opening an IndieMade store, please come and join our private Facebook Group. It’s a super place to get advice, help and inspiration from other store owners just like you.
For more information on how to access Facebook Groups through the mobile app and how to create your own group, visit https://groups.fb.com/