Do you have a Facebook group for customers? I’ve heard from quite a few shop owners that their customer community Facebook group is a big deal for growing their business. Maybe you’re not impressed with your Facebook business page–that doesn’t mean that a group wouldn’t work well for you!
At least for now, Facebook shows your group members what’s in a group without that pesky algorithm blocking your posts from most of your audience. I am not sure exactly how Facebook decides which posts to feature in your members’ news feeds, but I can definitely say that I get much much much more engagement on my posts in my Facebook group than I do on my Facebook page, even though the page has more subscribers than the group has members.
But a Facebook group is not meant to be the same as a Facebook page–another place for you to broadcast your information. Instead, it’s meant to be a place for your customers to meet and connect with each other. Your role is less about promoting your business and more about fostering community, inspiring customers, and answering questions.
Wondering how a Facebook group would work for your business? Facebook groups seem to work very well for crafty businesses, where the customers are creating things they want to share. I’m really impressed by what Lisa Spearman has done with her customer Facebook group for her sewing pattern business, Twig + Tale. Below, she’s going to share how she started her group, what she uses it for, and how it helps her build her business.
Why Lisa started her customer Facebook group
Lisa: I decided to start the Facebook group when I had reached the point where my customers were really comfortable conversing with me via email. Customers would email me for pattern support, ask questions, send me finished pics of their “makes” and were generally just conversing, which was so wonderful. When the business started to grow, this personal communication became a bigger commitment on my time than I could afford.
The move to a group setting still allowed me that personal communication of answering questions directly, yet others could also see the replies which cut down the time commitment immensely. I absolutely love to see the amazing items people have made from my patterns, but I didn’t anticipate how much inspiration they provide for others too. The group has become a real community for like-minded crafters to ask questions, give/receive advice, share pics of finished garments and simply have a place to connect. Twig + Tale group members are an incredible bunch of people–so much inspiration can be found in what these talented ladies are making. From first time sewers to seasoned professionals, the same desire to create is within us all, and there is a fellowship amongst us which is supportive and kind and I think just a little bit magical.
I want people to know there is “Lisa” behind Twig + Tale and we are not a faceless company. I am essentially one person, creating patterns in my treehouse studio in the forest (with the help of some passionate colleagues), and am available for pattern support, purchasing support and a general “how’s things?” when needed.
How Lisa promoted her business’ Facebook group
Lisa: I got the word out by:
- Adding a link to the group on each sewing pattern
- Providing a link to the group in my website and Etsy receipts
- Adding a link to the group on my Facebook page
- When promoting a new release online, I sometimes have the discount code in the pinned post of the group, so customers need to join the group in order to receive the code
- Link to the group in my email signature
- Link to the group on my website FAQ
How Lisa directs her customer community
Lisa: At this point, it is more customer led. Customers can ask questions and have myself and/or other group members assist, they can share images and chat amongst themselves for ideas and inspiration. Group members are sometimes sewing not just for themselves, but selling the items they make. The group provides a forum for people to chat about related business questions, such as pricing, compliance, craft show display etc. too. Rather than directing conversation I am there in a support role, or am promoting a new release, giveaway, blog post or other information. I often have intentions of weekly prompts, but they never seem to wiggle their way into my schedule ;)
How she promotes her business with the group
Lisa: I find it an easy and fast way to communicate promotions, new releases etc. I find it is my primary form of communication with my customers. When I launch a new pattern I post in the group and encourage the other people who “tested” the pattern to share pics of their test versions too. Same goes for giveaways hosted on my blog/Instagram/Facebook etc. I promote them all inside the group with a link.
I only started on Instagram in earnest recently. I posted in the group that we are now on Instagram and come and join us, and we gathered hundreds of followers that same day. Now after a few weeks we are at over 1k–small I know, but I’m pleased with the progress! Same thing with reviews; when I rebranded last month and launched my new site there were no reviews, so I simply asked in the group and customers were very happy to help out.
I am wary because the group setting right now is unbelievably perfect for my business. In light of this, I am anticipating the inevitable change that will come sooner or later when you use a platform you don’t own–and am encouraging customers to join my subscriber list so I can still communicate with everyone if things change on me! But for right now, the Facebook group setting is great for allowing me to be present with my customers.
How much time it takes to manage a Facebook group
Lisa: In terms of time–there is a tipping point. At the beginning I spent a lot of time chatting and answering questions as a lot of people were new to my patterns and there wasn’t a big knowledge base. Now the group has grown and more customers have experience with the patterns. Group members are able to answer each other’s questions more and more, so I spend less time answering and engaging, and more time working on making patterns :)
I spend about an hour a day in the group, in small increments throughout the day, answering questions etc. but to be honest, I just love popping in and seeing what people are making! The fabrics they are using, the upcycling happening, and I truly feel really connected to everyone’s success!
I do have some amazing people who help me moderate the group. Two of the ladies are in different time zones to myself, and they help cover group approvals, questions etc. in a timely manner while it is night time for me in New Zealand.
How the Facebook group helps Lisa’s business
Lisa: I think perhaps the biggest way the Facebook group helps my business is in the way it has helped create a community around the Twig + Tale brand. That is something I’m proud of and care deeply about. Everyone has an inner need to create, and sharing experiences with others is just so satisfying! Often crafting can become a solo activity–especially for mums of small children–so this allows a bunch of like minded crafty souls to come together and hang out–and it is free! It is not an imposition on customers’ inboxes—they only need to check in if and when they feel like it. Our community is all about inspiring, helping and simply connecting, and to be able to provide that space alongside opportunities to promote new releases, and events–on a free platform–is about as good as it gets.
If you like to sew for kids, join the Twig + Tale Facebook group
First step: find out who your customer is
You can’t effectively create a space for your customers unless you understand who they are. Download our dream customer exercise below! Print out & fill out, to create your own customer profile of your dream girl or guy. The more specific you get, the more helpful it will be in the long run. Have fun, and dream big!
Shipshape Collective Freebie
An exercise to target a specific, relatable person for effective, non-icky marketing.