I recently posted a discussion topic in my Direct Sales and Social Media with Jennifer Fong group on Facebook, asking how people were using online groups to support their teams. What I discovered was that there were a lot more questions than I realized about this topic. So today I’d like to go through some of the ways that you can use Facebook groups to support your team. For the more tech-savvy among you, you can actually do more with a Ning group, but I’m sticking with Facebook today for simplicity’s sake. Maybe Ning will be a post for another day! 🙂
What is a Facebook Group (and why should I care?)
Let’s start from the beginning…what is a Facebook group, and why should I care? A Facebook Group is a place to build community around a certain topic. It’s a place that can either be open to everyone (as my group is), or it can be a closed community that is by invitation only. They are ideal for team building for a few reasons:
- If your team is already on Facebook, it’s an easy thing for them to check in there.
- It’s a private place, so you don’t have to display all the members of your team for all the world to see, like you would with a Page.
- You can provide a central resource with answers to commonly asked questions, incentives and promotions, training ideas, and more. Your team can interact with each other on the group’s wall, as well as on the discussion board.
- You can send messages to the entire group directly through Facebook, and they’ll land in your team member’s inboxes within Facebook. We have found lately that people are more responsive to Facebook messages than they are to email, so this is one more way you can make sure everybody gets the information that they need.
- Some Group messages and actions are now showing up within Facebook streams, so if your settings allow for it, people will be notified of certain actions in the group, right within their Facebook newsfeed.
Should I Join the Groups of Other Consultants?
Recently I’ve noticed a trend of direct sales consultants inviting the entire world to join their groups. If you’re creating a group for customers and prospects, this might be appropriate. But if a contact has never expressed any interest in your product or brand, it might be wise to build a relationship with that person first, prior to sending an invite. (And by all means, do NOT invite someone to join your group more than once. If they haven’t joined, it’s because they’re not interested. Repeat invitations will not endear you to them.)
If other consultants invite you to join their group, review your own goals for social media, and decide if this group will bring you closer to your goals. If networking with other consultants (since you probably are not the only one invited) will help you with your goals, then by all means participate. But if you’d rather focus your efforts on your own customers and team building efforts, then maybe you should politely decline these invitations by clicking the ignore button.
So Where Do I Start?
When you’re ready to start your own team group in Facebook, simply click Groups from the menu bar on the left side of your Facebook home page, and then click the Create a Group button near the top of the page. Set your group up in the Business/Home Business category/type, and enter the required information, including a photo (I suggest your team logo, or your headshot.)
Once your group is created, you can invite people to join. If you’re already friends with your team members on Facebook, you can invite them after you’ve created the group. You can also use the Memorable Web Address application within Facebook to create a custom URL/web address for your group. (For example, my group has the memorable web address http://groups.to/directsalesandsocialmedia.) Once you have this URL, you can email it to anyone, and invite them to join your group.
What Do I Include Within My Team Group?
A team group can be a fantastic resource when supporting your team’s growth and development. When I speak at direct selling conventions, I always ask the leaders how many of them answer the same questions over and over and over again. Every hand typically goes up. What I suggest to leaders is that they make a list of these questions (you know…where do I find X, how do I qualify for Y, etc.) and provide answers in an FAQ list on the discussion board of the group. You can include links within your FAQ section to the places within your company’s back office system that hold the information your team needs. Then you simply train your team to check the FAQs first. Your first answer to every question is, “Have you checked the group for that information?” Your team will quickly learn to check there first, and this is an advantage to them, because then they don’t have to wait until you’re available to get the information that they need. It’s available 24/7, when they need it.
The team group is also an excellent place to share resources, such as training articles, information your company has shared, etc. Simply post these to your group’s wall. You can create short training videos and upload these as well. If you want to link to a document of some kind, you’ll need to host it somewhere else (Facebook doesn’t allow you to upload documents directly into Facebook, although Ning does.) Do a Google search on “Free document hosting” and you’ll find a number of places you can host your files. Or, if you blog, you can upload those document to the Media section of your blog. Then just provide a link to the location on the web where your document is hosted.
Use the discussion board within your group to encourage your team to share ideas (such as party ideas, ways to find new customers, ways to achieve the current incentive, etc.), and provide a place for new team members to find and support one another. Use the Wall to highlight the achievements of members of your team, as well as highlighting company and team incentives.
By creating a dynamic community for team members, and letting them know about it through your offline communications (team meetings, team newsletter, conference calls, etc.) you can provide a level of support and community that can help take your team to the next level. It can also increase your retention rates, because people who feel part of a community tend to stay longer.
I would love to hear about your experiences using Facebook Groups for your business. What do you share in your group? How have you encouraged your team to use it? What results have you seen? Not using groups yet? What are you planning to do with them? Looking forward to reading your comments! (And I hope you’ll join my Facebook Group if you haven’t already!)