Wish you could make $200,000 from one Facebook Group post?
To make it happen, I needed to create an engaged Facebook community.
I went through thousands of online communities to find an active one with the most cutting-edge startup material. I wanted to copy what existed to make it easier.
I Discovered Two Things:
These communities syndicated material from the best content creators.
They posted content with the bare minimum benefit of grabbing a reader’s attention.
Even Using Intense Searching -- The Best Communities Couldn’t Keep Me Engaged.
It’s why people starve when searching for tactical startup content, especially case studies.
I Decided To Solve This Problem.
For years, I had produced high-level marketing content about personal case studies. To have material, I ran hundreds of A/B tests every year. And so long as I kept testing, I’d have content to create.
Confident in my ability to engage people with content, I created a Facebook Group called San Diego Digital Marketing Experts.
Two months later, it failed. No new posts.
An abandoned wasteland. For six months, I forgot about community building until I got another itch. I tried again with a new Facebook Group, San Francisco Growth Marketers. One month later, it failed.
“What the heck am I doing wrong?”
I went back to the books and outlined what it would take to make this a reality. I didn’t like what I learned. I would need to find a way to produce content every day. And I would have to rely on an intangible skill: creativity.
Once again, the task looked daunting, but I decided to try one more time. Now, I have an active community of over 9,000 marketers and founders.
Here’s how I made it happen:
I had to choose a platform. I thought about using Slack, but nobody spends the majority of their time on Slack. Plus, I’ve never seen an active Slack channel other than one for work.
On the other hand, people spend an average of 50 minutes every day on Facebook, and it’s easy to connect to others. Many top marketers, including Dennis Yu, Mari Smith, and Ryan Deiss consider it the fastest platform to build your know, like, and trust factor. In other words, it’s the fastest platform to sell.
I also noticed how addicted people are to checking their Facebook notifications. If you consistently post engaging content, people develop an addiction to clicking on the notification you create. It works similar to an email inbox. To leverage this power, you need to know the content your audience wants.
I understood the potential, but most importantly, I had hope. I’d seen successful Facebook Groups. In fact, I led growth at a SaaS company, 22Social, which has several active Facebook Groups for their customers. They were masters at using this medium to sell.
Now, it was my time to step up from novice to expert do it for myself with a step-by-step plan:
Design Your Avatar
You can meet thousands of people through community building, but without purpose, you’ll make nothing of it. So before I created a Facebook Group, I needed a strong understanding of the people I wanted in it.
I Asked Myself These Nine Questions:
What is the job title?
Head of growth, venture capitalist, founder, or a high-level marketer.
What income level should they have?
They should make over six figures.
What industries should they be working in?
They work in a fast growing startup using advanced marketing software.
What habits and routines should they have?
They regularly eat healthily and exercise.
What social activities should they take part in?
They enjoy nature, walking, coffee, reading, writing, attending tech conferences, and hustling on weekends.
What type of friends should they have?
They should be friends with other founders and marketers.
What past accomplishments should they have?
Founded a successful company or have worked in a fast-growing startup.
What social platform should they be the most active on?
Where do they live?
San Francisco or another major tech city.
By understanding my target network, these are several of the thousands of people I’ve befriended over six months of community building:
1. Sean Sheppard: Founder of GrowthX and GrowthX Academy, venture capitalist, and top 20 sales influencer of 2016
2. Dennis Yu: Social media influencer, chief technology officer for BlitzMetrics, and writer for Adweek.
3. George Revutsky: Former CMO of Sooth and founder of ROIworks, a boutique agency that helps grow startups and larger brands.
Once your networking avatar is locked down, it’s time to figure out what value they enjoy consuming on Facebook (e.g., eBooks, podcasts, and video).
After a quick Facebook search of the top marketers, I noticed what media they enjoy:
1. Long-form tactical guides.
2. Long-form Facebook statuses.
3. Videos which show cool tactics.
4. Live stream talks from conferences.
The Hard Part:
Practicing over and again to become great at producing this type of content.
There’s no shortcut. It takes time.
My simple trick was to mimic the best. I studied copywriters who wrote long-form blog posts and Facebook posts, and live streamers like Vincent Dignan, owner of Traffic & Copy (Facebook Group of 20,000+ members).
Understanding The Fundamentals
To run a great Facebook Group, you need to produce high-value rewards almost every day whether this is in the form of content, video, or another medium. If you don’t have much time, find a content expert to keep you on track with your posting schedule.
Sometimes you won’t know what content to create. The best way to solve this problem is to ask the community about their pain points and what type of content they’d like to see.
To see how much effort I should put into a piece of content, I’ll gauge my community’s reaction to a hype message:
The one big mistake I see with Facebook Groups is they post the same content over and again.
People get bored with rewards that don’t change. Consistency is important, but a consumer’s taste for content on social media will evolve as technology changes. One day you post a tactical guide to Instagram, the next day you may have to shoot a live video.
Optimizing Your Profiles
Your audience doesn’t stay in your Facebook Group 24/7. What if they’re heavy Instagram users or actively consume content in their Facebook News Feed? If you know where your audience enjoys spending their time, then you should optimize your profiles on those platforms.
With a little research, I knew my community spent a significant amount of time-consuming content in their Facebook News Feed and prospecting on LinkedIn. The reason is their job as a founder or marketer requires them to be active on those platforms to connect with others and run paid advertising campaigns.
I Optimized Those Social Media Platforms.
Before I began connecting with my target audience, I needed people to have a great first perception of me. For example, if you’re acting as a leader of a community, then you need to portray yourself as a leader through relevant content and an optimized profile to pull the right emotional triggers. In turn, you’ll receive a higher response and conversion rate when reaching out to people to join your community or asking for a favor.
For starters, I took off any content contradicting my community’s mission statement. No old photos of me partying in college. Then, I used new content to design my profiles.
Here’s My New LinkedIn Profile:
Uploaded a picture of San Francisco in the background to develop rapport with people who live in the city.
Connected with more relevant professionals to increase my follower count.
Bought a premium LinkedIn account to show exclusivity.
Paid for a professional and memorable headshot.
Published seven high-quality articles.
Here’s my new Facebook profile:
Posted shareable content to increase my follower count.
Used a cover photo to exemplify my speaking skills.
Used a professional and memorable headshot.
Advertised me as a helper in my profile’s bio.
Published high-value statuses 3X a week.
Took many photos with influencers.
Recruit Core Members:
Once you’ve optimized your social profiles, it’s time to recruit your core members. They should fit this criterion:
They can produce high-value Facebook content relevant for your target network
They’re already connected to, at least, one hundred individuals in your target network
Make these people moderators of your Facebook Group and encourage them to invite their network to join. With several moderators inviting their network to join, you should start your Facebook Group with three to four hundred members. And whatever you do, don’t give up your admin access. Period.
Think of your community as an established organization – there’s usually a president, vice president, and a chief marketing officer. Assign your core members job titles and responsibility, and it will spark their motivation to help grow the community.
Using Software to Analyze Engagement
To gain an excellent understanding of your Facebook Group activity, I suggest using the software, Grytics. The software gives you granular engagement metrics and an excellent understanding of your group’s demographics. The software also enables you to export members based on how active they are.
If you’re looking to get a strong understanding of how active your members are, then you can look at the overall summary of your group.
If you want to replicate top performing content, then you can look at which individual posts performed exceptionally well. I noticed the best posts include giveaways and growth hacking tactics, so I doubled down on this content.
How to Grow Your Facebook Group with Targeted Members
There are many ways to grow your Facebook Group:
Backlinks in guest posts
Backlinks in Quora posts
Inviting your existing network
Backlinks in your LinkedIn profile
Backlinks in your email signature
These tactics work, but they don’t always attract the most relevant people. Plus, I don’t have time to filter through every incoming request. As of writing this, I have a backlog of over eight hundred people I need to go through. Not fun.
I needed people who were in my exact market. The only way to do this was either have a friend with my exact audience backlink to my Facebook Group in one of their email blasts, or I would have to scrape people and cold email them.
I opt’ed to scrape people because of scalability. If I scraped people, I could send emails to hundreds of thousands of targeted people.
Purchase three Mailshake or Mixmax accounts for sending bulk personalized emails.
Sign-up for a Hunter.io account, then make a list of many relevant LinkedIn Groups or the top cities where your members reside. If you scrape by a city, then ensure you make a list of job titles of people relevant to your target market.
Ask your moderators to sign up for a free trial of LinkedIn Sales Navigator or create several fake LinkedIn profiles. This will enable you to scrape close to one thousand people per profile/day using Hunter.io. I use four LinkedIn Sales Navigator accounts to grow my group.
Sign-up for a Google Apps account and create six different email addresses tied to one or two domains.
Pay a virtual assistant through Upwork to use Hunter.io to collect emails using your LinkedIn Sales Navigator accounts. You also want them to validate the emails with Hunter.io and clean up the data into a spreadsheet fit to upload into Mailshake or Mixmax.
What type of cold emails do you send?
Here’s my exact copy:
“Hey [first name]
I noticed you're in the Growth Hacking LinkedIn Group that has little engagement. I wanted to personally invite you to a growth hacking Facebook Group I organize that's very active, Marketers & Founders.
The Marketers & Founders Facebook Group is moderated by a few of the best, so it’s invite only.
Aj Cartas; 1.2 million social media fans and is an influencer lead @TopBuzz
Taylor Pipes; content strategist @Evernote
Me :) Past head of growth for @22Social, @UpOut, and @GrowthX. I'm now a growth evangelist @Autopilot
You can join the Marketers and Founders Facebook Group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/growthmarketers/
If you want to know more info, feel free to reply.
If they don’t open the first email, I have my CRM automatically send a follow-up email two days later that’s the same except for this line at the beginning:
“Hey [first name]
Wanted to ensure you saw this email from the other day.
This works well because the chances are they forgot the original value proposition or never saw it.
Here are the responses I receive from this cold email:
“Thanks for reaching out! Glad to see you've been building this great community of growth marketers. I just requested to join your FB group and look forward to connecting. If there's anything I could do to help out in any way, please let me know.”
“Hi Josh !
Thank you for your email, I joined the FB group ;)”
Thanks for the invitation!
Looks like an interesting group. I just sent a request to join it.
Looking forward to participating in the community.”
That’s not to say a few people didn’t respond negatively to me. Out of every one hundred people I cold email, I get one complaint.
The solution: don’t email them again.
Get People to Say “Yes”
The more people get used to following instructions from you, the more likely they’ll engage with a new call to action. It starts with the first comment. Once someone invests in commenting on a Facebook post, they’re more likely comment again.
To ease the process consider sending them a direct message of encouragement when they become a member. The easiest way to get people to begin commenting is to promise them an exchange of value whether an extended free trial to a high-demand software or an in-depth guide about a particular tactic.
Notice in the screenshot of this post below, I had over 142 members comment to request the free trial.
The Next Step
You need to get people to open up on a more personal level about what they do. To facilitate this, you need to take the first step in opening up to give others the courage to step out of their comfort zone, too.
What does this mean?
You need to write about your personal experiences and tie them into your audience’s profession. Here’s an example post:
If You Don’t Lead The Conversation In Your Facebook Group, Then No One Will.
The next step is to leverage comments. When someone comments on a Facebook post, then reply with a question to get them to expand on their point. The more comments they post, the more invested they’ll feel in the group and to you.
How to Produce High-Value Content
Before we go further, know most groups don’t die from lack of content. They die because the founders can’t produce good content. That’s the hardest piece. It’s waking up and knowing you’ll have to write a 15-page guide like this one twice a week or your group will die. No one said it was easy.
If you want to learn how to become a great Facebook copywriter, there are two ways to do it:
Answer questions on Quora
Read a few copywriting books (here’s an excellent list)
Answering questions on Quora related to your target audience is the best way to discover content to re-post on Facebook. For example, I answered this question about intelligence which received over 200,000 views.
Take a look at the engagement when I re-posted my answer on my Facebook profile:
The next step is to leverage an influencer’s original content. To do this, you need to interview influencers live in the Facebook Group. I wrote an in-depth guide here about how to do this (includes email templates).
I aim for two interviews a week in my Facebook Group because my other option is to write an in-depth guide like this one which can take around five more work hours.
When It Comes To Other People Posting Content, You Need To Reinforce The Selling Point Of Exclusivity.
How do you do this?
Only let original content get posted in your group. This makes the group feel like a secret hub of like-minded individuals.
Here’s how I did this:
I only let links from Google Drive or a little-known tool get posted besides native content.
I stopped giveaways in exchange for inviting members after I reached 1,000 people.
I remove all content that doesn’t perform well (likes, comments, shares) even my own.
I don’t allow members to publish posts without me looking at it beforehand.
I don’t allow members to automatically add members. I must approve them.
Prime Your Group Members
*I can hear you thinking: Where’s the part where I learn how to make money?
We’re close. It takes a little more work.
Whenever you have a new member join your Facebook Group, it’s important you add them as a Facebook friend and LinkedIn connection. To be clear, it must be right after they join. This is when their acceptance rate is the highest because they want more information about you and your community.
If you hit Facebook’s limit of five thousand friends, then use Grytics to export a list of your lowest engaged Facebook Group members, then defriend them. The reason is these people are less likely to convert into paying customers.
Why Do This?
As a Facebook friend, you can now send direct messages to them, and they’ll see content posted to your personal profile. They’ll also get notifications when you post in the Facebook group even if they’ve selected “Only notify me about my Friend’s posts.”
As a LinkedIn connection, you can now export their personal email and reach them with LinkedIn’s publishing platform.
The more high-value touch points you have with group members, the more likely they’ll convert into paying customers. If I know I’ll be doing a big push for trials and sales, then I’ll give myself two or three weeks to send automated personalized messages at scale and use video remarketing for nurturing.
To send these messages at scale to the people in your Facebook Group, use Mass Planner (only compatible with PC). Keep in mind; mostly people you’re Facebook friends will see this message unless the other recipients check their “other” inbox.
I wanted to catch up! I was wondering what you thought about my Facebook Group, Marketers & Founders. I’m looking for ways to improve it.”
This does two things:
Shows you respect their opinion and build rapport.
Drives them back to Facebook Group to look over the posts.
Here are the steps to implementing Facebook automated messaging in Mass Planner:
Connect your Facebook account to Mass Planner and dive into the Contact section.
Plug-in the Facebook Group URL
Set the scroll rate between 9,000 - 22,000 seconds to ensure you extract all the members
Click Extract Members
You’ll have to wait between five minutes and an hour depending on your scroll rate before all the members get extracted.
Click the Use Members tab to input your message. I suggest using several different syntax variations. Feel free to copy the settings below.
Click Send. This won’t send the message to all of the Facebook members at once since Facebook would readily flag that action. It will just send them to Send Messages tab.
Go to the Send Messages tab.
Copy the settings below.
Next, click Start Sending Messages.
If you have around six versions of the message, then bump up the daily number of sent messages from 20 to 80.
You’ve opened up conversations with over one thousand of people over the span of two weeks. It will take a significant amount of effort to reply to everyone. However, the two weeks of pain is worth the $200,000 in sales. Trust me.
What about LinkedIn?
If you added every group member on LinkedIn, then you should have a huge list of their emails to export. An easy way to connect to people’s LinkedIn profiles (if you haven’t done it yet) is to ask. In the example below, I have two hundred people I can connect with which takes around twenty minutes.
To export the emails of your connections, click on My Network.
Then click on:
Export LinkedIn Connections.
It’s That Easy.
If you have the new LinkedIn interface, then follow this YouTube tutorial.
When you have your connections’ email addresses, then import them into Facebook as a custom audience.
It’s time to create a personal video ad to remarket them (video ad directions) with a story related to what you’re selling.
To be clear, you’re not directly selling with a call-to-action.
The video should be inspirational, entertaining, or informative
Why video? It’s the least expensive way to put content in front of people
I average 1 - 3 cents per a view when showing a video to a warm audience. Here’s an example of a high-level professional video made by lifestyle entrepreneur, Lewis Howes.
Let this ad run up a frequency of 3.5. This means on average each person on your uploaded email list saw the ad 3.5 times. You can find this number by clicking on your Facebook Ad Set and setting your column title to Delivery.
Now, When Your Audience Has Their Peak Emotional Tie To You, Don’t Sell To Them.
You read that correctly. Don’t sell. Offer value in exchange for an action.
This is key.
Your job is to align the perfect audience with the perfect product, then drop a VALUE BOMB like this one (original post):
This is what I posted in my Facebook Group the day before I started working at Autopilot. I received over two hundred responses of people trying out the product with pictures of features and feedback on their onboarding experience.
Because Autopilot has a subscription model priced on the number of email contacts, I asked for the average CLV then multiplied that number by the average order size of the people who purchased.
$200,000 in sales :)
Email Hunter: $1,200
Three CRM accounts: $200
Google Apps: $45
Virtual assistant to do scraping: $500
Total expenditure: $1,940
If I Can Grow And Engage A Facebook Group While Working Full Time, Then You Can Do This, Too.
If you’re looking to launch a product without spending too much money, then Facebook Groups make the perfect fit. It’s not easy, but the community you create makes it all worth it. And there’s no better competitive advantage than a rabid fan base following your every post.