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This is a question I see pop up A LOT. We all want to start our business out on the right foot. We want to know that we know what we know… before we ever take that leap. While I can’t exactly answer what is the perfect direction for your business, I will absolutely share what I have learned and what has worked for mine.
I know people switched to groups because of how Facebook algorithms made it harder for your page posts to be seen, but while that is a factor to consider… the same is still happening with groups as well. If people do not interact with your group, they will not see your posts. So once again you’re hitting that “I’m invisible again” wall.
I know your whole goal is to be seen. I think that is a lot of crafters’ goals. But I think another goal is to be seen without having to spend loads of valuable supply shopping money!
So what works the best? Here’s my take on it. Let’s look at the pro’s and con’s just like any professionally confused person would do.
Pros: Facebook Page
- Public. Meaning anyone can see your posts even if they don’t “like” your page. If they’re searching around and stumble on your page, they’re much more likely to be ready to browse. If they have to push “join” and then wait for approval. They may move on before they’re accepted.
- Sharable. I can’t tell you how many times I want to share posts that are in groups and I can’t! We know the phrase “sharing is caring,” right? A share by a fan will go a super long way for your exposure. Do we want to beg for shares? No. But if you put out good content that your audience WANTS to share, we want to make it as easy as possible to do so.
- Found On Google. If someone is going to google searching for a “red ruffle raglan for toddlers” and that happens to be something your business sells, you have a good chance in showing up in those search results. Obviously other SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes into play here. But since pages show up on Google, that’s a huge plus for the page vote.
Pros: Facebook Group
- Control. Since you manually have to “accept” each request, you have full control over the people in your group. Don’t want competitors seeing your stuff? Don’t let them in. Now you CAN ban people from your Facebook Page… but they have to “like” your page first. If they don’t ever push that “like” button, then they can just keep trolling along and you can’t do anything about it. So if you want control over who sees your posts, then a group is a great option.
- Community. Groups make it easier for people to post and ask questions. This builds a community that is AMAZING for your business growth. When you look at the “selling” aspect of your small business, people don’t like to buy from businesses. They like to buy from people. Building relationships, showing your personality and ability to connect, is very important in small business. If people don’t/can’t connect with you. They will move on to the person they feel they can.
- Comfort. Some people are very careful of what things they post on. I am one of those people. With closed groups, the public can’t see posts or members, but things like the member list is available for every joined member to review. This comes into play if your customers may have customers or competitors of their own in your group. Original Olivia may not want to comment on things if she can see that Copycat Carla is also in your group. But if Olivia can easily check the member list to make sure Carla’s not around, she may feel more comfortable to declare “I WANT 8 OF THESE!!” on your posts. If you sell finished items, you may also see that people want to feel comfortable in the fact that family members can’t see what gifts they’re getting for Christmas, etc. Or ya know, that their husbands can’t see what they’re googly eyeing in your shop.
Cons: Facebook Page
- Visibility. This is the scary one that turned people away from pages to begin with. It is a little harder to be seen on Facebook pages because the way Facebook looks at it, you’re a business and businesses need to pay for advertising. There definitely are ways to be seen without paying for exposure, such as content that your audience reacts to in the form of a like, comment or share (without begging them to, of course.) Videos & Facebook Live are the #1 way to get your posts seen the most. Too many salesy type ads and your customers will just move on. You must get them engaged without looking needy. Build that relationship with them with great content and they’ll give you the responses you’re looking for.
- Consistency. Consistency is another key with Facebook pages. If you aren’t posting regularly, and I mean daily (if not multiple times a day,) you’ll get swallowed back up in the irrelevant category again and it’ll be harder for people to see your posts. But if you’re posting consistent and relevant posts, you can overcome this con with no problem.
- Algorithm Changes. This is one that will always be a con and there is no sugar-coating or overcoming it. Facebook is constantly revising and updating algorithm changes to make things more efficient. Sometimes what works for you one day, will not work the next. However, this isn’t something to be mad about, it’s just something we have to accept and know that when something changes, we may have to spend some time in the library learning how we need to evolve along with it.
Cons: Facebook Group
- Not Public. We mentioned this before but one thing to think about is the fact that not only are your posts non-sharable, but your chance of going viral on a post goes down to nil. You also have to do triple the work when you have a new item for sale because not only do you have to post in your group, but you have to go post in all the other relevant groups or on your personal page. When you have a new product with a page, it’s much easier to target a marketing ad to hit an area of your market that may not have seen your page before.
- Notifications. Ever see the dreaded “f” on Facebook comments on a page? They put the “f” because they want updates on the post. (PSA, some phones have the ability to click the top right arrow on the post and choose “turn on notifications” and it’ll keep you updated when someone posts.) But these types of notifications can be a huge turn off for a lot of people. Say someone just wanted to say, “this is pretty” now, every time someone else posts, they’ll get a pop-up in their notifications that someone else has commented on that post unless they turn off notifications. This can steer people away from commenting because they don’t want their feed clogged with updates. It’s a quick fix, I know. But it can still lead to people unfollowing your group completely because they don’t like the unnecessary updates when they didn’t really want to be a part of the conversation.
- Time Consuming. I say time consuming because it IS more of a community rather than a business platform. Since people can post directly to your page, there are more questions and comments that you need to be ready to answer. For me personally, this has been hard as my group has grown. So take into account if you have the time to devote to one-on-one conversations as well as running the ins and outs of your business.
I do not think a Facebook Group is BAD. In fact, I think it is very good and I know my business wouldn’t be where it is without it. But I would never say to JUST have a Group. I believe that with only a group, you are drastically limiting your reach.
The first year of my business, I only focused on my group and I grew it to just over 3,500 people. My page had only 1,000 or so. By the end of year two, the group had grown to 11,000 and the page to 7,000, Now, this year, my third year, my group is at 25,000 but my page is over 45,000! The page definitely stayed smaller for quite some time, but once I became regular about posting and giving content people WANT to engage in and share… it started to explode.
Don’t limit yourself and your potential. Constantly look for ways to grow. If you started with a group, it’s not too late to start a page and get that growing. You may find that you post less on the group, or post to the page and share it with the group. Or you may find that you end up writing different posts for each and sharing posts from the page here and there. There’s no right or wrong way.
We’re all in this small business thing together. My goal is to help you grow so that you can accomplish your goals. Whether those goals are being home with the kids, or just creating an extra income for your family. I know how it feels to want to succeed, and I’m so glad I can share my experience with you.