The Role of Facebook Groups in Business

So - we have the facebook groups online now - a platform whereby supposedly we can all work together and share ideas (and more to the point - perhaps even help each other.  What a load of garbage.

You see - in my experience (and others DO have better experience - granted) - I have recieved very nearly ZERO help on any facebook group whatsoever.  Again - I would stress - that there are those who's specific requests MAY result in actionable help from someone feeling kind one day - indeed I have no doubt either that for some people, the groups on facebook have possibly even given them an opportunity for networking with new people too - people who would be valuable to their "cause".  But in my experience, facebook groups for business have proven to be a complete waste of my time.

Why aren't facebook groups working for my business blog?

Well, I can only surmise, but I suspect it is because most of the people on the groups are simply trying to set up for themselves and don't really have the time to help others do the same.  I would have to address my goals really this way I can be clearer on what I mean by "facebook groups don't work".  I approach this from two different angles.

In the first instance, I have a review blog and was wondering if FB could play a role towards giving help in driving some traffic towards it, or perhaps share in ideas on how to grow traffic.

So I go off and join the "genre" of group I am focussed on - blogging.  At a glance, this would make sense, and if you read all the guru bs out there, that is exactly what they would blag you into doing, and that would also constitute their guru advice (which is gibberish you may have even paid for!).

In the main, I have found these groups to be full of bloggers (lol as one would expect) and in their numbers they total around 33,000 members over five or six groups - there will be some crossover between groups, but it seems fairly inconsequential to the overall total.  So whats the problem?

Well, keeping in mind the goals, I would have say that the problem is that the goal is not met - nowhere nearly met.  The groups are often plagued with posts by people doing something called a "like for like" or "share for share" whereby an individual will post their blog up and others supposedly go to it - click the like or share, and then they post their blog up hoping for the same in return.  In fact, I would say quite confidently that this function is the only realistic function of these groups (beyond smalltalk and banter and the very rare tip about the obvious stuff you can get from anywhere else online anyway), and that the function is practically worthless.

This creates a VERY VERY SLOW growing social proofing in their mind.  Why slow?  Because typically the best they will get looks to be around 6 or 7 likes per posting.  This is garbage.  Not only does this method not build consistent traffic, but the "traffic" isn't real, and nor are the likes and shares.  In addition, and not being lazy, it is quite a lot of work for very little return.  Now please don't get me wrong, I am definitely not lazy - but there has to be a line drawn somewhere once value has been identified as being virtually worthless for the effort involved.

So thats traffic out of the window - or is it?  Well another thing you can do on these boards is put a post up which says "what do you think of my business blog?" - you do this, whether its about business or otherwise, and you will get a handful of comments - if you are lucky, most of which you will deem useless and certainly will NOT contribute to your goals.  A case example is whereby I posted my review website to these groups which as I mentioned total 33k members - how many clicks did I get?  FIFTEEN - Yes you read that right - 15 lousy clicks and one derogatory comment, which I had to waste time correcting as I felt I had to put the person right on their uneducated and small minded views.  Basically a complete and utter waste of time when you consider the goals.

Getting traffic is now out of the question - well - unless your business can survive on 15 noddy clicks a day that is.

Facebook groups for technical help aswell as business?

On the whole, with one minor exception, I have had more success with groups whereby the focus is trying to get technical help.  I needed some PHP code for a business domain, and I thought I would give a facebook php group a go.

The help I got was good, I made a new friend as a result, and the functionality I wanted is now running in a live configuration sending data between two websites.

So as long as traffic isn't goal, you are good to go - but there is a downside to the groups and this lies in the format they are presented in within facebook.

You make a post to a busy group and it won't be at the top long.

You better believe it - don't expect your post to be read by even a tiny fraction of the 5,000 members (in the case of the tech help groups).  Plus, bump your post or issue a re-post and you may quickly find yourself booted out of the group for spamming aswell (even though the group is useless, benefits nobody etc, it may be owned by some prat of a dictator type who has nothing better to do than think he's all powerful by banning folk - theres a lot of that around).  Basically the readship appears to be an utter waste of time - even for this reason alone - never mind that the members aren't interested in you.  Lets look at another example to consolidate this.

I needed some help with a technical problem whereby I had an image scaling problem when my site was being viewed on mobile devices.  The heading was showing on a PC - but not on an iphone or an android tablet.

As is most often the case with tech problems, you are best off providing your site so that experts can take a look and quickly resolve the issue for you.  Here is a screenshot of my post with the site rubbed out - just for privacy reasons.
 

Facebook for Business

As you can see from the image, I popped up the URL, posted a fair question highly topical for the group, and with FIVE MINUTES someone replied.  Look at the state of that!!!!!!  You post for help - you get nothing.  I deleted the post out of boredom and I really couldn't be bothered dealing on there again.  Complete and utter waste of time.  In the end, I carried on struggling and solved the problem (pretty much all of it anyway) by myself.

Facebook groups for "recruiting" members to your website.
 
A final project I work on is one which offers completely free company listings on a website where users can enter their experiences when working with the company.  They can assign a star rating to their review and give a report on how things went generally during a process or transaction.

This is a well known concept and some of the largest sites on the net are using this business model, as posting reviews which are honest and show the company in a good light is good for the trader.

The reviews are then fed via an online feed from my site to the company site where they appear in a frame so that visitors to the company can see what people have written along with the star rating which is provided on an overall average and single customer basis.

To get new companies signing up for this site, I thought it would be a good idea to post it on - get the trombones out - "business groups" lol - you must be kidding me.  In total there are around 8 groups with something like 55,000 members.

Having posted the website to these groups, the total number of visits to the website was...........
SIX.  Yes - that is correct - just 6 visits - no ... WAIT ... it may be 12 because we have m.facebook at 6 and facebook itself at 6.  WOW - GIVE IT UP FOLKS!!

I couldn't believe it myself, so I thought I would re-post to check the results - fiddle my wording a bit etc.

Now this is a 100% FREE SERVICE.  Just think how hard it would be to get those muppets to hand over some cash for something!!!

Next stop "promote your website facebook groups" - 90,000+ members geared towards promoting their websites - should be a laugh - more to follow - just waiting to be approved.  LOL - approved - they make it sound like some kind of private club with benefits.

In Summary - I would like to list the reasons why facebook groups have proved (to date) a complete waste of my precious time.

a) They are often run by idiots who have power crazed delusions of grandeur.
b) They are often run by people with their own agenda, and the members are merely being groomed to become customers.
c) The members are often so far behind that they don't even know how to host a site. (so how can they help?)
d) Posts fall away too fast - forums are better for being seen over a longer period.
e) Some of the members are complete fools, nasty and potentially even phsycotic.
f) If you try to join - you need a fake ID on facebook - to avoid your work spilling over into your private life.  Do this - facebook may ban you.

Basically - go off and try the groups - but don't expect anything unless you own the group.

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If you're looking to find out how tough internet marketing REALLY is - follow me on my IMJourney with actual case studies.

My name is Martin Swift, I have around 18 years of IM and SEO experience full time, am a computer programmer with around 25 years  programming experience in languages such as C, PHP, VB, HTML etc.

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