Are you considering joining a FB group to promote your business, but unsure whether it’s really worth your time? While various group page restrictions might make traditional advertising seem impossible, there are other approaches that small business owners can use to bypass these policies and grow their existing client base. In episode #145, Gene Marks and Elizabeth Larkin share their most effective strategies for networking and meeting new clients on FB group pages.

Executive Summary

1:40—Today’s Topic: Should I Promote My Small Business On FB Groups?

1:55—Because FB Groups are primarily used to answer questions and prohibits self-promotion, small business will find more success if they create a FB Group exclusively for interacting with their clients.

4:27—One great way to build your reputation and network is to join a FB group that is in an area of your expertise. Once you join and share your knowledge, other members might reach out to you for private consultation.

5:36—Keep in mind that FB groups will only work if you already have a target audience on this particular platform.

6:06—Reddit is another platform you can use to find your audience online. However, as with FB, it is best to approach your audience from a “how can I help?” mentality, rather one of self-promotion.

9:17—Gene advises small business owner to give things away for free because this is how you build a rapport with potential clients.


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Elizabeth: Welcome back to the Small Biz Ahead podcast. I’m Elizabeth Larkin from The Hartford. I have Gene Marks here from the Marks Group, every week, same people.

Gene: Yes, we like seeing each other.

Elizabeth: Totally new topic though. Wearing the same shirts.

Gene: I was going to say. Okay. Full disclosure: We’re recording a few of these on the same day, okay? So we’re wearing the same clothes. We’re going to fool everybody going for it. I’m gonna bring in a couple of shirts next time. We got rained out, right, and so we got to switch it up a little bit. We’re gonna give you the illusion that we’re actually doing this on a weekly basis but, listen, today we’re knocking out a few on the same day. Okay? Bear with us. The information is just as good. Correct?

Elizabeth: Just as fresh.

Gene: Yes, of course. Larry doesn’t care.

Elizabeth: Okay, so today’s question is from a financial adviser in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which is where you’re from, well, Pennsylvania.

Gene: Close, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Elizabeth: And his name’s Doug.

Gene: Okay.

Elizabeth: Good name. All right, we’ll be right back with his question after we hear from our sponsor.

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Question: Should You Join Facebook Groups to Promote Your Business?

Elizabeth: Okay. Here’s Doug’s question. Again, he’s a financial adviser from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He might be a solopreneur. He might have employees. Who knows?

Gene: Okay.

Elizabeth: So his question, and I like this for a financial adviser, is, “Should I join Facebook groups to promote my business, or is it a waste of time.”

Gene: Right.

Elizabeth: So, it’s really hard to promote your business in a Facebook group. Most Facebook groups, unlike everywhere else on social media, you’re really going there for help. You’re not going there to promote yourself, so I would not recommend that. What I would recommend Doug do is start a Facebook group for his clients, and then he can be sending information on a semi-regular basis about like, “Oh, this rate just changed,” or, “Give me a call.” Because if you want to talk about planning for your daughter to graduate from college or something like that, it’s a really good way to stay in touch with your clients. You don’t have to post as much as if you had a Facebook page, because just having a group, no one’s gonna go to your group and be like, “Oh, he hasn’t posted in that long.”

Gene: Yeah. That’s a great idea. You know, first of all, everything you said is spot on the-

Elizabeth: All right. Done. We’re done with this episode [crosstalk].

Gene: So we can just wrap is up from here?

Elizabeth: We’ll wrap it up.

Gene: Well, no, we’re talking about action items from here. You know, a Facebook group is not a business thing. Facebook is meant to be personal, you know? So even though they sell ads on Facebook, the idea is to connect and network with each other and have relationships.

Elizabeth: I don’t think you can do ads in a group.

Gene: People will kick you right out of it.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: Furiously.

Elizabeth: I have joined a bunch of Facebook groups. I do travel blogging. I do photography, so I’m in a couple of groups for that, and the rules on these Facebook groups are absolutely no self-promotion. You go in to ask questions like, “I’m traveling to Hong Kong. Does anyone have any suggestions on where to go?” I’m also in a couple of small business groups, and those people are mostly saying things like, “I’m looking for a vendor to help me with this. Who do you recommend?” It’s not going in there and say, “I do this, and I’m the best. You should hire me.”

Gene: So, specifically for Doug, if he’s a financial adviser, I love the idea of setting up your own Facebook. Maybe I’ll do that for my clients. It’s a great idea. So then so he can post whatever he wants in there for the benefit of his clients that join that group, updates on tax laws or insurance things or whatever and comment on … See, you can have this whole do whatever you want. It’s Doug’s financial group. He can do … And you can do the same thing, right?

Elizabeth: Yep.

Gene: I mean, you have your own business. You’re in a business where you’ve got advice to give or knowledge to share. Go ahead and do that. So that’s number one. Number two, if you’re a small business owner like Doug, and you’ve got an expertise in something, like most people do, go ahead and join Facebook groups related to that expertise, and, you know what, Elizabeth, give stuff away. I mean, you know, that means your knowledge. You know, you join a Facebook group, and you’re not selling yourself. You’re not selling your products. You’re not selling your services, but if Doug joins a tax group? Can you imagine they’ve got a group on taxes on Facebook.

Elizabeth: You’d join that.

Gene: God, or an insurance group or even just a personal financial planning group, whatever, you know, whatever his specialty is, if he wants to join it and he wants to contribute some knowledge to it. People say, “Oh, I need to pay off my student loans. Should I buy? Should I rent.” Whatever. Doug can happily participate in something like this, and then he should not be [solicitating], though if people clearly want to reach out to him, then they can do that too. I think it’s a great way to build your business. I think it’s a great way for you to learn from other people. It’s a great way to share and try out some of your knowledge.

Elizabeth: And it’s a great way to network without having to go to a networking event and awkwardly have small talk with people.

Gene: I agree. Now, my biggest reservation of Facebook groups that we all have to be careful about, because I’m thinking about it too, is your audience there? Now, in Doug’s case, I think so, because we all have financial issues, so he’ll find an audience on Facebook, but, I don’t know, if you’re in a tire distribution business, you know-

Elizabeth: Probably not.

Gene: Or you’re in packaging, I don’t know-

Elizabeth: For your own support, you could join. I bet there is a Facebook group for people that sell tires.

Gene: There’s gotta be a Facebook group for everything. You know?

Elizabeth: Definitely.

Gene: What’s your feeling about Reddit? You talk about groups, like subedits for different topics.

Elizabeth: I like Reddit. I just feel like it’s a very specific type of person who goes to Reddit, whereas, Facebook, I feel like most people have a Facebook account, so it’s easier to reach them.

Gene: Well, Reddit, and Reddit is R-E-D-D-I-T.

Elizabeth: I’m going to link to that in the show notes.

Gene: Right. Which is a super popular site for news and discussions and all of that. For the internet folks, though, it can get pretty scary as well, but it generally draws a younger demo, so it depends if you’re for selling to millennials or Gen X, but there tends to be more of that population on Reddit, but there are some very active subgroups there on all sorts of different topics, and same thing, you know, if you’re out there trying to sell something-

Elizabeth: You’re gonna get kicked off.

Gene: Oh, my God. People are gonna go nuts on you, but if you’re legitimately on there and genuinely sharing advice and participating, might get some work out of it, then maybe your audience is on Reddit. You know, it depends. You gotta figure out where your audience is.

Elizabeth: As a small business owner, your watchword on social media, unless you’re doing ads and you’re promoting your business, but if you’re participating in social media, it’s how can I help? What can I add to this conversation to help people. And that will come back to you, and a lot of times, if you’re giving up your insider information on something, someone will private message you or direct message you and say like, “Hey, you know, I know you’re a financial adviser,” so I want to issue a challenge to Gene and for me too, if you’re watching us on Facebook Live or if you’re listening to this, leave us a comment and say, “I run this type of business. What kind of group would I form on Facebook for my customers?”

Gene: That’s a good idea.

Elizabeth: And Gene and I will respond back.

Gene: Yeah, we can do that. That sounds like a great idea.

Elizabeth: And give you new ideas, because we always say to people, “If you want marketing advice, write in, and we’ll give you marketing advice.”

Gene: Yeah. I’m gonna even offer this. I mean, you know, we do this podcast, and we love doing it, and we have a lot of people that listen to it and now watch it, but, you know what, we’re always looking for more, so if you’re involved in any groups that you think someone’s information might help, let us know about it. I mean, I’d love to participate in it and answer questions within that group or whatever. We’re not gonna promote the podcast. Don’t worry. But I’m interested in hearing what other small business owners like myself are dealing with.

Elizabeth: Absolutely. It could even be like a support group for small business owners.

Gene: You know, a lot of Facebook groups are support groups.

Elizabeth: It’s a lonely world out there. All right. We’ll be right back with Gene’s World of Brilliance.


Elizabeth: And we’re back with Gene’s Word of Brilliance.

Gene: It’s not a Word of Brilliance. It’s a Name of Brilliance, actually. Okay?

Elizabeth: Is is me?

Gene: It’s not you. The name is Robert Cotter, C-O-T-T-E-R, and I’m only talking about this because of a conversation we’ve just had about Facebook groups. Okay?

Elizabeth: Okay.

Gene: Robert Cotter was an 11-year-old boy who caught a foul ball at a Philadelphia Phillies game, and, because he wouldn’t give the foul ball back, he had to spend the night in prison.

Elizabeth: What?

Gene: He was carted off to jail and spent-

Elizabeth: He’s 11!

Gene: He was 11 years old. Absolutely true story. Now, couple of other things I need to mention. This was in 1923, and it happened at the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia, and it caused such an outrage at the time, it got such attention that after that event, major league baseball at the time made the decision that any foul balls that go into the crowd can be kept.

Elizabeth: I was just gonna say, “Who was-“

Gene: Who was the dummkopf who came up with that idea. It was an 11-year-old child, and the kid had to spend the night in … and the Phillies also accused him of sneaking into the park without paying for his ticket or whatever, but 11 years old.

Elizabeth: Eleven years old.

Gene: And it was 1923. A lot of things happened in 1923. So, what’s the takeaway from that? What is the message on that? Major league baseball learned at a very early time to give stuff away fro free. It’s part of the overall experience. People love to go. They walk away with a souvenir or prize, whatever. We were talking earlier about, you know, you’re on Facebook, you join a Facebook, don’t be afraid to give away your stuff for free. Okay?

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: Don’t be afraid. This financial adviser guy or financial planner, let him go, Doug. Let him go and get some financial advice for free. Trust me when I tell you that a lot of times people will take it, and they’re like, “Even with the free advice, I still need some help.” Do you know what I mean?

Elizabeth: Absolutely.

Gene: They appreciate it. Give stuff away for free. If you really want to take advantage of social media or any type of marketing, don’t be afraid to just share your knowledge. It’s out there. Don’t ask for money every time. You know, it took major league baseball an 11 year old kid who got locked up you for the night for them to learn, but they learned. We should be doing the same as small business owners.

Elizabeth: I think I’ve talked about this before. There’s a pizza place near me that if you’re standing in line and you order a slice, they always have samples of their specialty pies out, and they’re very thin slices, very thin, so you just get a little bit, because you’re waiting for your pizza, you can smell it, you’re super hungry, and, you know, as soon as you get that sample, you think, “The next time, I’m getting two slices. I’m getting-“

Gene: I hear ya. One other thing I gotta say. This was 15 years ago my wife and I were in New York, and we went out to dinner someplace, and it was delayed. We had our reservation, but they whatever. And they gave us each a free glass of wine. Stupid, isn’t it? I mean, it cost them nothing for this glass of wine. To this day, we remember, like, “Oh, wasn’t that great. Remember when they gave us that free … ” Of course, we haven’t been back, but lets assume we lived in New York, we would have gone back. I don’t know. Don’t be afraid to give stuff. Build it into your price guide. Give yourself away for free, and then you can be charging a little bit more to people who are paying, a couple pennies more, to make up for it.

Elizabeth: Just your knowledge, as you said, just your knowledge.

Gene: Or just our knowledge. True.

Elizabeth: Thanks for joining us, everyone. We’ll be back in a couple of days for with our next episode.

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