How can we make an amazing online community in 2020?
I’m Jerry Banfield and I’ve been an entrepreneur online for eight years. What I’ll do in this video is to share my experience making online communities and give you a simple recipe that works based on learning exactly what does not work.
How To Make An Online Community in 2020 with a Facebook Group!
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Here’s the recipe that we’ll begin with, and then I’ll show you more details.
This is a three-step process to make an online community.
Number one is a critical starting place a lot of us miss.
The first step is to attract people to the online community. I see that ideal online communities grow organically through search and word-of-mouth marketing and increase steadily over time.
This is in contrast to doing things like heavy promotion and paid ads. Those can be done afterwards to boost something, but the ideal strategy to grow a community is attraction via people searching.
For example, if you search for this video or this blog post and now you’re here, that’s the ideal way to build a community.
Then step two, we make a connection and this is where we choose a tool or a place or a location or a platform where everyone from our community can gather, things like Facebook groups, Discord, YouTube comments, and Slack.
There are a lot of tools online, a lot of companies and services that really want you to bring your community to them. The question is how to pick the right one of these, and this to me has been the biggest challenge over the years.
I’ve tried so many different tools and places for connection. I found one that works really good and I found some that worked pretty well, and others that just don’t seem to work well to build a community.
The key thing with the tool you choose and to really grow the community is a value.
How to keep people coming back to your community every day, or my community, when there are so many other places you could go online. The key I’ve seen in communities that work is to make participating in a community a worthwhile experience for every group member, that gives group members a lot of value when they show up.
This is why communities organized around specific companies or services or a niche, tend to work really well because people join and are looking to learn about that exact product or service, company or strategy, or any location, whatever it is.
What I do to set my community up now is the following. After eight years of testing and struggling online and learning and figuring it out, this is the recipe I have and out of everything I’ve tested, this works a really good.
This formula for attraction is ideal because when done well, these will tend to grow over time and the people finding me through Google and YouTube search are attracted to my community.
Not every single one, but I create videos and blog posts that help people solve problems and pain points related to what I’m doing online, and that’s how I attract people to my community.
The beauty of it is once I’ve got all this setup, it’s totally free. I don’t need to spend any money on ads or hardly any money on marketing tools. I just get the blog posts up on my website, get the videos up on YouTube and bring people to my community.
After testing a lot of different tools. After moving my community all over the place repeatedly, I finally settled on a long-term solution and that’s a Facebook group. In fact, I just created a new Facebook group after having several different Facebook groups for different segments in my community.
For example, a Jerry Banfield gaming, Jerry Banfield and friends, Jerry Banfield partners.
I’ve created a new Facebook group that is my free group or my lower level customer group, and then I’ve got my higher level partner and coaching group. Thus, my community now is centered on Facebook because Facebook is the best at bringing people back over and over again via the newsfeed and helping people get connected.
I’ve tried a lot of other tools I’ll talk about in a little bit to give you some other options.
The third part when the more you give value, one of the challenges for maintaining a community online is if it’s about you or if it’s about a specific company or service, lots of times people will want some kind of private access.
They’ll want to be able to message the CEO of the company or the key people of the company. For me, one I struggled with my community is how I manage private access.
One struggle I’ve had on Facebook groups is everyone wants to add me as a friend, and then they get frustrated if I don’t accept their friend request, people send me messages and I either respond to them and I get annoyed because it takes so much time and it didn’t seem to deliver any value.
How to manage private access is critical and I finally got that set up too, which is important with Facebook to set some boundaries.
I’ve limited private access to me only via customers and partners, and coaching clients. I do not accept random friend requests anymore and I don’t accept or read random messages that I get.
Even if someone is in my Facebook group, they need to place an order or join my coaching or partner program, and setting some boundaries with managing a community is important because every time all that goes awry it, it takes away from the value and can create a mess.
It’s done this for me lots of times in my group, it gets people leaving and not participating anymore. I’ll show you more about exactly how I do the attraction, how this works.
I’ve created thousands of blog posts and videos online. I create mostly tutorials just like this, showing how to do something specific that I’ve learned how to do that. I want to make it easier for somebody else.
You see that motivation.
I’ve done something and I’ve struggled with it and I want to make it easier for someone else. Thus, I’ll show you here.
This is my Jerrybanfield.com Google search traffic, which I’m grateful. I’m getting about a thousand clicks a day on Google search to my website and this is ideal for community building.
People are searching for something and the people who are finding something are really happy and really excited, and they want to get to know me and want to become an enthusiastic follower.
Then, I bring people into my Facebook group from there and the second key place is with YouTube.
The number one way people find me on YouTube is searching for something, and then the external traffic, the number one source there is Google search, which means that the majority of my YouTube traffic comes from people searching, which is really good because I put a video up and it gets a few hundred views in the first week.
It’s got indefinite potential from there. I’ve had videos I put up that got 100 to 200 views in the first month and now they have tens of thousands because I aim my videos for people who are searching, and that attracts people to me and my community constantly all day, every day from all over the world.
I see one of the best ways to build a community is to do tutorials like this instead of direct sales pitches.
As you can see, this is somewhat of an indirect route to get you into my community. Instead of just saying, “Hey, join my Facebook group. It’s so great.”
I’ve given you something that I hope is a value, and then I say, “Hey, will you come join my community? If you’ve got questions, if you want to make sure not to miss the newest post, if you want to keep up with what’s going on, then join my Facebook group.”
I’ll show you my Facebook group in detail here now and I’ll give you some additional options. I just created a new Facebook group because with creating Facebook groups, you’ve got the potential to reach a lot of people in the newsfeed and to see exactly how many people you are reaching.
I just started this new Facebook group last night. I’ve got several other groups and I see the key thing, if you want to create a Facebook group, you want to have something that can stay the same indefinitely and have a predictable value proposition.
Thus, Jerrybanfield.com is something I imagine that’ll stay the same for the rest of my life and that’s what my community is about and the best thing, this is an indirect call to action to my website.
Instead of just calling it “Jerry Banfield and friends” like my previous group was called, I’ve called it “Jerrybanfield.com” because it’s about my community online and I want people to know about and go to my website, and therefore I’ve created the group like that.
Within the group, there’s moderation, there are key settings you want to know if you’re going to do a Facebook group and the number one reason to do Facebook groups is because there’s no other tool I’ve found that keep people as engaged and connected as Facebook groups.
I’ll show you some of the other tools now.
For example, I’ve used Discord before. I had a Discord server that had thousands of people on it, which I deleted and the main downside with Discord is it is not as mass adopted as Facebook.
A lot of people don’t have a Discord account and if you want to build a community, it’s often much more difficult to build a community when you have to ask people to go to sign up for something they’re not currently using.
This is my main downside that I see with almost every community-building tool. For example, there are community-building tools like Slack that are really popular and tons of others, but none of them have as many users as Facebook and it’s just so nice not to have to ask people to sign up for one more account.
Many of us have so many accounts online, Facebook works good now. People may not be using Facebook, their account may be off, but the fact is Facebook.com is one of the most popular websites in the world. It is one of the, if not, the number one website where people have accounts.
Therefore, when I say to join a Facebook group, people don’t, most of the time have to create a new Facebook account to join and participate in my group.
Now what’s better is, according to Facebook, there’s something like a billion people active a day on Facebook and I have the best chance to get free reach on my Facebook group comments.
Now, this is why you want to keep a group consistent over time. When a group is very focused on Facebook, you can get a lot of great reach on every group members’ posts, and that’s the magic of having a Facebook group, every single member who makes a post to the group can actually add value to the group.
That means someone else can make a post in the Jerrybanfield.com Facebook group and that post will go out to members in the newsfeed and that post is reminding people of my community, my name, my brand without me having to do anything and that’s why Facebook groups are so powerful.
Let me show you some examples of groups I’m in.
I found the first group that made a huge difference for me online has been deleted. It was the Udemy Studio. That group made fantastic a difference for me, connecting with people, learning and growing, and I also got into some trouble with that group.
Here’s an example of a group I’m in that is doing exactly what I’m talking about. When you see this, I use LearnDash to put online course on my website.
Their official LearnDash group is this Facebook group: “LearnDash LMS Tips and Tricks.”
What you notice is the post in here, it gets a lot of interaction and engagement, 28 comments, 5 likes. There’s a new post every single day in this group and what’s beautiful is every time somebody who’s using LearnDash makes a post in this group, it reminds other users for free on Facebook of the group and helps people get connected.
On this LearnDash group you’ll see that a lot of the discussion is the best part, and getting people to connect, comment and interact with each other in Facebook groups is really effective.
You can even see when people are typing and there are different roles in the Facebook group that help reward people and add gamification to the community.
What’s beautiful, Facebook has so many features, like you can upload videos. The problem with Facebook groups are things like moderation because Facebook is so popular, you can get a lot of people joining your group that just want to share spam that just wants to self promote that don’t want to add any genuine value to your Facebook group, and that’s why you want to have some moderation controls in place.
Here’s a group that is brand new. Facebook groups can grow really fast because people are already on Facebook.
Now, I recommend to focus your group, based on my experience. Don’t just try to get to the most members possible. This group by Jewel & Ariet at Essetino Artists, one of my partners, they have grown this group very quickly and I’m proud of them.
The group has valuable content in it. The posts are useful, there are people consistently having good discussions in here. This is an example of a group that is doing well.
Now what you don’t want to do with your groups is exactly what I’ve done with a lot of my groups in the past. I’ve focused on getting the group as big as possible and you don’t want to do that. You want to make the group as focused as possible, and I’ve ruined some of my old communities by focusing on trying to get the group as big as possible instead of as focused as possible.
What I’m doing now is I’m keeping this group as focused as possible. I created this group last night and I did not invite anybody to join my new group.
I only want people who are attracted to my new group to join it, to keep it to people who really want to read the posts in the group because Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm prioritizes posts with high engagement.
If I just invite all my friends to the group and invite everybody I know to the group like I’ve done with my last groups, what happens is I get a lot of people in the group who don’t really care about the group, who don’t read the post, who don’t like, comment and interact.
Then every post I make on the group doesn’t get very good reach. Now this shouldn’t be getting that many reach because I just made it last night. However, what you want in a group is a very focused group and that’s the opportunity with a Facebook group is to create a community that is there because they want to be there, and they want to participate.
The key way to help control group membership is to go into the “edit group settings” on Facebook groups, and then scroll down and choose some membership questions.
These are some key settings you want to do in here to have a successful community. I set the membership approval to only admins and moderators because what happens with Facebook groups, sometimes you’ll get one person in who wants to do some spamming, and they’ll invite a whole bunch of their friends that come in. They’ll build the group a lot, but you’re taking away from the focus of the group.
I make the group so it’s private, it’s not open and not anyone can just join. I want people to have to apply to the group to help me see that these are people who really care about what I’m doing.
Then you can, if you’ve already got other groups and you want people in those other groups to join, you can click on “Manage” and allow people to join into the group if they’re already in another group, which I’ve done here.
If people are already in my other groups, they can join into these groups without having to get approved. Another key thing to do is have membership questions and I forgot to switch this setting last night, to put the posting permission to only admins if you want to limit spam.
You want anyone to be able to post, but you need “Post Approval” on to control the spam in the group.
One of the things that can really kill a group is having spam. Having people post things that are irrelevant, sharing videos and there’s a lot of spam on Facebook where people will see a video and they share it with every single group they’re in.
The key thing to do with communities, you need to make sure that there is some kind of quality control on the content.
The downside of this is lots of groups are very limiting in what they can share and there’s an opportunity if you allow people to do some kind of well-done self-promotion, a lot of people will add a great value and you can do this in the rules and membership questions.
One of the key things to do is to have some group rules and I had put in a whole set of group rules last night, I’m not sure what happened to those, but I’ve got membership questions and then I’ve got group rules that are probably here.
I made two rules: be kind and you can self promote if it helps members.
In other words, you can add, share your website and ask for feedback.
You can do something that will help somebody else in your self-promotion, otherwise it’s not allowed.
What you want to make sure you’ve got is membership rules on here, and you’ve got membership questions, because you can usually identify spam requests to join your group from people who have not answered any of the questions.
What I do is I require people to answer questions. Otherwise I decline people because I know if someone can’t be bothered to answer the membership questions when they join my group, that’s probably not going to be an ideal group member.
That’s probably not going to be a group member who’s commenting, liking and interacting with posts. Therefore, I add the group these membership questions and I also, one thing I like to do is have the opportunity, if we have a great discussion in the group, is to turn that into a blog post on my website because by default the comments and posts in a Facebook group are not indexed by Google search unless the group is open.
If it’s private, it’s not, and I want it to be private so people have to join the group to see what’s in it.
However, what I like is the ability and I asked people to agree to this that if we’ve got a really valuable discussion about something, I can post it on my website because that additionally can attract more people in the community and help the people in the group create things that can help people that are not in the group, but who may bring in new members to help them.
I think now we’ve covered this effectively.
I hope if you’d like to join my community you will go to the Facebook group because with this change I am also focusing on just one place instead of trying to answer comments on my Discord server, on YouTube and various Facebook groups.
I am just focusing on the Jerrybanfield.com Facebook group now and I’m dismissing their requirement from myself that I have to read the YouTube comments and I don’t have comments on my website.
This is the one place then where I’m available to read comments and questions, and talk back and forth for free.
Thank you very much for watching this entire video or reading the whole blog post about how to create a community online.
I hope it’s helpful.
I appreciate the chance to serve you today and I’ll see you in the next one, or I’ll see you in the Facebook group.
Edits from video transcript by Michel Gerard at www.michelgerardonline.com.