Learn how to start a Facebook Group to attract and convert new customers and increase lifetime value with your existing customers. Featuring Jill Stanton, co-founder of Screw the Nine to Five.
To get more information on Screw the Nine to Five: screwcommunity.com
Transcription of: How to Start a Facebook Group
This is your host, Derek Gehl, and today we’re going to be diving deep into leveraging a powerful, free tool that I think most of us are using already in one form or another to grow our digital business and that tool is Facebook groups. We’ll discuss how to start a Facebook group.
Our guest today is someone who’s seen massive success with her Facebook group and she’s also the co-founder of Screw the Nine to Five, which is a brand I absolutely love, where her and her husband, Josh, teach unsatisfied webpreneurs how to take their business to the next level, make more money with working less hours.
She’s got an appropriate love for trashy TV, spends way too much time in her Facebook group, and apparently isn’t afraid of a tall glass of gin.
Jill chiming in, “I sure ain’t.”
Without further ado, I’d like to welcome Jill Stanton to the show.
Jill, thanks for being here to discuss how to start a Facebook group and use it to your advantage.
Thank you so much for having me. I couldn’t let that one slide without chiming in because I love me some gin.
Awesome. Had to happen. Let’s start at the beginning. You got online, if I read correctly, in 2012 so just share your journey. How did you get started? It sounds like you guys have had an interesting adventure leading up to creating a group on Facebook. You’ve been pretty nomadic based on the conversation we’ve just had.
What was your adventure to getting to where you are today on this podcast talking to me about how to start a Facebook group?
Yeah, so I actually started online in 2006, but I started with Josh back in 2012. My whole journey, before learning how to make a Facebook group starts back when pretty much MySpace was still cool, because that was the first social network I ever joined. I was like, “What is this? I get to create this fancy hot pink profile.” It was ridiculous.
I got started in WebTV and just through the never-ending journey of trying to figure it out and sort it out and actually make money with it, which never happened, I ended up going into social media because the whole time I was bartending.
I kind of had a different 9-5, so I worked 9pm until 5am, but it was still torture. I had just been around the hospitality block for so many years that I started offering those services to restaurant and bar owners. That’s what finally got me out of my 9-5 and into a profitable business.
At the same time, when I was running those services, I was watching Josh, who had a software company at the time, work whenever he wanted and make so much more money than me. I was like, “What the hell is this guy doing?”
When I finally grew disenchanted with my business and he and his partner decided to go separate ways, we combined forces and in 2012, we set up our first affiliate site, which was a skincare site. Which meant Josh was trying different skin creams and I was putting masks on him. It was awesome.
I seriously should have documented it more, but I just never knew Screw the Nine to Five was going to become a thing because that would have been the best blackmail ever.
We started with affiliate marketing and we kept refining and setting up new sites until we had about over thirty websites. Then, as we were going through this process, people were just asking us, “What the hell are you guys doing? Why don’t you work anymore? How can you travel?”
On our wedding week, which is probably the only week you shouldn’t be working, we had the idea for Screw the Nine to Five, and we just kind of hit the ground running with it and just stumbled along and tried to figure it out and reiterated it and pivoted and failed and learned and succeeded and it brought us to where we are today.
Really, the process of deciding to learn how to start a Facebook group just kind of came out of frustration of not being able to really connect with our audience the way we wanted to. Like, yes, I can send an email and ask them, “What are you struggling with?”, but then it’s me just talking at them unless they actually reply back. I can start a conversation, but I wanted a way to do that on a grander scale.
Back in April 2015, I said to Josh, “What if I just figure out how to start a Facebook group that’s free and everyone can join and then I could talk to them there?” That just blew the doors open on our business. I began creating a group on Facebook and we just haven’t looked back.
Wow, okay. It’s been a major catalyst. I have a question for you. What point did you transition and decide, “Hey, I want to go from affiliate to actual owning the product, creating that?” What drove that decision? From an affiliate marketing standpoint, it’s pretty passive. Passive being relative, but more passive than maintaining a product.
Yeah, that’s true. Both of us were so sick of the roller coaster that is Google and all their updates. It just wasn’t lighting us up anymore. It was great for what it was and it helped us make some solid cash online. We experienced our first five-figure month with it and everything was great, but we just wanted something more high-touch, something that was ours.
I don’t know. I just always feel like this sounds probably so lame, but I just feel personally like I was always meant to have more of a public persona whereas Josh is like the wind. He breezes in and out of the group and people are like, “What? Was that just Josh?” because he’s never in there.
He’s always in our private paid membership community, so he spends a lot of his time in there, but his whole strength is really the strategy and the automation and the tech side of things. Whereas mine is communication. I call it the 4 C’s. I have communication, content, community, and coverage, so like what we’re doing right now.
For me, I really wanted a way to kind of get out there a bit more and you can’t really do that with affiliate marketing. I wanted more of a face to the … I don’t want to say face to the masses kind of thing, but I just wanted a more public kind of brand. That helped motivate me to learn how to make a Facebook group.
Sure. Absolutely. I mean you’re creating more equity in yourself. You have an asset now, which has long-term value.
Let’s dig into how to set up a Facebook group. I suspect most people are familiar with Facebook groups these days. I find it fascinating how Facebook groups have become this meeting place. There’s Facebook groups for everything.
Let’s start at the high level and that is what are the measurable benefits that you can attribute to having learned how to start a Facebook group for your business?
There’s a few things. We take a pretty strategic approach with it. We use it heavily for market research. Really diving into what our members want and what they’re interested in and what they need help with. That really informs the different content we create, the different products, the different offers we put out there, the different webinars we host. It has all made it worthwhile to delve into how to start a Facebook group.
That’s been huge for us because we can see what’s working, what’s not, because I promote everything in that Facebook group and to my list, obviously.
On top of that, learning how to set up a Facebook group has helped grow our list. It’s helped us pack out our live events. It’s allowed us to welcome hundreds of new people into our monthly membership community, Screw U. It’s had a huge effect.
Do I track all the numbers? Not particularly, but a lot of people who introduce themselves in our forum always say, “I found out about The Screw from the free Facebook group and I loved it there.”
Pretty much our Screw U community is that Facebook group, but on crack. It helps us transition people from free members into paid.
Okay. Just as a side note, I absolutely love your brand and I love Screw U. For everybody listening-
It’s so in your face.
It is. It’s short for Screw University, effectively, right?
That’s the play on words.
Yeah, I’m not saying, “Screw you, Derek.”
Exactly. I just had to explain that to everybody. Yeah, for everybody listening, it’s just a fantastic, cohesive brand that they’ve worked together here. I’d really recommend checking it out.
You guys have done a fantastic job. Here’s a question for you and I don’t know, I suspect it may be more of a gut feel than an actual measurable, but would you say that the big value is driving and capturing new leads into the group that you had not had previous engagement with or interaction with, so new lead gen? Is this the kind of information you can get when you decide to learn how to start a Facebook group?
Or do you find it’s a place to connect with existing leads, so people subscribe on your website, then join the group, and to get them back in to increase that relationship and value over their life? What would you say is the value in figuring out how to start a Facebook group and creating that connection?
I think it’s like column A, column B. It’s a little bit of both because I have people who joined who have never heard of The Screw. They’ve just heard about it in other groups or through an interview or something like that, so they’re not already on my list. They joined the free group, because I’m sure we’ll dive into it, I pimp my group everywhere.
That’s one of the ways I grow it is I talk about it freaking everywhere. For the people who have heard about me or The Screw in general or a guest post or whatever, they come in there not necessarily on my list.
For the people who do join my list, our welcome email, the second thing in that email is, “Join the Group”. All roads lead to that group because I know if I can get someone in that group and I can get them participating and kind of consuming our content, whether it’s free or opt-in based, whatever, I know for a fact I can get them on my list if it’s in line with what they’re trying to achieve in their business.
Growing Your Facebook group
For sure. Okay, now let’s take a few steps back and let’s start at the beginning. A lot of our listeners here today are going to be people who are just starting out. They’ve never learned how to start a Facebook group.
The technical side of figuring out how to start a Facebook group, that’s pretty simple. Let’s talk about igniting that group and getting that initial growth. Once you figure out how to start a Facebook group, how do you gain momentum and traction with it? How do you get those first people into it?
Like I said, I pimp it everywhere. Here’s the things that we do. We have on our main navigation bar on our homepage, we have a button that says, “Free FB Group.” That goes directly to the Facebook group. There’s no middle page. It’s just a simple redirect and you can request access straight away.
I put it in all my podcast show notes. Like I said, it’s in all my welcome emails. Anytime you sign up for any of our funnels or any of our freebies, the second you are prompted to do is come join our free Facebook group. It’s on our Thank You pages. I put it in all my bios for any guest posts I write, any features I do.
If I do any interviews…like I know at the end of this interview you’re going to say, “Where can people find out more about you?” I’m going to say, “Come hang out with me in my free Facebook group over at ScrewCommunity.com.”
There’s another thing. We’ve set up a custom URL for it. Instead of me saying, “Oh, come join me at Facebook.com/groups/8530771249,” I’m saying, “Come hang out with me at ScrewCommunity.com.”
Also, I put it as my link on all my social media bios, so I feel like a lot of people just link to their homepage or to an opt-in, which is fine. I choose to send it directly to my group. Because like I said, if I get them in there and I get them immersed in the community that is kind of built behind my brand, I know that I can get them on my list.
Okay, so basically it’s everywhere.
You pimp it everywhere. When people are joining your group, is it a public-access group? Or do you have to be approved? That’s a decision you need to make when you’re planning how to start a Facebook group, right?
Yeah. I make a closed group. I don’t have open groups, then that attracts the riffraff. It kind of opens everything up to spamming it, so I’m quite diligent. I keep a closed group and I vet everyone who goes into it. I just make sure that they are actually real people.
Yeah, that was my question. What do you look for when you’re vetting somebody?
I make sure that they actually have friends on Facebook. That they’ve been a member more than a year. Sometimes it says one month, which I never believe. I don’t really understand it, but if it says more than five days, I’m like, “Mmm, I’m going to check you out.”
If it’s more than a year and you can see they have however many friends in the group or they have however many friends on Facebook, I typically approve those people. I always do, actually, because then if someone spams your group, you just delete and ban them. I ain’t afraid to ban a fool. If someone’s going to be all sketchy in my group, I’m just “delete and ban.” That’s it.
Yeah, simple. Facebook’s really become, and obviously it is their goal to become, more of a pay-to-play platform, promote from a business standpoint. Groups are an interesting thing because you can start them for nothing, you can get an audience and you can post to that, which is great. Definitely worth learning how to start a Facebook group.
I have two questions. How are you engaging your audience? Let’s start there. How are you engaging the audience within the group. What strategies are you using?
I have theme posts that I post every single day. I have Monday Mantra, Tuesday Toolsday, Wednesday Winsday, Thursday Q&A, Follow Friday. Saturday is our Weekend Warriors post. Then Sunday is ScrewP Sunday and that’s where I prompt people to shout each other out so that we can really get a sense of community building.
I have those seven posts that go up every single day in the Facebook group, so that helps to build some engagement.
On top of that, I always ask questions. Like I said, I poll the group quite a bit. I’m always asking for feedback. I’ll post cute little picture quotes or I’ll share a little rant or a fact about me or whatever it is.
I’m always trying to think of ice breakers, you know what I mean? Because I know a lot of people worry, “Okay, so if I decide to learn how to start a Facebook group, what happens if no one talks in it?” That is the main thing everyone is worried about because they don’t want to just talk to themselves and feel kind of alone.
What I did in the beginning when I decided to learn how to start a Facebook group was I just kicked off the conversation myself. If I asked question, I would be the first one to answer it. I’d be like, “For me, it’s blah blah blah blah blah.”
Or I’ve watched another girl in my group, Bushra, when she introduced herself, she did an awesome introduction. She gave a quick snippet about herself and then she played a game called “Three Truths and a Lie”. She listed out these four completely random facts and the thread freaking blew up because everyone’s like, “Oh my God, which one’s the lie?” Because it was like, “I’ve been charged with abduction before. I’ve done this.” So many random things that you’re like, “Holy crap. I actually don’t know which one’s the lie.” That really started building engagements.
If you can do things like that, little ice breakers, I really feel like it helps to crack the silence. In the beginning, it is going to be a bit slow-going until you get those people in there. It’s just a numbers game, but if you can stay consistent with it and actually show up every single day and give people your time, then yeah, it’s going to build. It takes consistency and time and patience, but it’s so worth it.
With the reach, okay, you post something in there. Now I know if I post something on my Facebook page, if it’s getting a lot of activity, it’s organic, reach is going to go up and more people are going to see it.
I also belong to some Facebook groups and it seems like I get more posts out of the Facebook group than I would off of friends, stuff like that. How would you compare, and there’s no good way to measure it, the organic reach of something you post out to the actual members?
Facebook pages are dead to me. I said this to Amy Porterfield the other day when we did her podcast. I was like, “No offense, because I know you’re kind of the queen bee of FB, but pages are dead to me right now. I only use them for ads.”
For me, I don’t even look at my page, to be honest. I don’t care about the reach I’m getting there because it’s not where I spend my time. If you want to hang out or talk to us or get a question answered, you’re going to come to my group. For organic reach, it’s pretty damn active. Learning how to start a Facebook group is more valuable that starting a page as far as I’m concerned.
I polled people the other day about, I can’t remember what it was, but I got over 100 responses. That is so helpful for me. I’m not getting 50% of people because I have close to 6,000, but 100 answers is still a really good sample size for me to base the direction of something off of.
Yeah. It’s massive. Here’s a question I always get from people who are just starting to learn how to start a Facebook group with their businesses and stuff and I’d like to get your take on this. How do you manage your personal profile versus the group? I’m assuming a lot of people in the group are trying to friend you personally as well.
This was such a personal battle for me. It sounds so weird. At first I was like, “Oh my God, okay. I am about to just sacrifice my personal profile?” I have. I’ve just kind of given up that ‘that’s a thing for me.’
I hear you.
It was weird. It’s a weird thing because most people would be like, “Why do you even care that much?”, but it’s like, okay, this is not really a place where I can post a lot of super-intimate things anymore. That’s going to be for public consumption now. I’ve kind of just tried to go with the flow of it. I’ve just started approving people.
Before, I remember when I had a WebTV show back in 2006, which I talked about with the whole MySpace, blah, blah, blah, I had my personal profile up to 2,000 people. So many weird creepers and all this stuff.
Then I was like, “Screw this. This is my Facebook profile. I’m going to cut everyone.” I went down to 200 and I was like, “Ah.” Now it’s kind of creeping up again and I’ve just kind of relinquished control. I’m like, “All right, let’s do it.” Definitely something to think about when deciding to learn how to start a Facebook group.
I’m with you on that. Frankly now, I just log into my wife’s Facebook account when I want to see what our family and friends are doing. It is what it is.
As far engagement in the group goes, we’ve talked about that. Now, obviously you’re doing this to drive growth in a business, right? What are the strategies that you use to monetize that group? Maybe you can go in there and just post blatant plugs and offers and stuff like that. Maybe you don’t. How do you approach it?
The Octopus Analogy
Yeah, again, we try to be strategic with it. Here’s how it starts. We have this whole strategy, we call it the octopus. James Schramko talks about this and he uses the octopus analogy. This is something we’ve heavily adopted in our business.
Your core offer, whatever your flagship or signature program or service or whatever it is, that is like the head of your octopus. Then your different entry points into that offer are the tentacles of the octopus, essentially.
What we do, like I said, Screw U is our core offer. It’s our cyber home base. What I do to build or to funnel people in there is I’ll go and I’ll poll the group and I’ll say, “What do you want to learn next? I’m working on my next series of blog posts. Do you want to learn this, this, this, or this?”
For example, I polled them a few months ago, “These are the topics I’m thinking about talking about. What would you prefer?” It was like sales funnels, webinars, Facebook groups, and copywriting. The number one voted on topic was sales funnels. I was like, “Sweet.” Deciding to learn how to start a Facebook group is definitely a great way to do market research.
Josh started creating a mini-course that sits inside Screw U. It’s free for Screw U members. It’s called, “The Perfect Sales Funnel.” Then we start to fracture out our courses and sell them as one-off products.
We’ll take that idea. He’ll start to create the product. I then create, we call them read magnets, but just pretty much like big-ass blog posts. It’s a post called, “How to Create a Dangerously-Effective, Automated Sales Funnel.” That, in a blog post, pretty much lays out our entire process of how we build sales funnels around The Screw.
Then once you’ve read that, you’ll get prompted to opt-in for our lead magnet. For that particular topic, it’s to steal my emails, so the emails that I use in our sales funnels because so many people have said to me, “Yeah, but what do I say?” I was like, “I’ll just give you my emails.” Then people can use those as inspiration or mock them up or copy them or whatever they want to do with them.
Then once you opt-in for that, you’re immediately directed to a one-time offer for the perfect sales funnel at discounted price. If you don’t take that up in fifteen minutes, then we’ll hit you again in forty-eight hours at a higher price. If you do take that up, then you’re pitched Screw U. It’s kind like read magnet, lead magnet, intro offer, core offer.
That is entirely how I do it. All I have to do is post the blog post in my Facebook group. I don’t pimp out Screw U heavily at all, really, because to be honest, a lot of my members that are in Screw U are also in the free group and then they just talk about it. Deciding to learn how to start a Facebook group and successfully connecting with that group has massive benefits this way.
They kind of do a lot of the marketing for me, so I don’t ever have to heavily sell or outright sell the U, I just put the blog post into the free group. It’s a free piece of content anyway. People have already expressed interest in it. Then I get them onto that page. It’s pixeled. I can follow them around Facebook regardless. That’s kind of the entry point into how I funnel people into the U.
Interesting. Let’s talk about your free versus your paid. One of the questions, I get all the time from people who want to learn who to start a Facebook group is, “How do I give away this for free without devaluing what I’m giving paid?”
You have a paid platform that’s obviously not on Facebook, it’s a membership website, but one of the big value drivers in a membership website for premium members is more of that personal access, right? Webinars, stuff like that.
Is there ever any concern of devaluing your premium by providing so much access to you through this Facebook group.
No. Not for us at least because we have a forum. Screw U is a forum, so all of our training courses also sit inside the forum. Then we have the monthly calls as well. We encourage people, “If you need help with your sales page, give me the link and I will critique the hell out of it. I will break it down, rip it apart, and rewrite it pretty much. I’ll suggest the different copy tweaks or if you’re posting your launch sequence, we’ll dive into that and help you tweak that.”
It’s super high-touch, incredibly in-depth feedback.
The free group will just be kind of like a, “Here’s what I would do. Hope it works. Let me know how it goes.” Whereas inside the U, I’ll be like, “Here’s all the things. Here’s everything you should do.”
This is part of the planning you need to do when you decide to learn how to start a Facebook group.
Yeah, okay. There’s clear value ascension there. Within your group, you’re obviously driving leads to your current business. Do you also do affiliate marketing through that group, recommending other products and stuff as well? Or do you keep it contained to your own product ecosystem? I’m wondering if affiliate sales is a good motivation to learn how to start a Facebook group?
I don’t do a lot of affiliate pushes whatsoever, but with that being said, I’m currently in the middle of doing one for my friend, Alexia Vernon, who has a product called, “Your Spotlight Talk”. I polled my audience, again, because I’m not just going to put something in there and be like, “Oh, I hope they like it.”
When she approached me about doing this launch with her, I said, “Okay, let me see if they want it first.” I polled them, “Would you guys want to learn about how to book speaking gigs or speak at industry events?” It was 100% hell yes, so I said to her, “Okay, sweet, let’s do this.”
I just posted her free video series inside the free group. A bunch of people opted in for that. I didn’t push it any further than that.
Then today, after I get off the phone with you, I’m shooting a free video with her. Just like an interview-style on how to book your first speaking gig and then I’ll put that free piece of content into my free group again. Then we’re doing a webinar and, again, I’ll post the registration in the free group.
I don’t really push anything paid in there, but I do put whatever free resources I can.
Yeah, in that case as well, whether they buy or not, they’re still going to get a ton of value out of all the front-end free content that you’re creating as well. That’s a strong message for everybody that is thinking about how to start a Facebook group. Create value. Don’t just plug stuff in there.
With that being said, when Josh and I were hosting a live event with our co-hosts, Shane and Jocelyn, and they have a site called Flipped Lifestyle. I heavily pimped that in the group because I spend a lot of freaking time in there.
If I have something to sell, I’m not going to be afraid to do it. That’s something I completely stand behind. If people don’t like it, they can leave. That’s fine.
Yeah, absolutely. One more question for you before we kind of wrap this up. That’s the actual links of the post, the styles of the post that you’re putting in. As part of learning how to start a Facebook group, this stuff is important. Any length, formatting, imagery, kind of strategies that you find that are getting more engagement than others?
My posts tend to be quite long. As you can tell, I’m a talker. I have a real hard time with brevity. Sometimes I can deliver something in a short and sweet kind of way, but most of the time, I like to talk. I love to get into the mindset behind something.
For example, when I was posting Alexis’ free video series, I was talking about my experience being freaking terrified of public speaking last year and then using a lot of her resources to overcome that and really try and help up my public speaking game. I shared that whole experience.
That was a long-ass post, but again, I write quite conversationally so I hope it’s a bit more entertaining than it is arduous.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Okay, to wrap things up, any final words how to start a Facebook group? Any strategies that are in your head that I didn’t dig into? Anything you want to leave off with?
I really just think the key to it is showing up and being consistent and persistent. That’s really all it comes down to. Having a steady presence. Because so many people learn how to start a Facebook group, go do it and then they think their job is done and that’s where it’s only beginning.
I definitely think if you’re not keen on putting in an hour a day into your group, sometimes even more than that, especially in the beginning, then learning how to start a Facebook group might not be the best fit for you.
We have, I call her one of our Screw U Stars. Her name is Amanda Bond and she’s a Facebook ad strategist. She just learned all the things about Facebook ads. We hired her and she’s been running our ads.
She was just dropping non-stop tips in our group and people just started eating it up. We said, “Do you want to just do a Facebook ads course for Screw the Nine to Five? We’ll do it with you, but you create all the training.” She was like, “Yeah.” She has now created a brand for herself by being active in a group she doesn’t own.
Now she’s tagged in everything that has to do with Facebook ads and not even in my own group, but members from The Screw group then tag her in other people’s groups. It starts to spread. It becomes more of a viral, it’s kind of like referral marketing essentially.
All these people are like, “Oh, you should talk to Bond. Oh, you should talk to Amanda Bond. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” It just helps get her presence out there and that’s not her group, you now, but she is kind of a go-to for all these FB ads in all of these groups.
Yeah, okay. One thing you said there that kind of stood out in my mind and led to another question, as it happens, you said if you’re not ready to put in an hour a day into your group, learning how to start a Facebook group may not be for you.
I’m trying to wrap my head around what does that hour look like when you’re getting off the ground? How do you put an hour a day into a group that may not have a ton of people, that you’re growing? Where’s that going?
I would think it would be in coming up with a really solid tip or story or ice breaker or some sort of post that will hopefully elicit a reaction. Or answering someone’s question. Or going and finding relevant content that you can post, being like, “I think you guys can find this helpful if you’re struggling with blah, blah, blah.”
You always want to keep it on topic to that group, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t curate other people’s content and bring it in. You’re just trying to be as helpful as you can and help them achieve whatever desired outcome they want.
Yeah, absolutely. Totally agree. I can’t tell you how many groups, stuff like this you see people start, but it never gains momentum because they never put the time into it. It doesn’t just happen overnight, but it can be such an incredible asset. That said, before we wrap things up, this is a silly question. If our listeners want to find out more about you or about how to start a Facebook group, where do they go?
I know where you’re going. Come join our free Facebook group.
No way. 🙂
In all seriousness, come join our free Facebook group. You can find it at ScrewCommunity.com.
Awesome. It’s ScrewCommunity.com. Jill, thank you so much for sharing all those strategies and knowledge and giving so many valuable tips and strategies on how to start a Facebook group. I do appreciate it.
Thanks so much for having me on. It was so much fun.
Absolutely. All right, everyone, that was digital entrepreneur and Facebook expert and founder of Screw the Nine to Five, Jill Stanton.
As always, any links mentioned in this interview will be included in the show notes along with the entire transcript of this episode and you’ll find all of that at EntrepreneurIgnited.com/podcast.
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This is your host, Derek Gehl, signing off.