Imagine if you had the opportunity to bring your most devoted fans and best customers from all over the world together in one place to talk about your business, a place where they could ask questions, share their experiences, and learn directly from you. What an amazing opportunity that would be! The great news is you can do all of this for free with a Facebook group dedicated to your craft business.
Facebook currently has 2.41 billion monthly active users so while all of your customers and fans may not be on the platform, the vast majority likely are. Creating a Facebook group brings them together to learn from one another, and from you. Along the way, you’ll be strengthening brand awareness while also learning about your customers’ needs so you can serve them better.
Getting set up
Choose a name for your group that represents a community built around your brand. Then decide whether to make your Facebook group public, closed, or secret. Anyone can see posts and comments in a public group so if you want to protect the privacy of your members choose a closed or secret group. A secret group’s name isn’t searchable on Facebook so it’s is best in an invite-only situation. Once you have your group set up, link it to your Facebook page and start spreading the word about it to your email list and your social media followers. Now it’s time to begin building community inside your group.
Creating a community
Interacting with your members each day and treating them like VIPs is key to building community in a Facebook. Judy Hale is the sewing pattern designer behind Patterns for Pirates and her Facebook group has proven to be tremendously popular among her customers. (The group currently has 119,000 members and averages approximately 3,000 posts each week.)
“Everything we do in the group is really around that main focus of helping members getting questions answered and sharing their makes,” says Hale, who started the group five years ago.
She often posts calls for pattern testers in her group, asking her customers to become part of her pattern creation process. She also will share photos when she’s wearing an outfit she’s made or when she’s sewed something for her one of her children, giving members an inside look into her life.
As the leader of the group, it’s important that you set the tone right from the start and maintain it throughout. Mathew Boudreaux of the quilting site Mister Domestic has a popular Facebook group called “Mister Domestic’s Sewing & Craft Room.” He’s created a banner image that runs across the top of the group reading “No Politics No Promo All Positivity.”
Boudreaux likes to help his group members feel special by taking them behind the scenes in his business whenever he can. “I give the group a first look on what I’m working on before I share it anywhere else, which is super fun,” he says. He’ll often create a post welcoming new members, asking them to introduce themselves so everyone feels seen.
To increase interaction and give members something to look forward to consider setting up regular events in your Facebook group such as Friday share days (where members can promote their own products and posts), AMAs (Ask Me Anythings), or Facebook Lives which give your members a chance to interact with you in a more personal way.
A Facebook group can be a terrific place to listen to your customers and get new ideas for ways to serve them better. For Jenny Rushmore of Cashmerette Patterns, the feedback loop in the group definitely goes both ways. “It creates a community for our customers where they can share their Cashmerette garments with others and also get feedback and advice for things that they may be uncertain about,” she says. “It’s also an amazing way for us to constantly get customer feedback.”
Service-based businesses can also benefit. Arianne Foulks runs the web design and branding business Aeolidia has a Facebook group for online shop owners. Even though the main purpose of the group is to create a supportive community for the business owners, she also believes that it has benefitted her company. “It’s a nice place for us to build trust and familiarity with our community, and it’s a great way for us to know what kinds of problems and challenges our potential clients are having with e-commerce and more.”
Of course, all the work you put into your group should also lead directly to sales. Don’t be afraid to post about your product launches in your group. “We host sew-alongs a few times a year and it’s obvious that the heightened sales of the sew-along pattern are attributed to the sew-along event,” says Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness who has a popular Facebook group for her pattern business.
Most craft business Facebook groups have written policies posted in the group outlining what is and isn’t allowed. Off-topic posts, marketing for other businesses, foul language, and bullying of typically on the no-no list.
Hale suggests trying to clarify your goals for the group before you begin. Moderating becomes easier when clear policies are in place for everyone. “I knew my main focus of the group was helping those with questions about my patterns and sewing in general,” she says.
Quilter and author Katja Marek realized she needed a solid set of rules for the Facebook group she created for her first book, The New Hexagon. “I’m fairly strict,” she says. ‘I don’t allow links to other’s websites, YouTube videos and so forth. I also don’t allow religion, politics, begging, or selling of any kind. I state in the group description that this group is about me and my designs and publications.” Marek stresses the importance of standing up for yourself and not being afraid to stick to what you want the group to be about.
Moderating the group
“Facebook groups can occasionally get out of hand, even if your brand is the most innocuous thing you could imagine,” says Rushmore. She suggests checking in at least once a day to moderate and to quickly follow up if members report posts.
Many Facebook group owners work with moderators and administrators who are either volunteer or paid, to help manage their groups. Often the admins and are recruited from among active group members. “They should be your most enthusiastic fans. Two of my admins are now paid, remote employees” says Lawson.
How many moderators and admins does a group need? Cashmerette, with around 5,600 members, currently has five admins. Patterns for Pirates, with over 119,000 members, has 15 admins and 25 moderators and Sew Sweetness runs their 44,000-member group with the help of seven admins.
But some group owners have chosen the solo route for various reasons. Boudreaux has over 6,000 members and still runs the group on his own. “I’d say once it gets into the tens of thousands I might need to add a couple of moderators, but for now it’s perfect,” he says. Boudreaux estimates he spends a couple of hours a week in the group. He also thinks that having a group with a narrow, clearly defined topic makes his job as moderator easier.
Don’t hesitate to remove people who are violating the rules of your group. Remember, you’re in charge. At times, you’ll need to be assertive including deleting comments or posts and that means not everyone will be happy.
Six ways to use a Facebook group:
- Market research. When developing new products ask members for feedback. Some comments can also be the basis for new product ideas.
- Sneak-peeks. Let the members in your group get exclusive first looks and share behind the scenes of your process. This will make the members feel even more involved in your brand.
- Craft-along. Encourage the members to create something together using one of your products.
- Consumer support. Answer questions regarding your products directly in the group. Often it will turn out that more people had the same question, so this way allows you to reach more people.
- Create resource pages and galleries. Finding information inside Facebook groups is not always easy. By compiling information, such as creating resource pages for commonly asked questions and adding dedicated galleries for all your products, you can make the information easier to navigate.
- Share news. Post updates, link to the latest blog posts and use the group to share other newsworthy items that might be of interest.
Want to learn more about building a successful Facebook group for your business? Check out these resources: