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Using Free and Paid Facebook Memberships To Grow Your Business with Bella Vasta

KEY TAKEAWAYS COVERED IN THE PODCAST
  • If your business depends on you being IN your business for it to run, you may want to consider the way in which your business runs. You must be able to take time off, whether it’s for a vacation or to spend time with a loved one, your business needs to be able to run without you.
  • Facebook groups can be used as a sales funnel as often you’ll be able to buy a product that has a free membership to a broad group as a part of its benefits. From there, people may end up purchasing membership to your more exclusive and knowledgeable group.
  • Guidelines are important, but don’t dictate as you may end up with a bad reputation.
  • Before you start a group for your business, you need to understand your why.
  • Planning your content and scheduling it in advance is essential to running a successful group.
  • Use your free group to encourage members into joining you paid membership. Mention the topics you’ve covered, talk about them in the free group and show people that your paid membership is worth it.
  • You’ll be putting more effort into this group, so showing people it’s worth their money is essential.
  • Your Facebook icons on your website should go directly to your free Facebook group, not your Facebook page.
  • Don’t oversell in your group. Although monetising is important, low hanging fruit is key.
  • Consider using ‘pop-up groups’ for products and courses. These can be closed after they’ve been used and can encourage people to join your membership.
THE ONE THING YOU NEED TO REMEMBER ABOVE ALL ELSE…

When you run a group, whether it’s free or paid for, you need to focus on providing valuable information. If end up just talking to your members or trying to sell to them, they’ll go elsewhere for their information. Monetising can’t be the only thing you use your group for.

HIGHLIGHTS YOU SIMPLY CAN'T MISS
  • Introducing Bella Vasta – 04:00
  • Running Your Business Without Being IN Your Business – 08:30
  • Starting A Facebook Group (And The Mistakes Bella Made) – 14:30
  • How Active Do You Need Be on Your Facebook Group? – 19:31
  • Going from A Free Facebook Group to A Paid Membership – 23:50
  • Getting People to Join Your Free Group – 28:36
  • Using Memberships as a Community – 38:46
  • Should A Free Facebook Group be Part of Your Strategy? – 42:50
  • Monetising Your Facebook Group – 45:50
LINKS TO RESOURCES MENTIONED IN TODAY'S EPISODE
Transcript below

 

Hello and welcome to this week's episode of the Social Media Marketing Made Simple Podcast and I am your host Teresa Heath-Wareing. It's so good to be here with me today and as always, I really appreciate you listening. I feel like the podcast is going from strength to strength, and that can only be thanks to you, my listeners. So thank you very much and please keep sharing if you think that it's something your friends, or family, or neighbours, or anybody randomly that you've met might like. I would love it if you'd share the podcast. It would be a great help to me. Also, as it stands, this episode is going out on Christmas Eve, so I hope you're all ready for Christmas and ready to take a well deserved break. But also, I hope you've been thinking forward to the next year, and what you've got planned, and what might come up because I know I always like to spend quite a bit of time doing this and thinking about what goals I would like to achieve the following year. Anyway, on with today's podcast episode, which is an interview with the super lovely Bella Vasta.

Now, I really look forward to doing this interview because Bella and I talk about Facebook groups, and I don't know enough about Facebook groups. I feel a little bit ashamed saying that as what I do for a business is social media. However, there are so many elements to social media that it's natural that some I'm going to be more confident in, and others that I don't use very often, I'm going to need a bit of help. So Facebook groups is definitely one of those areas. My first off, let me tell you about Bella. Bella Vasta is the dynamic personality behind the, One-woman Coaching Company, Jump Consulting. And since 2002, Bella has been a trailblazer in the pet sitting industry consulting with multimillion dollar companies all the way to dealing with hundreds of small businesses. She is an author, a podcast host, a blogger, and has been featured on NBC, CBS, Fox, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post. Following the birth of her daughter, Bella sold her pet sitting business and now lives out her passion to inspire, motivate, and challenge business owners through her speaking, coaching and consulting.

So Bella was a great guest to have on. She has a really interesting story that started with the birth of her very premature daughter, and how she managed to keep her business running even though she wasn't in it. Which I think is an area that we can all take something from because actually so often we are our businesses. And if something was to happen, would your business carry on if you couldn't be in it day to day? So Bella looks at that question and tells us how she managed it, how she managed to continue this very successful business. She also then takes us through Facebook groups, which like I said, I was completely fascinated by because it's an area that I need to work on, and also an area that I'm going to be introducing later on down the line. So she told us the difference in the different Facebook groups. I.e if you're going to have one for free, if you're going to have one that's closed, or one that is in conjunction with some paid product.

She also talked about how to get people from one into the other through the use of as a funnel. Now, she also talked about when you should post, how you should Post, if you're going to go live, how you grow your group, and how you monetize the group with I being too salesy. She really is an expert in this field and is super passionate about it. So I don't want to take up any more of her time and I just want to hand you over to the lovely Bella Vasta.

 

Introducing Bella Vasta

 

So I am so super excited for today's podcast interview with the lovely Bella Vasta. Thank you so much for saying you'll be a guest today.

Thanks for having me. I'm happy to be here.

No problem at all. Now, we were introduced through the lovely Chris [inaudible 00:04:25] who was on quite a few weeks ago now, and he very kindly said that he knew you, you were friends and that I must have you on the show. I love getting recommendations, and I love meeting new People and I'm really excited about today's episode. It's going to be a good one. So the other reason I'm really excited because today we're going to look at Facebook groups, and why you should do them for your business, and how they can help your business. And this is an area I was just thinking about that I don't do a whole lot on and I don't know as much as I should, or as I want to know about it.

So I'm personally, very excited about this one and I know looking at balance stuff, she's going to give us some great content, so there should be a great one. But Bella, before we get started, I have obviously been doing a bit of research, and the general social media stalking that people do, and I'd been looking around on you and I would love you to tell my audience a little bit about who you are, and how you got to what you're doing now, because you didn't necessarily start off doing this thing you're doing now. So it'd be great if you could share that with my audience.

Right. Well, I think the most obvious one is that I'm across the pond, as they say. I'm in Phoenix, Arizona, which is the southwestern portion of the United States. I actually grew up on the east coast in Boston and moved to Arizona about 20 years ago, when I was in the middle of high school. And because of that, I didn't have too many friends out here when I came. I stayed at my parents house when I went into college. And they wanted to put a curfew on me, and I didn't want that because, who wants to be in college with a curfew? So when I got the opportunity to get paid to sleep over at my neighbours house to watch their dog, which was totally bizarre to me at the time, I jumped on that chance. And you know that I grew into a six figure business with multiple employees, and nationally and locally award-winning.

Although, in my about fifth year of doing that, Teresa, I realised that what I really loved doing was pouring into people. People would start calling me and saying, how can I do what you do? I saw you got this award, what is this about? And I started pouring into people and realising that this coaching thing is actually a pretty cool gig. And I have developed it and it's morphed into a lot of different things. So fast forward to about 2012, I started my own couple of Facebook groups by myself. And it was really a means to an end. I saw what was out there in our industry and it wasn't really happy with the calibre of advice, or the tone, or the leadership. So I said, I'm going to start my own, which is a habitual theme throughout my own life.

So I started this group and have had them since 2012. They've morphed, they've gotten bigger and bigger and more nichier. And then, in 2014 I my husband found me, actually 2013, my husband found me on match.com. We got married here in Macedonia in the same week and we went to Rome for our honeymoon, came home pregnant. And six months later, [inaudible 00:07:33] world's smallest surviving female babies that only 12 ounces. So my life should be really a movie I think, because it's quite interesting. We were in [inaudible 00:07:45] with her for six months, she defied all odds. Everyone said that she would not survive. But during that, as a businessperson, I also had my coaching company and my pet sitting company at the time that I was trying to run. I hope that no one knows what NICU is like, that is listening right now, but it's ICU and so you can't be like wheeling and dealing, and on your laptop, and on your cell phone, and I was there for 10 to 12 hours a day for six weeks.

 

Running Your Business Without Being IN Your Business

 

So Facebook groups were really big part of how I was still able to stay connected to my coaching community, and still stay on the scene, if you will. In 2016, I sold that pet sitting company for six figures and went full force with my consulting. So right now I'm a consultant, I'm a podcast host, I'm an author and a professional speaker as well, going around the country talking about leadership and marketing and Facebook groups.

Awesome. [crosstalk 00:08:43]

[crosstalk 00:08:43].

That is a whirlwind story, isn't it? [crosstalk 00:08:48] there to spot that opportunity straight away, to do that thing and build that business, but not just build it but grow into something hugely successful. The interesting point of something dreadful, amazing but dreadful happens all at once to you. And the big thing is, and in our industry, and in industries where you're building yourself as a personal brand, what happens? Because you know yourself, like if I'm at a conference for three days, or refined speaking and I might have the office, or if I'm travelling, it's like trying to maintain running a business is hard.

So to go through something as huge as that and in such a position where your time is being taken up and to carry on. I've watched some of your stuff and you talked about the fact that you had systems in place and boy, what a good job? Because I would [inaudible 00:09:44] what if carried on?

If you get anything listening to this podcast right now everyone, I want you just to really consider, if I had to leave my company, or my business for any reason, whether you want just simply go on a vacation without your being connected, or God forbid, something happened to you or someone you love, will your business still be there? Will you be able to go be with that person that you love and help them through a tough time or yourself?

I know a lot of entrepreneurs that can't, and it makes me sad and it's become a personal mission of mine to really think about what things do you have established, and we will talk about the Facebook groups and how that helps it, but what do you have established? Because I'm pretty sure that you have been throwing your blood, sweat and tears into building your business, and if it is dependent upon you being in it, then I just want to encourage you to think about that. Think about it because I would hate for you to throw away all those years of investment because if you are a successful business, Teresa, in three, five, 15, 20 years, somewhere in that time span, something will happen to you, or someone you love. You're going to have to take a holiday as you might call it, or a hiatus and step away. And I just really want people to think about that because I think we forget about it, when our noses in the grind every day and we're working on all this to do list that never ends.

And we don't stop and think about, why am I creating my own thing? It was for freedom, financial, time, experiences, family, freedom.

And that rarely comes, isn't it? It's hilarious actually, because you start your own business so you can manage your own time, and then [crosstalk 00:11:32] more hours than you've ever worked in your entire life. And you-

And you rationalise it by saying, it's okay. I love it. Right?

Yeah. Totally.

[crosstalk 00:11:39] you alive.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And it was funny and interesting you said this now, is that I had Tyler J. McCall on a couple of weeks ago, and he talked about by the fact that his story is that, his dad got ill and died and his last time with his dad, he sat on his laptop in the hospital because he couldn't step away, because his business relies on him being there. And it's the saddest thing in the world, isn't it? And to think that actually that's the case and that time when he should have been focused because of his business, and because it was a necessity and he had to, he ended up having to then do both and not spending that time with his dad. I think again, when people start their businesses, and especially if they're doing the thing that they've always done. So my background is marketing. I was employed as a marketier, and then I started my own marketing business.

So you aren't doing your job, you are your business. So we rarely think about, how do I extract myself from the business? And actually, it is so important for things like what you went through to still have money coming in, but also to have a holiday, and to have a break and to be able to step away without thinking the place is going to fall apart. So I think it's such a good point and one that so many people don't think about. And I'm interested, did you ever read the E-Myth Revisited?

Oh, I did. Michael Gerber's words about, are you a technician, or if you just have a job. Yeah. All of that really range true. I think it was actually one of the very first business books I did read. I don't think audible was around back then. It was probably like [inaudible 00:13:25], you know that? I'm sorry, that wasn't Michael Gerber. Michael Gerber is the no BS series. That was another one that I [crosstalk 00:13:33]. But yeah, yeah. I believe very much in always feeding your brain. I was listening to audible actually getting ready for this interview this morning because I just [crosstalk 00:13:43] airwaves. Honestly, I inhale all the [inaudible 00:13:47] podcasts. Because I've learnt so much good stuff and it's amazing. And I listened to the E-Myth revisited and it was amazing, and suddenly made me think entirely different about my business. It takes time and I'm still working on it, and it's still a constant juggle, but at least I'm starting to put those steps in so that I could start stepping back, which is great.

Great story. So how come Facebook groups, what happened there? Why did you choose that as a medium to help grow that side of the business?

 

Starting A Facebook Group (And The Mistakes Bella Made)

 

So Teresa, I think one of the things that's been constant in my life is that, everything has been pretty organic. So I would love to say that I sat down one day and saw something, and planned it out and said, this I'm going to do. But my company is called Jump Consulting, because I really believe in just jumping and figuring out how to steal the parachute on the way down. That's what I did. So it was very reactionary as I told you originally, in the very beginning. It was, I to have a group and then I made a lot of mistakes. I said things like, you can't coast on Sundays because we need a day off. I don't want to manage this group on Sundays. I'm deleting it if you post on Sunday. I actually did that. I also would delete people if I did not see that they were participating.

I'd be like, you're not allowed in this group if you're not saying anything. And I just delete people. I was a dictator. It was terrible. Well, it kept the group pretty small, it also gave me a bad rap, all this way or the highway, which I was okay and with a little bit. But on the other hand I was like, guys, listen, there's so many other groups in our industry that have thousands of people in there. And there's only like four people talking. And I didn't want that, my intentions were really good, but I found that didn't really work and it was a lot of police.

It wasn't until about two years ago that I said, wow, well, first of all, I had this group, I own a pet sitting company with staff because it's not just the pet industry is the dog walking and pet sitters. And then, it wasn't just the dog walking and pet sitters, it was the ones that had staff. So we was like-

Really specific.

Niches you could get. And a lot of people that, they were just getting into the business or a lot of apps have started recently. I don't know if you have them over there, but we have rover and wag here where you could open up an APP and have a dog walk at your door. And there's all kinds of craziness around it. But my point is, is that with technology, so many people are starting their own pets sitting in companies. So there was this huge influx in our industry and people starting businesses. And so, I opened up another group called Jumpstart, and it was for anyone who had a pet business who wanted to be in there. So what I did over time organically, was I started off very nichey, then I did one that was really big and broad, and then I started a mastermind the beginning of this year and that was a paid group.

So I've used Facebook groups as a funnel, and I've noticed that a lot of people have done that as well, knowing or not knowing it. So if I can keep going?

Yeah. Of course.

What I [inaudible 00:17:05] that is, sometimes you buy a product and one of the benefits is you get to be in a Facebook group. And it's cool as the user because now you're around a bunch of other people that also have had the product, that also have the same questions as you, that you can learn from. Where there's a leadership of some sort that shows up about that certain topic. So that's something that's more bottom of the funnel. Then you've got these big general groups that's just like a, Oh, I want to be in a social media group with a bunch of social media people. And then, from there you might go into a group that's like a paid membership, an annual membership. The one that comes to mind is social media examiner society. I don't know if you're [crosstalk 00:17:45].

Yeah. I'm in the society, yeah.

Yeah. And so the society is amazing. It's a monthly or a yearly fee, a good chunk of change, but you can go there and find out the latest and greatest stuff happening, or as they call, as seen in the wild. Does anybody have this feature yet? There's a lot of different ways to use the groups. And I started as a means to an end, but then carefully put it into my business plan because I said, wow, I'm spending so much time online and in these groups. And at one point it was a great way to drive a lot of traffic back to my website for my blogs, because I've got almost 400 blogs on my pet sitting site.

I answered everyone's questions forever. So it was a good way to get back, but then as Facebook changes, and as we need more and more engagement, it's just become a safe place where people know that my groups aren't for the cattiness, they're not for the venting, and complaining, and moaning. Right. And then there's other groups that they could do that in. So my groups have really grown where there's intimacy. I'm going to take a deep breath and let you ask the questions. I could [inaudible 00:18:54] the rest of this podcast.

It's fine. Absolutely fine. So there's a few things that spring to mind as you're saying that. So first off, how many groups are you currently … How many do you have that you manage?

For me personally, I've got three main groups for my business.

 

How Active Do You Need Be on Your Facebook Group?

 

Okay. How do you personally manage those three groups in terms of like, I think I've got some thoughts and questions around groups, [inaudible 00:19:24], how much activity does the group owner have to give or do? Because some groups I'm in, the group owner is barely there and they're, and in other groups, they're there all the time. And they are providing content, and they're starting conversations. So how much do you feel that owner has to be providing content for that group?

It really comes back to your plan and your idea and what you said is so right. So before anyone ever starts a group for their business, they need to understand their why. Why am I doing this group? What purpose is it serving? And the answer to that question is going to help you understand what that means. So Bryan Kramer has a group, he's the H2H guy, Human to Human connection and it's, I think it's called the Marketing Hub, and he has like four or five, maybe more moderators. And they all collectively together help moderate the group, or ask questions, or do stuff.

So his it's like a team style. I have other people where they just show up every Friday and they do Facebook live and that's what they do. For me, what I do is, my two free groups, I'll post in there as needed, as I want to, but what's happened is, when you first start a group, you need to be in there all the time. It's like a baby. They need you all the time. You need to be getting not just, oh, cool comment. Like, that's interesting Teresa, what made you say that? Those engaging kind of things. But what will happen is as your group grows, hopefully if it goes the right way, they'll start engaging with each other. So I think it's important to show up and not only be like asking for sales, or talking at them, you need to be providing value. But I think when it's a general larger group, that group will actually do a lot amongst each other.

The expectation of you as the group owner isn't that large, other than to keep it a safe place. But as you move into groups that are maybe more bottom of the funnel where I purchased, or I have some skin in the game, your role becomes more expected. So for me personally, as a business owner, as a mom, as a wife, as just a woman, I obviously can't be in there all day long with my phone dinging all day long. So the way that I personally decided to do it as with my mastermind, every month we have a different topic. This month we're talking about hiring and training. One month we talked about sales. One month we talked about leadership. So I've got a little bit of a content plan. And then what I do, is about two weeks before the month starts, I sit down, and I do an entire outline and write out all the content. My team also helps me as well.

We get the graphics, then we figure out where we're going to do polls, and we do challenges where we challenged people to go do something that day. We do this thing called big hairy goals where you figure out one week what you're going to do Monday through Friday. And we challenged people for it. So what we do is we plan it all and by the last day of the month for the upcoming, we have it all scheduled, and I post something Monday through Friday in the paid group, Monday through Friday in the morning. Then I know that I'm covered. It's not like this problem I have every day. I don't call it a problem, but like pressure. Oh my gosh, I got to think of something to put in the group today, because it goes back to the planning thing.

You have to plan your content, you have to know where you're going. And I think that also helps the group too. We have a couple of other things too where along with that content, not in my free groups, I won't do this much in my free groups. I'll go live sporadically, but in my paid groups, you'll know when I'm going live. I also bring in guests once a month and because all of these people are like, they have staff. I also bring in an HR consultant that normally would be like 300 dollars an hour. And we get one hour on zoom with her to ask her anything. So value in there, if you just only show up for our free, one hour meetings a month, is enormous.

So I'm going to ask a very direct personal question. If I may, my business.

Yeah.

 

Going from A Free Facebook Group to A Paid Membership

 

So I am launching a product soon, and I'm launching a course, a mini course. I keep saying mini, people say I shouldn't lay it down. It's an amazing course just because everyone's listening. But I'm launching a course, and I don't have any Facebook groups. I don't run a Facebook group. I don't have a started one yet. And then also, my next step is to do a membership. That's what I'd like to do. And my idea is that I do a membership for social media managers, running social media agencies, or freelancing to help them, not only with social media, keeping up to date because it's hard and it's full on, but also the management side. Like you said, if you're bringing on a team, if you need a freelancer, if you're bringing a designer or whatever, those challenges might be getting new clients, so that's the idea for the membership. And I've been trying to think, where do I do the group thing? Now, I know groups are a great place to nurture people to bring them on as customers.

Which one side question I've got on there is, how do you do it without being too salesy in steering group? Because otherwise no one wants to be in a group where they're just being sold to all the time.

Absolutely.

And then, how do I define the difference between having and nonpaid group, which is my part of my funnel system, which technically is similar to a podcast. I guess. It's still giving them content and showing, and giving them exposure to you. To then, a group that goes along with my course as an add-on. I'm still deciding whether I should do that or not. I haven't decided. And then, a group that you paid to be in as part of the membership. Does any of that makes sense?

What's the question, you're trying to decide how to organise it?

Yeah. And what's the difference? So my worry is what if I set up a free group, and I give them all this content that actually, what's the point in being in the page group?

Right. Now I get it. I get it. The thing is … Tell me what the course is going to be about that you're going to be doing. Let's plug it really quick.

Okay. So it's content creation. Content creation made easy. So basically, I talk you through in videos, with worksheets, and checklists and all those other good stuff. Exactly how to know who your Avatar is. Come up with content ideas, create amazing assets and then schedule. So you're not spending millions of years doing social media. It's a fairly, I don't want to use the word basic, because actually it's something-

Straight forward. Easy to understand.

Yeah. And the fundamentals. So actually, pretty much anybody that's doing social media, this is going to be a help to them.

Entry level.

Absolutely untrue level, yes. So some good stuff [crosstalk 00:26:22]

All right. And then your group, the membership one, is probably not for entry level people, as people that already have established business that's doing it right?

Yeah.

So what we want to do is, we want to bring them in, and is the product only available certain amount of time, or is it always available?

That's probably going to be always available.

Okay. So what I would do is, once you get them to buy the product, it can be twofold. You have your free group. Let's just call it free group. I mean you won't call it that, you'll call it something else for hiding [crosstalk 00:26:54]. So we have this free group and it goes both ways. So either A, you buy this product and you get to pop into this group. Or B, you are in this group and you realise, oh, there's this really cool product. All right? So it goes both ways and it simultaneous.

But what you're doing in that group is you're also saying in teasing the fact that you've got this, you want to take it to the next level, you want to get higher. Oh, that's a good question. We just talked about it in the mastermind, we just talked about it in the whatever you want to call it. In the inner circle and the whatever. Or you're in the inner circle and you go live, and you talk about this little thing and maybe you do a clip of that presentation, or a video recap in the free group. Hey, we just had this awesome person on. Here's a little taste of it. If you want the rest of it, you should really join our group. So what it's doing is, you're going to be in there responding to people in the free group, but you're not going to be in there every day answering every question doing lives, creating content.

It's more of a fly by the seat of your pants kind of thing. Or maybe you can schedule, but you only schedule like eight pieces of content, twice a week for four weeks a month. Whereas in the membership, you'll be five days a week, for five days a week, for four weeks out of the month. And maybe in the membership, it's more teaching, and it's more thought provoking, and it's more, go do this and report back. And over here it's more, here's an article, this is what you should do, you know what I mean?

Yeah.

So I think that's how you could start doing it. And then, to get people into that free group because I know people are wondering, okay, great. [crosstalk 00:28:37]

So if I may, I'll just keep going here.

Yeah.

 

Getting People to Join Your Free Group

 

All right. So to get people in your groups everyone, there's a lot of different ways and I'm going to give you a whole bunch of ideas. So the very first thing is, we all have these social media icons that say, Facebook on our website, that direct people to our page. Well, one thing I also like to tell people is that our page is like the front lawn. The front lawn is very well manicured. It's very prim and proper. We're not having parties out there, we're not hosting picnics out front. We're doing all that in the backyard. The backyard, you guys is your group. So what I want you to do on your website is to have that icon, go straight to the group, just get them straight into your group because once they're in your group, you have a high probability of getting them to like your page.

And Facebook is slowly rolling out the ability to also target the people in your group. So if you're worried about advertising, you're worried about, but I want them in my page so I can retarget them, you can do that in the group too. Another thing that you can do is on your Facebook page, you can do a video, or a picture pointing down to the bottom right corner, where you can change that blue thing that says, visit group, or visit community, I think it is. [inaudible 00:29:50] or visit page, or whatever, direct them in there, in your email signature. Join our [inaudible 00:29:56] community about marketeers. I love emailing with you. You must be in marketing. That means you should join my posse, or my inner circle. I really loved the idea of getting your community called something, and sometimes that organically happens. They call themselves something. My people call them the jumpers, they're like, “Hey Jumpers?” So it is really cool.

Another way that you can get them in is that, if you do Facebook stories, or Instagram stories, just structure this very well. He'll start talking about like, hey guys, I'm going in my group in 10 minutes and this is what we're doing. You might want to join immediately. Or he'll take a screenshot of something and it's the beginning of the story and then he'll put a picture over the end of it, so you don't know what it says and you have to go in the group to go read the rest of it, which is like a teaser. There's so many different ways you can do to get them in the group. You can send out an email. I just got an email from Stitcher, the podcast APP and they said, “Hey, we got this group thing.”

And so another step to it, you just basically have to invite people every way you possibly can. And you can also run, if you really wanted to, you could run a Facebook advertisement to the people that are on your page to say, hey, join my free community [inaudible 00:31:14]. Because the thing is, you're going to get so much more engagement inside. I get really excited about groups. Let me tell you a hack. I was doing one of these interviews a couple of months ago, and this girl told me about this amazing software, and I'll send you a link for it, where you and this software, you instal it once. And you can actually click approve and it will approve everybody who wants to come into your group at once. It puts it all into a spreadsheet so that you're not spending time logging all of it. Because let me back up a minute, [inaudible 00:31:46]

When you get people into your groups, you can ask three questions. And you include those three questions. What I like to do is, what's your email so you can get our weekly updates of all the content we're pushing out every week for you? What's your biggest challenge in your business? Which provides you an endless amount of Facebook live content, blog content, video content, graphic content. And you'll never say, what do I talk about or what should I say in my group? Because they're literally telling you as they come in, and you will start seeing themes that happen. And then the other one is like up for grabs. You can ask whatever you want. For me, if it's the staff group, I say, how many staff do you have? Because I want to qualify them that they have staff. Or I'll just say, what's your website? If it's the free group?

When we're getting people, we talked about all the different ways to get people into groups. And then once you get them in the groups and now you have a new problem, you've got all these people to approve into your group. And with the click of a button you can get them all into a spreadsheet, and I'll give that to you for the show notes, that you have it.

Awesome. That'd be so good.

[inaudible 00:32:52]

Link up to that.

I got to take away that task from my VA and saved about 30 bucks a week, just [crosstalk 00:33:01] so cool

And it moves the information from the answers into the Excel spreadsheet so you've got it there also. [crosstalk 00:33:09]

Yeah. And then if you really want to get crazy, you can hook up a Zapier, the spreadsheet into your email subscribers so you can automatically put those emails in, or automatically in and then on that, once they're added, you could say thanks for joining the group. You could automate this thing like nobody's business.

I love [crosstalk 00:33:31]

[crosstalk 00:33:32] a little. You know what I mean?

You are a woman after my own heart. So that just makes me so excited thinking about stuff like, isn't it cool, the amazing things that we can do now? I've been in marketing for 15 years and this stuff didn't even exist.

I know.

It's like, who the world is that we live in at right now. It's nice. So let me ask another question about the groups then. In terms of group size, again, I mean lots of groups which I don't think as a user of the groups I am using properly, but in terms of group size, some are massive like I don't know, 30,000. Some are huge, and some are fairly small. Is there an optimum number, because I know that some people will get to a certain group size and then shut that and open a second group because they want to keep it at a certain level.

Yeah. So I don't really believe in that. I think it goes back to your strategy. I don't understand it. Why you would start another group because I feel like that's just even more work for you.

Yeah. Because you're going to have to double [inaudible 00:34:37].

But if you're saying, hey, we're going to have a pup up group and I'm going to coach you, and we're only going to have 12 people, and then when that one ends we're going to open up another one. I could understand it. So I guess I have to put an asterisk there and say, I'm not sure. I believe that if you have a big free group that it's okay. It shouldn't matter how many people are in there. I think it's great. I think your strategy might change a little bit when we started off doing one thing in the mastermind that worked great when we had 23 people, but now that we've got 80 people, it's just not feasible.

So you grow and more, which is a good thing because now your audience experience doesn't get stale and you kind of keep changing the experience. So I would say there's really no sweet spot. I would look more on the engagement, and that I don't think that the size of the group matters as much as the leadership and the engagement. Because ultimately, the reason why we want to start groups as a business is that, we're going to be able to connect and grow our super fans, I hate that word, our raving fans like the people that really know, like and can trust us. The people that really buy a lot of stuff from us, we're going to be able to nurture those relationships a lot better in a group, and they're going to show up on their news feed because Facebook wants to promote those good, those engaging posts where people are getting along with each other, not the brand in them, the brands and them.

And on that note too, Facebook just came out with the ability to accept pages into groups. And I don't personally like that because I feel like groups are, it's the backyard, right?

Yeah. [crosstalk 00:36:16]

I don't want [inaudible 00:36:17] guy coming in the backyard and like, I want you to come in your cookout clothes. I don't want you to come in your work clothes, you know what I mean?

Yeah. Now it's a personal thing.

People are people. Yeah. I think there might be a few situations where it makes sense. If you were in charge of bringing a bunch of nonprofits together, and these nonprofits are all putting together something maybe, maybe. But generally speaking, I don't like it and I definitely don't like brands interacting with their followers in the group as the brands. Because you have that ability too. I could interact as jumped consulting and not [inaudible 00:36:55].

Oh, okay.

Now, where that actually works really great Teresa, is my Bella Vasta page, my public figure page. Could be in my group interacting. That's cool. And then, what I can do is I can get all of those people to actually like my Bella Vasta page, if it's something I typed in the group. I think that makes sense because it still appears that it's a person, [crosstalk 00:37:22] people-

Public figure profile. So you know, it's the person behind the profile or the page, where it's like you said on a business page. So for me, in my business, the THW which is the agency part of my business, that business page is run by one of the team, and does an amazing job looking after all the THW social media and I did the Teresa stuff. So that wouldn't be me speaking and you don't know who that is, do you? Whereas the fact that I could talk off my profile page as my public profile type thing, that would be amazing, wouldn't it?

Yeah. So you can get a lot more insights and things if you do it that way. However, don't listen to this and say, oh, I'm going to open up a public figure page so I can do it. Don't do that.

No, no. [crosstalk 00:38:09] that too.

And as a brand [crosstalk 00:38:09] Social media examiner does this, but not in their group. They do it on their page where you're expected to. Eric will sign, Eric at the bottom, or Harry so you know who. But it's still like a barrier. And in groups we came to party, we came to have that barbecue in the backyard, and drink a beverage, and have a hotdog and a hamburger, and throw corn hole and do all this fun stuff. So don't stop the party from happening. People want to interact with you.

 

Using Memberships as a Community

 

Exactly. That is such good advice. So obviously, one of the good things about the groups, or one of the popular things is, and I'm in lots of groups because of programmes that I paid to be in, memberships, I paid to be in, courses that I've bought. How do you feel about memberships using the community elements in Facebook? Do you feel that there's downsides to that? And also do you feel that, is there any reason why you would have the community element as part of the way you would log in and do that? Because I can talk for and against on both, but I'm just interested in your opinion.

So my opinion on having the groups part of your product?

Yes. And having … Because obviously, when you buy a membership that the community element is the big bit, isn't it? That's why you are in a membership, obviously you're going to get the ongoing content, but it's the community that you do. And obviously there are some platforms there where you can do community management, where it's almost like a forum [crosstalk 00:39:45]. Why would you pick Facebook to run the community element of membership rather than using one of these platforms?

Yeah. So I think unless you're involved in something that is well in the states at HIPAA, which is about medical privacy and stuff. If you hear thing, if it was, I don't know, I can't even give an example. I just feel like everybody is on Facebook. I had a statistic hanging up here. I took it down. But there's billions of people on Facebook.

[crosstalk 00:40:21]

That's where we're, I'm going to say this because I go there, we are sitting on the toilet scrolling through Facebook. [inaudible 00:40:28] you've done it. Though we're not scrolling through a private site, [crosstalk 00:40:35] and log in, like it's an intentional thing, with Facebook, it's just so passive. So if you are interested in people actually participating, then yeah. And now that we have files, and units, and all these other ways to really make the Facebook group experience that much more organised. I don't see why you wouldn't. Facebook's testing out the ability to do subscriptions. I haven't gotten it yet, but I hear that it's only up to like 30 bucks which would need more. I really think that you have to go where people's behaviour is. So if you take an inventory and you realise that your people aren't, or they're not on Facebook, then maybe that makes sense. But I would argue that everybody's on Facebook and it just makes sense to keep it all there.

It can become a passive interaction. They go on Facebook for one thing. How many times did that happen to you? You go to Facebook, contact one person or something and then you get down a rabbit hole, and you end up with some results.

Every[crosstalk 00:41:39]

They easily end up on your product. Or because they're in your Facebook group, you now have that data. And you can retarget them too. So I just feel like the benefits of having the Facebook group rather than like a third party membership site, drastically outweigh the reasons not to.

And also obviously, one thing that I always encourage talking generally about social media is, get them off it onto your list as quick as you can. And obviously, the people in the group, especially if you've been smart and said, give me your email address. You're getting those details anyway. So even though Facebook owning the group known Facebook, and you are beholden to them and their rules and their … If they want to change, okay, maybe an algorithm. But if they want to change something somewhere, then it might affect what you're doing. But as long as-

I don't that we're going to change the fact that they want community, and they want people interacting with each other. I can't ever see that really changing. And that's what happens in the group.

 

Should A Free Facebook Group be Part of Your Strategy?

 

Yeah, absolutely. And having that facility where you've got those two things going on anyway, it's not like you're going to lose all those people. So tell me, if we're going to do a free Facebook group because now you're convincing me I need to have a free Facebook group. One, do you think a free Facebook group is part of most people strategy, or should be part of most people's strategy, or does it depend?

I think it depends. It really depends because I think you have to take an inventory of, I'm very careful of doing blanket statements, because if your super duper busy, and you only have time to launch this product and maybe you only have five hours a week to work. And you just don't have the bandwidth for that pun intended. Then I would say just start off, get your feet wet with the group or a product if that's what you want to do. That's what you ultimately want to do. Start there. There's no problem reverse engineering. What I also see is some people get stalled out on getting a free group, and then they start spending all their time in this free group, and then it really truly is, why should I go to a paid group when you're in this free group every day all the time.

I have some clients that have done that and I'm like, you have this engaged community, awesome, now it's time to move to the paid group. Now it's time to open up that other group. So I think you really just like anything on content marketing, and social media, and blogging or videos, you have to know where you're going, what's your goal, what's your end strategy, and you can reverse engineer. So there is no absolute answer. There's pros and cons to both. What do you really want? What bandwidth do you have available to you? Do you have a team? Is it just yourself? You know what I mean?

Yeah, absolutely. I think, sometimes there is a pressure to have everything. And I'm a fan of saying to people, and I've said this on the podcast that you do what you can manage because I'd rather you do one or two platforms, or one or two things really well, [inaudible 00:44:41] every platform, or group, or this, or personal profile, then do it all awfully. I would much rather you focus that time on those things. So like you said, I think the strategy is really important. I know and I've heard it a million times, people just whip up Facebook groups because they're like, yeah, let's do this and then it doesn't really work. So I think like you said, if you're going to have more than one group, you got to decide, well what am I going to offer in each of those groups? What it's going to be the point of each of those groups? I think that's this thing there's got to be a point because I get added to groups all the time, and I'm not a fan of that. I don't know if you are, but I don't [crosstalk 00:45:16]

No, no. Don't do that.

[crosstalk 00:45:17] immediately. No. Because who says I want to be in your group? I will remove myself. Thank you very much. It might not be my thing, and then it's like you're just putting me in and that just sells me. And again, it's got to be, don't get me wrong. You need to monetize that part of your strategy, but that can't be the only thing you're doing in that group because there's no benefit. There's no value to someone that is there. Do you wait a certain length of time before you then starts introducing other things or how is your strategy in terms of monetizing it?

 

Monetising Your Facebook Group

 

I wrote a couple blogs, and I'll send it to you too for show notes, but there's a lot of different ways. So I already told you about the mastermind one. And then, when I launch new products, I'll usually go to my mastermind members first. I decided to do a retreat, and I could only have the first retreat was only 10 people, and it sold out in the mastermind, and at the time that most of mine only had 50 people in there. So that's like amazing. And then we did another retreat and that was 16 people and that sold out in two weeks. Again, I didn't even go public with it because it was the mastermind. So that was pretty impressive I think. There's a couple of products I have where they're pretty in depth. There's like 60 pages on it.

It's like, how to get employees? How to go from solo to employees? And there's four lessons in it and you can download it at anytime on my website. But oftentimes you have a lot of questions around it. So a couple times last year, I did what I call pop up groups, so it was X amount of dollars to join the group. It was only for six weeks, and I would take you through the course content, which is pretty easy from a managing side because I'm not saying something new the next time. But what I am doing is, I'm scheduling all those posts and then I'm showing up every day, and I'm doing interviews with experts in there. I'm coming on live, or I'm responding to people's questions on video in the comments to their specific questions and holding their hand throughout it. And then, my natural progression is after this pop up group, congratulations you now have the ability to have employees. Now you're right, for my mastermind group, which is my monthly group.

So there's a lot of different ways to monetize it. But I think another really great book, I know we're talking about books earlier, Chris Ducker's, The Youpreneur, super broad thoughts about having multiple different revenue streams. That's actually why I did the retreat. Because I didn't have a live in person thing yet. He inspired me to do that. But one of the things is the low hanging fruit, it's these small little products that you have. People are like, okay, I'll spend 70 dollars and buy this product. I hope it's good. And then they're like, whoa, that was amazing. And so now they really want more and more and more from you. They understand that they can trust you. What you're selling isn't the same old stuff that everyone else is selling.

And so, you take them through these steps, and these experiences with you from free all the way to paid. So it just, it depends on what your strategy is. That's how I monetize my groups by doing pop up groups, which I really love. I did it three times last year. I did it once only this year. But these are levers that I can pull in my business if I want to just do it. But the only reason why I can do it, Teresa, is because of how these other groups that I have a captive audience, and people that really are interested in my stuff. There's no way I would've been able to do any of this if I did not have the groups. Because talking on my page is like crickets. Or maybe not crickets, but it's … I actually do get a lot of live video views when I post videos, but- [crosstalk 00:49:06]

It's certainly not like you'd get.

[crosstalk 00:49:08] way of communication. Yeah. So aren't interacting with each other on my page. So groups is really the lifeline of my business.

[inaudible 00:49:17]. So can I ask a quick question on what you just said? You said that you have a popup group. What do you do at the end of that group? Do you close it? Do you just say, that's it, group is over?

I close it.

You do close it.

I close it, I take people out of it and that's it. So it's done and-

Which is even more of a drive to then get into another group.

Right. But it's also, first of all, One, I only have so much bandwidth, I can't maintain it. Two, the purpose of this group is for you to get in and really work for those six weeks. And if you know that that group is going to be archived, and you can go back and look at stuff later, you're not going to do anything.

And I'm one of those coaches that I feel like my success is defined in my client's success. And I don't want passive people. I want people that say, okay, yes, it is a little pressure. I do have a lot going on, but these next six weeks I'm going to dedicate to myself and my business. Those are the kinds of people that I want. If I did not care about their success, all those groups would still be open. They'd be locked in the archives, and I wouldn't be answering questions in there. But it'd be like, yeah, whatever. They have all the coursework, they have the audio, they have all the downloads and stuff. I truly want them to do it. And you know what, it comes with without saying that people have pissed at me. At the end, they're like, wait a minute, we killed it. [inaudible 00:50:34]. Because whatever you got going on and probably aren't anymore.

We all got it wrong.

You know what I mean? That was our agreement, when you signed up. That was our agreement. It was going to start this day, it was going to end that day. And you still have all the coursework that you need. You just don't have the support of the group. But you can go into my other groups here and then ask me some questions in there. It's just not all targets [inaudible 00:50:59]. Has to go down to your strategy. And really quick, I'll close with this is, the reason why I did that is because, I joined beach body last year. And I was working out for half hour every morning, do my sweaty selfie and we had a Facebook group of a bunch of other women who are also doing that. And they were holding each other accountable.

And I said, shoot, if this works for working out, this should be able to work four my popup. I want to do a pop up group for my own product. So you guys, I want to encourage you to open your eyes and find inspiration everywhere, because this is what works for me, and these are some ideas that Teresa's thinking about doing, but that doesn't mean that's all you can do. Get inspiration or ideas from other places and see how you can apply it, and test it, and see if it happens. The worst thing that can happen is you make some money.

Yeah. And wouldn't that be awful? So just one last question to finish. I know you've given me so much of your time. I'm so very grateful. What if you open a group, and I'm asking this because I know this has happened for a client. They opened a group as part of a paid membership and they get nothing. They've got a few hundred people in the group that are members that pay to be in there, and the engagement is like pulling teeth. Is that an expression you have over there?

Yeah. We have that expression.

So difficult-

What are they doing on a daily basis?

Well, they're constantly posting. They have a daily post that they're putting in there. They are repeating posts as in, it's like a Friday, maybe a Wednesday wisdom or whatever it might be, obviously appropriate to the audience and the subjects and the whatever, but they are putting content out regularly and doing their bit. They are doing lives and things, but sometimes just trying to get the audience to speak back to them, and they do the whole, so and so has arrived, welcome, say hello and that sort of thing. But it's just not coming. It's just not naturally how-

Add me to the group and I'll give you my thoughts.

Okay.

Because it's hard to say without seeing it. Here's what I think though, I am so against those wacky Wednesday, motivational Monday, all that stuff because you just glaze over.

Okay.

I would say that they need to be going live. They need to be answering the questions. Like, what's your biggest challenge? I would say, when you come into the group, what's the qualification or what questions are we asking? And what expectations are set in the group? How are they engaging with the people that are there? Are they asking questions and tagging other people? Are they being a little bit provocative, or a little bit go underneath the hood and get a little personal? Are they doing polls? Are they using the poll feature? Are they storing things in units or bringing back other threads? I definitely would stop reusing content.

Don't put that on like, oh yeah, I already saw that. All that shows me, is that you don't care. If I showed up in your backyard and no one was talking, and you weren't there to greet me, give me a drink, have conversation with me, or feed me. If you invited me into your backyard and then you went into your house and took a nap and said, the food's over there you can go make your own burger. I wouldn't be talking to anyone. I wouldn't want it to show up in their every day either.

Yeah. I love that analogy.

I don't know what it looks like.

No, I will. I will speak to them and see. Because it's not something we run, but I know it's part of because we launched people's memberships, and I know often with every membership we launch, they have a Facebook group that goes alongside it. And getting that engagement is the key bit because I'm in groups that have such good engagement, and therefore you want to be-

We all come down to leadership. It comes down to leadership all the time that you cannot say it's the group. It's the leadership.

It's all really interesting.

Yeah.

Thank you so much. Not only from a podcast interview point of view, but from a personal point of view. I feel very selfish that I have literally just picked your brain, but I know my audience will not have had this information before. This is the first time that I heard most of it, and I know they're going to love it. Now in the show notes, I will hook up to everything of yours, and I will link everywhere. And you're speaking at Social Media Marketing World [inaudible 00:55:18]. Is that right?

I am. Are you going to be there?

Well, I am. I might have applied to speak. And I am waiting to hear, so-

Oh my gosh.

I've put it in the universe. I keep reminding the universe I've put it up there [inaudible 00:55:33] that they might let me speak. But I am regardless, I'm going to be out there. So-

I cannot wait to meet you.

I know. I'm really excited about it and it's so good to finally meet you and to connect with you, and it's been really wonderful podcast. Thank you so much Bella.

My pleasure. Thank you.

Wasn't that just great? I feel like I got my money's worth at Bella. It's so good. Actually, from an interviewing point of view, I don't how it comes across as a listener, but actually from an interview or points of view, the less I know about a subject, almost the better because I am genuinely inquisitive. I like to understand things and especially when it's something I want to use in my business. I love this episode because I was able to ask her a direct question and get her great advice. I love the way she talked about, how you take your audience from a free group into a paid group. And also, I've put a link to the software that she mentioned when she was talking about the group funnels. So when she was saying you have three questions that you can ask someone at the entry to a group, she talks about a system that basically puts it into an Excel spreadsheet, which was really cool. And I've linked that up in the show notes.

Also, as always, I've linked up to everything to do with Bella, her website and her social media so that you can go and check her out. And I really would suggest you do that. Also, I've put a link to Social Media Marketing World, because Bella's going to be speaking there as well, and I know that I will definitely be going to see here there. Now, next week we have another interview. So I thought I'd do things a little bit different over the Christmas period. And also, I have done a lot of interviews recently which is so exciting, and I almost can't wait to give them to you.

So next week, we've got the lovely Holly, who is talking all about the fact of going from a full time job and starting your own business. Which actually, that is probably a perfect time of year to do it. Coming into the new year, you might be ready or be thinking about it. Or how you move from a side hustle into full time running your own business. So definitely check out that one because it's going to be a good one. Anyway, like I said, if you are listening to this before Christmas, have a wonderful Christmas. And I can't wait to see you next week.