November 28, 2022
My guest today is Elizabeth Henson and Elizabeth helps business owners who want to become industry leaders, build powerful communities around their brand, so that they become the go-to expert in their field.
Like a lot who focus on social media strategy, she and her team build communities using three methods that include growing unique leadership skills, building a social ecosystem, and setting boundaries that leverage authority.
So, in today’s episode, Elizabeth is sharing how to build your own Facebook group, including her number one tip for getting clients in other Facebook groups (and it is not posting an ad in threads or DM-ing people).
Plus, she’s sharing her ninja strategy for using your Facebook group to actually grow and nurture your email list in a simple way. Facebook groups have the power to be so incredibly beneficial and powerful for your business as a photographer, so I cannot wait for you to meet Elizabeth.
In this article, you will learn:
Tavia: Elizabeth, welcome to From Better Half to Boss. I am so excited to have you here to talk all about Facebook groups!
Elizabeth: Hey, Tavia! I’m so excited to be here. I loved our chat inside the Community Builder, and now that I feel like we get to have part two!
Tavia: Yeah, me too. I love it so much. Okay, so before we get into all the juicy stuff, will you tell people a little bit about you, because I love that you also are a photographer, so you not only help people with community building and Facebook groups, but you also used to be a photographer or still are!
Elizabeth: Yeah, so I was an art teacher-turned-wedding photographer and built a full-time wedding photography business and recently retired from full day weddings, and now I’m really focusing on families.
A lot of them are just my repeat customers that have been with me forever. I’m not doing a ton of marketing on the photography front, but it’s still a way to diversify my revenue. I’ve really been leaning into this community building visibility work, helping 6 to 8-figure clients build their community for marketing purposes, essentially.
Tavia: Nice! Photographers, I feel like we have been going back and forth so much with Facebook groups, right? Especially in the time that you and I have been photographers, it’s “Oh, find all your clients at Facebook groups.” “Oh, don’t go to Facebook a group, that’s where the bargain shoppers are.”
And so, what are you thinking about Facebook groups today? Are they a place where an in-person service-based business, like a photographer, should be spending their time?
Elizabeth: Yeah, I think Facebook groups are definitely alive and well, and the numbers show us that the amount of people that see our content inside a Facebook group definitely has huge benefits.
But I think the way that Facebook groups have evolved, especially in niches like photography, is you want to have a specialty, like exactly what you have done with your Facebook group, where it’s not just a general group for photographers, but you’re really specializing in birth photography. And I think that’s where the magic is happening nowadays on Facebook group.
It used to be cool to be one of the first people to start a Facebook group for general photographers and really just have people in there sharing their images and this and that.
So, they’re definitely still a thing, but I do think there’s been some evolution over the last 10 years.
Tavia: You know what’s so funny, I didn’t share this, but the way that Elizabeth and I connected is I noticed that our Facebook group was very active in the engagement percentage and all of these things were so good compared to our other platforms. And when I really started looking at the numbers, I was like, “Okay, I think I need to spend some more time really learning how to use Facebook groups and doubling down on that.”
And so, a mutual friend of Elizabeth and mine connected us and I’ve been in her Facebook group and just learning from her. She really is good at just bringing people together and making you feel comfortable and exactly what she said, building community.
So, Elizabeth, what do you think photographers knowing that if they’re sitting there thinking, “Should I be involved in other Facebook groups? If my ideal client potentially is hanging out in Facebook groups, is that something that I should be doing? And how should I be showing up in these groups that I don’t own in order to attract clients? Is that still a valid marketing strategy that you recommend?
Take time to engage in Facebook Groups
Elizabeth: I love that question, and thank you for saying all of those things! I feel the same way, and I absolutely love the story of your Facebook group because the marketing and sales part you figured out by default. So, we can dive into that too.
But this question specifically, how do we engage in other groups to generate leads? I definitely believe in this. It does take a little bit of work, but I always like to tell people when it comes to engagement, you can either pay for the leads or you can do it yourself, right? You can pay for Facebook ads or you can take the time to engage and nurture on your own.
I think Facebook groups are a great place to do that because you can hang out in Facebook groups where people are problem-aware or where they’re getting asked questions, where these problems might come up, right?
There might be a specific group for how to edit in your photography business. So, if you specifically mentor other photographers on editing, that is a group that you could hang out in because you can casually, not salesy, help people and give them feedback.
Optimize your Facebook Profile
So, Facebook allows us to put a link right there in our bio, just like Instagram does. So, having your opt-in or your contact form or your website that is such a huge missed opportunity and it drives me crazy when I connect with somebody in a Facebook group and then their personal profile is like on lockdown and I’m like, “You don’t even look like a business owner.”
I think treating that personal Facebook profile like it’s your business in a way, so that it’s really easy for people to find you, then, the opportunities are endless with what you can do inside a Facebook group connecting with people.
Tavia: I love that – that I totally agree, by the way. That has happened to me before where I have gone back and forth with somebody in a Facebook group and it’s either you want to friend them or you want to go follow them on Instagram to continue the relationship. And I can’t even click on more than their profile picture. It’s so locked down. I totally agree.
So, for a photographer who doesn’t necessarily educate or do mentoring, but they’re just trying to find personal clients, a lot of my listeners are baby and birth photographers obviously, and they serve moms. Can you give people some ideas of what kind of Facebook groups they could be looking for to just engage with people?
Elizabeth: I love that too. Because again, it’s like we want to be really specific.
So, if a photographer wants to build a community around essentially their ideal client, I would challenge them to think about what makes them unique.
Say they do styled family sessions, they could have a group specifically around style and clothing and accessories, and invite local people, really make it a thing. It could be like “Richmond Fashion for Families,” or something like that, and really make the group very fashion forward, but also using that as an opportunity to share their pictures and showcase their work and bring people together in that way.
Birth photography and working with moms and families, you could have a breastfeeding group or a homeschool group, there’s so many different micro niches that you could choose that are a content pillar for your business. Everyone should have a content, branding, boosters, whatever we want to call them, and you could just build a group around that.
Or if you already have an established business, inviting all your past customers and just building a community around your brand could be super awesome too. That’s a little harder if you’re newer and up and coming, but that could also definitely be a good way to do it too.
Tavia: Okay, so I’m a photographer and I want to start a group. You’re saying instead of doing like “Oklahoma City Moms,” that’s not specific enough. You want to make it super specific, so that it stands out and people would notice it.
Because Oklahoma City Moms, I am quite sure there’s 50 bajillion groups and moms. So, you’re saying, really dig in and be like, “Crunchy moms with toddlers,” or something like that in your city, so that you can get really specific with like your ideal client, but also what kind of group you want to create that might not even have to do with photography.
And I think that’s where a lot of photographers get stuck when it comes to Facebook groups is they’re like it has to be around my photography business or it has to be around photography, but you have to think bigger and outside the box a little bit with that, so that it’s not just people looking for photographers, what other interests do they have that you can get really specific with so that you’re not just like selling in your group all the time?
Elizabeth: Try to think long term, something that you’re really passionate about like “Here’s 10 ways to really make memories around your household.” And then again, you could sprinkle in your photography in that opportunity or whatever it might be.
I know photographers that just specialize in beach sessions, so it be like, “Virginia Beach Family beach fun and activities” or whatever, but finding something that definitely creates brand awareness.
You don’t want it to be so far on left field that it’s not related. If it’s like “Family Beach Fun,” then in that description you could say, “I’m a Virginia Beach family photographer and I specialize in showcasing families at the beach, and in this group, we talk about all the different activities that you can participate in here in Virginia Beach,” and you just sprinkle in value that’s not photography related, but you can still build it around your brand and what your brand stands for.
Tavia: That’s sparking so many ideas for me already, so I know it is for our listeners too.
So, when you’re creating this group, it’s like I can feel what people are thinking and saying whenever they’re hearing this is, “Okay, Elizabeth, hang on. Tavia told me that I need to be on TikTok. Tavia told me that I need to be on Instagram. I already have this Facebook page. I feel like I am doing so many things for social media in general that I don’t know if I can start a Facebook group.”
What would you say to that person, as well as, what kind of content? Is it as overwhelming as people think to start and run a Facebook group and like creating the content and all of that?
Keep Your Content Simple
Elizabeth: First and foremost, in my eyes, Facebook groups are the easiest place for content because 80% of your content can be one line or less.
Facebook doesn’t like for you to go above and beyond and design graphics or be super branded. They want you to use GIFs, all of their in-house features, so you don’t have to do a lot of the above and beyond stuff that we would have to do on a platform like Instagram.
Know where you thrive when delivering content
So, I’m very biased in that fashion, but I also would really ask people to think about how do they really thrive and enjoy delivering? I would always choose to put myself in a room full of people. That is where I thrive is around people and real conversations, speaking on stage, whatever it might be.
I am not going to be famous by singing and dancing and lip singing and pointing and doing a lot of these trends that we see on Instagram Reels and TikTok, and just like you and I talked about YouTube versus podcasting.
But then also, if a Facebook group is not your first choice, know that you can build a Facebook group in tandem with whatever platform that you’re choosing to be or your specialty content delivery platform. Because I don’t really see Facebook groups as, this is where I’m delivering content, but this is where I’m bringing people together around a certain content mission or vision.
Tavia: I love that small shift: “this is not where I’m bringing people content, this is where I’m connecting people and bringing people together over a specific topic.
I think that’s really valuable because we lump Facebook groups in with all these other ways to deliver content, and if you instead think about Facebook groups as a way to connect, and if I know one thing, photographers love Facebook groups. If Facebook groups have died for other genres and niches in the world, they have not for photographers.
And so, I think that if you’re listening to this and you’re like, “Actually, I really like Facebook groups, that does seem really easy to me. I participate in a Facebook group. Maybe that would be a simple thing for me to add in and facilitate.” And like Elizabeth said, your posts can be one line. How much freedom is there in that knowing that you don’t have to craft this perfect reel with this great caption and hashtags? Literally, it’s one sentence!
Elizabeth: Yeah, that’s crazy. You’re just asking a question. That’s it. You’re just asking a question.
We go somewhere else to deliver content because think about why we show up in groups, right? Before we even had a group of our own, what is driving us to show up in a group? It’s usually because we want to be seen, we want to be heard, or we want to be a fly on the wall and see what’s happening inside of a group.
But nobody really goes to a group to say, “I want to write a 500-word blog post-type essay or I want to post a video myself.” People just want to be seen and heard and have opportunities to insert themselves. I don’t go to someone’s Instagram page looking to insert myself, or to be seen or to be heard. I go to an Instagram page because I’m in that consumption mode.
So, it’s thinking about why people go to groups in the first place. It’s not always because I want to learn X, Y, and Z. It’s usually because I want to see what’s going on or I want to participate in a conversation.
Tavia: So good. Okay, we already touched on this, but I want to dig a little deeper. If somebody’s wanting to start a Facebook group, do you have any tips or best practices for a photographer that’s wanting to start that Virginia Beach family photography type group? What should they be considering when they’re starting this?
Elizabeth: I think they want to get really clear on what they want the desired outcome to be.
I think a lot of times we jump into a group because it sounds fun or it can somehow elevate us as an authority, or sometimes we just start groups because we want to start groups.
But getting really clear on, “Is the desired outcome because I want to be a photography mentor? Is it that I want to sell a course? Is it that I want to create brand awareness around some big thing?”
Photography groups that are a hodgepodge can get a little bit messy, right? And people don’t know how to act. They don’t know who’s in charge. So, I think, just getting really clear on how you want to show up as the leader or the facilitator and what you want people to get out of that will help you build the group as far as what to name it, how to describe it, what you know, what kind of customer journey or community member journey do we want them to go on.
Be clear on what problem to solve
Tavia: Then I am hearing my people, again, listening to this being like, “But what if I start a Facebook group and there’s nobody in it? That’s awkward if I start a Facebook group and I’m just talking to myself.” So how can I start a group, but have an engagement in it. Is that possible from the get go?
Elizabeth: Yeah, I definitely think it’s possible.
And even if you’re building community for the sake of community, there’s still a problem that it solves in some way, shape, or form. And the clearer you are on articulating that, the easier it’s going to be to find the right people.
But I would go into it with a strategy of ‘I’m going to go balls to the wall till I get my first 100 members,’ but there’s nothing that says a group can’t be successful with 40 members or 140 members. As long as you show up for those people like they are in a room, waiting for you, even if it’s 10 people, but they’re all in their seats waiting for you to take the stage and you show up and you take yourself seriously in that way, you’re going to continue to attract more members.
So, it’s not always about how many people we have, but how are we going to show up and serve them because they’re only going to believe in us as much as we believe in ourselves, which is going to show in how we show up for them.
Measure success by the number of active members
Tavia: Yeah. So, what would you say to someone who is like posting stuff in their Facebook group and let’s say they have, 40 members?
They’ve invited some people from their email list and they’ve posted on their personal profile and they feel like they’re starting to get people in who are their ideal people, but it’s a small number, and when they’re posting things, it gets a couple of likes, and they’re trying to build this community, and it’s like a struggle to get people to engage. What would you say to that person? What should they be posting? How can they get these people to engage?
Elizabeth: This is probably one of the most common questions, and I’d just like to lead with comments and likes don’t measure happy or unhappy. So, if you have a group and it doesn’t feel like it’s engaged, that doesn’t mean that they’re not happy, right? That just means that they’re being a fly on a wall.
You want to look at that active member number. Once you get access to your statistics, that active member number is going to be way more accurate as far as who’s reading the post, scrolling, who’s actually spending time in that group. So, I like to, first and foremost, tell people to measure that piece, but also just remember that you’re a scientist of this group.
Show up how you want the members to show up
You’re a scientist of the experiment of this group, and every time you post something, if it doesn’t get the results that you want, that’s just a little bit of data as to what they respond to and what they don’t. And they’re going to mirror the way that we show up as the leaders.
So, if you want them to ask questions, you have to be asking question. If you want them to be vulnerable, you have to be a little bit vulnerable because they’re going to follow your lead. And if we, as the leaders are not sharing and not vulnerable or transparent or whatever it might be, they’re not going to feel safe to show up in that way.
So, we just have to be constantly experimenting with what they respond to and what they don’t. And just know that most times they’re mirroring something about energetically how we’re showing up.
Tavia: Yeah, that’s so good. Show up how you want to show up.
And I am a big data nerd. I love just looking at the data and making decisions based off of the data. And so one thing that I do with our Facebook group, that I hadn’t done until the last couple of months, is literally looking at each post to see the reach and engagement because a lot of times it’s different than what it looks like to someone who can’t see those analytics.
It’s crazy you guys. I’ll have a post that has three likes and four comments, but it will have reached 1500 people, which we have a large Facebook group. There’s 5,400 people on our Facebook group. But still, I’m like, “Okay. So, people did not engage with this.”
Outwardly, it probably looks like this was a “fail,” but something about it resonated with people and tracking that kind of stuff, especially when you’re starting your group and being a scientist and go, “Okay, what was it about this that got them to at least pause and read it, even if they chose not to like or comment on it, and how can I do more things like that and tracking what was my intention with this post? Was I trying to get them to opt in for something? Was I just trying to empathize with them? Am I showing up in the way that I want them to show up?
So has that been your experience too? Like outwardly sometimes a post didn’t get a lot of engagement, but it seemed to resonate with people when you like dig in and look at those analytics?
Know which posts performed well
Elizabeth: Yeah! Or I’ve even had a post that looks like it flopped, but then that one person’s “I’m so glad you posted this,” or “Thank you for the reminder,” or “This pushed me to do whatever.” So, I always try to focus on that one person that got a result or that engaged. And like you said, posts that perform well.
We have an entire dashboard that we keep track of those, so that if I ever run out of ideas a year later, we can pull ideas from posts that did really well.
Learn about your members
So, I know since you love data and history and numbers like that, I always tell people to have some type of community management dashboard where you’re tracking and learning about your members. Because it’s just what worked for me, may not work for you.
And I had a client and I helped him build his group and we were doing the questions with the big ugly text boxes and they did okay. But then when I released him out into the wild, they were posting all their questions and they weren’t using a GIF, they weren’t using ugly text boxes – it was like 2012 all over again where they were literally just posting a question by itself. But they were performing so good!
Tavia: That’s so funny. I’m like visually imagining a question with nothing else – that would make my skin crawl.
Elizabeth: Yeah, nobody does that anymore. Not even an emoji? Come on!
Tavia: Oh man, that’s so good.
Elizabeth: But it was totally working for them and I was like, “I’ve been telling you for a year not to do that, and clearly it works.”
Tavia: Yeah, testing is your best friend.
So, do you have any other like tips or ideas or strategies for photographers that are listening to this who want to use Facebook groups in their business? Whether they just want to be in somebody else’s group. You’ve already shared so much, but I just want to make sure that there wasn’t anything that you had been holding back until now.
Elizabeth: I love that you casually mentioned a newsletter earlier, and I know not all photographers have newsletters, but I really do recommend if you go the direction of a Facebook group, having it cohabitate with a newsletter is just so freaking helpful. I never emailed my list once a week until I had a Facebook group, because it gave me something to talk to or to point at.
So, it gives you a reason to email because you can be like, “Oh my gosh, Sally asked this really great question, look how the community supported her,” and you can send an email around one Facebook post.
So for me, my Facebook group really gave me a backbone in what to talk about in my newsletter, like in between launches or whatever it might be. But then you can also use your newsletter list to build your Facebook group. So, I have everyone on my newsletter list that’s not in my Facebook group that I can periodically invite to join when something’s going on in there, so you can use it to support each other.
And then down the road, if you have a freebie or an opt-in, use that as a driver for your Facebook group to get traffic in there and vice versa. And I have just found that those two together is like a marketing superpower that nobody’s talking about.
Tavia: That is such an awesome ninja tip that you just threw in there. That is so smart, and I hope that everybody listening to this, if you start a Facebook group, that you do exactly what Elizabeth said and like she said, cohabitate the two.
You guys need to definitely join Elizabeth’s Facebook group and email list. We’ll tell you how to do that. But she does this really well.
And Elizabeth, you inspired me to do this last month. We’ve been playing around with our emails to see what’s going to get good open rates, good click through rates. So instead of just sending the weekly podcast episode, we’ve been trying different things. And because I get your emails and because they’ve gotten me to click over to your Facebook group before, I was like, “I’m going to try that.”
And so, we just sent an email that was just with a popular post from the Facebook group that week, and I don’t know how many new members we added, I didn’t keep track of that from that one email. It was probably 15 or 20 new Facebook group members from that one email or it was people who had been stagnant in the Facebook group and were then re-engaged because they saw that post and it got them over to the Facebook group.
So thank you for that. You taught me that! And now it’s going to be part of our regular email strategy. Mixing it up and maybe every 5th or 6th email, it’s like, “Hey, by the way, did you see this post? Go weigh in or go share your opinion or get tips and tricks that somebody shared about this or that.” I absolutely love that.
Elizabeth: Yeah, and I love it. And you can really be intentional too and build a Facebook group and a newsletter with the same common theme or even just a segment, right? My newsletter list is a hot mess, but it’s very organized.
I have a specific segment just for Facebook group members, and I even address them like, “Hey, community builders,” because the name of the Facebook group is Community Builder. So you can actually really build out a marketing strategy for these things to work in tandem. And the numbers are there, open rates for emails at 40% to 50%.
Yeah, it’s just something that nobody’s talking about. Everyone’s talking about Instagram and TikTok, but I’m telling you, I could quit Instagram and just use this strategy and it wouldn’t change very much in my business.
Tavia: I think that photographers, as much as we love Instagram, that feels like a sigh of relief. “Wait a minute, you’re saying I could potentially not have to do Reels anymore?” I could just use my Facebook group?
Tavia: We could talk for forever, because there’s so many things about Facebook groups. I love talking about Facebook groups. But where can people connect with you and continue to learn from you?
Elizabeth: If you want to jump in my group, it’s called the Community Builder. You can just search groups on Facebook. And then we have a freebie that you can get, “2x Your Engagement Inside Your Group in Just 2 Weeks.” It’s all attached together, so it’s the same experience. I am on Instagram @elizabeth.henson and then my website’s just elizabethhenson.co.
This was amazing, Tavia, and just so refreshing. I hope that your audience really loves it. I know that my group loved having you inside and sharing your journey with your group has been so cool too.
Tavia: Awesome. I have no doubt this is going to be a very popular episode because anytime we can get people to believe that they don’t have to be on Instagram and that social media can just be easy. So thank you so much, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: Yes, thank you.
Check out the show notes to connect with Elizabeth. Join her Facebook group and her email list like we talked about in this episode. And hey, if you join her Facebook group, I will see you there!
And my friend, remember, if you have a passion, it is not an accident because not everyone loves the thing that you love. So whatever your passion is, it’s there for a reason and I hope that you will get out there, pursue that passion, and make it happen.
Have a great week.