Last month, I wrote a post called 8 Ways to Add Value to Professional Facebook Groups. This companion post drills down a bit more to share a 5-step approach to promoting your business in Facebook groups without being “that smarmy, slimy, salesy person.”
I have seen some otherwise healthy Facebook groups and forums in other places disintegrate into smarmy advertising walls, sometimes causing the host of the group to shut things down entirely. How sad. This post shares a 5-step approach to help you engage in a way that promotes your business, but ensures that you are not “that annoying, smarmy, slimy, salesy person” that everyone wishes would just leave. Here are the five steps.
1. Watch and study.
The first thing to do when you join a group is to observe. Don't jump in with guns blazing to tell everyone how awesome you are. Just watch and learn. The point is to get the lay of the land before jumping in. Observe how people communicate with each other. What is the atmosphere like? How do people approach and respond to each other? If it seems like a place you can add value and feel comfortable in, go to the next step.
2. Comment on what others are doing and saying.
When someone asks a question to the entire community, and you have an answer that would be helpful or add a unique perspective, share your answer. If someone else shares a perspective you'd like to comment on, do that.
3. Develop relationships.
As you become more and more comfortable engaging with others, you can begin to start conversations now and then. If you read a blog post or quote that people might find useful, share a link with everyone. If you have an interesting experience that others can learn from share that too. As you develop relationships, constantly reassess the lay of the land so you don't start conversations that are off base for any reason. For example, regardless of the topic, it may or may not not be a good idea to initiate a conversation with a big fat link to your sales page or the bragadocious sharing of your latest awesome blog post.
Pay attention to what is and is not acceptable in any forum, and follow suit. If you cannot follow their rules (hopefully, they have posted some), then it's better to leave the group than to try to challenge the moderator's rules.
4. Share your opinion and feedback.
As you become more comfortable in the group, you'll find that you'll have laid a likeable foundation and people will begin to warm up to you. As you participate in conversations, in cases where you have not only an opinion, but also some expertise, commenting in a natural way that does not toot your horn obnoxiously is a great way to allow your expertise to shine through naturally — without being salesy.
5. Promote your products and services when asked to do so.
If someone initiates a discussion asking for links to people who offer what you offer, share your link along with an explanation of why your link is responsive to the question. The more you participate in the group as a human being and not as a car sales person, the more your promotional links will be welcomed and valued.
As the popularity of Facebook groups continues to climb, so does the tendency of entrepreneurs to join so they can post promotional updates about their latest products, services and programs. This salesy way of participating exchanges the opportunity to develop meaningful, long-lasting business relationships for a kind of insincere, “drive-by” promotion that makes you look shallow and selfish.
Don't be *that* entrepreneur. Choose the road that values people first, business second. You'll get more business this way over the long term, and as you do, you'll be developing those all-important relationships that make entrepreneurship so much fun in the first place.
Do you participate in Facebook groups and other forums? What are your tips for doing so without being salesy? Have you ever seen groups destroyed by the salesy-ness in them? How do you handle it when people are salesy in groups where you participate? Please share your thoughts and feedback in the comments below, or share on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.