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In late 2015, I had been freelance writing full time for just over 7 years. It was the fourth quarter of the year and I knew I wanted + needed to make a change in my business.
I hired + worked with a business coach + I decided at that time to niche my writing business waaaaaaaay down to only focus on writing for the wedding industry–specifically wedding planners.
I didn’t launch my new site (this site) until February/March of 2016.
Since FB was (+ still is) one of the top social media networks, I went out on a hunt for groups that were specifically for wedding planners. I found almost none that were for just wedding planners. Yes, there were some that catered to wedding professionals in general but not wedding planners alone.
What’s that saying? If you can’t find what you’re looking for then create it yourself?
Well, that’s just what I did.
Wedding Planners Society was born.
I announced recently that the group is now over 4,000 members and one of the members asked if I would share how I did it and how long it took.
Hence, this post 🙂
I would imagine that wedding planners would create some kind of a group for potential clients rather than other wedding pros, but the sky is the limit –depends on your goal for your group.
There are tons of resources out there to tell you how to pick a group topic, niche, members, etc. I’m just covering how I grew it to where it is today.
Create It + They Will Come
At first, it seemed a little Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”
Surely, this is the case. Well, yes + no.
I spent some time perfecting the group page–making sure the description + rules were up + that all of the information was filled in + complete. That the banner was appealing. That there was a way for the wedding planners to get to my website, contact me, or download a freebie.
Then, I waited.
Member requests to join started to trickle in here + there. Then, about 6-8 months into it, my group was listed in the “suggested groups” people see along the right side of their FB page.
BOOM! Member requests really starting flooding in right about that time. I don’t use that term loosely, either. Some days, there were 100s of requests to join. Other days, dozens. Today, I still get at least a handful of requests per day.
Since I manually review the answers to the questions I ask, not everyone is allowed into the group. AND, I have a hard + fast rule that if you spam the group with any kind of self-promotion (except for the posts that call for it), you’re out.
I’m not into second chances.
So how did that BOOM in membership happen? It took some hard work. I don’t profess to know the algorithm that gets your FB group in the list of suggested groups but I would assume it has something to do with playing by the FB rules + that your group relates somehow to the person it’s suggesting the group to + the content you’re sharing within the group.
And then there is all of this…
Show Them The Benefits
I think the #1 way I was able to grow my group from 0 to over 4,000 members in two years is I offer benefits to members that I don’t offer elsewhere–exclusive benefits.
Sometimes, I give them freebies (checklists, eBooks, workbooks, courses, etc.) that I don’t give away anywhere else.
Sometimes, I give my time + expertise for free, such as Pay It Forward Fridays, where I would offer the first 3 people to respond a website copy review. I would offer 3-5 tips on how they could change their copy + content to help them book more weddings.
Sometimes, it’s one of my high-price courses or items at a deep, deep discount.
I also think that wedding planners adored that they had a place that was all for them + wasn’t necessarily full of other types of wedding pros (although other wedding pros are members).
They can get really specific on getting answers to their questions, finding software + programs, etc. that directly relate to being a wedding planner + not a wedding photographer or florist or other wedding pro.
How I Grew My Facebook Group with Total Engagement
Not only was I posting all these freebies but I also remained totally engaged with my audience. I was responding to their comments + posts. I was answering their questions. I was giving my opinions + sharing my experiences + expertise in the wedding industry.
It’s not all about giving but it is all about engagement. It’s imperative that when you start + run a FB group that you are fully engaged. It’s almost like having another baby or another business!
When I disengaged because I had a human baby or I get busy with my writing business, I see a noticeable difference in the amount of people joining the group + engagement in the group also goes down.
I dedicated certain days of the week to focus on specific promotions or posts in the group. Marketing Monday, Workin’ It Wednesday + Pay It Forward Friday are but a few examples.
Group members seemed happy to post their comment or question, offer advice + interact with other group members on these dedicated days.
I never invited people from FB to join my FB group (although that is probably another good way of ramping up the number of group members you have). I did invite my email list.
I had a couple thousand on my email list before the niche down so I had very few subscribers that were just wedding planners. Once I cleaned up my list to be just planners + then started working on growing my list, I would send out an invitation to join the group from time to time.
I also posted an invitation to join on my other social media profiles, such as Twitter, Instagram + even Pinterest. As I started to grow a following on all of my social media profiles, more people saw the invitation to join + requested membership.
Offers a Sense of Belonging
I touched on it earlier but wedding planners seem to love that the group caters to wedding planners. It gives them a sense of belonging. They know that everyone in the group can relate to the rant session or has the specific answer to their specific question because they are wedding planners just like them.
We all just want to feel like we belong + wedding planners have the same feelings.
Now, you may be scratching your head wondering how you can create a FB group, who you can create a FB for + how it can change your wedding business.
You have to dive deep. Your first stop is determining exactly who your dream clients/group members are + then buil a community that speaks directly to their hearts, wants + needs.
You can download my Dream Client Worksheet to start building your dream wedding couples today. Then, go from there in building your own FB group, website, or business.