Are you wanting to monetize your Facebook Group?
You know the old saying, money makes the world go ‘round…
It’s true. Anyone that has built an online business will tell you the importance of monetizing your audience.
For some people, it’s part of a natural progression:
Publish good content > Build a following > Continue to engage your audience > Create a community > Monetize your audience > Continue to grow your business > Diversify income if possible.
In this article, we’ll briefly touch on the steps leading up to (and following) monetizing your audience, but the main focus will be on ways to monetize a Facebook group or similar community and how to make it happen.
What is a Facebook Group?
To put it simply, Facebook Groups are basic online communities where people gather to discuss, share ideas, and participate in group events around a shared interest or brand.
By contrast, Facebook Pages are more static and don’t allow for community discussion and interaction. For instance, a typical branded Facebook Page allows posts from the page owner, with visitors able to like, share, or comment on the posts. They can also follow the page for news updates.
Facebook Groups are more versatile and act as a forum as well as an information board. Live streams can also be held through Facebook Groups.
There are different types of groups, depending on the security settings applied:
- Public Groups – these are open to everyone for membership, and all Facebook users can view the content freely.
- Open Groups – these groups encourage membership, are free to join, but the group owners often limit membership by using screening questions.
- Closed Groups – these groups are visible to outsiders, but people can only join if invited by the group owner or another member.
Mark Zuckerberg recently revealed that there are over 400 million active group members on Facebook, which makes it a good place to find group members.
Should you monetize a Facebook Group or build your community elsewhere?
Before delving deep into the ins and outs of monetizing an online community, it’s a good idea to ask yourself whether growing a Facebook Group is the best bet, or are there other preferable alternatives?
Facebook’s stated aim is to grow Facebook Groups to over 1 billion “meaningful” members over the next few years. Facebook already has over a billion users, but not all of these are engaged in groups, and many wouldn’t be classed as “meaningful” members, i.e. engaged and actively participating in groups.
The scale of Facebook might make it seem like an attractive proposition. But the size and scale of it may actually be a negative factor when growing an online community, especially if many of the users are inactive or apathetic.
In recent years, Facebook has come under fire for mishandling of personal data and lack of security and transparency in its practices. The Cambridge Analytica scandal and a slew of investigations and documentaries about unethical advertising practices brought these issues to light like never before.
The other disadvantage of using Facebook Groups to build a community is the lack of customization. If you want to add your own branding, feel, and functionality to the group, you’re very limited, unless you turn to a third party community provider.
Companies such as Disciple offer community builders that are highly-customizable, easy-to-use, and ideal for generating income and monetizing your community. We’ll explore alternatives such as Disciple, and how they make monetization easier, later on in this article.
Monetizing Facebook Groups – how to prepare
Knowledge is power.
Nowhere is this more true than when building an online community. If you understand your target audience and ensure that your community is made up of people that fit the right profile, you’ll be far more successful when trying to monetize a Facebook Group.
Consider this – let’s say you’re a fitness trainer specializing in strength training and you grow a following of 20,000 members. Sounds great, right? But what if I told you that 18,000 of those members were more interested in cardio training than lifting weights? Doesn’t sound so great now, does it? Most, if not all, your content is going to be relevant to just 10% of your audience.
To avoid this situation, you must be really clear, to begin with about the kind of members you want. You shouldn’t be looking to appeal to everyone. In fact, the more exclusive your group is, the more money you’ll be able to generate.
Think of it this way. Would you rather buy coaching, training, or informative content from someone that focuses directly on your interest or someone that seems to only have a peripheral interest in it? It’s a no-brainer.
In order to make sure your group is attracting the right kind of members for you, consider the following:
- What kind of person do you want to join your group? Narrow it down as far as possible, using any applicable criteria – age, gender, social status, interests, etc.
- How can you solve problems for them or help them with some situation in their life?
- Will this kind of person be willing to spend money on your product or service? If not, then reconsider the target audience, or what you are offering.
- What do they get out of being a member of your community or Facebook Group?
Identifying your target audience is a similar process to coming up with a niche for your group, but is a little more refined, with more focus on the demographics and behaviour of your group members.
For instance, if you’re an accomplished heavy rock musician – say a guitarist – who writes articles on rock music, gives away free tutorials but also charges for premium tutorials and one-to-one online lessons. This could lead to:
Niche profile – Person with an interest in rock music who wants to learn to play the guitar.
Target profile – 16 to 36-year-old male, who is a student or young professional with some disposable income. Interested in heavy rock music, concerts, rock bands, festivals, playing guitar. You can help them by offering good advice and tuition to become competent guitarists, playing exactly the kind of music they enjoy. They have tried to learn before, but got frustrated and demotivated by lack of progress. You offer a structured and focused approach to learning the guitar. They will be willing to spend small amounts on good, premium content and larger amounts on full courses or private tuition. By joining your group they join a like-minded community, get support from you and other users, learn to play the guitar, and stay in touch with all the latest developments in their area of interest.
Growth phase – promoting and expanding your Facebook Group or community
Once you’ve nailed the target audience and created your group, the next step (if you haven’t already done so) is to grow it.
There are many ways to promote your community effectively. Here are a few examples:
- Create a marketing funnel. This involves creating downloadable content and driving people to download it by using social media ads. When people click on the ad, they are asked to exchange their email address for the desired content. Once they are on your mailing list you can regularly ask them to sign up to your community.
- Make your group visible in everything you do. Add the group link to your email signature, LinkedIn page, your blog page, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. You can also add a link to any merchandise or posters you make, including a QR code for ease-of-use.
- Guest posting. Publishing content on high-traffic platforms such as Medium, Quora, etc. can get you noticed and is a great place to promote your group. Make sure you include a link in the text somewhere.
- Create media coverage. This tip is especially good for people that have unique or very niche offerings. A good press release can turn lukewarm interest in your group into passion and excitement. Don’t hype things up too much, but remember that you are trying to “sell” membership to your group, even if it is free to join.
I’m sure that the next question on your lips is, how big do I need to grow my Facebook Group to begin making money?
There is no right or wrong answer to this. As long as you are attracting people that match your target profile, you can make a success with just 2,000 to 5,000 members, as long as they’re willing to spend money. Just think, if your average follower is willing to spend $100 per year on your products, you’ll only need around 1,000 members to make a six-figure income.
If your niche is one that attracts people that are a bit tighter with money, you may have to make allowances for that. In that case, you should concentrate on growing your community to 10,000 plus members in order to make a viable income.
While we are discussing figures, a common question is just how much money can you potentially make from a Facebook Group or online community? The answer does depend on your niche and market, but assuming you discover a profitable niche and put the work and effort into growing a following and engaging them, then $100,000 is a pretty reasonable initial target.
Next, let’s explore how we can start making that income from your Facebook Group or community of followers.
12 ways to monetize a Facebook Group
There are literally dozens of ways to monetize a Facebook Group or online community. To keep things focused, we have narrowed it down to a list of just 12.
1. Sell products or services directly to group members
This is probably the most common way to make money from your online community or Facebook Group.
As you are constantly engaging with and entertaining or informing your community, you have access to a semi-captive audience. This means you can subtly sell your main products or services to them through written content, videos, live-streams, and podcasts. You can do this by including direct links in the content or sending a follow-up email to members shortly after publishing the content.
A note of caution – be careful not to create content that is entirely sales-focused. Engagement should still be your number one goal, otherwise, you will gradually lose your audience.
2. Charge a subscription
Depending on your niche, community members may be willing to pay for exclusive membership and premium content.
For instance, a fitness trainer who specializes in Vinyasa yoga may be able to sell monthly membership deals that offer members full video courses on certain aspects of this specialized type of yoga, as well as tips, advice, and weekly group classes.
This kind of income is highly desirable as it is recurring and can help to sustain your business during lean times.
3. Generate leads
This monetization option mainly applies to people selling high-ticket items such as corporate training or specialist services, such as freelance graphic design or marketing services.
For instance, a graphic designer may have a Facebook Group on creating infographics. They can use this group to offer their general freelance services. They can showcase their work in their group, or use examples of their work as training materials. This will demonstrate the quality of their output to potential clients, thus generating valuable leads.
4. Offer additional services to your main offering – e.g. coaching or mentoring
This is an ideal option for people that have a limited main offering but can offer lucrative services alongside it.
For example, an accountant that runs a Facebook Group on managing tax affairs may sell a primary product that is an ebook on completing tax self-assessments. Alongside this, they can offer a full accountancy service, or offer mentoring to other accountants that want to break into the online market.
5. Sell tickets to webinars
You can promote and sell tickets to exclusive online events such as webinars or live online training courses through your Facebook Group.
6. Sell other people’s products and services (affiliate marketing)
Affiliate marketing is a popular, and potentially highly lucrative, way to monetize an online community. If your own product range or service offering is limited, or in the early stages of development, you can still make money by selling links to other people’s offerings.
Just make sure that the stuff you sell is relevant and meaningful to your group’s interests, otherwise, you’ll find that members will drift away.
7. Create and sell products or services tailored directly to group members
Once you have developed relationships with members of your group, you can select certain individuals or sub-groups to sell specific products or services. This highly-focused form of selling can be very profitable as you can really zone in on the specific problems that people need solving.
For example, imagine that you’re a lifestyle coach that specializes in helping people overcome work-related stress. You may identify that a large number of your group members are C-suite executives. You can create resources that are directly targeted to helping these people and private message them with details or create a sub-group in messenger providing them with the exclusive links.
8. Accept donations
Group members are often extremely grateful for all the free content and resources that they receive. Often, they will want to give something back to the person creating the content as they feel a debt of gratitude. You can enable them to do this by requesting donations or making it clear that donations are gratefully received.
9. Grow your sales funnel
You can use your group following to expand your sales funnel and email list. Email marketing is still a highly effective way to sell products and services, so if you can get people to share their email addresses, you can grow your sales funnel rapidly.
10. Generate advertising or sponsorship revenue
In a similar way to affiliate marketing, you can make money by advertising products or services through your group or enlisting some kind of sponsorship. If you are using Facebook Groups, be careful to make sure that you stick to their policies and guidance on advertising within groups.
Alternatively, you can migrate your group to a different community provider to allow more freedom.
11. Sell tickets to real-life events or opportunities
If you are able to host real-life events such as speaking or training events, you can generate interest and sell tickets to your group members.
12. Sell the rights to your group
Obviously, this is a monetization option for more mature groups. Once you have amassed a good-sized and engaged following, your group has value in and of itself.
There may be other individuals or companies out there that are willing to buy your community from you in exchange for a tidy fee. This option is one that will require a lot of thought, calculation, and planning, however, so don’t rush into it.
Why you should consider Facebook alternatives
So, now you know the possibilities for monetizing a Facebook Group.
But, why restrict yourself to Facebook?
There are plenty of other options available, and most, if not all, will potentially lead to greater profits and increased growth.
A community platform such as Disciple offers all the functionality and features of social media groups, such as news feeds, private messaging, group chat, forums, media sharing, live streams and notifications, with plenty of additional benefits.
Disciple allows you to customize the style and branding of your group, right down to colour schemes and logos. You also get full control of your group’s data, which is the complete opposite of Facebook that hides the data from you and uses it to enhance their own profits.
Full access and control over group data means that you can target content more effectively, gain valuable insights into the habits and mindsets of group members, and sell your products and services more efficiently.
Disciple also has a number of built-in features that make it ideally suited to monetizing your community, such as push-notifications, easy media sharing, live streams, and allowing external links.
In today’s digital world, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic, online communities have become the number one place to go for entertainment, information, and friendship.
If you have identified a profitable niche that you think you can serve, or you have already built an online community, now is the time to consider how to monetize your Facebook Group.
At Disciple, we often refer to the new landscape of online communities as part of the “passion economy”. There has been a shift from the traditional selling of products and services through advertising and traditional marketing methods, to monetizing the passions of niche interest groups.
The main ways to monetize Facebook Groups and online communities are described in the 12 methods above.
All in all, the key takeaways when it comes to monetizing Facebook Groups or online communities, are:
- know your target audience in detail,
- grow your following with engaging content,
- make sure that your community provider allows you the freedom and flexibility to monetize your following easily.
To find out more about how Disciple can help you monetize your online community, or to learn about our own community software, get in touch today.