Facebook groups are a powerful tool for promoting your life coaching business.
There’s just one problem: when it comes to private Facebook groups, someone out there is telling everyone how to do it wrong.
Nary a week goes by where I’m not added into a Facebook group that I have no interest in (and in roll the notifications for people and topics that I have no idea about). Or a perfectly good Facebook group with great connections…becomes cluttered up with one person’s e-course promotions.
This approach, while it may offer some initial response from others in the group hoping to be supportive, ends up leaving people with the exact impression that you don’t want: that you’re pushy, but you’re just being sneaky about it.
Pretending Not to Promote
Some people are uncomfortable with outright promotion. I totally understand that space–but the answer to being uncomfortable with promoting yourself is not pretending that you aren’t really promoting yourself. The answer to this discomfort is to become comfortable with marketing and promoting yourself in ways that feel authentic.
When you’re in a peer-to-peer group*, or if someone else is the group’s intended leader, these examples are no bueno. In general, they make poor marketing practices for private Facebook groups.
Adding people to groups when you don’t know them.
Sometimes, the “pretending not to promote” starts with how one gets into the private Facebook group, itself. Adding people into your group without their permission is, in essence, spam. Some have taken this to another level by messaging privately first to introduce themselves and then add someone into a group, thinking that this is more polite.
But really? What’s the most polite is this: not creating more notifications or messages for a busy person to deal with when they’re just doing a quick social media check. Just because the message is short and coming through via Facebook doesn’t mean that it’s any different than getting promo spam via email. To open up a social media account in the morning, only to find fifty notifications from people who were all dumped into a group overnight, just creates more crud to sort through on the internet.
Instead? If you want to populate your Facebook group, post to your own personal wall or business page: “Here’s my group, and here’s what it’s about, so message me if you want in or follow this link.” Boom. The people who are interested in that topic will be all over it.
Side note: people also do this with event invitations and Facebook message strings (“conversations”) that have a bunch of people included.
Sharing most (or all) of your blog posts.
It looks like this: within a private Facebook group, someone posts a blog post. It’s supportively well-received by the group. But then the person posts another one. And another one. And another one. Basically, they start treating a private Facebook group like their Facebook business page. It’s alienating.
It’s also pretending not to promote yourself (we all know that that’s what you’re doing; you’re just serving up blog posts instead of sales pages with BUY NOW buttons). If you’re sharing more than one or two blog posts in a month, or if you’re the only one sharing your blog posts, then the group is getting a disproportionate balance. Groups are about sharing, not seeing a lot of content from just one person.
Note: this also applies to any image graphics that have a person’s website URL on them. Doing this once? Okay, you’re sharing. Doing it more than that? That’s promotion. Save this for your own public Facebook business page.
Becoming the group coach (without being asked).
It looks like this: within private Facebook groups where it’s not intended that one person is the leader or teacher, one participant in particular is always the “fixer,” creating an “I’m the group’s coach” dynamic that isn’t called-for when everyone wants to connect as peers. The “Group Coach” is always offering advice and suggestions, including going so far as telling people that she’d be “happy to set up a session with them” or messaging people privately to offer herself for hire.
There are, yes, courses or set-ups where someone is the intended leader of a group–and that’s who should be doing the coaching. There’s a big difference between comments that relate to someone else’s experience, and comments that are trying to impress and drum up business.
This dynamic likely emerges because some marketing consultant has told life coaches to “demonstrate expertise.” Remember, however, that in a peer-to-peer setting, you need to demonstrate expertise that is asked for. If someone posts, “I’m looking for suggestions…” then they’re crowd-sourcing from the group, so go ahead–show off your skillz.
Otherwise, however, they’re probably just relating an experience, and hoping you’ll relate, too.
“Looking for feedback”
Speaking of crowd-sourcing: pretending to be “looking for feedback” is perhaps the most common way that people pretend not to promote. It looks like this: within a Facebook group, someone is debuting their new e-course, coaching services, e-book, retreat, workshop, etc. But because they know that they’ve been asked to keep this a “promotion-free space,” they say things like, “I’m looking for feedback on my sales page! What do you think?” or “It took a TON of courage for me to do this, but here it is–I’m going to [start my business, run my course, write my book] and here’s the page for it. I’d love your opinion!”
This is one of two things: either a poor way to user-test a new sales page or outright manipulation.
The best way to user-test a new sales page is with people who might actually purchase those services, not randoms or people who aren’t your ideal client. Thus, if you’re showing your sales page to a private Facebook group “for feedback” without intending to promote it to them, you’re showing it to randoms or people who aren’t your ideal client–which doesn’t actually help you to get good feedback.
If you do believe that your private Facebook group is full of people who would be your ideal client? Then…you’re promoting yourself within a small private Facebook group.
See how that works? If you ask for feedback on your offerings while saying to yourself, “I’m not promoting, because they aren’t my ideal people,” then the exercise is fruitless and their feedback on your offerings is meaningless, so why ask for it?
If you ask for feedback on your offerings while saying to yourself, “These guys are my ideal people,” then you’re promoting to them. You’re just calling it “asking for feedback,” instead of “promotion.”
Which is, unfortunately, outright manipulation. Manipulation is NOT a good way to promote yourself.
Getting Cozy With Promotion
If you believe in what you are offering.
If you believe that it helps people and is value-driven.
If you believe that it’s affordably priced.
If you believe that it’s needed.
If you believe that it doesn’t create bigger landfills.
If you believe that it’s not manufactured on the backs of someone else’s suffering.
If you believe that it’s created with beautiful intention.
If you believe all of those things? Welcome to the land of getting cozy with promotion.
When you believe all of those things about what you offer, 100%, then there’s no need to push blog posts, pretend to be crowd-sourcing for opinions while really hoping to garner sign-ups, or coach everyone.
When you believe it, you radiate it.
When you believe it, other people see it in everything that you do in the communities that ARE appropriate for self-promotion: your Facebook business page, your website, in the by-line of every guest post or interview, on podcasts…there are so many outlets where self-promotion of your ideas that could help others are more than welcome. Stick to those, and develop a reputation for providing quality, not for pretending not to promote.
* In this piece, I’m always referring to peer-to-peer Facebook group environments, not courses with a designated leader or any Facebook group where the entire point is to join together around someone’s product or offering. For example, Danielle LaPorte has a private Facebook group for Desire Map licensees–the entire point of which is to connect over the Desire Map licensing offering. If she offers suggestions, or provides promotional graphics or blog posts related to her brand, she’s doing that within an environment where the consensus is that this is why people are gathering within this group. If someone who is not Danielle LaPorte starts doing any of the things above in that private group? They’re promoting themselves, while pretending not to promote. Please stop.