Facebook groups can be hard work but are great for your clients and for your relationship with clients. They are also a great form of lead Generation for your business.
This article goes into the pros and the cons of having your own Facebook Group. While we have written on the subject before this now comes from experience of running our own group for the last six months. The aim is to give you the best information on Facebook groups so that you can decide whether you set one up yourself or not.
I'll begin with the negative points and warnings that should go with having your own Facebook group.
1) You have to be truly confident in your online personal training product and service, and be willing to air your dirty laundry in public!
Clients or members that have problems or complaints generally seem happier to share them in the public forum of your group rather than take a couple of seconds longer to raise their concern with you in private. This means that any tiny issue or mistake by your client looks like a big issue, especially if you coach large numbers of clients.
For example if you have 1000 clients and 0.01% of those people have a problem with your service that can be 10 people posting publicly which gives the impression you run a poor service. In truth any company with 1% of people with problems and 99% of people with no problems at all is truly fantastic.
To counter this it's best to make sure your other communication channels are as easy to find as possible. But this will always be a negative side to putting much of your added communication in to a public forum.
2) Facebook groups never sleep!
This means people will ask you questions over the weekend, on holidays and even on Christmas day. While many won't expect answers at those times they will always hope for answers as quickly as possible. I put this down as a negative but if you love what you do and don't mind flicking your phone and adding answers whenever you get an opportunity (please don't stop mid conversation with your children to do this though... My pet hate!) then you can really separate yourself from the crowd in these moments.
In many ways this means that you are constantly on call. For this reason I would only recommend setting up your own Facebook group if you genuinely love what you do or have others to help you manage the group.
Now we've covered the negative side let's move on to the positives. In our case these have far outweighed the negative. Some of these have been very surprising benefits.
1) Facebook groups are a great tool to build relationships with your clients.
This is even more the case when you have large numbers of clients and don't have time to personally interact with them all. Many members in our group feel like friends despite the fact I have never met them or spoken personally to them over the phone or Skype.
2) Increased client retention.
When introducing our Facebook group the number of personal trainers that left PT Distinction cut in half.
This is definitely a side effect of running a good group but the improved relationships, improved communication and the ability to easily help people with quick videos or images means people better understand your service and feel more at ease as part of your community.
3) If you run free trials or free online challenges conversions in to your paid services can increase significantly.
Having a support group is a huge benefit for many people trying your services. A Facebook group is an easy way to integrate your trialists in to your community and helps them see you as the person who will best solve their problems.
4) Improved follow up of past trialists, challengers or clients.
People may leave your paid services from time to time. This could be for any number of reasons; a change in career, a lack of willpower or anything else. Very rarely do people ever leave a Facebook group and from time to time they come in and have a look around.
Facebook groups are a fantastic way to very easily show any upgrades in your service, put out any new content, answer questions and offer support. One new feature, one video or one written sentence could be the trigger someone needs to come back and join your services again. The more you help, the more you benefit!
5) Facebook groups can help you bring in new members.
If people have never really heard of you before but see a post that you did, like a video you made or even felt curios after seeing an advert for your services a Facebook group is a great place where they can go and find out more about you.
Potential clients can check out some of your videos, read some of the information you give away and communicate with your clients. This can take a potential client from not knowing anything about you straight up to a level where they might be keen to try out or even buy your services in a very short space of time.
6) The most unexpected benefit of running a Facebook group is the side effect of the relationships you build with your members.
Members become friends and are as keen to help you out as you are to help them. From our group the emergence of Ash Burleigh was a reveation. Ash loves helping people and not only has an incredibly successful online business but knows everything there is to know about PT Distinction. Now he runs our Master-classes, is doing a joint project with me and a few special guests and helps out regularly in the group.
Group members have also seen comments I've made and offered help or put me in contact with people that can do amazing things for us. A few improvements coming soon to our online personal training software were made possible by introductions from group members.
On top of all of this the interactions in groups give you such clear indications of ways you can improve your services and problems your clients have that maybe you can find a way to solve. These interactions provide you with great insight and big opportunities.
Facebook groups can be hard work and put you on call 24/7 but if you really love what you do they can be extremely rewarding.
Feel free to come and join our Facebook group any time.