As a small business owner, you will have spoken to someone at some point who will have battered you with the benefits of social media for small businesses. They will have told you how you have to be on Facebook, you have to create a page, you have to churn out and endless stream of content just like that funny stuff that Innocent Drinks do.

But if you’ve made the leap onto social media (and in this case let’s stay with Facebook), you may have noticed more recently that your content isn’t really getting the airtime it used to…

That’s all due to Facebook’s algorithm, which prioritises the content that Facebook feels users want to see. Unfortunately, this is often content from their friends rather than the brands they follow.

Now if you’re Facebook, why wouldn’t you do this? After all, you’re aim is to make money and to make money you need to encourage brands to advertise. But this leaves small businesses with a bit of a dilemma. Do they speculate with a modest advertising budget? Do they have the skills to launch a properly targeted campaign?

If the answer is no, don’t despair, there is another channel: Facebook groups.

Groups are a must for small businesses at the moment. Mark Zuckerberg announced in June that Facebook should focus on connecting meaningful communities, and he’s put groups at the forefront of that mission.

For group admins there will be a range of new tools being launched to help them effectively manage the group. This will include insights, filtering, post scheduling and the functionality to delete abusive members’ content. And for users there will be tools put in place to help them find and join groups that will be meaningful to them.

What does this mean for small businesses?

For small businesses this presents an opportunity to connect with an engaged niche audience.

Whatever your business does, there will be groups on Facebook that are relevant and filled with people who might be interested in your product or service.

Take makeup for example. A quick search within Facebook groups shows dozens of groups for those who are obsessed with makeup – from tutorial groups to buy and sell groups. If you’re a beauty brand, joining these groups (as yourself rather than your brand) and contributing positively to the conversation could have major benefits.

However, don’t join and start spamming everyone with a picture of a poster you made a few months ago. Think carefully about what the group is about and share content that will be of value. If your first post doesn’t get engagement, you’re doing it wrong and you need to have a re-think. As a follow-up to this blog, I’ll write another with some best practice tips on how to engage with an audience in a Facebook group.

Facebook Pages vs Facebook Groups

Crucially for groups, members still get notifications when a user posts new content. This allows your content to be exposed to a much greater number of people than if it was posted through your page.

That’s not to say that pages are dead. They’re still worth having, but perhaps switch your focus to being a bigger part of Facebook’s growing communities.

Posted by:Mark Flint

Mark's an experienced digital marketer and graphic designer. He's worked with numerous brands in a variety of industries – from food to property – and set up FLINT Marketing in 2015 to work with small businesses.