Why I created a Facebook Group

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Hello my lovely,

I wanted to tell you a bit about my experience of starting and running a Facebook group.

As well as running my own small business I work part time for a bathroom showroom, I’m also very passionate about my home town of South Shields where this business is based. The retail trading environment is South Shields is incredibly tough with dwindling footfall and lots of empty shops.

My boss loves Facebook and was regularly engaging in lots of groups, not to advertise her business but just for fun. So in July 2014 I suggested that we open our own group to support South Shields businesses and help boost her business, we called South Shields Small Business – Shop Local. I thought we might get 100 members and it would be a fun project.

The group grew rapidly and by October 2014 I had about 700 members (if I’m remembering right), at this time I was invited to meet with my local business forum to discuss social media and the Facebook group.

This group started to attract businesses from across South Tyneside and potential customers for these businesses with a busy community interacting everyday, people were actively looking for ways to work together and support each other. There was rapid growth at the beginning but it has slowed, we do get member requests everyday but we made the decision to restrict members to keep it a local group, most of our members are based in South Tyneside but we do have a few from Sunderland in Newcastle. The group now has over 2000 members.

The reasons why I think this group has been a success:

The group has a very simple goal, support local businesses, members joining the group like this and understand this and want to get involved. Recently we have had a lovely lady join the group, she is getting married and wants everything for her special day to be supplied by local businesses, she has had lots of recommendations and support.

The growth at the start was rapid and that is because I have friends that I appealed to to share this and they had lots of friends that had their own businesses and wanted to join or lived locally and needed a business.

Businesses are allowed to advertise their business, this is what they want, I’ve asked them. I was concerned that this would pit people of using the group and we have lost some members but overall it works well, businesses can only post one advert a day and we do a daily social share to encourage businesses to engage in a different way.

Customers want to ask the community for recommendations and the businesses that get the most from this group are the businesses looking for customers, regularly engaging with this community and even recommending other businesses.

There are lots of groups for businesses to advertise so this had to made different, because of this group I was asked to join the management group of the South Tyneside Business Forum. This was a great opportunity, I was able to represent the views of the group and we have been able to bring this online group together in the real world for informal networking, training and advice workshops and we get to pass on some great opportunities to the small businesses in South Tyneside.

I really love running this group and I do participate in other groups, my favourite groups all have one thing in common, a really active admin leading conversations and keeping community standards high. I have found running the group a lot of work but it has created amazing opportunities and I do get lovely feedback from the business members.

If you have any questions I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

Have a great day

Sam

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