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How Aussie entrepreneur uses Facebook groups for business success

More than half of Australian small business owners are dismal at using social media for business growth.

But that’s certainly not the case for Aussie entrepreneur and former HR manager Lori Phegan, whose e-commerce business is on track to post $3 million in profit in just as many years.

Use social media to your advantage. (Photo: Getty)

Phegan’s online gift store, The Inappropriate Gift Co, shot to prominence at the end of 2016 after one of her mugs went viral on social media.

The mug clocked 10 million views before crashing her website.

The mug that went viral. (Source: The Inappropriate Gift Co)

She’s since appeared on Shark Tank, set up operations in the UK, and collaborated with a growing number of celebrities.

But none of those things have been at the very core of her success. Instead, Phegan depends on a closed Facebook group dubbed ‘Inappropriate Mums’, a 15,000-strong army of boisterous mothers from all around the globe.

“We want to share memes, or memes, and stories, but we don't want to put it on our Facebook page because we don't want the other mums judging our inappropriate humour,” she told Yahoo Finance Editor-In-Chief Sarah O’Carroll in the New Investors series.

Before any of Phegan’s products hit the market, the group of ‘Inappropriate Mums’ is the first to see it. It’s the ultimate litmus test to see if her idea will pass muster.

“It's a brilliant way to test the market,” she said.

“If they find something funny, then I know that I've probably hit the target market.”

Thanks to the completely free social media platforms of Instagram and Facebook, accessing such a crucial market hasn’t cost Phegan a thing.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter an Linkedin are free to use. (Photo Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“You can test anything, and you can really tell from the response and the engagement that you get whether it's then worth going ahead and producing a product,” Phegan said.

Building a “tribe” on Facebook something anyone can do, she added.

“With technology, it wasn't as difficult as it would have been five or 10 years ago. It's absolutely amazing.

“And I'm not a tech person, so I would say, for anyone who wants to do it, now is the time. They make it so easy for you.”

3 hacks to use Facebook groups to skyrocket your business

Building and growing a Facebook group isn’t rocket science, but it does help to have an idea of what you want to do with it.

Here are four tips to effectively leveraging Facebook groups to grow your ‘tribe’ and turn leads into sales:

1. Build a community

People naturally come together when there’s something they all have in common. Use your Facebook group to promote unity and facilitate sharing between members.

According to tips from ShortStack, great ways to generate engagement will be to get them involved, such as by asking questions, conducting polls, creating events, sharing files, or letting them have their say about new products or services in the works.

2. Engage with them

Conversations will have to be a two-way street, so it’s important to keep in mind that members should be treated as peers, not customers to sell to.

Ensure you respond to feedback in a timely manner, and even come up with a creative incentive system to reward active users, so they feel like valued members of the community, advises Planable.

Timing is also important: do some research and time your interactions for when your audience is most active on Facebook.

If it becomes too much for you to handle the Facebook group on your own, consider using a social media scheduling platform or even hiring a social media administrator.

3. Create high-quality content your community wants

Regularly posting high-quality content will be the cornerstone of any social media strategy for any business wanting to maintain an online presence.

Creating a Facebook group solely to sell your products and nothing else will get you nowhere, and will in fact turn your customers against you.

Rather, approach it from the customer’s perspective and address their needs: informative, educational information such as advice, how-tos and ‘tips and tricks’ content generally do well.

Additionally, create more buzz around your company and establish more personal connections with your customers with behind-the-scenes glimpses of what goes on in the office.

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