In this episode, we sit down with Facebook groups expert Ryan Bowles.
Ryan helps entrepreneurs grow engaged Facebook groups that build community, trust, and revenue for their brands.
In our interview, we discuss topics such as:
And so much more.
👉 To learn more about Ryan, find him as ‘Ryan Bowles’ on Facebook, and his group for entrepreneurs - Facebook Group Secrets.
👉 If you’d like to explore any further training, then feel free to check out our range of free courses here: https://www.impactunltd.com/training
Ben Donovan 0:01
Awesome. Well, welcome to the show today guys. It's my honor to have my good friend, Ryan, with me here. Ryan, welcome to the show today.
Ryan Bowles 0:10
Dude, awesome to be here, after four years since the last time we connected.
Ben Donovan 0:16
You're all the way in Australia down under. It's morning here, nighttime there. It should set up a good conversation. Here, I've got my coffee and you've had a good day.
Ryan Bowles 0:26
I've got water and a coffee cup.
Ben Donovan 0:27
Here you go, living the party life. Hey, so right I love to ask a couple of a bit random questions first off, just a bit of icebreaker to get our audience ready to hear from you and get used to you. And so what I thought was actually first number one, do you have a favorite quote?
Ryan Bowles 0:45
I've got it. I've got tons but it always comes back to my good friend, Dale Carnegie. And he simply says that "You can have everything you want in life if you just help enough others get what they want in life". So that's been a life of mine.
Ben Donovan 1:01
I love that one, that is good, that's awesome. And the final one before we dive into this one, I love asking people because I think it's just so intriguing to think how they think. If you could time travel, forwards or backwards at any time, where would you go and why?
Ryan Bowles 1:19
Usually, I'd give a different response but I've just started watching the MJ doc on Netflix and I'd have to say the 90s because I was a late 80s kid, but I feel like if I hadn't been this age to enjoy the 90s, I would have got the most of like grunge metal bands, Michael Jordan. You know, the other Michael out there, you know, the rest of it. So I would have to say 90s.
Ben Donovan 1:43
Good stuff. All right. So Ryan, tell us a little bit about yourself. What you do and how you got started in business.
Ryan Bowles 1:52
So it dates back and I'm not gonna take you around way back. But I watched my parents in business from an early age and watched them lead people, coach people, talk on stage, hold seminars, meetings and I was sitting up the back, sometimes at the front. And so I feel like it was ingrained. Right now, I'm in my dad's old office. And so some of the books you see behind me are his, some are mine. If I spun the camera around, you'd see this cassette tape of like Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar. Jim Rohn, and the rest. And so I guess, it was a matter of time before I picked up some of those pieces of wisdom and the lessons along the way. And so I just always had an inkling with me or chip on the shoulder during school never to want to boss. I'd worked in paper runs, retail. I was a personal trainer, done lots of things to trial to see if I was fit for the, I guess, the nine to five with someone telling me what to do. And it just wasn't for me.
Ryan Bowles 2:52
So I wanted to be a rock star in school, believe it or not. That was worth it for me. And my friends knew it, the teachers knew it. I wasn't the best student in terms of grades. But that's what I wanted to do and so out of school, trialed, you know, retail jobs and things to get by, while kicking off a number of different bands, and sort of cutting my teeth in marketing, which I realized quickly in a band that if you could market yourself well, your music would get heard more, you'd sell more t-shirts than the other band sitting next to you at the shows and you'd probably do a few laps of the country or hopefully get outside the country as well. And so for me, that's sort of where it started. Realizing that you know, if we can bring in a few dollars for the band, it could keep us going. We could spend more on recording and the rest so that's sort of where it kicked off. There's a lot in between there. I became a graphic designer and started an agency. I've kicked off a sunglasses and watch retail brands that we manufactured internationally and we sold in stores. I've tried all sorts of things from multilevel marketing to my own small businesses and ran markets on the weekends. And it's led me down the path where I am now on online coaching, selling programs, and consulting.
Ben Donovan 4:20
Yeah, awesome. I love that man. It's such a story of an entrepreneur. You know, I think there are so many entrepreneurs out there that'd be listening, that have similar stories, you know, that are like, "I wanted to do this", and then "I tried that", and "I stumbled into this", and "I did that". And eventually, it's like you get somewhere like, "Oh, man, I'm passionate about this". I think I resonate with that because you know, you start, you get the wheels moving, but then you suddenly sort of find purpose in it. You know, it's, it's such a good story, man.
Ryan Bowles 4:46
Yeah. And I guess, to add on to that, as well. It was like satisfying for a period, but never long term satisfaction in that thing. And it's funny to throwback, I was just opening my notes to see if I had a note from you in the session that you gave with our team here in Aus back in 2016. And one of the pieces that you gave me and I used quite a few of them for many years, was that we're living in a generation that isn't satisfied to actually go and take action on things. We just, you know, consume, consume, consume, don't take action. And so I was always wanting to take action pretty quickly, test it, and if it wasn't for me move on.
Ben Donovan 5:37
Yes. So good, man. Oh, wow. That's super encouraging, mate. Yeah, I think probably maybe how I sort of phrase them because it's something that's still even now it still says, you know, that we're over inspired but, you know, under action-oriented, you know.
Ryan Bowles 5:54
That's exactly it.
Ben Donovan 5:55
Yeah, you know, there's so much inspiration. Everywhere we look, we get inspired. But actually doing something about it, I think that's you know, that journey of an entrepreneur, I think that is what makes an entrepreneur. Because so many people think "Oh, I'd love to start a business, I'd love to have the next big product. I'd love to do this" But they never do anything about it. And they don't realize that actually, it takes a few failures. Find that. I mean, you know, I know for me, starting out, trying to do different things. It took a while to actually find that thing that you're super passionate about and realize, "Hey, this is where I'm meant to be". And yeah, super, super inspiring.
Ryan Bowles 6:34
And yeah, lots of failures, lots of successes. But definitely, for everyone listening, heaps of things, trials, and I won't go back there.
Ben Donovan 6:43
Yeah, for sure. Absolutely. So tell us a little bit, obviously more about what you do now. So obviously, as you mentioned, online programs, courses. Something that we teach is a business model, it's a business model that is going through the roof particularly at the moment during the time of Coronavirus, the Coronavirus era. You know, searches for online courses are going through the roof. It's an industry that continues to grow at rapid levels. And you're right in the thick of that. But there's a specific angle, the specific focus of what you're doing in that industry. Talk to us a little bit more about that.
Ryan Bowles 7:19
Yeah, my first course was created in sort of mid to late 2017, certainly a couple of years ago. And that was when I was coming out of helping creatives in the freelance space. And so I created a course that helps people grow a freelance business for themselves online, find clients learn how to price correctly, etc. and then have now pivoted, sort of 18 months ago into space where I realized I could grow a Facebook group pretty well. And then I could sell my program within that group to people who were either warm or hot prospects or that, you know, come through, across me and learn from me somewhere. Whether it's Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and then come and sign up with our program. So I realized that there was something there that was successful, and decided to dive deeper into that. And so now my whole sole focus is helping coaches and entrepreneurs grow, engage, and monetize Facebook groups. So I've got a do-it-yourself program that comes with support from us that you can go in there, walk through the steps, and come out the other side with a group that serves your particular niche. Whether you've got a program, coaching, or consulting to offer. You can grow that, get people really engaging from a community standpoint, and then when the time's right, have an opportunity to work with each other.
Ben Donovan 8:45
Yeah, awesome. Awesome. So good. I mean, there's loads I'd love to dive into there from the perspective of online programs and what you've seen there that's worked well. Because I know you're someone I think that would resonate with me in terms of you know, you want to make an impact in people's lives. And, you know, this vehicle to do that is really, really powerful. But also just that specific nature of the Facebook groups, because I think it's something that is still relatively untapped. I think when it was Facebook marketing, they thought paid ads, paid traffic. But this is an organic way, right? And this is a really great way to build community, which I think is, from our perspective, at least, you know, online programs there. You know, the community aspect is such an important part of it. So, yeah, talk to us about that Facebook group initially, and some things that people can be doing to build those and, you know, good practices.
Ryan Bowles 9:36
Yeah, totally. I think it's super untapped right now. There are plenty of people using groups, but there's so much more opportunity out there. And, you know, it's relatively easy to set up, but complex to run in a way that really keeps engagement going and keeps the ball moving. So that you know, you're not feeling like you're pouring out all the time, but you're also on the receiving end as well. So there's like simplicity to getting started and getting people in there, but sort of the finer points come when you want to, how do I now utilize this alongside my business? But from a community aspect, we're talking about this just before we hit record, and we've got all sorts of groups out there now. If people are listening and they haven't thought about a group, you know, groups about eCommerce, hypnotherapy, fitness, being a busy parent or a busy mom, you know, working out from home in current situations. There are even groups right now, I don't know, on your side of the world, that there are here where people have started local groups to help support other businesses in the current time, you know, that might share tips during Coronavirus. And if someone's listened to the podcast, say two years from now, they might not even remember what it was like? Yeah, they might have kicked off business then. But there are lots of groups out there's coaching groups, Facebook ad groups or Facebook. You know, my group is a group about groups. Yeah. So we've got, you know, trading groups, people that have construction companies, lots of different stuff out there medical groups. Yeah. So you can really start a group about anything. If you've got a market or a niche where people are passionate about that thing, then more than likely, you can start a group around it, build community, and have a lot of fun.
Ben Donovan 11:39
Yeah, that's the interesting thing. I think because we've got a relatively diverse audience. You know, there'll be people that would be you know, wanting to coach and wanting to teach and that kind of thing, but also a lot of brand builders, a lot of people that own physical product brands and so you know, as it were again, before we hit record talking about for us, it's a big part of our strategy moving forward is building communities around our brand. And you mentioned that you have done that in Australia, right? And it'd be good, I think, for the audience to hear about that because it's a powerful example of how you can use Facebook groups not just for one specific task but for building community around a product brand as well.
Ryan Bowles 12:16
Yeah, good friends of mine, Ben and Jazz, they kicked off a brand called From Zion and it's an Australian designer label, really cool stuff, really quality clothing for mums and bubs. And I believe they've got men's rangers coming out as well. And funnily enough, a fan of theirs, someone who just loved their products started a group without them knowing just as like a fan community group. And it was a place that, you know, mums could come in and post photos of their new outfit or their outfit for their kids that they picked up and the group really took off. And I don't remember the last count, there were thousands of people within this group that had just started organically. And it's mostly customers in there, someone you know, if you're in that group, you've probably owned a piece of clothing and purchased from them. And so long story short, they found out that this group was going and have now said to the guys that started it, "Hey, you know, do you mind if we launch products here when we release new pieces and new campaigns?" And surely enough, they do it and it's super successful and that's purely just from a brand community standpoint.
Ben Donovan 13:25
Super powerful. So good, really encouraging, I'm sure, for the brand owners out there can get that going. And so talk to us in terms of actually building that group because it can be, I think, for a lot of people a daunting thing can be creating a group, nobody's in it. How do I start? How do I get the ball rolling?
Ryan Bowles 13:42
Yeah, probably the easiest way to get things going is to think of it like and I've been using this quite a lot recently is to think about if you were not in the current Corona situation that we're in but you feel launching a bar or a cafe. I always imagine if I was launching an ice bar, how would I launch that? And I'd want it to be the most exciting door opening experience for all of my friends, my family, potential customers, you know, previous customers if I owned other businesses, etc. And I want to build up a certain level of excitement, expectation and hype around those doors opening. And so if you think backwards, how would you reverse engineer a physical launch of a business to hold a party? That's the sort of concept you want to take towards launching a group. So some practical things would be you know, asking friends and family and colleagues and sort of your network in a circle of people, whether they'd support you on a launch when it goes live, to spread the word because you know, if one knows three, and those three know three pretty quickly, you can get an audience in front of you who may not be a right fit for the group. Yeah, but the main thing would be creating and building an expectation. And then when it came to that launch of the bar, you know, I'd want to be giving away a free cocktail or a coffee to everybody that came through the doors. You know, so you want to be thinking about what's inside the group that would entice people to want to join, if it's relevant for them that I can give away on that launch to really blow expectations out of the water. And then you'd want to go and get your media set up. So kind of what does your imagery look like? Is your group set up physically with your group name, and all the rest? and have your close network in a circle? Or maybe an email list? You know, blast that out to the people that they know and make the thing a huge year? That's a really short story. There's a lot more to it. Yeah, of course. Yeah. Yeah, but if anyone's kicking off a group and thinks of it through that lens, you're gonna have much more success than the person who just starts and tells people Hey, I've got a group. Yeah,
Ben Donovan 15:59
Yeah. Sure now that's super, super helpful. Because I think that's one of them, you know, the biggest hurdles is that first starting, right, like with anything, then when they get it going and you know, maybe some members are coming in and want to start growing it, but be, you know, attracting the right people. Again, I'm just like pulling all this out here and you know, maybe it's just okay. But I know, out there that I think you're right, that's great. But how do I grow this group? What do I put in this group? Like, you know, got it now, what do I do from there?
Ryan Bowles 16:28
Yeah, you can look at organic, you can look at paid. So there are so many ways, we've got so many, so many ways. So if you're late to the party, a study in a group or you've had a business for a while, you may have already an email list or an Instagram following or a Facebook page that has an audience of your ideal people already, that would be the place to start by inviting those people to your group, a LinkedIn page, you know, all of these social platforms. That would be your organic; start with those people. Then if you want to run sort of paid campaigns, you can look at Facebook ads that might have someone download, say, a lead magnet of yours, something of value for free in exchange for an email. And you can build a list, invite those people. Another page strategy would be to build likes on your page and invite those people towards your group. Another idea we were just chatting with a new client is to purchase a list, find somebody in your circle that has the people that you would love to speak to already and offer to buy that list or buy a couple of emails out to those people that you would be able to invite them over to your group as well. So that's an option as well. You could do those style of joint ventures where you team up with someone else on Instagram that has a massive following, and they promote your group as well, whether that's paid or whether you share a few things back and forth. And then within Facebook, the average Facebook user has about 500 friends on their account. If you set up your profile right, pointing people towards your group, people are stalking every day on Facebook, right? You know, like, "Who's this that's like this thing of mine?" or "Who's that?". And so if we set up your profile cover photo correctly, who set up a featured tile, which sits under your bio section in your group? You know, all of these ways can point organic traffic towards your group. And then it just comes down to creating content in different places, whether that's on your business page on your profile within other groups that will send people your way once they come looking.
Ben Donovan 18:42
Yeah, that's awesome, man.
Ryan Bowles 18:45
Getting a bit deep.
Ben Donovan 18:46
Yeah, so right. Let me ask a couple of questions on that. I know obviously, I've only got so much time and so when I go too deep into it right now, but in terms of I mean, I love the idea of like that whole joint venture side of things, especially obviously, there's a little bit of stigma around maybe buying a list that kind of thing. But, you know, may work in some scenarios, right? But then if you got someone else to do the email for you, you know, hey, yeah, this partner of ours who started this group or whatever, I just, yeah, I hadn't thought about that. And that I see that as being potentially really powerful.
Ryan Bowles 19:25
Yeah. And even just to come on to the back of that once that further if you created a joint venture with somebody, and created something simple and free together, or maybe a video training or whatever the thing is to get that value. And then, you know, you place that inside your group. You just want to make sure there's a reward there. It's not just financial to that joint venture that you can share. Maybe they get to present an offer inside your group. But if you're paying them just upfront, that's the trade-off there.
Ben Donovan 19:56
Yeah, for sure. That's good. That's good. Yeah. And then you know, you Joint Venture could you know easily be translated as influencers as well, right? But you know, the traditional way that again, brands have maybe used influences to do influencer marketing, you know, the point of direction could be a Facebook group, not just a product. So it's totally an interesting thought.
Ryan Bowles 20:16
Yeah, it could even be, you know, an influencer saying, "Hey, if the general offer was, you know, you get a percentage off with my code. Join the group, my code is inside the group.
Ben Donovan 20:28
Yeah. Have you had much success with that? Because that's something we've considered is, Hey, you got this training. And there's this one piece of resource that you can get, but you have to join the group to get it.
Ryan Bowles 20:38
Yeah, tons of success with that for sure. If you're running a training online, and there's a workbook or a PDF, etc. It's like cool, I'll just put it safely inside the group. Come jump in there. It's easy to download, and it's all yours.
Ben Donovan 20:53
Yeah, awesome. So good. Now that's really good, really good. And then the final question on attracting people. Obviously, there are different paid strategies, lead magnets is one that we use, and point people to the group with that. But from what we've looked at from the research we've done, there's no way you can directly advertise your Facebook group on Facebook.
Ryan Bowles 21:12
Correct. Yeah. It's an interesting one Mark sucks. You know, he's a smart man. So he's made pages pay to play where, you know, pages now have been squashed in terms of their organic reach, you have to put money into the machine to receive anything out. And therefore they know that within groups, it's a great way for businesses to be strengthened and to grow. And so they're yet to fully release paid advertising within groups. But there's a very strong suggestion it's going that way. Oh, really? might end up yeah, they've been testing ads for some time. I've tested a few within some group clients of ours, without great effect. She's I'm not sure if they've got that down pat just yet. But it's going that way?
Ben Donovan 22:00
Yeah. And I think obviously, there are ways you know, you could obviously lead them to a landing page that links to the group, you know, stuff like that. It's just whether that's cost-effective and even worthwhile, isn't it? But yeah, so speaking of which, in terms of it being cost-effective, worthwhile, this sort of finishes up the combo then on. Actually, you know, content within that group, what kind of content are you suggesting people create? Should it be daily, should it be weekly? Should it be videos, posts, you know, do you have any recommendations on any of that?
Ryan Bowles 22:30
Yeah, so there's, I guess content's the one question and the second one's the rhythm of that content. Yeah, group. Generally, I draw out sort of a quadrant and map out four pieces in that. So if anyone's drawing along, I'd usually have my iPad shared on Zoom, like we are here. But if you draw out, you know, two lines like a cross in the middle, in the top left quadrant, you put the word value, and this is where we would give. Okay, so the top half the quadrant is going to be all about giving and you would give you know, it might be sharing podcasts, it might be going live in the group and maybe doing a Q&A, it might be interviewing a client of yours, and might be sharing a checklist or something actionable because that's where the value section lives.
To the top right-hand side of the quadrant is where we share. And that's where we're asking our members to share things about themselves. If I would ask you, dude, like, what's the number one thing everyone in the world loves talking about more than anything else? What would you say? Themselves? So during this point of the content, we're asking people about things, you know, "Have you done this?", "Have you got that?", "How would you do this? You know, what, you know, what wins Have you had this week? We're asking those types of questions because we just love talking about ourselves innately. So that's all the top half.
If we dropped down to the bottom quadrants, we're now looking to start to either agitate our audience to find out "All right, where are they right now?" And where would they like to be in terms of helping them? And then finally generating leads. So we asked questions that say, "Okay, where are you right now? But ultimately, where would you like to be?" Yeah. And that might be if you're a business coach might be, what's your monthly revenue now? Where would you like it to be this time next month? And then we can work out where the gap is, and if there's an opportunity to help them? Yeah, so that's the bottom left quadrant. Bottom right quadrant is where we post specific lead generating posts, which get people to raise their hand as to whether if you're selling coaching, which is what we specialize in, you know, "Would you like to work together?", "Can we help you keep goals, etc? Or it might be a link to a webinar or to a product, etc, etc. So they're the four pieces of content. In terms of the rhythm, you want to if you drew a figure eight through those, you want to balance those out through a week and throw them up. So you might do one big piece of value every week. Followed by a few different questions on certain days, followed by bi-weekly, you might do a lead generating post, right?
Ben Donovan 25:07
Yeah, no, that's good. Really good. Yeah, for sure. And that's super helpful. I think in terms of structure for people thinking through how they can plan out and map out everything. Ya know, super, super helpful. Do you see you know, like, if I know, obviously, you don't have a crystal ball? So you can't predict the future. But, you know, just in terms of you like you're in this every day in the trenches with people. Do you see some ways that Facebook is changing, say over the next 12 months, some things we can expect to change other people that are listening can maybe be prepared for the way this industry is moving?
Ryan Bowles 25:39
Totally great question. It's already changed. Like during this current period so quickly, Facebook has upgraded so much in terms of video. They've seen, you know, 50 to 70% increase in video watching and people using things like Messenger and WhatsApp that they own I think as well. So the percentage of people using their platform for messaging and video has skyrocketed and so, therefore, they've already enhanced the live section of videos where they will actually add captions to your videos for free. Now automatically, you can now schedule live videos in, so there are tons of new features coming in that way that they're trying to help with the current crisis. In terms of the future, I definitely see ads coming into groups, whether it's successful or not. So far it hasn't been successful from our end. But definitely seeing that coming which may probably reduce the organic reach within a group because they want you once again to put money into the machine. I see a lot more Facebook accounts getting shut down as spam gets higher and higher and higher and people are breaking the rules. And probably because the user base or Facebook's getting too high, the team I don't believe we'll be able to expand quickly enough to regulate things well Facebook ads accounts are being shut down you know more than ever right now. And so I see challenges in regulations and lower reach within groups so now is really a hot time to be building.
Ben Donovan 27:17
Yeah, definitely strike while it's hot, definitely lots of opportunities there. If Ryan has been super, super helpful today, man, I think it's going to be on the I'm glad in front of the mind for a lot of people this idea of community and Facebook being a great place to build it. I know it's been a big part of our journey and what's worked well for us. If people do want to sort of continue the conversation, find out more, obviously they can come and join your Facebook group, right?
Ryan Bowles 27:44
Love to have people come join. It's a good fun place with we're very strict on who we let in so, therefore, the community is real quality and I guess that that would be a hot tip as well. If you're building a group, don't just aim for quantity. Really aim for quality. So that might mean lower numbers in your group. But you've got a really high, you know, member base there that is just engaged. They're potentially the right people that could work with you. Yeah. And so that's what our group is. So people can come to hang out at Facebook Group Secrets. That's the name of the group. You should be able to search for that or add me on Facebook as well.
Ben Donovan 28:20
Yeah, awesome, man. Awesome. Yeah, we'll make sure we post a link to the to that in the show notes. And then you can admit or decline as much as you want. And there are three questions. You just need to answer the three and you'll get accepted. It's amazing how many people either don't answer those questions or, like, I'm like, have you for one that we have around eCommerce? Have you started selling online yet? People say yes or no. And then so how did you hear about this group?
Ryan Bowles 28:44
Yes. Yes. And yet you have you're trying to get in? Yeah, there's a lot there in terms of pre-reading as well. We can spend an hour talking about who we let in and who doesn't.
Ben Donovan 28:55
Yeah, and that's the thing. This is such an intense topic. There's so much to talk about. So I think, obviously, yeah, hopefully our audience will sort of see that recognize that and connect in some way with you and follow what you're doing because it's super encouraging. super inspiring. I know you're helping a lot of businesses and making a lot of impact. So yeah, listen, we appreciate you coming on today, Ryan. Appreciate it and dude, awesome to connect after a number of years really, really cool. Good. So good, man. Thanks so much. Yeah, we'll see you soon.
Ryan Bowles 29:22
Go. Well. Awesome.