Episode 45

[INTERVIEW] Create a thriving Facebook community for your business

Are you wondering whether to start a free Facebook group for your business?

Perhaps you already have a free Facebook group, but it’s like a ghost town. No one ever posts - unless you start the conversation. 

Maybe you already have a super engaged Facebook group....but it’s not generating leads and sales for your business. 

In this podcast episode you’ll hear from four business owners who’ve built successful Facebook groups that are generating leads and sales for their business.

Nishma Mistry (Asian Bride Sorority

Josephine Hughes (Good Enough Counselling)

Mark Simpson (Boostly

Jo & Zoe (6 Figure Bookkeeper

This episode has been created using content from my virtual content planning event Courageous Content Live (2021). Recordings of all the sessions - including sessions like this one on TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn & Twitter are available to members of my content planning community the Courators Club. 

Key Moments

[02:37] What to consider when creating your Facebook group

[08:37] How to get members to engage with your content 

[10:21] The relationship between your Facebook page and group 

[11:20] Why engagement matters more than group numbers 

[15:13] Email list building - why you must get members onto your list 

[17:40] How to make your group searchable

[21:43] Making sales in your Facebook group (without feeling sleazy or scammy)


Useful Links

Could removing followers help you grow on Instagram? (podcast)

Janet Murray’s Courageous Content Planner

Janet Murray’s website

Janet Murray on Instagram

Janet Murray on Facebook

Janet Murray on TikTok

Janet Murray on Twitter

Janet Murray on LinkedIn


Transcript
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People will join a community where they know that going to get their problems essentially fixed. And if you're not sure what they actually really need, just ask them. Are you wondering whether to start a free Facebook group for your business? Perhaps you already have a free group, but it's like a ghost town, no one ever posts, unless you start the conversation.

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Maybe you already have a super engaged Facebook group, but it's just not generating leads and sales for your business. We have a hundred thousand followers, but if you put a post out and you've got 10 people that engage in, it means absolutely nothing. In this podcast episode, you'll hear from four business owners, who've built successful Facebook groups that are generating leads and sales for their businesses.

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The only thing you need to do before you start the Facebook group is find one other person, make it a place where people really like to contribute on Facebook growth with business. You'll get practical tips on how to name your group. Get more people to join your group and get your members to respond to the content you share. Plus how to sell a new group without feeling sleazy.

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This episode has been created using content from my virtual content planning event, courageous content live and feature speakers from the session on Facebook. Grace, you're listening to the courageous content podcast. I'm Janet Murray, and I love helping coaches, creatives and entrepreneurs create super engaging content that generates leads and sales for their businesses. No one starts a business and just knows how to create engaging content.

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It's a skill that has to be learned from practice, and there's always something new to learn, no matter how long you've been in business. And I know running an online business can feel messy, perfectionism, fear, doubts, and other mindset stuff can stop you showing up online in the way that's best for you. So you'll get help with that too.

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Ready to get courageous with your content. Let's get started. We're going to get started with Asian bride sorority founder, Nishma mystery. It's a membership for all brides planning, their own Asian wedding. And she created it after seeing firsthand how stressful it can be when funding her own wedding with 550 guests. And that by no means is the biggest wedding that she has worked on.

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They provide both practical and emotional support and help to inject the fun back into wedding planning. So, Hey, with five minutes of fun, it's, Nishma, I've been told numerous times that Facebook is the best place to create a community. It's a free platform. I speak for Germany on it, but my audience, essentially, I'm not willing to be hanging out on Facebook.

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They're not on Facebook. I don't regularly use that. And somehow I've finished to still create a group, which I think over about 10 months grew to about 1,200 brides. When I created the group, it was based all around like a home from trees that Asian weddings in general, whether you're Asian or not, if you're planning an Asian wedding, they're really stressful were over probably about three,

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four days with, I don't know, something like 20, 30, 40 different suppliers involved. You have a lot of family friends that it it's a very stressful times. So I built the group around the whole idea that there's so much knowledge out there when you're planning a wedding, but there's no way for brides to actually share that knowledge with each other. And there was nothing in the kind of Asian market that tailored to Asian weddings.

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So I'd say one of the key things is try and build. If you're going to build a great China and think about what is their pain point, what is the one thing that this group is going to solve for them? Like, what is it going to give back to them? Eight sat on it for ages, because I was like, I'm not a wedding planner.

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No, one's going to listen to me. I was in the wedding industry. People knew me, but something completely different and yeah, basically just sat on it for months. And then the pandemic hit and I kept thinking, what are these bones doing that don't have wedding planners? And that, that point is when I created it. So all of a sudden I was creating a group that I knew,

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well, I sort of didn't really know at the time I knew somehow I was going to help all these brides. I didn't have all the knowledge. I didn't know really what the pandemic was going to bring. I didn't know what the guidelines all meant, but I knew I could help people because I was a very sisterly kind of person. I have my own sisters.

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So I was like, if I could be that to other people, then, then it should be a great place. People will join a community where they know that going to get their problems essentially fixed. And if you're not sure what they actually really need, just ask them. I always thought, no, that makes me feel like that makes me look like I don't really know what I'm doing,

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but actually it really helped with my ideas. Asian brides tend to go back to India or Pakistan to do their wedding shopping. And so I knew that there'd be a whole bunch of brides that had no idea where to shop in the country. So I decided to create a virtual shopping event and I got basically a whole bunch of supplies most. So I piggybacked off all their following.

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Some of these bridal wear supplies had like 2,100,000 followers. I essentially piggy backed off their following to grow my group because I knew that I was solving that problem for them. They would, I had brides joining because they didn't know where to do the shopping, but the supply is I charged them to advertise essentially in migraine and do a whole virtual show and tell around their stores.

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And they, all, some of them got like 40 brides who actually booked their bridal wear from them. So it worked really well when you're doing posts, give them a chance to see where their common ground is. So for example, most Asian brides live at home with their parents. And then they moved to where the groom side is. So I would ask them,

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where do you live now? And where will you be moving to? And a lot of bridesmaid connections just by that, because they were like, I'm moving from London to the Midlands. I don't know anyone in the Midlands. Oh, can we be friends? Can we meet up? And you meet. And that alone, we helps us sometimes just simple things like where are you based can actually be to connect people in real life.

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I've had people go on like coffee breaks and stuff together. We'll move on now to Josephine Hughes and they're completely different type of group. She is a counselor and a coach who helps other counselors find clients. She's built an active and engaged Facebook group of 7,000 counselors. She has a loyal following and was invited by Facebook to have a fancy badge as she puts it to become a power admin in 2021.

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So I've got 7,000 people in my Facebook group with an engagement rate of about 90%. And although I'm a bit embarrassed about sharing this, I will share my business has a turnover of 50 K. And I felt that mainly on Facebook with no ad spend, but I've also got a Facebook page with about two and a half thousand people. I'm good. Talk about both because there's a symbiosis between my group and my page.

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So the first thing I did was set up a closed Facebook group. That would be a safe place for counselors to be able to talk to each other, because we don't like to talk about things too much in public because withdrawing our clients from the general public, and we don't want to do this thing. We call self disclosure. We tend to be quite private.

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So need a closed group to talk. And in closed groups is where we talk about all the things that are happening in terms of our, our business sets. We don't talk about our clients in there because confidentiality, but the first thing I wanted to say about that is start before you're ready. So when I set up my Facebook group, I thought I'd mentioned the tap videos.

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I mean, to have content. And of course, what I hadn't thought about is the fact that your group will provide the content. I do live feeds. I do posts. I do a daily post. And especially at the beginning, what I used to do with I do a daily post and the moment if one person and it often was just one person at the beginning answered,

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I would then go in and have a conversation with them. And gradually I built up a head of steam in terms of getting people to contribute. So it start before you're ready. The only thing you need to do before you start the Facebook group is find one other person and make it a place where people really like to contribute on Facebook, grow your business for you.

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So number two is you want to make it a place to contribute where people can get value from their Facebook experience. And every day I'll do daily posts. I have a theme that I do on a Monday. For example, I call it mushy Monday, Tuesdays, truthful Tuesday, just things like that, that I do every day. People know what to expect.

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They know what going to get them to think, and I will get them to tell me about their plans, what they do for the day, how things are going. And what I've found is that I'll get 20, 30, 40 comments, but there's lots of people who are reading the posts and might be lurking in the group, but they're still enjoying the group. And I get a lot of people,

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clients contact me and say, I'd like to work with you. I've never said anything in the group. I won't know who they are because they've never contributed to the group, but they've watching. And what I'd say is that I love to get to know people. And I think the success of the group stands. The fact that I do quite a lot of listening,

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I'll ask people questions and have conversations with them. So that helps to make it a place where they want to contribute. And the third thing I just wanted to say is that it's your group. So put your personality in it to make it fun. You set the tone, you could have rules. And I try and make mine a very safe place where people can feel happy to make a contribution.

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And so that means that sometimes I'm a bit like picking Mitchell in EastEnders and it's down my pub. I'm not frightened to sometimes tell people that say, you're on your last warning. You're out because I want to, I have to think about the group as a whole. And in terms of my Facebook page, I've got this symbiosis between the two. So people in my group will ask questions in the group and I can then use that to create answers that I put in my Facebook page.

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And that will help me to attract more people. But also if I do a post on my page and I start getting a lot of traction with it, I will then put that into the group and get more people following my page in the groups. So what I can do is people will see what I'm saying on my page, the likes, the stuff as it's coming up in the group.

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And then, because that Nike on that post from my page, I can then say to them, please come into my, and like my page. So you can invite and grow your following on your page. Mark Simpson helps Airbnb hosts thrive, giving them the tools, tactics, training, and most importantly, the confidence to skyrocket. They direct bookings and drove back from the over-reliance on online travel agents.

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Mark, I founded a Facebook group called the hospitality community back in 2016. So just over five years ago now, and it has always been one of the most engaged Facebook groups out there. We average about 90 to 91% engagement rate and engagement number is really key because the actual amount of members that we have in the group, we've only got 5,221. Now we could have over 15,000,

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but one of the key things that I have done from day one is I remove inactive members. Now, why is this key quality over quantity? It's not just a key for Facebook groups. It's the key for every form of social media that is out there. You could have a hundred thousand followers, but if you put a post out and you've got 10 people that engage in,

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it means absolutely nothing. So one of the first things that I would recommend you do, and yes it is. Time-consuming at the staff, but I recorded myself doing this task time and time again. And now I outsource it to a VA who does it for me. But every month, what we're able to do is you can go into the group on Facebook.

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You can go to the members section and the beauty of Facebook groups is it will tell you by hovering over their name, the last time that they engaged in your group. And what rule of thumb that we created is that if you haven't touched a group for two months or 60 days, then you're out end of the day. As I was listening back to this episode,

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I wondered whether you might find the advice here, confusing on the one hand, you've got Josephine saying that quiet members of her group sometimes reach out to her to say they want to work with her. Even though they've never posted anything in her community, then you've got mark saying he removes people who don't engage in his group after 60 days. So which one is right?

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Well the rather unsatisfactory answer is no one. When it comes to marketing, there are no hard and fast rules. So you can understand what works best for your audience. It is worth noting. However, the Josephine and Mark's audiences are very different without wanting to stereotype or make sweeping generalizations. Josephine's audience are generally counselors who may be a bit more reticent at asking questions or making themselves known in the group because of the more confidential space in which they work well Mark's group are hospitality owners,

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but like I say, it's not generally a great idea to rely on stereotypes or generalizations. When it comes to marketing, you do need to try things out and see what works for your community. Mark does make a really valid point about removing followers to boost social media engagement. The way the social media algorithm works on most platforms. And also in Facebook groups is that the more people engage with your content,

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the more people will be shown your content. So if you're not getting great engagement on the posts you're putting in your Facebook community, then it may well be worth looking at removing some of those dead members as it were. And this theory is definitely backed up by my interview with Janine Cummings, where she talked about removing followers on Instagram to increase engagement. I'll link to that one in the show notes.

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Oh, and by the way, someone did ask me, well, if he tells people he's removing them from his group, he said he doesn't, if they really want to be part of the community they'll message and say, they've suddenly found they're not in the group anymore, at which point he apologizes and adds them back in, but let's get back to his tips on engagement.

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What I love is what Josephine mentioned before is that she's got female dates. We have very similar theme days. So we've got the Monday check-in I keep it hospitality related. So we've got the Monday check-in, we've got the Tuesday run and I'll circle back to that in a second, we've got the Wednesday wins. We've got the first day, social and Fridays kind of free day.

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So to choose day round, and because this is a closed group and for anybody who's ever worked in hospitality before, you will know that there are a number of factors that really will pay off whether it is guests or staff or online travel agents, Airbnb, as I like to call it. So what we did, and this was a member of the community all those years ago,

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she recommended this. She wanted to come in and have a rant and ever since then we've done it every week. And by having a structure to the group, I feel that people know when a comment in the group, they know what is going to be happening. So whether you share a win on a Wednesday or a run on a Tuesday, and the final tip that I want to give to everybody is as soon as you have people,

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join your group, get them on your email list as soon as possible. So what I have and I created was a lead gen. So as soon as anybody joined the group, we created a little welcome post. And in there, it was, thank you very much for joining. If you want five steps tomorrow, direct bookings click on this link.

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The trick is, is to get people onto your email list as soon as possible and get them off of Facebook. And I am the prime example with this. I've been on Facebook since 2006. I had over 12, 13 years of a Facebook profile on there. And Christmas of 2028, my Facebook account was locked out and deleted, never found out why.

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And, but having an email list and I was able to get a large majority people over to the email list, I was able to start up again. And I was able to explain people where all the new things, when all the new links were. So it's really important. Don't build your house on one person's land. Don't put it all on the Facebook,

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just like you. Wouldn't put it all on Tik TOK or wherever, get people on your email list. So you can keep in touch and you can keep activeness. And now we move on to our fourth speakers because we have a double header, Joe and Zoe support bookkeepers to start and scale their bookkeeping practices and take their place alongside accountants. Or they insure bookkeepers who need support and accountability are able to charge their worth and build businesses,

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which work for them. Zoe, we met when we were running our own bookkeeping practices. And the thing that we really really missed was a community we'd go to events. And then we would get really excited and really motivated to grab businesses. And then we go home and feel completely on our own. So that was the reason that we started a Facebook group together.

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We wanted to grow a community that could support one another. And we thought we chat three tips with you that we've used to grow our group. The first tip is to be really niche. I think everyone's probably going to say this. If you're really focused, it's much easier for people to find you, but what you'll find, whatever your niche. And I think that people think,

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well, there's already someone doing the thing that I want to do. What you need to do is put some content in that group that is so valuable that people talk about in other groups. So what we do is we stream the bookkeeper's podcasts into our group and people then talk about that in other groups. And we all say it because we're streaming it live.

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We encourage people to join that community and talk about it on the podcast and things like that. But if people come into the group, they're able to ask questions live on our podcast, which I think is a real bonus, a real benefit of being part of that community. So be focused and put some really valuable content in that group that people really want to get access to.

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The second tip was to make it really searchable. So we've called our group, the six figure book keepers club. We want to be able to be found for those kinds of key words like bookkeeper, but what we've also done within our title is we haven't just called it. The six-figure bookkeepers club is we kind of want to tell people exactly what to expect now.

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Not everyone who joins us wants to grow a six figure business. They'll have other goals too, but it's pretty obvious if you come across that title, that we are there as a group of aspirational bookkeepers. If you've got any kind of goal for your business, and you're a bookkeeper hate fits the group, you're going to join. But what we also do is we put keywords in there.

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So there are lots of professional qualifications that you can take if you're a bookkeeper or an accountant. So within the title of the group, we actually put those qualifications. So it's like six-figure book keepers club. And then we've got AAT ACA CB, which are the professional body qualifications that you would get. The other thing that we've been doing is using, like Josephine said,

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using the power of Facebook to grow our group. There's an admin section. That's called admin tools in Facebook. And there's a section there that says bro group. Now in there, you can set some preferences. So location, gender identity, age range languages. But the one I love is the member of other groups. Now these have to be public groups.

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These have to be open groups. So I go along and join lots of public groups that have got my audience in there. And then I can add that to this list. And it means that if there are members in that group, Facebook will show our group to them and say, you should join this group. This is where you need to hang out as well.

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So it only works to public open groups that you're in, not the closed groups, private groups, but we've definitely seen an influx. Since we using this, we ask a few questions when people join and one of them is where did you find us? And lots of them say, Facebook suggested that I should join your group. I love these tips from Jones Zoe,

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because one of the most common misconceptions I see about building Facebook groups is that if you open a group, people will magically just find it, which sadly isn't the case. And if you want to grow your group more quickly, a more proactive approach maybe needed here's mark. Again, I went onto Google. I found a list of all of the guest houses in Scarborough,

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and I found that Facebook page and I would send the Facebook page a message. It was non-sales, it was non sleazy. It was just a message saying, Hey, just to let you know, there's a community for host, just like you. Here's the link I would love for you to join. And I would send five to 10 a day.

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I've just kept on doing it for about six months and that massively helped grow. Another common question about Facebook groups is how do you sell in a group without feeling sleazy, scammy, or your members getting upset with you? Here's Josephine with some wisdom on that topic. One of the things I find really useful about the group is I can do things like I do think so posts,

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I get people to put their hands up. So I'll say I'm thinking about doing such and such. Who's interested and I'll do it. Maybe it's a poll. I did it recently from a networking events. So I said to who can attend on this particular day? I had people say, yes, I can attend. So I made an event on Facebook and then I was able to add all those people who've said yes.

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And they got notified by Facebook though. I was doing that event. So, you know, they have the link to join and pay and all the rest of it. So I'll often just use it as a chance to just let people know that I'm doing something, would they be interested? And they can just say yes or no. And they say,

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no, that's fine. But quite often they'll say not this time, but next time, maybe. So that's I do What Josephine's referring to there is handraiser content. So this is where you get people to literally or virtually raise their hands to say, they're interested in a particular product or service. It's a great way to get people interested in your product or service to gauge interest before you actually make it or sell it.

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Having run numerous regroups myself. I'd add that. It's important to get members used to the fact you'll be selling in your grid rights from the moment they join the group. Otherwise you can end up with a community of baby birds. And if you haven't heard that term before, it's a term coined by my friend, Jessica Lorimer, she's a sales expert and baby bird syndrome can occur when you give so much free content,

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so much free support that people get really dependent on you. So when you rock up with your paid product or service, he forgetful, they're angry. What what's happened to all the free support and guidance, you've abandoned them. So in order to avoid that, it really is best to make it clear that you are going to be selling in your group,

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right from the start, or if you're reviving a group, giving it a new lease of life, letting people know that you will be selling in a group going forward, asking questions about products or services that you're looking to launch is also just a really great way to get feedback. Are you creating the right kinds of products or services for your ideal customers or clients,

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which hopefully you are gasping together in your community plus, and this bit's really important if people feel invested in your product or service, if they feel like they've been part of the journey, part of the creation process, then they're going to be much more invested, which means there'll be far more likely to buy. So I hope you found this episode useful.

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It's been created using content from my virtual content planning event, courageous content live 2021 recordings of all of the sessions, including sessions like this one on Tik TOK, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter growth are available to members of my content planning community, the creators club. So if you'd like to come and join our community, I will put a link in the show notes.

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And by the way, both Nishma and Josephine are members of the greatest club and have been for a few years now where it should give you some idea of the kind of results you could expect if you become part of the community. And of course you do the work like they have. Would you like to create super engaging content about your business and do it consistently?

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If so you need my courageous content planner in your life. It's a gorgeous A4 desk diary. That's so simple to use because it's based on my four by four strategy, which involves posting four styles of content four days a week. Yes, content planning really can be that easy. There's templates for daily, weekly, monthly, and annual planning. So you know exactly what to post,

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where, and when plus hundreds of ready to go content ideas and prompts. So you'll never run out of ideas for social media posts again, and accountability trackers to keep you consistent with your posting. The courageous content planner is both practical and pretty with four gorgeous cover designs to choose from. So if you want to ditch the content overwhelm and you want a simple content plan,

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you can actually stick to head over to courageouscontentplanner.com to order your copy today. Thanks for listening to the courageous content podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on Apple podcasts or share the episode on social media. That way more people can benefit from the free tips and strategies I share and be sure to tag me when you do I'm at Jan Murray on Instagram,

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Twitter, and TikTok.

IMPORTANT: THIS TRANSCRIPT IS AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED. WE GIVE IT A QUICK CHECK THROUGH BUT WE DON’T CORRECT EVERYTHING AS IT’S INTENDED TO HELP YOU FIND PARTS YOU WANT TO LISTEN TO AGAIN - NOT AS AN EXACT TRANSCRIPT. SO THERE MIGHT BE A FEW QUIRKY WORDS/PHRASES HERE!

About the Podcast

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Courageous Content with Janet Murray
Content marketing advice for small businesses

About your host

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Janet Murray

I’m Janet Murray and I’ve helped thousands of coaches, creative and entrepreneurs learn how to create engaging content – so they can build their online audience and make more sales in their business.

I’m also a podcaster and keynote speaker who has spoken all over the world about content marketing and building online audiences.

Work with me and I’ll teach you the strategies I’ve used to grow a multi six figure online business, selling digital products (including Ebooks, online courses and two membership sites). And launch a physical product – the Social Media Diary & Planner, which has sold thousands of copies, all over the world.