By Mika R

I am well and truly in that club of wedding vendors who have failed dismally in the use of paid Facebook Ads (for now, at least). However, last year I booked five weddings solely thanks to closed Facebook groups, at no cost other than my time.

The first one happened before I had even heard of closed groups. A bride who was a member of a local group had asked the other brides for videographer recommendations. One of my clients said I would suit her needs, so this new bride got in touch with me.

The first bride then told me I simply had to join these groups. She told me the ones she used – which was a brilliant start.

I asked permission to join a few groups for my city and then I observed what was going on, and experimented to see what worked.

Here are my best tips.

1.    Read the rules and follow them.

Seriously. Or you’ll get kicked out. Perhaps a little publicly – ouch.

If you can’t see group rules when you first join, send the group admin a private message to ask if they exist and where.

Some groups require you to sign up with info including insurance details and official business numbers. My view is – hand the details over. A group that takes such care in selecting members is usually one you want to be a part of.

2.    Scroll through the group thread daily.

Yep, daily if you can. Or at least 4 – 5 times per week. Read on to see why.

3.    Keep an eye out for brides who are looking for recommended vendors.

A lot of group members will post something like, “I am looking for a florist for my wedding in September 2018.” Then brides and vendors who are members of the group respond.

Unless the bride has specified she only wants brides to respond, you are more than welcome to introduce yourself to a bride in this highly targeted way. What!? Yes, you can. If the rules allow it, which most do.

So now pay attention:

If you are one of the first to respond you’re highly likely to end up in a conversation with the bride.

After the first five to ten recommendations, the bride loses interest. In some categories the bride will get only a few suggestions.

For more common categories like photography, holy moly, every man and his dog responds. Sometimes there are 60 – 80 photography recommendations in one group I am in. If you add your name to the end of a list like that, let me tell you – you have a snowflake’s chance in hell of getting into a conversation with that bride.

4.    Write in a way that is different from everyone else.

When you respond to a request for vendor recommendations, always link to your own Facebook page or website. But you should also write a little message and inject your personality into it!

I am in one group where vendors regularly answer with “I’d love to be considered.” Nice enough, but absolutely useless at achieving the goal of standing out in a big crowd!

Something that helped me start a conversation with a bride even when I was quite far down the list of responses:

“Wow, good luck going through all these suggestions [name]! 😉 If you’re still looking for someone, PM me your date so I can check availability.” (Insert link to my own Facebook page.)

5. Post about yourself, if rules allow it.

A lot of groups let you post info once a week about your business. Experiment for yourself – but I found that brides in my city don’t like oversharers.

I tried posting weekly and got less and less interest. So now I just post every so often when I have something awesome to share.

The content that tends to generate inquiries is useful or fun content, rather than a sales pitch for your business.

Usually when I have posted saying I’m a videographer blah blah contact me… I get nothing. And fair enough. I hate being on the receiving end of sales pitches too – unless you’re offering me a deal. And I have definitely seen other vendors post details of a flash sale and generate a lot of interest.

So what makes good, non-salesy content?

Well, I once posted a short video and captioned it: “Looking for some vintage wedding inspiration? Look at this exquisite wedding I filmed on the weekend at [location]. A friend of the bride did all the styling and sourced the flowers at [name of market]. And the bride baked the cake herself!”

A lot of people liked it, commented on it, and tagged their friends. I also had several brides contacting me in the days that followed requesting a quote.

6. Use it as a vehicle to drive traffic to blog posts.

Another way to share content that isn’t salesy is by posting a quick summary of a blog post you have written, and then including a link to the blog. This is worth doing purely for the sake of creating a backlink to your website. (That’s an SEO tip, unrelated to this topic!)

If it happens to generate some brand awareness that’s a bonus.

7. Be careful which groups you get into.

Different groups have different flavors and different demographics.

Anything called “Brides on a Budget” will have a demographic to match that description. Then there are buy/sell type groups which include a huge variety of brides.

I don’t know for sure but I’d bet there are groups in some cities specifically for vintage wedding ideas or similar. Search and see what matches your business!

Basically, if after a while you realise the group doesn’t have your target clientele, move on.

(Read about another wedding pro’s experience getting free leads from Facebook here.)

What sorts of posts have you found generate inquiries in Facebook groups? Tell us below!

Mika R. is a wedding videographer and analytics-obsessed business owner who loves writing, teaching and telling the love stories of her clients.