October 4

How to Use Facebook Groups for Your Online Course Platform

    How to Use Facebook Groups as Your Online Course Platform

    Delivering your online course content doesn't have to require specialist platforms or complicated plugins. You can deliver your online course using Facebook Groups!

    Say you have your online course mapped out. You're delivering it live, or you want to access the fantastic features that Facebook offers for course creators. Whatever the reason you're leveraging Facebook Groups to deliver your course, this post will help you do it the right way.

    Start here, with my video demo and overview. Then scroll down for a step-by-step tutorial and screenshots.

    How to Set Up and Deliver Your Online Course in a Facebook Group (Demo):

     

    The Pros and Cons of Using Facebook Groups for Your Online Course Platform

    Pros:

    • It's free (for now)!
    • It's easy to set up, add and move things around
    • It's an intuitive structure (nothing complicated)
    • Lots of people already on Facebook
    • It has the community aspect built-in and people are used to commenting
    • It allows for live streaming directly in the group (and then add to course)

    Cons:

    • Free means that Facebook owns the platform and can pull anything at any time
    • It has limited functionality
    • You have to manually approve requests after-sale or opt-in
    • You have to moderate (which is not good if you don't want a brand community)
    • Not everyone likes or wants to be on Facebook

    If you've decided that the pros far outweigh the cons, this step by step guide (combined with my video demo above) will help you deliver the best possible learning experience with Facebook.

    Step 1: Create a Social Learning Group

    From the menu tabs across the top of your profile, select Create and from the drop-down menu choose Group

    Image of creating Facebook Group
    Create a Facebook Group

    Name Your Course and Set Privacy

    You will see a pop-up box where you can name your group, and select the privacy option as ‘Closed'. Your group should be closed so that only members can see the content. If the group is public, everyone will be able to see your content, even if they're not a member.

    Selecting ‘Pin to Shortcuts' on the bottom left will give you easy access to your group by placing a shortcut in the left-hand menu of your page.

    Name and Create your Closed Facebook Group
    Name and Create Your Closed Group

    When choosing a name for your group you have several options.

    • Your business name
    • Your course name
    • Your business name AND your course name
    • Your course name AND your name

    When you choose the name make it easy for your new students to remember.

    Edit Group Settings 

    Start with selecting ‘Social Learning‘ from the group type options and fill in your group description.

    Edit Group type to be Social Learning

    Social Learning gives you some cool added features that are not available in regular Facebook groups. More on that in a moment.

    Click save, and then you'll return to your group's main page. Here under the ‘… More' tab you can find more group settings to edit.

    Edit group settings under More option
    Edit group settings

    You can also connect your group to your  Facebook page (good for seeing your group insights and allowing an assistant to moderate the group on your behalf), choose a color for mobile (arrow 1), and customize the URL that you can then easily share with people (arrow 2)

     

    Important: You'll need to add the Social Learning Units section before you can set up your course content (arrow 3)

    Finally, make sure only admins can add group members (not other members (arrow 4)) and set up some questions to ask people when they request to join (arrow 5)

    Questions you might ask include:

    • What email address did you use when you made your payment?
    • Do you promise to abide by the group rules?
    • What's the password?

    If you send a secret password when someone purchases your course, asking for it in the group questions can make them check their email again and whitelist your email address. They won't want to miss out on a thing that you send!

    Don't allow other Pages to join (you want real people's names) and you want them to get group notifications.

    Allow any member of the group to post (arrow 7). If you have to approve every interaction then engagement will be stifled and hard to encourage. When you define your group's rules, the next step is to trust that they will abide by them and not overdo the moderation.

    Remember to add your branded Facebook group cover graphic. The size for this is currently 1640 x 856 px

    image of where to upload cover photo

    You can easily create a cover image in Canva and use ‘custom dimensions' to set the size first. Here's the image I created in about 5 minutes using a Canva template, changing the background image, and editing the text:

    Example of FB Group Cover image

    You can even add a link to other information, such as the course sales page, in the description of the image. So if someone isn't a student and arrives at your group, they can click on the image and see a link to the sales page.

    Step 2: Add & Organize Your Course Content

    Edit Unit Settings

    When you click on the Units menu item (left-hand side on desktop), you'll see an option for Unit Settings, so start there.

    I suggest making Units the default landing tab, so that when you give your students your custom url, they'll land there first.

    Units section start - Create a unit and click on More Settings
    Edit unit settings

     

    Make Units your default landing page

    Create Units For Your Social Learning Group

    Now create your first unit. You can make your first one that contains rules and housekeeping, so your new course members know what to expect.

     

    Group rules unit

    Add Content Posts to Your Facebook Group

    Once you've added a Unit, you need to add your content into it. You do this the same way you create any post on Facebook (video, text, links, images, etc),  there's even an additional Quiz option in Units.

    image of creating unit post

     

    Add Post Content from Discussions

    You can also add content directly from your Discussion posts into Units. For example, after we deliver a livestream, we often add that to a related Unit.

    Add post to unit
    Add Post to Unit

    Organize Your Content and Units

    Continue adding in your content and moving it into units. Remember these don't have to be huge, they can be each step that you're teaching your students and the resources they need to complete the related activities.

    Organize and reorder posts in units
    Organize and reorder posts in units

    If you don't put the units in the correct order, or you suddenly remember something you can re-order your units as you can see from the screenshots.

    Move units up and down
    Move units up and down

    We found it beneficial to name our units Day 1, Day 2 etc. You might prefer to number them, or call them step one, step two… Or Module one.

    Whatever naming convention you choose make sure it's intuitive for your customers to follow.

    Create a Pinned ‘Welcome' Post with Video

    Your welcome video should thank your students for joining and reassure them that they're in the right place.  If you prefer, you can deliver your welcome via a live stream and then pin it. Guide them towards the learning units by telling them where they can access the content.

    Welcome post
    Welcome video

     

    Step 3: Add Students

    Direct your students to your Facebook social learning group by including the link in your first post-sale email. Follow up with a 24 hour reminder in case the person orders late, or misses the first email.

    Facebook will notify you that you have new members. Manually check and approve your members. If you want to save the responses, you need to screenshot the answers and save them to a folder on your desktop.

    Step 4: Encourage Interaction and Success

    Welcome new students regularly. If your course is selling well you may have to welcome students two or three times a day.

    Welcome new members
    Welcome new members

    We encourage members of the 10-Day Online Course Challenge to respond to our welcome by leaving us a gif comment. This is fun, and gets your members engaging in your community.

    You'll find as your group starts to thrive, you'll need to moderate daily. You'll also have questions to answer, and people you'll want to tag.

    • Encourage new members to introduce themselves and state if they would like an accountability partner.
    • If you're an international group you will want to ask them to add their time zone.
    • Praise & shout outs will help your members get to the next stage. You can use phrases like “Congratulations” and “You've got this” and Facebook adds balloons and other encouraging visuals.

    As well as your course content, you will keep the group fresh by adding videos, articles from your blog, resource suggestions and examples of good practice.

    You can add events to remind your members to attend live training or special “hotseats”. Our experience has indicated individual events are better understood than having one event with all the dates and times.

    Remember to add time zones for your events. Not everyone will be on your time zone, and not everyone will check with Date And Time. Make it as easy as possible for your members to see the event and their timezone.

    Step 5: Get Feedback & Testimonials

    You will need to ask for feedback to improve your course. This is easily added as a request in the relevant Units section and in emails. Remember not everyone will see what's in the group, so email reminders are a good way of ensuring no student gets left behind.

    • Post a poll or survey link at regular intervals in the group.
    • Tag one or two members when they graduate or make it a rule that you will tag each student as they complete the course.

    Not all members of the group will reply to your feedback request in the group. Remember you can message people directly with questions and gain feedback this way.

    Ask permission to share positive feedback and testimonials on sales pages and emails. This is a great opportunity for you to promote your students.

    Finally, you can take it to the next level by inviting your course graduates to complete an interview that you'll publish on your blog. This gives them a great opportunity to talk about their experience, and you can link back to their website and highlight their success.

    Best Practices for Your Social Learning Facebook Group

    • Don't make it your only course platform! Move to a dedicated course solution as soon as possible.
    • Welcome and moderate your group on a daily basis.
    • Livestream to stoke up engagement and answer questions
    • You can make this an entry-level ‘free' version and upsell to a paid on platform like Teachable.

     

    Download your copy of How to Use Facebook Groups for Your Online Course Platform >>

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    Let me know if you have any questions!

     


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  • Sharon, Thanks for the great tip! I’ve been teetering on the idea of hosting a live free course in my group to provide daily value and get the group active again. Your post and video has given me the confidence to set it in motion.
    Always thankful for your content,
    Angela
    Dream Life Initiative

    • Angela, it’s so incredibly easy to do a quick course this way. And then you can always upgrade it to a paid one 🙂

  • This looks like a game-changer as I prepare to launch my 31-day course. I can use a FB group for a beta test! Thank you for this, Sharyn!

    • Definitely, Marsha. We did our 10 Day Challenge that way for the first two rounds. Now we’ll do a paid one and use the FB Group for a free one. Worked beautifully.

  • This is a great guide, thanks so much! I’m curious, is there any way to integrate a payment portal directly on FB? Or would learners need to purchase elsewhere and then as you’d suggested, add their confirmation number as an answer to one of the questions.

    • Hi Maddie. Sorry I missed this question before. There are ways to take payment directly on FB, but I’ve never tried it and I never would. You’re always best moving as quickly as possible to your own platform, and taking payments through something like PayPal or Stripe. To me, FB is a quick way to get your course online and a great testing ground. But you never know when they’ll change the rules. So move to something like Teachable or another course platform as soon as you can manage it. They all integrate with payment gateways or take care of it for you.

  • Thanks Sharyn,

    This info is really helpful. If you are doing a live launch of a course more than once, would you just add the participants for each successive round, OR start a new group each time?

    Thanks!
    Emma

    • Hi Emma! Personally, I’d stick with one group so that new people can benefit from the wisdom of previous students. And it can be one of your selling points in the course that they get lifetime access.
      However, as your numbers grow, you could always limit it to say 1 year. I just wouldn’t want to deal with the extra work myself!

  • Hey, thanks for sharing this article on how to use Facebook Groups to our advantage. It was pretty helpful in understanding the benefits of Facebook Groups. With over 2 billion active users on a monthly basis, 1 billion of which are members of various groups, Facebook is a goldmine for Marketing if used correctly. Thanks again!

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