LAST UPDATED: 22 November 2021

How to Grow Your Race with Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are here and they are changing the way races market themselves on Facebook. Join the revolution.

How to Grow Your Race with Facebook Groups
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Ask yourself this: How much did you spend on Facebook ads last year? $100? $1,000? $5,000?!

Keep that figure in mind...

Now, what did that get you?

This is not supposed to be a provocative question. We don't want you to go over the full cost/benefit analysis of what you spent and how many registrations or traffic you actually had to show for it. Just to really think what it was your Facebook ad budget went towards.

The answer is this: The opportunity to have your desired marketing message shown to your target audience. Obvious, right?

And how was that audience selected? Probably based on their age, geographic location (need to live within some distance from your race) and interests (people interested in running, cycling, half marathons etc).

Now, imagine that the same people you spent your $1,000 or $5,000 on were all sitting in a room, chatting about half marathons and nutrition strategies and such. And you pulled up a chair. "Hey, how are you guys? You know, there's this really cool race coming up in a few months - you'll love it! And I can get you all some special priced tickets."

Yup, welcome to your Facebook group.

Facebook groups: The game-changer

Facebook groups weren't always cool. They used to be clunky things that only super-dedicated fans used to chat about their favorite interest. So much so that businesses and brands didn't know what to do with them.

Then, in early 2018, all that changed. Facebook decided pages were out and communities, where users make deeper and more meaningful connections, were in. Overnight, everything on Facebook was different. Pages' reach plummeted and everyone started seeing a lot more posts from groups on their Facebook feed. A lot more.

At around that time, people who used Facebook to reach their customers got a wake up call. Seems like in this new Facebook world, there's three things you could do:

  1. Really up your game with your organic marketing to counteract the decline in reach (we've got a killer course to help you do just that, by the way). But that takes time and knowing how to do it.
  2. Spend more money on ads. Ugh!...
  3. Join the group revolution. And build a place where your customers can interact with each other that you hold the keys to.

Some went with option 3. They never looked back.

What a Facebook group can do for you

It is really hard summarizing all the ways in which the right type of Facebook group could benefit your event. It is also a bit premature. You first need to understand what type of group to build to grasp its full potential (we do this in the very next chapter).

But if we had to try, here's the gist of it:

  1. You get all your potential customers/participants in one place. And you can talk to them about your race all day long (well, almost!). And not only will they not be bothered hearing about your race, they'd actually turn up the volume! Why? Because they're actually there to talk about things like your race. That's the beauty of building a community that is fundamentally interested in what you have to offer!
  2. Your group members will grow the group for you. Once you reach critical mass, your members will do all he marketing for you, inviting more people like them to join your group. And they'll be happy to do so!
  3. You can get so much more out of a group than just sing-ups. Think how many businesses and brands wouldn't kill to get a voice in your group: your local running store, gym chain, nutrition brand...the list is endless! Could those be your new race sponsors?

And one of the best things about the whole thing?

Groups are free. Yup, don't have to spend a penny on your group to get all of this stuff and more.

Building a group from scratch is tough, though, right?

Yes - when you haven't done it before and don't know where to start and how to go about it.

Luckily, we have done it before. And we know exactly what you need to do to make your Facebook group a success.

In October 2017 we decided to create an online community where race directors could network, share tips and learn from each other. We started Race Directors Hub, our race directors group with 0 members on 18 October 2017, when some of the more active and popular race director groups on Facebook had more than 200 members.

Here's where membership in Facebook's most popular race director and industry groups stood as of 20 March 2020:

Facebook race director groups

Between 73% - 81% of all our members are active in the group every month, making our group not only the largest, but - very importantly, as you'll see during the course - the most active community of its kind online.

This is not to gloat. Only to say that we know what we're talking about. And we've downloaded as much as we know into this course.

What this course will do for you

Athlete groups are quite a bit easier to grow than race director groups (you guys are few and hard to get through to!), so building a Facebook group for your race's target audience should - with time - get your membership numbers into the five figures.

And here's how we'll get you there:

  1. We'll show you why you should absolutely NOT spend time creating a group for your race. Bit of a waste of time, preaching to the converted. What we will show you instead is how to create a vibrant community for the kinds of people who would sign up for your race.
  2. We'll help you launch the group and get you up to speed with all the latest in Facebook group features and functionality.
  3. We'll share with you a number of basic and more advanced strategies to help you grow your group. These are the kinds of things we do every day with our own group. Spoiler alert: there's no magic involved here. You'll need to spend time working on growing your group. But at least we show you exactly what you need to do for it.
  4. We'll teach you how to keep your group's engagement up, even when it falters. 99%+ of all Facebook groups are zombies, seeing hardly any member interactions for months on end. We'll make sure you don't share that fate.
  5. We'll show you exactly how to use your group to benefit your race. Get more race sign-ups, increase your website traffic, get better sponsorship deals, cross-promotion opportunities, star race ambassadors and more. No joke - your group can really get you all that.
  6. Lastly, we'll show you how to keep the group free of spam and in polite discourse. Because if things turns sour, it's probably too late turning back.

To make this all happen, here's what we'll need from you:

  • Your time
  • The willingness to see this effort through, particularly over the first tough few weeks when things start to get going

You give us that, we'll give you a booming Facebook group.

Sound good? Let's get started!

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