A month ago, I posted an article here on INC explaining why my company was about to shut down a private Facebook group we were able to gro to over 37,000+ members. Soon after, I was contacted by Facebook with an invite to join a beta group to try a monthly fee-based membership group model on their platform. With so many unhappy working people out there....

We jumped on the chance to test-drive it.

We were given access quickly and it took us just a couple of days to set up. Also, the platform let us choose from several different price points, based on the level of value we felt we would be offering members. We decided to keep the price point low to start, at just $4.99/month. Facebook handles all the transactions and keeps 30 percent of the fee. This includes dealing with refunds, disputes, etc. We get paid monthly.

So, "How's it going?" you ask? In first two weeks, we acquired over forty members, and are growing by about ten per week.

Now, at $4.99/month, you may think those are weak results.

But, I'm actually encouraged for three reasons:

1. The first 1,000 are always the hardest. When we started our first private group, it took a full year to get to over a thousand members. We built digital assets and promoted it like crazy on all our social media channels. Even then, it took time for people to pay attention and eventually explore the group. And, when we broke the one-thousand mark, there was a noticeable uptick in subscribers. We had made it to an established level in the minds of our audience which made it easier for them to decide to join. In fact, we hit 37,000 members less than a year after that.

2. The 7-day free trial is converting at 80%. My favorite feature of this new Facebook platform is the free trial. The technology we currently use for our web-based career coaching services doesn't offer that feature. I've always believed it was a barrier to people trying us out, and Facebook is proving that to be true. As a result, I'm looking into new technology that will give us the free trial option for our premium services.

3. It's a low-cost, gateway purchase that leads to our other services. We provide some valuable perks in the Facebook group. For one, I go live twice a week and answer all (yes ALL) the questions posted by members in the group. This is a way for them to see what it's like to work with a web-based career coach. They also get access to a couple of our video courses so they can see what the content would be like in our premium program. And, each week the members vote on a topic they want me to do a "bonus" video on. For some members, this is all they need to get more motivated in their career and job search. But, for others, it's a realization they need the one-on-one attention our premium services provide (i.e. resume, LinkedIn and coverletter reviews with feedback, etc.). In short, it's our way to educate and up-sell members when they are ready for more help!

Given the above, I predict this new Facebook product will be a game-changer for the personal development industry. Here's why...

Instagram has blown up and those with big followings are starting to see a shift in the revenues earned from sponsored content or direct promotion of their work.

Driving Instagram fans and followers over to a private Facebook group where they can control what and how they provide value to their paid audience is huge. It's turn-key and ideal for the personal development professional who wants to diversify their revenue stream without a massive investment in setting up and managing more expensive platforms.

In spite of they negative press, Facebook is still growing.

Yes, the company is dealing with the challenges of global connectivity. But, they'll figure it out. In the meantime, people of all ages continue to join, creating an ideal place for all types of personal development methodologies to thrive in a private membership format.

Most importantly, this is a way for people to feel the time they spend on Facebook is more positive and meaningful.

For the last few years, I've been preaching the power of shifting 10 minutes/day of our social media habits towards learning something to improve our careers. We all know better habits create better outcomes. Studies say Americans are now spending over an hour each day looking and liking on Facebook, much to their mental health detriment. But, what if they could join a private group on Facebook that put interesting, educational, and timely information front-and-center in their feeds? And, what if they could comment and interact with people with similar interests on the subject privately, without having to leave the platform? That's the real power behind Facebook helping us customize the content in our feeds. They're empowering us with better control over how we think and act. For example,

  • Want to improve your finances? Join a paid group on financial literacy.
  • Want motivation to stick to that new diet? Join a paid group of people on the diet. 

The ability to create meaningful, effective communities at scale online is going to open us to all sorts of helpful people and resources.

Spending time on Facebook improving yourself is the future.

Very soon, users of Facebook will invest in themselves and the platform, transforming their social media use from something research says can be bad for our health, to something good for it. The members of the personal development industry who see that potential will have the opportunity to reap the financial rewards - while helping a lot of people in the process. 

Published on: Jun 7, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.