As a community leader, I’m way too familiar with the DM slide on social media. And yet, sending private messages is the social media equivalent of email. The tactic opens a direct two-way line of communication between you and the other person.
And though it’s creepy to get the unsolicited “you have such a beautiful smile” DM from a rando, there’s a business case for using direct messages to connect with members of your online community. Let’s be clear though: I’m not talking about copy/paste cold pitches that sound like they were written with Google Translate.
I am talking about sliding into the DMs of people who are in your Facebook group to strengthen your online bond and get valuable insight straight from the source.
If you’re leading a Facebook group, you’re probably thinking about your engagement rate. Whether you have a regular system of digging into your data, or you go by gut feel, you know when your group is thriving and when it’s not.
Almost every group I lead or manage has seasonal drops in engagement. But if a lull in activity goes a little too long, I’m quick to act.
Back in 2022, I sent more than 700 direct messages to members of The Secret to Thriving Online Communities, my private community on Facebook. As an engagement strategy, sending private messages might not change the metrics in your Facebook groups, but it will help you develop lasting relationships with your members.
In this article, you will discover:
- What made me send out over 700 private message – 727 DM slides, to be exact
- What I learned about my group in the process
- How I sent out 727 DMs WITHOUT landing in Facebook jail
- How these private messages affected engagement in the group
- What you should consider before trying this tactic yourself
- 1 Why I Sent Out 700+ Direct Messages
- 2 Direct Messages as a Group Engagement Strategy
- 3 Benefits of Sending Direct Messages to Group Members
- 4 How I Sent Out 727 Direct Messages Without Landing in Facebook Jail
- 5 How These DMs Affected Group Engagement
- 6 What the DMs Taught Me About Our Group
- 7 Taking Action on Lessons Learned by My Best DM Slide
- 8 What You Should Consider Before Making Your Own DM Slide
- 9 Ready to Connect with Your Community? Let Us Help!
- 10 Share
Why I Sent Out 700+ Direct Messages
I am known for high-touch community management. When my group got a little sleepy in the past, I would write check-in posts, tagging individual members daily for about a week.
Though effective, this tactic definitely suffers from the law of diminishing returns. It’s fun for the group up to a point, and then it’s annoying. And the line between the two is very thin. People will tune out after a few days.
Tagging 100 people per post would allow you to check in on 500 group members in about a week. It takes a lot of time to create and publish the posts, track the comments and respond accordingly. It’s not the best for group culture to have a bunch of those posts cluttering up your group feed for more than a few days.
You can strategically work around those challenges, but I think this approach is best for groups with 350 members or less.
Direct Messages as a Group Engagement Strategy
Social media is meant to be social, isn’t it? But to be truly social, there needs to be a direct two-way line of communication going between people.
What I love about online communities is they provide a place for members to connect with the leaders, the leaders to connect with the members, and the members to connect with each other. Unfortunately, when the community is on Facebook, everyone is at the mercy of notifications and algorithms.
When engagement drops in groups I manage, I usually find it’s because members are seeing fewer notifications from the group. Sending private messages through Messenger can connect you with members who aren’t seeing group notifications.
If you’re not friends with your group members, your messages may go into their Message Requests folder. Still, the benefits of connecting with your members at the individual level makes this a worthwhile strategy.
Benefits of Sending Direct Messages to Group Members
One benefit of sending direct messages to your group members is the opportunity it gives them to ask you questions privately. In return, you can ask clarifying questions and seek out feedback on their experience in your group without the conversation taking place in front of other members.
There are no secrets on Facebook. What happens in one area is connected to other areas as well.
Molly Mahoney of The Prepared Performer calls this the social triangle. Though profiles, pages and groups are different properties on Facebook, we have noticed that people who are your Facebook friends and page followers will see more content in your group than members who aren’t connected with you outside of the group.
By having a human-to-human direct conversation with members, you help Facebook’s artificial intelligence software learn that you care about them and what they post. When they respond, Facebook’s AI registers them as actually caring about you and your content as well.
How I Sent Out 727 Direct Messages Without Landing in Facebook Jail
We all know that Facebook’s AI can be sensitive, maybe too sensitive. Anti-spam safeguards can flag anyone who sends too many messages, duplicates messages to too many people, or sends messages too quickly.
Though nobody knows the magic number of DMs we can send before landing in Facebook jail, we do know that sticking within the norms of our individual messaging rhythm and routine is usually safe.
When I started this outreach campaign, I only sent about 35 messages a day. I spaced the messages out by two to three minutes and took a break for a few hours after 10 to 15 messages were sent. I slowly increased the number of messages I sent every few days until I was sending 60 a day. GroupTrack CRM, which works with both Facebook and Instagram, made it easy for me to automate the pacing of my messages.
Depending on your Messenger habits, you might be able to send more or you might have to send fewer. I have a friend who sends at least 100 DMs a day. Other friends of mine have landed in Facebook jail after sending 20 messages. Your mileage will vary.
How These DMs Affected Group Engagement
Sending direct messages didn’t have an immediate impact on the group’s engagement rate. We saw a few spikes on days when members visited the group to check out resources I recommended during our Messenger conversations.
I had more than 350 individual conversations with members over three weeks, which gave me a long list of topics to address in our live workshops and resources to create. Changes made to the group as a result of these conversations increased our average engagement rate by 10%.
What the DMs Taught Me About Our Group
One-to-one conversations are great for market research and to understand the general sentiment of your group. This exercise revealed the following information about my community:
- 11% of the members are volunteers or former volunteers of MOPS International, a nonprofit organization devoted to supporting moms of young children. I volunteered for MOPS from 2014 to 2019, and these women were founding members of my group who led groups of their own.
- 10% of the members who responded to my messages had put their communities on hold to focus on others priorities. 5% of respondents were no longer interested in online communities.
- Several lurkers — members who had never posted in the group — were experiencing amazing results in their own groups by applying what they learned in our community.
- 3% of the people I spoke to didn’t know I had products or services to sell.
- 2% were actively searching for the support our team provides. I sold two strategic planning sessions in the DMs ($4,000 USD) and booked six discovery calls. Of those six calls, three became clients within that month. Total revenue from the DMs: $9,000 USD.
- A handful had no idea they were in the group, what they group was about and couldn’t remember why they even joined.
Taking Action on Lessons Learned by My Best DM Slide
The idea that people were in my group and didn’t know I offer consulting services for community strategy and management blew my mind. I felt like I talked about my services and our community management agency all the time. But it obviously wasn’t enough.
This realization led me to reorganize my group and create a Start Here area that introduces our team and details the suite of services we offer. I also used Guides to organize content into the following categories:
- Structure and Sustainability — Best practices in community design, structure and management
- Content and Connection — What to post so your group is engaged and experiencing success
- Visibility and Growth — Lead generation and marketing strategies
- Converting Members to Buyers — How to make sales without feeling sleazy
Doing this made it easier for me to connect members with the best resources to meet their immediate needs. It’s also made the educational content and live workshops in our group more focused.
What You Should Consider Before Making Your Own DM Slide
Though you can do just about anything off the cuff, an outreach strategy using direct messages requires planning and the ability to track your conversations. The last thing you want to do is accidentally message someone multiple times.
Also, since you will be messaging people you know and don’t know, you have to be aware of what behaviors could land you in Facebook jail so you can avoid it. For example, copying and pasting the same message over and over sets off spam alerts. It’s the most common reason people get their access to Facebook restricted.
Using a Facebook-specific customer relationship manager (CRM), I created 178 variations of the initial outreach message to send. Those who responded heard from me in real time after that. Some messages I sent while sitting at my desk, others while running errands or multitasking on my phone.
You’ll eventually hit a messaging bottleneck. After sending out several messages for a number of consecutive days, responses will come in waves. You might get five responses in one day and then 30 three days later. GroupTrack CRM helped me to stay on top of the conversations, so I didn’t ghost anyone.
Ready to Connect with Your Community? Let Us Help!
Team Kubo specializes in online community design, development and growth. Whether you need help with strategy, training your admin team or day-to-day management of your group, we can help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.