June 15, 2022
Anna Gray - Building Community to Build Your Business

Anna Gray is a life coach, nurse, community coach and connector extraordinaire. When we sat down to talk, she was right on the cusp of launching her new business and finally fulfilling her dream of working in a much deeper ca...


Anna Gray is a life coach, nurse, community coach and connector extraordinaire. When we sat down to talk, she was right on the cusp of launching her new business and finally fulfilling her dream of working in a much deeper capacity with her clients.

In this episode, Anna and I explore how communities are wonderful platforms for building interest and visibility for your business, while allowing you to also create authentic, lasting connections with the people you serve.

Anna runs her own community teaching business owners how to build and nurture communities (how meta!) that are full of your ideal clients, referrers and collaborators. She gives us some great tips for building and participating in communities as a marketing strategy, and how to be successful on a free platform like Facebook without being shackled by the algorithm. 

She also helps us understand how you can create ongoing engagement in your own community and why your members will continue to come back, time and again, if you show up authentically as yourself. 

Finally, we discuss monetization and whether you should/how you should/when you should leverage and monetize your community to bring new revenue streams to your business. 

If you are someone who is considering a community marketing strategy, this is the episode you want to tune in to and Anna’s your girl!

4:57 Why online relationships and community are so intertwined

6:02 Pivoting into a totally new business using what you’ve built already

7:39 Participating in communities as a form of marketing

14:43 Tips for building community as a marketing strategy

15:31 Why the Facebook algorithm doesn’t (or shouldn’t) matter

19:45 How to show up in your group to increase engagement

28:00 Easy ways to stay consistent with content creation

31:50 Why the size of your group doesn’t matter

33:09 The shift away from Facebook and what it will become

36:14 Why people stay connected to a community

43:50 The biggest indicator of success for your community

45:30 How to monetize your free community

51:20 How to get new members into your group

55:14 The difference between what we hear and what’s real

 

Find Anna at…

Website:  https://www.annabgray.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/anna.b.gray/

 

Visit Stephanie at https://stephaniehayes.biz/

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Transcript

Stephanie Hayes:

Welcome to the Real People, Real Business show where we're talking with business owners who are in the trenches everyday, people who are working hard and have relevant and inspiring stories that you can relate to. Everyone we speak to is actively building and growing their business and is here to share their experiences, lessons, wisdom, and guidance. So you can be inspired to take action towards your own goals today. I'm so excited to welcome my friend, Anna Gray. Anna is a Facebook group strategist with a mission to give Facebook groups a good name by teaching online entrepreneurs, course creators and coaches, how to build mazing online communities, no matter what business they're running. If you're looking to get 3000 members in your group by tomorrow, Anna is not the coach for you. Instead, Anna teaches you to build valuable and sustainable relationships within your communities that will continually feed your group with your ideal group members. Welcome to the show. And I thank so much for taking the time to share your story today. I love that summary of the work you're doing. So let's dive in and I want to hear all

Anna Gray:

about. Thanks, Stephanie. Um, thanks for having me as well. Um, yeah, so, uh, about, well, I can go back in time about probably 12 years ago, I decided to build an online business, um, while working full-time as a nurse. I, um, I, I like to keep my hands and things and it sounded interesting and I, and I did it and it was great. And, um, A lot of work, a lot of hard, you know, hard times ups and downs, but I proved to myself that I could build a business. About four years ago, I had a change in my life that kind of got me out of love with that existing business. But I knew that I still wanted to create something for myself and I had to really step back and say, well, what, what made me successful in that first business? And that was really building. Uh, community and networking and relationships and, and it wasn't, um, this flashy thing, but I knew that I could build community. And what I really wanted to do was to teach people how to do that. Now, again, I, I was never this, you know, fill your Facebook group with 3000 people kind of person. It was one person at a time and building relationships. And I knew that this need was there for many, many online business owners. And it would fill my business owning bucket and, you know, start this new love for building a business. And it was something different and something exciting and something I could build from scratch and really proved to myself that I could do it again. And so I jumped in two feet in building it from complete scratch because my original business, my audience wasn't the. Completely different audience here. This is like, we're going to really start over. We're going to teach business owners how to do. Communities. So I did a lot of listening. I listened, I listened, I listened, but I also knew that that was the one thing that I could do well. And that's where it started. It was like, what's the one thing that got me to where I was in that first business. It was really building these relationships is building these online relationships. And of course, this is well before the pandemic, like online relationships is a big deal right now, but this is well before that. And I knew that, um, it was the only way that I was successful at marketing my business. And I knew that the need was there. Um, and Facebook was doing a really good job at promoting Facebook groups, but people were really struggling with how to actually build communities. And so I said, okay, Hey doing this. And I started to create products around it and courses around it and really building this network of amazing people. So. It allowed me to fill my business bucket and fill my own community relationship building bucket. So I was like, the benefit that I didn't quite expect was that I was able to build the business and I was able to build these relationships that I forgot that I could actually build. So, um, I, I that's, my favorite part of being online is, is these relationships. And that's like how we met online and, and vowel, you know, over all these years, we've remained to be connected, but not necessarily in the same reason that we connected in the first place. And that's really where the community building came in and why I loved it so much. Cause it, it didn't necessarily have to do with the reason why you were initially connected, but that it could carry you through. Many years for other reasons. And, and, and I can tell you to this day, I have, I have friends that I met online 12 years ago, that I still, that can continue to follow me in whatever endeavor I have going on. And it has nothing to do with how we met in the first place. And so I knew that I could, um, I could teach on that and it, um, you know, it, it created this enjoyment for me, even if I was working full-time I had retired from nursing for about three years, but I did go back five years ago. So I knew I wanted to do something and still. Keep nursing and then the pandemic happens. So then I needed the community to keep me sane. Right. So it was like, it just kind of filled my everything buckets. And that's really why I chose to keep going with that. And then, you know, life happens and you pivot again and you just kind of build on that. So I'm currently pivoting into a life coaching space using what I've used in the past and you know, the connections and relationships that I've built, teaching other people how to build communities. Incredibly helped in that. So it's just like one transition into another, into another, into another. And that's it. You know where I'm at today?

Stephanie Hayes:

What is that? Okay. I have like eight

Anna Gray:

questions for you. Okay. Bring them on.

Stephanie Hayes:

But it's so true. Like just the commentary is so true and that's actually why I got involved. You and I met because I joined your,

Anna Gray:

your group about groups. Right. Because you were, I guess on my podcasts about groups, was I? Yes. Oh yeah. Oh gosh. Really years ago. Oh, you were like one of my first guests on that bucket. Yeah. I'll have to

Stephanie Hayes:

go that one up. And I know that you and I have known each other for a long time and I got involved in your group because for me that was the number one marketing tactic that I used for. And not even intentionally, it was just kind of like the first year that I had hung my own shingle for this business. Um, I was, you know, all I did was I, I became part of a community of other business owners just because I liked the person who had started it. And I knew her personally, and she was, she had a huge following and, and it was just kind of my people. And what I realized was the more helpful I was in that community. And the more, you know, active I was in that community, the more I would start to get referrals and new clients. And like that was five years ago. And to this day, that community still sends me referrals. It's it's long gone. It hasn't been active for a long time, but those people, we formed such strong bonds. And I thought, well, that seems to be something that I, I can do really easily. And it just kind of works and going out and finding those groups can sometimes be like hidden mess.

Anna Gray:

Totally.

Stephanie Hayes:

So I joined her group. I'm like, well, why don't I create my own group? And that happened. And

Anna Gray:

it, it, it no longer

Stephanie Hayes:

exists because it just, I had to decide what was better for my time. But, you know, I think you and I then became connected through Peloton and were connected in all these different ways too. So I think you're right. It's almost like this, this thing that just keeps kind of growing and evolving. And now I think you have created this real foundational skill, right? There's foundational skill that, that applies to all sorts of different businesses. And now the sh now you're shifting into life coaching. So tell me more about that shift. Like, where's that coming from?

Anna Gray:

That's a very good question. Um, you know, There were probably many limiting beliefs in the old days of, you know, whether or not, um, people would listen to you. And I knew that I could teach Facebook groups and community and people would listen because I was, I was successful at that. I could teach that. Um, but it comes down to that community and, um, relationship that really filled my bucket. So one day I woke up and actually someone that was in my Facebook community had asked me, have you ever thought of life coaching? And it was like, wait, that's a very interesting question. And when I thought about it, I go, you know what? I actually. Way back when thought that would be the coolest thing ever is to just be a life coach. But I was like, I don't, what am I going to teach? I don't know. My life is great. And I don't know. And because I have gone through so many things and that people have always told me, oh my gosh, you have so many stories. You have so many stories to tell. So all of those things, it filled my head with, um, I don't want to use the word value, but, but value. I like, I have stories. I have lived a life, you know? And then when I hit kind of rock bottom in my own life, I needed a coach. I needed a life coach. It was like the first time I actually hired a life coach. And I was like, she was like the best thing ever. And I had her for a year and she got me through my divorce and I was like, okay. So I have this new appreciation for life coaching. Which I didn't have before. I thought it would be cool, but I didn't know anything about it. And then I actually went through it and I was like, oh my gosh, I want to it, but I didn't necessarily want to follow a certain plan or a certain system system. I just wanted to help people. Like, I was really good in my community and helping people just in general, you know, you ask a question, I'll answer your question. I got your back. So wanted to really just create my own system. And then I go just like with anything else, you know what, life's too short. We're going to do this. And I, you know, two feet in and I, you know, and then you question whether or not I'm continuing to keep my community and keep my same social media. And then at the end of the day, it all goes back to that foundational. Like I'm just here to help people. You're connected. To the person, like you said, you joined the group because you liked that person. You like the person that was running, you really connected with that person. So I, I made this decision and it really went along with my Facebook group teaching and it was like, I'm going to keep my group because they're here. They may have joined for one reason, but they're still here because of me, I guess, you know, I don't know this is the, this is what I teach. It's just, I show up as me. They're still here. They could have bounced out a long time ago because they didn't connect with me. But so they're still here. I'm going to give them the opportunity to leave. If I'm not, if it's, if this is not the focus I just made this decision. And that was like, I'm just going to do this because this fills my bucket. I'm all about filling the bucket. I'm all about quality of life. And like, you only live once. And I, you know, I, here I am living my life 2.0 and. It's time for me to help people it's time for me to share that. And I just was like, this is just another extension of helping people. My first business was a health and fitness business. My second business was the Facebook group business. And so now my third is a life coaching business and it's all it all carries through. It's all these relationships, it's all this. Um, I keep going back to the word connection, but it's really, that's what it comes down to. It's just, it's feeling connected with other people. And, and, and, you know, in this, in this world today with the online world that, you know, we've had to rely on connections through the internet. It it's a real thing. And, and the fact that it's quality of life and, and the fact that I've been able to, when I look back, go, okay, it's been pretty crappy, but I've really led to pretty good quality of life. You know, like, I guess that's what people are struggling, struggling with. And somehow I figured it out. So. I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid of failing. I failed many times. It's like, what's one more time. You know, what's, what's, what's the worst that can happen. I learned from it. There you go. But I'm following mark and that's who I am. I that's like a thousand percent. Right. If you ever spent any time in my group, I follow my heart to,

Stephanie Hayes:

yeah. I actually have an opinion that failure isn't really like a thing it's. You got some good information, right? And it's not like motherhood and apple pie, but it's like, there's true value in things not going, how you expected them to right. Shifting back to talking about community, like what are, what are some of the, I think this is just so critical. And I, and you know, a lot of people come to me, a lot of my clients come to me and they're just like, marketing is so hard. Selling is so hard. And it's the thing that I don't like. And I feel slimy and sleazy and blah, blah, blah. But I think there are sort of three, three pillars of finding clients that are like, not at all. What we talk about and community is one of them and building those relationships is fundamental to everything. So what is, what are some of the big tips that you give to people who want to create communities as part of their marketing strategy?

Anna Gray:

Number one, don't rely on the album. I mean, we're all aware that things change and it used to be this push pull, you know, you posted three times a day and then you would be, you know, people would catch you in the feed. It's not that way anymore. So you really, really, really have to look at how you're showing up in your community. If you want to build a community, if that's, if that's near and dear to your heart and you feel that, um, you know, conversation around your topic, I always talk about, it's not necessarily the topic itself. It's the conversation around the topic. That's your content. If you really want to have a conversation around your content, then the algorithm doesn't really matter. You can bring people in there and give them an experience. That they want to keep coming back. And I have many people that say, I just you're like the only group I keep coming back to because you cannot rely on actually seeing your posts. So as long as you accept the fact that you may not be seen, like, you know, we're using a free platform here, right? Chances are, they're not going to show my, my stuff for free. So you have to create an experience for your community. And by doing that, by showing up as yourself, that's, that's the only piece that you're going to be able to continually bring people back, because if you don't show up as yourself and you're just this, um, entity, people are going to forget about it. I mean, I know for me, whenever I joined a group and let's just say, there's, you know, Give me your email address and I'll send you an email, right? We, how many of us have joined groups that say that, and, and there's nothing wrong with it. Don't get me wrong, but 99.9% of the time I get these emails, I don't even remember who this person is because the group experience was, I don't remember the group experience. Now, if I were to do that and I, and I do, I put my email address in, and I jump in this community and it's this warm, inviting environment. I'm going to remember that. And I'm going to come back to it because of the experience that they gave me. And then I'll remember the email, but by putting the email there, and then just having this information in the group, people are not going to remember who you are. Number one don't rely on the algorithm. Number two, really want to build that conversation and just make it a conversation. That's where the sales comes in. As long as you connect with people and then they, you know, you offer something they've already, they're already connected with you. It's like, you know, show me what I'll pay you. You, you're amazing. You keep me coming back in this group. Um, so selling becomes much easier. So that's, those are my big tips is that you really have to walk on it because again, if you're not aligned with it, if that's not part of what your business is, is is that conversation. Um, and you don't really, and you want to rely on the algorithm, then it's not for you. Like that's not, it's not, it's not going to work. And then you're not going to be in alignment and you're going to resent it. There are plenty of people that resent Facebook groups, and there are plenty of people. I mean, I've closed down groups over time. Until you take a different look at it and you just don't, you treat it as something that's not, um, what most people treat it as it's it's this space, you know, you look at, you look at these other groups that are not necessarily business-related. How do those sustain themselves? It's this conversation. So if you could put conversation first, you're in better hands than most.

Stephanie Hayes:

A lot of people resist, um, building their own Facebook groups or, I mean, nevermind just face that groups, but there are lots of other platforms you can build your own platforms, but the idea of having a group, because it, it, it ends up being a lot of work. Right. And they, you know, to keep the engagement, to keep the conversation, especially when you're just starting out, like there's a lot of. There's a lot of feeding the machine. Right. So do you have any good tips on either how to change the, sort of the perspective on that or how to kind of keep that momentum grow growing while you're still like, I'm sure there's a critical mass that you get to where the conversation starts to be, you know, more organic, but when you're first growing that group, how do you, how do you not get overwhelmed by the amount of engagement that you need to provide?

Anna Gray:

Okay. That's a great question. Very great question. Cause you're just starting out and yeah, you, I mean, you have to put in the work, but my biggest advice on that is that if you rely on people liking or commenting your stuff, I think if that's the end result, is that how many people have liked this boat? How many people have had a conversation underneath this post? Does that make me successful or not? That's your first fault because you're brand new. It's not going to happen if you go in and you just say, I'm here to serve, I'm here to share my thoughts. I'm here to start the conversation. People are going to see it. How many times have we been in groups where we don't like or comment things, but we've seen it. We scroll through, we read it. We don't do a thing with it. So if you put yourself on the side of you as the consumer, you're going to see the. People are going to see the post. So you have to just put your blinders on and say, I don't care how many people like it, how many people commented I'm here to serve. And I really would like to get my message out and have this conversation in one day, they'll show up and start talking and you pay attention. You pay attention to, um, you know, maybe you're friends with some of those people and you pay attention to what's going on in their life, outside of that group. And then you bring that conversation in if it's warranted, like, oh, I remember. Stacy, you know, I remember Stacy had a post about lemons and you're like talking about lemons or something. And you bring that into the conversation, into the group. It's a safe space to say she was talking about lemons. You know, you're not going to bring in some sort of personal piece, but the more that you can bring people into the conversation and that you've paid attention to, that's how you start to get the ball rolling on conversation. As long as people see that you're paying attention to them, they're going to pay attention to you. So yeah, you show up, you send, you give your message, but if you can connect to 1, 2, 3 people, I always say six people, six people can make your world. If you can follow six people that are in your group and really stay connected with them, it's very easy to bring them into a conversation. It's very easy to say. You know, Stephanie mentioned pedal Peloton in a group, those kinds of things. And the people like people start to notice that you've noticed that you're paying attention and then they're more inclined to start showing up and having that conversation.

Stephanie Hayes:

So that's, I just wanted to like call, call this out because that's a really important distinction is that in early days we can't apply the same principles that we learned. Um, in managing and interacting with big established groups. Right. So early days you're really kind of being more of a sniper, right? Yeah. And you're making this group meaningful to individuals as opposed to, you know, trying to serve, trying to serve at scale. Right,

Anna Gray:

right. That's super

Stephanie Hayes:

important. Okay. Keep going, because this is, I'm loving this,

Anna Gray:

you know, you can still here's. The other thing though, is that you can still, there are still opportunities for you to use other groups to bring them in. And there is, I mean, it's just, if you're going to talk about Facebook groups, there's a simple feature in there that nobody really knows how to use and they don't use it. But if you were to still use those same concepts of, you know, you're in a group and you've, and you've, um, you know, provided value and you've answered questions and there's a very simple, um, In each group that you're in, you can edit your little bio at the top and you can create it, put a little picture at the top. That's only for that particular group. So you don't have to sell yourself. It can, people are going to click on who you are and they're going to find your group. That's just a little side note. So you, there is, there are still ways that you can still use those same concepts, but now I think that what people want is to really be seen, you know, I mean, um, there is a way there is a way to call out people without calling out people. I, this is really how I built this particular business. Um, I would pay attention to people that, um, showed up once and I would see what they would say. And so I would remember those things. I would remember that they said a particular thing. And then in the future, Remember that. And I would remind them of that. And I would consistently tag people in the group in a very genuine way. I'm not, I am like so against the tag, the tag, the list of people in the group, because it just is not genuine. Being genuine is how you really build relationships. If you can connect with one person. Here's the other thing is if you can connect with one person that you remembered that Stacy likes lemons, then the 15 other people that see that post will go, wow. If she remembers that Stacy likes lemons and I'm going to show up because maybe she'll notice something about me or whatever they want, people want to be seen. And that's your job. Again, you have to be willing to do that. And that's where a lot of people are not willing to do that. And it's just, it's nothing, there's nothing wrong with it. It's just that, um, that's probably the hardest work there is. Is to spend that little extra, I mean, it really is your, you could pay attention to one person that doesn't take that much time and that one person you tag, other people will see and will see, see that you really are paying attention. That you're not just there putting out the information so that everybody can see my stuff. Everybody can see my stuff. Like you're really, you're really orchestrating this conversation. That's the fun part about it actually that's that's my favorite part is to pay attention to what people have going on. Yeah. I

Stephanie Hayes:

think people get discouraged when they feel like they're kind of speaking into the void and that, and when nobody does engage and maybe that's just a matter of, um, you know, the right audience or the right content or asking the right questions. But I think you do need to be a little bit more directed and, you know, call on people to participate as opposed to just being like, Hey,

Anna Gray:

anyone out. Right. Right. But I also think that there's a difference. I think that people don't think. People are paying attention, but they are. So if you can just put that behind you and say, it doesn't matter if I actually see a like or comment, I know that people are seeing my things and the more consistent you are, the more they're going to see. I mean, this happens all the time, but it happens. You know, I, I changed, I went back to my old Instagram and I started sharing this. Instagram is huge, right. But this is a, it's an old audience. And I started sharing and I started sharing and I started sharing consistently. And what do you know that the likes aren't there, but then they start to show up. They start to show up is to just show up and they start to build and build, build, because people are reading it, but they read it before they. But the more consistent that you are, they'll start to participate. So you just have to kind of push back the people aren't looking or watching or reading because they are, they really are. I mean, we, as consumers are doing it all the time and not participating in the true sense of participating, but we really are participating. So understanding that is probably one of the hardest thing, the hardest things to convince people of when they start

Stephanie Hayes:

and not getting discouraged, but not getting discouraged. Yeah. I think one of the things you do really well is you're so consistent, right? Like I see you popping up all the time and even if I'm not watching your lives or I'm not, you know, seeing the posts, I still like, oh yeah, there's Ana there's Anna. Right. And that, and that's what people have to understand is that. It's it's that constant reminder that you exist? It's not that you're pushing his. A lot of people are like, oh, I don't want to be like too pushy or whatever. I'm like, listen, you're lucky if you get any sort of airtime with anyone. So,

Anna Gray:

you know exactly. And it doesn't take much. Like I, I post once a day, I don't, I snapped this. I don't have the time. So I make my one post memorable. I don't know. So I'd spend the one, I spend, you know, five minutes on it in my car and I post it and it, but I'm concerned. Right. I'm absolutely consistent. I don't think I've ever missed a day, maybe one or two days in the last five years. Um, but it's one post a day. That's not that hard. No. Even if I go back on, on really, really hard days, I'll go back in time and I'll grab it. I'll post. And I'll share that one. Nobody remembers

Stephanie Hayes:

that I got my Instagram account shut down for no apparent reason. And they can't even explain why for like months. And finally just moved over to a new Instagram account. And all I've been doing is reposting old, old content. That was actually really good. And people are loving it because really it's a new audience and they haven't seen before. And so in this time right now where I'm in big transition in my own business, you know, moving to a new, a new business model myself, I don't have time to be creating content, but I think the other thing that people get to work rehab a community of overachievers, and they all think that they need to have these big content schedules and like over-engineer everything. And I learned to just write a post in about 10 minutes sitting in bed, because I don't start with, like, I start with the social post and then I'll take that. And I'll use that as a foundation for emails, for blog posts, for whatever, and build on that. But at least I'm getting content out rather than sitting and staring at a blank page and going weeks and weeks without putting

Anna Gray:

anything out, absolutely a hundred percent I'm with you on that. And that's exactly how I created as well. It's it's once you create that one piece, it doesn't have to be big, but it's, you know, it's a piece it's inspirational. It can lead you into these other things, but if you're consistent with that one little tiny thing every day, Then again, you can go back two months a month from now and use that same content when you're going through a transition or you don't have the time you worked really hard to create that content. It doesn't need to go up and down in one day and be done with it. I mean, there's so much content that we've created over the years that we can bring back, you know, change the image, use the same content, you know, Um, so I'm a huge fan of that and yes, when life gets, you know, really crazy, there's nothing wrong to going back and sharing that you still wrote it. Exactly. You still worked your butt off and wrote it and, and you know, the 10 people that needed to hear it today, didn't hear it the first time.

Stephanie Hayes:

Totally. And I like, is there a critical mass in say a Facebook group where you see the engagement start to be more organic and it's not something that you feel like you have to constantly be sort

Anna Gray:

of feeding. Yes and no. I mean, it's funny because again, the algorithm changes all the time. So if you were to ask me that question a year ago, year and a half ago, I would've said absolutely. Yes. When you hit a thousand members, there is a very noticeable difference in, uh, In your engagement and in your comments and likes and things like that. Um, but today I would say no, because in today's world, it doesn't really matter how many people are in the group I've found, uh, it's really the consistency of the group. Uh, and we're only speaking about Facebook. Um, but yeah, you can do this in other communities. Um, but Facebook really, um, rewards you for consistent.

Stephanie Hayes:

You know, so I'm glad you mentioned that because like, what do you think of the, some of the new platforms that are coming out that give you the opportunity to create that engagement in slightly different ways? Like clubhouse for me was really interesting, right? Like it was such an interesting social experiment and then you've got lots of stuff happening in and telegram and you've got, you know, other platforms that are starting to arrive arise with these sort of audio based or micro content, um, formats that are starting to get really popular. So how do you see those, um, comparing and contrasting to

Anna Gray:

Facebook groups? Um, okay. That's a great question because if you, again, if you were to ask me that a year and a half ago, I would be like, ah, it's not worth your time. People are only on Facebook. People are only spending the time on there, but when clubhouse came out, you started to see the shift in. Um, the users, it was, it wasn't the small group of users. It started to become this massive movement. And so, so by paying attention to that, I paid really close attention to that. Seeing that people are now willing to step off of Facebook and be in other communities. Um, it's, uh, I don't think that it's a bad thing to build the communities outside of Facebook. I will also say that I just had a conversation with someone. You know, really big. So there's social media company and they were going to use a different platform to build their, to build their community leading up to their live event and they are going back to Facebook. So, um, I just think Facebook is easy for people. People are there. It's easy, but if you have, it's all about you and you're in the experience, you're giving people. If, if people love to show up to your clubhouse room, they're going to show up to your clubhouse room. If people love to show up in your circle or whatever community platform, I think it's more acceptable now. People are willing to be a part of it. But I also think that it's, you know, you have to, you ha you have to click on some other app. You have to remember, not only do they have to remember your community and you, they also have to remember what app you were on. And Facebook is easy because. They're already there. So I think that's, that's still going to be the easiest route, but I also think that if you want to build an experience somewhere else, you can build an experience somewhere else. And I would never, I would never, in the past day, I want to build a community on Instagram and people would say, oh, you can build the community on Instagram. And now I'm actually somewhat of a believer of this because I'm starting to see how you can do that. And so, um, I think you can build a community anywhere as long as you, you know, look at it as, as a community, as a conversation and not just you, um, sharing your information, that's a blog.

Stephanie Hayes:

And I think like it's, it's, it's, it depends where your people are too. Right. Um, I know a lot of my people are very. Hesitant about Facebook. Like they, they would use it because they have to, because it's the only place for them to go for whatever, but they were, but so many of them would be like, thank you for taking this office. But my good friends, she runs a very successful community on circle and she took everything out of Facebook and she said, and she's like, it doesn't, it doesn't matter where you have it. Yeah. It's the same principles of like giving them a reason to come back.

Anna Gray:

Totally. Right. As long as you give them the reason to come back, it doesn't really matter.

Stephanie Hayes:

Yeah. And so what do you find, like what do

Anna Gray:

people come back for? Connection recognition recognition. Yeah. Feeling special thousand percent. Yep. For sure. I mean, so again, if you can, if you can remember a few things about a few people, it goes a really long way. And they remember that. And guess what, they're going to tell other people about that, or they're going to show up all the time because you showed up for them. I, this happened the other day and this particular person said, you're the only group I actually show up to. And she's someone that I paid attention to long time ago. And you know, every once in a while, I'll, I'll share something about her. I'll remember something about her. And I know for a fact, the only reason that she comes back to the community is that one piece is, is just paying a little bit of attention to someone. And it goes a long way. And other people notice that. And then, you know, I wish I wish I could pay attention to more people. Now that's actually kind of the, the struggle when your group. Big is that you remember those, that first handful of people that kinda got you there and then this new group of people come in and you're like, I don't remember that person has that person posted in here awhile. Oh my gosh. I really should remember this person. And they feel really bad. Um, but it's a great problem to have, but I started, I've always started with just recognizing a few people and just kind of paying attention to that. They shut up for me. They wanted something in this group. So I'm a real person. I'm going to be a real person and I'm going to have a real conversation and remember something about you. Um, so there's a lot of, you know, ways to do that too, is that you can create these engaging posts that are simple but enjoyable and not like your typical engaging post. That's actually one of the, for my very first products I created was like almost a year's worth of conversation starters that were not your, you know, spreadsheet list of conversations. They were just like storytelling conversations, starters. And by doing the reason I did that was to get to know my community, like in a totally different way, you know, it was like, I can't even think of them now, but I started using them again recently. I was just going back in my own content in my own product. And like grabbing conversation started because I needed a little bit of a break. And, um, you really get to know people and then you remember those things and if you need to write them down, write them down. But like you remember the thing about the Stacey and the lemons, because you would ask this question about like, You know, what's on your counter. Like I'm doing, here's an example. I can just create one real quick here. I'm cooking dinner tonight. And I look over at my fruit bowl and I have way more lemons than I do lie. That's because I use more line because you live in Cuba, laminar Alliance. I'm just like totally thinking. I have lemons on my counter right now. Um, are you a lemon or a lime person? Right. And then these conversations come up and they're just like genuine conversations. And you remember something about someone, but what they said, and then you use that in the future, you know, because people are going to have a conversation either. They're going to say I'm neither or like exactly what you just said. We don't have lines up here. Right. So guess what, I'm going to remember that you said that. And so in the future, I'll remember where you're from. I'll remember where you live, you know, those kinds of things. I remember. Like my friend that I was saying that about, she knew she's she's from Canada too. Like I remember those things because of what they say. And I, you know, so it's the little tiny quirky things. So if you could create these conversations, general genuine conversations about what's going on in your life, it allows you to understand who's in your group and it just makes it more fun. That's the thing is that you want it to be fun because if you're just feeling like you're just feed, I just have to do this. I'm supposed to do this. I'm supposed to run this group because that's what everybody does. But if you make it fun, then it's, it doesn't feel like work. And that's what we all want. Right. Totally. I have,

Stephanie Hayes:

I have like two separate questions, so don't, let me forget. I had another question, but I think, you know, as kind of ruminating on this the other day in anticipation of you and I talking, um, I'm in a group I'm in a discord group for, um, a course that I took on decentralized finance and I've gotten really into this whole device space and cryptocurrency and stuff, but only because this discord group that went along with her typically I'll take a course and I don't get involved in the communities or the Facebook groups or whatever. Cause it's always a bunch of kind of yup. Yes. Right? Yup. But this group, this woman who created the course, she's, she's like a business owner in my space, but she got into all this and now she's like, she's, she's running with it. And so she created this course on decentralized finance and because it was her hobby and now, and because she's just this like real down to earth, You know, she's kind of an introvert and she's, she's just really wanting to do it because she just wanted to like give people a space, but the people she's attracted are these really great people, like just really great people. And I think what really kind of struck me is that she does not play a role of gatekeeper. In fact, she doesn't do anything in her group to stimulate engagement or conversation. It just sort of happens because she's brought together all these great people and they all just are curious and she's kind of structured the channels in a way that, you know, facilitate some sort of bonding. I keep going there because they're almost like my family now. Right. I've created these really strong relationships with these people who are super helpful. And she said sort of just set the tone and then stood back. Right. So as a leader, like as a group leader, there's, there's something about the way that you.

Anna Gray:

The

Stephanie Hayes:

way that you give ownership to the group to drive the development of the community. And I think if you're feeding too much content to them and like being too structured in the way that you, you know, the way that you've created it, people just kind of sit back and wait for

Anna Gray:

you to drive that. Yeah, for sure. And I think it, I think it depends on, it depends on your audience too, because I could sit back and say that all day long as well, but that's not the community that I created. It just no one I had to deal with the fact that no one was showing up and having the conversation on their own. But what I am incredibly proud of is something very similar to that. I have noticed over the years that many of my group members are business partners now or true genuine friends because they met in that group. Even though I was the one that was, has always been, you know, I've always been the one leading the leading the show and last I'd know on an, on two occasions when I went away and I was, I think you had participated in this once was, um, the leader of the day where it was like, here's an opportunity for you to be seen like here I need her basically, and for you to be seen. So there are a lot of opportunities for you, you know, your group members to connect and that's, I think the biggest compliment I've always said this, the biggest compliment of a group owner is when you, our group members are connected. Outside of the group, that is the biggest compliment for sure. So that's amazing that she's created this and that's something that I had always wanted. That's what people want actually. That's what most people want, but it's really, really hard to get. And so you just have to say either I'm going to have that, or I'm going to accept me showing up and being the, you know, the Maestro of the group, orchestrating the conversation. I think it's trying to be okay with that. Yeah. It sort of depends on your

Stephanie Hayes:

audience too. And like, as a result of just being engaged in this group, like I'm, I've been invited to other sort of like mastermind type innovation groups. I've been invited to be interviewed on a podcast because I, you know, I was a beginner and I got some good results and. There's like this whole network effects that happens within, within those groups, especially if you've created the environment, that's really conducive to that. Um, okay. One more question for you, and then we're gonna wrap things up, but actually I have two more questions for you. Um,

Anna Gray:

the big, the

Stephanie Hayes:

big, the other big pushback I've heard from people is like, okay, so I'm putting all this effort in, and I'm building this group and I'm doing all this content and I'm showing up all the time, but it's, it's all just freebie seekers. It's all people who just want to be there for free content and never, never kind of give back. And I see, how do I monetize

Anna Gray:

my group? Um, well, that's actually a question from the beginning of time. It's a very good question. And it's still very relevant. I think that that comes down to this scarcity mindset, right? We can Google anything like, even in your crypto course, like you can, if you really wanted to spend the time and do all of your research and grab all the free content you could do it. It's possible. It's all out there. Nothing we share is, you know, breaking news. So if you go with that mindset that you're giving all this free content, people are going to show up for free, but they're not going to remember half the things you teach. If it's in a course, then you monetize that or whatever that is for you. Uh, masterminder um, they're going to remember it. It's always that, you know, put your money where your mouth is. That kind of thing is if you invest in something, they're going to pay closer attention to you. So by you sharing all of this free content, I think that getting away from that, why do they need to pay me? It's a, it's a, it's a difficult thing to do. But once you say they're not paying attention half the time they're paying attention and, and how are they going to get to know me anyways and what I have to offer? I always, I always go by this, um, years ago, there was someone I used to follow and she would say she shares, she shares everything because I'd rather it feel like I over-deliver like, oh my gosh, her content, her free content is so amazing. What is her paid content? I've always gone with that philosophy. Like her free content is so amazing. I can't wait to see what her paid content is. If you go by that, I think you can't fail. You know, like you're going to produce your paid content is going to be more structured. It's going to be, it's going to be juicy or people are going to pay attention because they paid money for it and those kinds of things. But the free thing is that we can, it's just kind of, you know, it's, it's an opportunity for you to be seen and for people to really like what you have, you know, I mean, they're not going to really understand what you have unless you give them something for free and go, oh yeah. Okay. I want what I, you know,

Stephanie Hayes:

I will admit that one of the reasons I shut my group down was because I kind of got over on the other end of that scale, where I had been consistently producing and consistently producing and consistently producing, you know, giving away a lot of free content and doing a lot of service. And it was a lot of my time, right? Like running challenges and doing, you know, giving free workshops and always showing up. And I think I remember the thing that finally tipped the scales for me or these people that were showing up and going, where's this thing I want, like, why are you not doing this thing? I'm like, you know what? Yeah. It's just no longer worth it. Like that sense of one of the things in my life that I, I D I dislike the most is a sense of entitlement. And that's what it started to feel like was this, this entitlement. And I wondered if maybe I had actually been

Anna Gray:

getting too much. Yeah. Okay. And I actually, I'm glad that you said that because there is something that I think is incredibly valuable that. Is kind of a game changer. And I used to say this all the time, if you okay. Let's just say, we're going to say you're giving a free workshop on X, Y, and Z, right? People you would really love for people to pay for that. What about having a conversation about X, Y, and Z? You're not actually teaching X, Y, and Z. You're just having a conversation around it and that's free and that's great. And that's actually more information for you. So when it comes time to selling X, Y, and Z, you know what the co you know, what people are talking about. So I always go into it. I don't like to give free content. I did it starting and started my group that way. But when I looked at my content, I would say, all right, well, what's the conversation around the con. Versus I'm going to give you the free content. So if you simply go in it with what's the conversation around this topic, you're not giving away your free content, even

Stephanie Hayes:

I think that's a, I've never heard somebody say that before. And I think that's super, super important.

Anna Gray:

It makes it so simple to you have, let's just say you have your, you can have your entire course and you're like, okay. So for example, Facebook group, my course is made up of like here's engagement and here's marketing and here's all these things, right? So Facebook group engagement. So I could give you all of my tips on Facebook group engagement and feel like I'm giving away my free content, or I can say how many people engaged on your post yesterday? Okay. We're having a conversation about engagement and we can just keep having that conversation and you can go, how many people did and learn something from that. If you really were paying attention, But I don't feel like I'm giving what, cause now we've had this conversation and let's just say a struggle comes up. You'd be like, Hey, well, I've got this forest then here's your, my, my tips are in the course. Right. So I would say have the conversation around the content because the content is what they pay you for.

Stephanie Hayes:

That's fantastic. I love that. And how have people been finding your group? Like how do you get new

Anna Gray:

members into your group? Um, okay. So in the old days it would be from other groups and then, um, I just didn't have the time to do that. I know it's incredibly valuable and you can do it and you can spend the time. Um, I'd rather spend the time connecting with my members then than outside. It's just kind of one for one and we, you know, anyways, um, so that's very valuable if you have the time. I get to this day, still people from Pinterest, I had created some blog posts way back when, on, um, some of my, and it's just, I just kept creating blog posts and they were tips. And one was like on Facebook group polls. And that one still continues to feed my group to the day. So, you know, I used Pinterest a lot knowing, because I had done that before I created these posts on my blog. And then there was an opt-in in my blog and, you know, I just like set it and forget it. So Pinterest, I get a lot of, uh, And referrals from other people inside of groups, you know, it's because it's, again, how you make those people feel. They're going to tell people about your group. People love to tell people about their group. Um, so I get a lot of referrals, Pinterest, and you know, Instagram and you know, or I have in every group I'm in, I changed my little bio that has a little bit of a blurb about me. And sometimes I'll put in the picture, it'll be like, here's my group. It depends on the group. You know, like my Peloton group, I won't have that in there, but you know, another business group I'll change that pot profile and I'll put a picture about my group in there. And so I get, um, people in there. If I've had, if I'm having a conversation in another group, it's a very easy way to like, not be salesy. People are going to click on your image all the time. Facebook made this change that I just absolutely love because you can. Change your profile, depending on your group, you didn't know that. What are you talking about? I'm telling you. Nobody knows it. I found you. I

Stephanie Hayes:

found you because I was just like, I want to learn how to make my Facebook group veteran. So I just went into the Facebook groups screen

Anna Gray:

and I just searched for groups about yeah. But people do find that too. I do get, I do get that. And when I had had the name, my name and my group was Facebook group success. Um, that happened a lot, but I've changed my name. It was at the time. Cause you know, I have other ways that. I just connect with my name a little bit better now it's evolved over time. Right. And that's okay if you change your name, if anybody's worried about changing the name of the group, it's okay. As long as you let your group know why and you know, they respect you for it. Um, but yeah, you know, but relying on the SEO or like the fact that, you know, the recommended, the recommended groups, it's so rare that Facebook recommends groups or will recommend your group. It happens, it happens in ways. It happens maybe twice a year for me. Um, but there's something that you just can't predict. That's I get that question a lot. It's like, how can I be one of those recommended groups? Like Facebook's gotta, like you, you know, be consistent and create a community. Facebook wants you to have this community environment. That's what they want. If you build this community environment, your post will be seen. That's what it comes

Stephanie Hayes:

in. It's engagement. Right. They want the platform to be at.

Anna Gray:

Okay. Yeah. That's why the conversation around the content works really well.

Stephanie Hayes:

Yeah. I like that a lot. I have one question that I ask everybody kind of at the end, cause we're coming up on time and I totally appreciate you. I don't want

Anna Gray:

to, I don't

Stephanie Hayes:

want to make you stay here more, much more than you. I promised you, but what is the difference? You know, we talk about real people here and real business and things that are actually happening in our day-to-day lives. What's the difference between what we hear out there kind of in the online business world and like what's real, what's the, what's the one thing that you just wish you could tell people don't believe this because what's actually happening. Is this,

Anna Gray:

wow, that's a good question. That's a, Hm. Well, I think it comes down to the same thing I've been talking about this whole time. It was really these connections, like these connections, is it lead to connections that lead to amazing beings. I mean, without going into too much detail, but like one relationship in business can lead to another relationship outside of business. Can, I mean, we met in a business group, you bought a Peloton. I was like, I need something. I'm going through this divorce. I need something for myself. And then I reached out to you about the Peloton. And then I was like, okay, I bought a Peloton. Okay. I'm engaged. I'm at this. Like, you literally could have changed my life because you joined my group for Facebook groups. You know what I mean? So, so it's real, it's real life and it's not just business and that's, um, that's what I love, but most people don't understand it or, you know, people in the outside world don't understand that. Um, but I like to look at that way because I've got, I I've had so many things that have happened in my life because I decided to build an online business and it's like things that are outside of the business. So the real relationships, I think for me, it's hands down.

Stephanie Hayes:

Right. And it's a foundation for absolutely everything, no matter what kind of marketing you're taking on, there is no such thing as marketing with it. Relationship.

Anna Gray:

Yeah, absolutely.

Stephanie Hayes:

Awesome. Okay. We're coming up on time. Thank you so much for spending the time with me today. We brought the talk for another two hours, but no, totally. Yeah. Can you tell people where they can find you and we'll put all the links in the show

Anna Gray:

notes? Sure. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Um, the easiest place to find me would be on my Instagram because it's easy. It's Ana dot B dot gray. Um, and then my Facebook group is now called live big, find your magic. Um, but I have all of my Facebook group. Tips and tricks and everything in that group. So if you're looking for, it's still all very relevant, um, and the conversation is still happening about Facebook groups. Um, that's a great place to start. Yeah. Awesome.

Stephanie Hayes:

Well, we'll, we'll put those links in the show notes for sure. And you can go and find Anna, thank you so much for taking the time today. Um, go find Anna, go check her out. She's got some awesome free tips and tricks, free conversation. Uh, some, just some, like she's been around for a very long time and she's just really wonderful to connect with. And that's the wrap for this episode, such an amazing conversation. And, uh, I can't wait to see what happens with the next phase of your business. And again, thank you for being here. If you've enjoyed today's content, I'd love for you to give us a review on whatever platform you're on. This helps us share these stories with an even bigger audience until next time, keep building, keep dreaming and keep being real.