During a recent conversation with a woman who runs a Facebook group for people going through relationship breakdown, she told me she’d spent most of her working day putting out ‘fires’ between members.
While that’s not entirely surprising given the emotional nature of her group, it came to cost her dearly – when eventually managing the group dynamic became such a misuse of her time, she decided to pull the plug altogether.
While we all want Facebook groups that are a hive of activity and meaningful conversation that add value to our brand, how can we ensure this doesn’t come at the cost of our precious time?
Here’s what our Flying Solo community of experts had to say:
1. Set up post-approval
“Set up post approval. That way you can reign in the drama before it becomes drama. Having even a slight bit of mediation is a winner,” says Jo Palmer, founder of Pointer Remote Roles.
2. Don’t be a douche canoe!
“The most important rule in Facebook groups as in life is ‘Don’t be a douche canoe.’ When people join, I welcome them and encourage them to read the opening post, where they can introduce themselves. I ask them to wait a week before posting anything else, so they have time to understand the group. No-one likes someone who arrives at a party and tries to takes over the music being played, ” says Heather Smith, founder of Heather Smith Consulting and creator of Xero MasterMind Group.
3. Your group, your rules!
“Running a Facebook group takes big furry balls. Yes you can lay you the group rules in a pinned post but can you enforce them? Is your group going to be a messy free for all of self promoters and willy wavers, or a well managed useful pod of awesomeness? To keep the group working well, you’ll have to smack bottoms, delete posts and take some flack. You decide. Your group. Your rules,” says Kate Toon, founder of Kate Toon and Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/katetoon/.
4. Don’t hide yourself!
“Be active in your group. Don’t hide behind the admin moniker. People join the group because they want to connect with you, not your VA. Yes, it can be a big job but if your group is an extension of your brand, you shouldn’t outsource or be absent. Continue to post tips, helpful info and content that not only builds the people in your group but also allows them to interact with you. We run weekly themed lives and regularly post content that adds value to our member’s businesses, as a result, it’s an active and engaged group,” says Annette Densham, founder of Publicity Genie PR Agency, and co-manager of the Rocket Launch Your Business Facebook group.
5. Put your analytics to good use
“Look at your group’s analytics and understand when your community engages with your content. Ask your community what they want to hear from you by using polls. Use groups as a great way to keep your community informed. And always thank participation and feedback,” says Karen Hollenbach, founder of Think Bespoke.
6. Pin your rules to the top of your page
“If you have hundreds of people and your group is fairly active, be aware that things can veer off in directions you weren’t expecting – so having well defined rules and boundaries (in a pinned post) is important. You also need to get your head round occasionally having to be the ‘bad cop’ (which I loathe, totally goes against my non confrontational nature!!) but it keeps things running smoothly. I feel pretty lucky the RL group is such a nice bunch and people love hanging in there, sharing stuff and asking advice – touch wood!” says Rachel Smith of Rachel’s List.com.au.
7. Understand the goals of your target market
“80% of Australian mums belong to a closed Facebook group just for mums. Tech-first mothers use social media to seek out other mums’ opinions, and they look for a brand’s social proof. They are searching for reviews, and awards a brand might have won. So effective Facebook groups are convenient and efficient allowing mothers to speed up the sales process to get what they want faster,” says Katrina McCarter, founder of Marketing to Mums.
7. Give, give, give, take!
8. Establish clear guidelines for group behaviour
“All of the groups and pages I manage or admin are very clear about behaving respectfully to ensure the group is a safe, informative, productive and fun virtual space for its members and followers. Bullying or personal insults are not allowed at all. By having clear guidelines (including what happens for breaches), I don’t need to moderate comments before publication so that members can contribute in a free-flowing, instantaneous conversational way, fully aware of the consequences if they don’t,” says Fiona Hamann, founder of Hamann Communications .
9. Be mindful about your content and conversation starters
“I have three groups. My free group has over 2.5k members. I think the most important thing to me is keeping them engaged. I do this by sparking emotional responses. For example, a post that they can relate to that gives them relief, “phew! It’s not just me.” Or inspires, “I CAN do that!” Etc. Conversational posts that evoke an emotion are the perfect balance for engagement and conversion,” says Stephanie Wicker Campbell, founder of Simply Kids.