Have you ever started a group on Facebook? Do you need to know the ins and outs of group management? Could you do with a few pointers? Well, read on.
Recently we looked at some of the best groups you should join or start on Facebook. You may have been tempted to start a Facebook group for your family or some loosely connected friends. So, this week we’ll take a look at some of the best practices of running a group on Facebook.
Online Community Management
When you run an online community, there are some very important things to consider. These include the privacy, moderation, and facilitation of the group, amongst other things. Facebook groups are not unlike other online communities in this way, so you should really take these things into account when running your Facebook group, too.
Facebook Group Privacy
On Facebook, your group can be Open, Closed or Secret. Open groups are completely public. Anyone can see the group, see who is in it, and can read any of the posts. Closed groups are visible, along with membership lists, but no-one outside of the group can see the content. This is ideal for most groups, as it makes them findable, but not public. Secret groups can’t be seen by anyone at all unless they are in the group.
Therefore, you should determine your group privacy setting according to what type of group you’re going to run. If the group is for your school and will have many people you don’t know in it, an open group is ideal. Closed groups are perfect for loosely connected groups who may accept new friends of friends as members on occasion. They are also good for groups that you want to be findable, but which have content you’d prefer to remain private, such as mothers’ groups. Secret groups are perfect for family groups, groups of close friends and groups where the name of the group might potentially “out” someone for something they’d prefer to keep private.
You can change your group privacy settings at any time until you have 250 members. Facebook will notify members of the changes.
Note that joining any group will increase your visibility on Facebook, so you should check that your own Timeline privacy settings are sufficient.
Group moderation is where many groups fail. You need to always have active admins to keep membership current and to curb the spam and other offensive content.
Make a point of adding admins regularly as the size of the group increases. This is really important as anything could happen to the admins you add. They could stop using Facebook, get locked out of their account, get hacked, etc. The more admins you have, the more likely the group will continue to have a future.
When choosing admins, look for people who you know and trust, people who know Facebook well and can therefore fix things if need be, people who are computer literate, and people who understand how to delete posts and ban members when required. You might be surprised how few people actually fit the role when all of these aspects are considered.
To add people as admin for your group, head to the members page of your group. Search or browse for the person you want to add, then click on the gear icon and choose “Make Admin”. This is also how you would remove or ban people from the group.
Note that admins can’t remove admins that have been an admin longer than themselves. Also, to delete a group you need to remove all of the members and then yourself. This means, because the creator is the first admin, you are the only person who can delete your group, unless at some point you remove yourself as an admin or delete yourself from the group.
Membership and Post Approval
To edit your group settings, click on the gear icon in the top-right corner. You’ll now need to make a few decisions on which things need to get approved.
For membership approval, either choose to let any member add and approve new members, or choose to let anyone add members, but keep the approval for admin only. The latter option is ideal if you’re dealing with an open group, as it stops spammers from joining and adding all of their spammer friends. With a small group of friends or family, though, it might be perfectly fine to let anyone add members, since everyone knows who should be included by the very definition of the group.
Posting rights can be set to either admins only or any members. However, you can also choose to allow any member to post, with admin approval for each post. This is a good way to avoid spam messages getting through.
If you don’t do this and a spam post appears, you can click on the arrow to the right of the post and choose “Delete” or “Delete and Remove User”. You can also ban the user from the group if you wish. Be careful with this, though, as sometimes a regular user can be hacked and the hacker will spam all of their groups. Deleting and removing the user is enough to clear up the issue. The member can always reapply to join later.
Group Email Address
A group email address isn’t necessary, but it can be useful. Consider your elderly relatives and whether they are comfortable using Facebook. If they’re okay with email, but not Facebook, you can set up a group email address so these people can use email instead.
Choose the email address wisely as it can’t be changed. It doesn’t need to be an obscure name, either, as only email from people in the group will be posted, i.e., Facebook will only allow posts from email addresses that have been verified by group members. Make it memorable!
Group Info and Tags
If you don’t explain what the group is for, no-one will know if it’s the sort of group they should join. It’s not over-the-top to actually explain these things and to lay down a few ground rules about behaviour in the group’s information field. It’s helpful to members of the group, as they know what to expect.
And yes, do upload an image and set an icon. It’s little things like this that will make your group stand out.
While you’re filling out the information for the group, take a little time to add some relevant tags. You can only choose three, so make sure they are helpful for people searching. These tags link back to Pages, but not vice-versa. They are also used to suggest groups to people as they browse.
Keep Your Notifications On
As an admin, you will need to know when there are important things to approve, or spam to be banished. So, keep your notifications on. You can adjust them so you’re not always bombarded, but it’s important for your group that you do your job as admin. Once your group is over 250 people, everyone’s notifications will be limited to what their friends post in the group (plus any admin activities).
Making Your Group Awesome and Popular
There are so many things you can do to keep your group active, awesome and looking great. Start by choosing the right name, ensuring there are lots of colourful pictures to look at, promoting it actively and then keeping the content fresh.
If your group is inactive, there isn’t much point to it, is there? Even using the group for the purposes of group chat is worthwhile, so keep it in mind.
When if comes to posts, try to keep them varied: a picture here, a question there, an event, a poll, a useful link, useful documents, a random anecdote, etc. Whatever you do, try to get other members of the group engaged and responding. Better still, try to get other people so involved that they start creating the content.
Note that group chats can only be started in smaller groups. Anyone in the group can start it, and it can involve just a subset of the group if required. Once a group chat has begun, any member of the chat can add anyone else to it, whether they are in the group or not. That person will be able to read all of the chat history too.
Facebook Groups Information
Facebook also has a useful guide to using group admin tools, so check that out for more information.
Have any group-management tips you’d like to share? Group-management problem you’ve encountered? Let us know in the comments.