Note from Beth: While many of us focus our attention on FB pages, Facebook groups can be a good platform for nonprofits to use for informal peer learning groups, getting feedback from your post passionate fans, or to cultivate and support a brand ambassadors group. I’ve been using them to enhance peer exchanges where participants are meeting face-to-face or conference call for “water color” learning – especially if the focus of the learning is how to use Facebook! I’m also a champion for the Blue Key Campaign which is using a Facebook Group to coordinate and communicate around our work supporting the campaign. Last year, Darim Online used a Facebook Group to facilitate a virtual book club for the Networked Nonprofit. That’s where I connected with Miriam Brosseau who recently shared this awesome post on Facebook profile. It was such a terrific post I invited her share it here.
Making Facebook Groups Rock – Guest Post by Miriam Brosseau
Facebook groups have changed a lot in the past year or so, and they’re more powerful than ever. Here are some helpful hints to make your Facebook group a truly vibrant platform:
Maximizing group features for networking and engagement:
Tagging individuals in posts. This is an excellent means of publicly introducing two (or more) folks within your group. Include bragging rights – what makes these members unique? Give them a question to explore together, and encourage the dialogue. This means you have to know your group – who they are, what they’re up to, what they need, etc. Think:
- How can I encourage others to use the group in the same way, not just as a means for marketing/broadcasting information?
- How do I go from network weaver to empowering others to weave one another?
The power of pictures. Facebook is a “picture economy” (whereas Twitter is a “link economy”); pics are the most engaged content, the most in-demand. Pictures are great conversation starters. Tagging folks in pictures and asking them to tag themselves also increases engagement, puts a face to a name, and humanizes the process by bridging online and on-land worlds.
Questions and polling. Thoughtful, simple, directed questions can be a powerful engagement mechanism. Think about allowing others to add their own options to the poll – when is it appropriate, and when is it unnecessary or confusing. Expect to get answers both in the poll itself and in the comments, and run with both!
Group chat. Facebook groups mostly function asynchronously, but a synchronous activity now and again can really rally the troops. (Note: this feature does not function with groups of 250 members or more.) Consider the following:
- What are the deeper conversations your group seems inclined to have?
- Can you assign someone to host that conversation and empower them to lead the charge?
Docs. Docs are like super-simple wikis, and probably the most truly collaborative aspect of a Facebook group. Because they are collaboratively editable, they are great for anything that requires a teasing out a group voice – agendas, statements or announcements, etc.
- Docs live in a designated place within your group and are therefore not as subject to the news feed, which is more timely. Docs are great for posting information that you plan to come back to again and again.
- Conversations will naturally spring up in the comments section of your document. It’s important to manage the flow between what is being written in the doc and what’s happening in the comments.
Events. Creating a group event for actual in-person meetings makes a lot of sense, but there are other ways the events feature can be used – general publicity, announcements, calls to action, booking a time for a group chat, etc.
- Events need not be restricted to members of the group. Use them when you want to introduce a broader audience to your group’s good work.
- Bear in mind – events can be great, but tend to get lost in the new Facebook layout. Timing is key. Be conscious of who you are reminding of the event and how often. Remember you can also post the event’s unique link to the group or your personal profile page.
- Finally, events, like docs, also have a comment stream attached. Monitor accordingly.
Other big ideas:
Have a goal for the group, or at least a project everyone can rally around. Give the group a sense of purpose.
No one person “owns” a Facebook group. It belongs equally to all the members and should be treated as such. (Think about using the Docs to build a group statement of values – decide as a community how you will use the group and treat one another while active in it.)
It’s easier to post than to reply. Engagement takes investment. Try setting aside a specific block of time every day or week to monitor and engage the group. Ask other members to do the same – spread the responsibility around and see what kind of ROE (return on engagement) you get.
No medium exists in a vacuum. Think about the relationships between what happens in the group, on Facebook in general, over email, on the phone, in person, at events, etc. To be truly effective, the online experience should be tied – topically, in culture, in voice, in attitude – to the experience(s) of the group in other spaces.
Groups don’t provide hard analytical data the way Pages do, so it’s up to you to gather both the qualitative and quantitative results. Consider asking:
- Who’s posting most often? Who’s replying?
- What topics are folks posting about? What topics are getting the most feedback and engagement?
- What times of day are people posting?
- Are members typically sharing links, photos, videos, event invitations?
- What else can you learn about your members through their activity? What do they care about?
How have you made Facebook Groups work for you? What are your success stories?
Miriam Brosseau is blogs at Darim Online where this guest blog post was originally published.