Facebook in tandem with another community – pros and cons

(Louisa Sullivan) #1

Our team has been debating the pros/cons of creating a Facebook Group. As a nonprofit, with a target audience of teachers, we currently have several ongoing communities (on edWeb and Edmodo) but neither host lively or consistent discussions. We’re wondering if we should try a Facebook group - trying to meet educators where they are active. We “know” Facebook is a tool many educators use, though our current page has less than 5,000 followers.

This week, it’s time to make a decision! We have to go for it, or focus our efforts elsewhere (ie our current communities and our Facebook page). Any insights would be fantastic! I have read the other strands on this topic but I"m still on the fence. Thanks!

[12 September] What are you working on this week?
(Mark Baldwin) #2

Would the Facebook group exist alongside other endeavours? If so, go for it because you will just be constantly questioning if you should have done it otherwise. Worst case is that the group doesn’t work, but you still have your other communities. :slight_smile:

(Louisa Sullivan) #3

Thanks for your feedback Mark! It would exist in addition to our other communities- and our Facebook page. Which leads me to my next question- what would make this group different? Would it matter if some of the content or discussions are repetitive? Thanks again for your thoughts!

(Sarah Hawk) #4

Hi @LouisaS – I’ve split this discussion out into one of its own so it doesn’t get lost in the noise.

That is my question as well. If your current endeavours aren’t working, then I think you need to get to the root cause of that rather than starting again with the same legacy issues. A new platform very rarely fixes an unhealthy community, unless serious limitations of the old one (like a lack of notifications or a really bad UX) are the cause of low engagement.

It sounds like you have a value deficit issue. Your audience aren’t engaging because the value proposition doesn’t exist for them. The first thing to establish is whether they visit but don’t engage, or are they not even visiting? If it’s the former, then something about the culture needs to change. If it’s the latter, then you need to revisit your concept. What is the purpose (if I was @Nick_Emmett I’d say the WHY) of your community?

I agree with @Mjbill’s point about having nothing to lose (and he’s the expert on moving off platform and onto Facebook with huge success) but I wonder if you’re diluting your resources and pinning false hope in the wrong place.

(Anton) #5

Our experience is with setting up an automatic topic posting to a Facebook group. With zero efforts to promote the Facebook group and add unique content to it, it gave us zero return in terms of people interest and visits.

(Sarah Hawk) #6

I think that’s the difference between using social media as a broadcasting tool (as you describe) and using it as a community platform. The first requires no overheads but offers no return.

(Mark Baldwin) #7

@LouisaS I think @HAWK is right, you need to get to the bottom of why your community is not engaging before deciding where to concentrate your efforts. Just a thought, but if your audience is those in the teaching profession, are you posting content at a time of day when teachers can engage (we know teachers lead very busy lives) have you done some research into what time of the day gets better results? Do topics about homework marking for example get better engagement on an evening?

(Courtney Calvin) #8

I think it was this publication, Modern Communities of Practice, that recommends meeting your audience there they are and then driving them back to the community. So if Facebook is already a natural fit for them and they already have the habit of visiting there, post content there that attracts them to the primary platforms.

(Doug Agee) #9

We have a few FB groups from different departments. So we have a few different CMs with which to discuss the idea. We have talked internally about the possibility of transitioning from FB to a community group with the idea of creating more traffic to the main community and reducing trolls. To @Courtney_Calvin 's point, we would point the FB members to the community group to start.

I feel like part of the challenge in this plan is that the members using FB do so for a variety of reasons - personal, social, and work related. We may not be solving any problems and creating more effort to existing FB group members. In the end, it may be more self-serving.

(Louisa Sullivan) #10

Thank you for all the great feedback. @HAWK, you hit on our primary question for our team: what is working, what isn’t and why? I do think timing is part of it. Teachers aren’t looking to engage on a Friday afternoon when some of our discussion posts go up. After some research (and discussions with educators) they much more likely to have time or want to spend the time on a Tuesday! And, you’re right @Mjbill: topics is a key component! In our community platforms our goal is to discuss digital citizenship and edtech topics- NOT just our organization products- but this has been an internal discussion for some time.

Facebook is still blocked in many schools but teachers do utilize the platform professionally…essentially we’re still trying to figure out if they are really “there.”

I believe our next step is to create a full strategy and try out some different things on our current communities before creating the Facebook group. We could start in 2017 rather than a quick start for September/back to school.

(Nick Emmett) #12

Hey @LouisaS - late to the party i know (had some crazy training hours this week) but agree with pretty much everything that’s been said so far - feel free to talk it out in here first if you want to. I definitely think it sounds like a great opportunity to get refocused on the whole concept.

Like @HAWK said - I’m very focussed on the WHY of communities - what’s your community’s reason for being? Why would people come, what are you hoping they talk about and share? What’s the value they’re going to get by being a member? Did you do any research around need before launching, i.e. what other options are out there for your target members?

Would be great to help develop your thinking through the group here if you need a sounding board?

(Sarah Hawk) #13

Yeah, I think that’s smart. Yell out if you need any help with that.