This is a very interesting thread! Thanks for bringing up the topic regarding Facebook-groups and communities. So I have a lot I want to share regarding this
We are located in Denmark, and are a small patient-organization. We wanted somewhere to unite our members, somewhere they could share their stories on how they got their injury, what they feel, which doctors have helped them and so on. Our patient group have a brain injury and therefore have som disabilities regarding using computer and looking at screens ig. online forums, as well as they have cognitive limitations. Our budget was zero.
How we kicked off: We shared the group wherever we could. As the community manager, I shared theme-posts to get the new members talking. Like “Headaches” or “Exercise”. Whatever fits your members profile and interests. Sometimes it is hard for them to start, the group often works better if you kick it off and help them along. Later I have learned, that tagging them the right places and connecting the members is even more important. But this applies to all kind of communities, and I am sure I am the one behind on this topic in this bright forum
Facebook challenges: FB does have limitations, as mentioned above from Richard Millington and Darren_Gough. The new posts disappear on the group-wall as new posts arrive. You can search within the group, but requires a computer and does not work on the app (yet…). If you have too many members, one post disappear an may not even get any replies. If you cross 250 members, the statistics available disappear. This means that you cannot see how many members read your posts - this was very important to us, and still is. We want to see, how engaged the members are. Recently we have discovered a tool outside of FB to analyze FB-groups, this is all new and very exciting for us. This opens up a whole new level to FB-groups, that we have been missing all 2 years we have had our groups. This actually means that more people can use FB-groups, in my opinion
What we did:
- Closed the group after 250 members. This is to maintain the possibly to see “number of views”. Also, as mentioned earlier, people with brain injury have cognitive challenges. Too much activity can mean, that they actually feel physically worse in the group and end up leaving it. So this is another reason, why we stay within the 250 border. But I think the large groups on FB are so confusing, even if you do not have cognitive challenges. This is worth considering - maybe a number larger than 250, but you have to find a level where everyone is still following.
. We open more groups and make the full groups secret, so no one can apply. This helps the workload at community management. We now have 5 groups, 3 main groups, one for younger and one for caregivers. Each groups actually has its own personality, depending on the community manager and on the members. This is very interesting! Very few people leave the groups. They seem ok with the fact, that we close the groups. also, we tell them why when we do it. Leading on to…
- We engage the members. We tell them what we are planning, and we ask them their opinion afterwards. They have a say in most things. We put out questions for them to answer and evaluate once every 6 months app., to see where we are.
I have much more on heart, but I am also one the people with brain injury so will take a little break now I hope this made sense, We are very happy with our Facebook-groups and really want to share, that it can be a succes to build group on this platform - where most people already have signed up to connect with their friends, so why not use it to connect with others with brain injuries, or bloggers, or who works within communities That said, we won’t stay on Facebook forever, but dream of a new platform and a larger budget, to build something new. One day!