Using Facebook groups as a community hub

(Matilda Egere-Cooper) #1


I’m a community manager working with a group of bloggers and I recently decided to create a FB group to connect us all. It’s the first time I’ve created this kind of space and I’m really keen to keep to bloggers constantly engaged. Does anyone have any advice for how to go about this?

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(Richard Millington) #2

So Facebook groups can be great but you need to hit a critical mass quite quickly to make them work.

Facebook groups have 2 killer features - built in notifications and recommendations. So once you reach a critical mass, the groups started being recommended to other friends with similar interests. That’s a powerful tool. CMX does REALLY well with this.

It also depends if the people you’re trying to reach have a connection to one another. If they don’t, that’s going to make this very difficult.

So the single best piece of advice here is to befriend the people you’re trying to reach and invite them to join the group. Promote it heavily in the beginning. @tag people into discussions to keep them engaged. It takes a lot more drive in the beginning, but pays off at the end.

I’m going to assume you’re on top of the basic community advice - such as fresh content, welcomes, initiating useful discussions etc too :smile:

(Sarah Hawk) #3

Hello @tillycooper. Welcome! Great topic. :smile:

I think you have two things in your favour already – Facebook groups are a fairly easy community nut to crack in that people are already on the platform and ‘in the habit’. And secondly, your audience is a group that spend a lot of time in front of their devices/online already.

If your challenge is to maintain ongoing engagement, is it fair to assume that you already have your audience onboard? If so, then fun weekly rituals are useful to getting people back regularly (and in that habit).

(Sarah Hawk) #4

It might be beneficial to chat with @ArielleShnaidman who has recently joined us and has a pretty solid pedigree in social media. What are your thoughts Arielle?

(Darren Gough) #5

One downside I find from Facebook groups is it can sometimes be difficult not to miss things with the timeline style of information. I don’t find Facebook’s sort tools particularly effective for managing this so it needs really careful content creation and management from the CM or group admin to control that.

(Richard Millington) #6

Given the choice and a four-figure budget, I’d definitely recommend against using it.

It doesn’t allow enough customisation, Facebook can (and do) change it at any time, it doesn’t allow good documentation, and I don’t think you can collect the e-mail addresses of the audience you’re trying to reach. All of which are big problems.

(Matilda Egere-Cooper) #7

Thanks for the feedback guys. In my case, I’m using it for a closed community of people who’ll be invited to the group as a way for them to stay connected with one another and to keep up to date with things happening within the network (for instance, I promote the blog posts they publish within the group, as well as let them share interesting articles about blogging). The group isn’t open to people who aren’t a part of the blog network.

(Shnaidman Shnaidman) #8

Hey @tillycooper :slight_smile:

I’m myself trying to get an active community going at my current company so I hear ya! I think the most helpful thing for me / that I’ve learned is whatever you’re doing, it needs to be based upon an action or desire your bloggers already want to take - meaning you’re facilitating or making it easier for them to do something they all already want to do.

I’m not sure what kind of bloggers you’re working with, but in my case I’m working with professionals who use our business management software. My coworker and I talked one on one with many of our users and figured out they want to either: influence the product roadmap or learn best practices from each other on how to do things with the software.

So I think the first question to ask is why did you create the Facebook group, did bloggers express interest in connecting with each other? If yes, find out why. Then, I’d pick 3-4 engaged/enthusiastic bloggers to be “leaders” for the time being.

Find some kind of incentive that relates back to your product to reward these already engaged bloggers to ask questions/ lead the conversation in the beginning to get the ball rolling. Then the group will see its “real people” who are driving discussion and not your company and I think that will build trust/authenticity.

I have no experience creating a group like that on Facebook, right now we’re being a scrappy startup and testing out a Google group, but overall I’d say find your bloggers who already like to talk and engage and have them gear discussions towards what your bloggers want from the group (after you figure that out).

I hope that’s helpful and sorry for the wordy response!

Sent from my iPhone

(Matilda Egere-Cooper) #9

That’s really helpful, thank you! Off the back of this I e-mailed my community to ask them what they’d like to get out of the group. They came back with things I was sort of doing “anyway”, but I like your idea of getting the engaged ones to take the lead so I’m gonna have a think about how to make that happen.

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(Sarah Hawk) #10

That’s often the case – people don’t know what they want.
My unscientific advice is to try different things and see what works. Don’t be afraid to get things wrong.

It’s likely that people want to network and get ideas from each other. People also love to read about themselves. You could pick a handful of people that seem like potential leaders and do a ‘Member Spotlight’ – interview them and publish it to the others. That will likely incentivise them to reciprocate with activity.

(Matilda Egere-Cooper) #11

Thanks Sarah! I’m the first person to fear getting things wrong lol Was planning on starting a Member’s Spotlight in our monthly newsletters - but I suppose it can also be shared in the group too.

(Sarah Hawk) #12

It’s the best way to learn. :smile:
I get things wrong all the time, right @richard_millington? :simple_wink:

(Charlotte Moller van Gils Hansen) #13

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 :smile:
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 :wink:

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 :slight_smile:

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 :slight_smile: 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 :wink: 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!

(Sarah Hawk) #14

Interesting insights, thanks @Charlotte_Moller_van – it sounds like you have hit on a solution that works really well for your audience. I’m particularly fascinated by your rolling group strategy of closing them as they hit 250 members.

Do you think some of the challenges that a larger group causes (outside of the analytical stuff) would be similar on a forum platform, or do you see Facebook nuances or complexities as responsible?

(Richard Millington) #15

I really love this story. Such a great example of decent community building.

Would it be possible to see the link at all? No worries if it’s not.

@Bas_van_Leeuwen has a great tool for FB stats too.

(Charlotte Moller van Gils Hansen) #16

This is the platform we recently found for analyzing Facebook-groups. We have yet to try it in detail, but first glimse seems pretty amazing and the free option is fine for a short periode of time :slight_smile:

It is truely amazing! :slight_smile:

(Bas van Leeuwen) #17

Hey Charlotte,

I think Grytics is pretty cool, but since Rich tagged me, I felt I needed to share our own solution as well :smile:
Have a look!
I’d love to hear where you feel we can improve, what Grytics does better etc :slight_smile:

(Matilda Egere-Cooper) #18

Thanks for sharing Charlotte!

(Henry Mackintosh) #19

Thanks @Bas_van_Leeuwen and especially @Charlotte_Moller_van thanks for sharing. I’m about to do some early stage customer community building using a Facebook group. This whole thread has been super useful. I have also found Rich’s Proven path document super handy

Trying my hardest to avoid big launch thinking at all costs.

(Richard Millington) #20

Thanks @Henry_Mackintosh

Like I said, Facebook group can be terrific for getting something started or a cheap option because it spreads organically quite well once you’re over a small critical mass boundary…it’s just what you do after that is the challenge.