This piece was first published on the website of Tech4good SWFL after Mark Benson presented on the topic at the monthly meeting of the Southwest Florida group, affiliated with NetSquared, an international organization dedicated to advancing the online capabilities of nonprofit organizations.
Mark Benson is a Luxury Life Style Specialist – Serving Southwest Florida since 1995 as Real-estate agent with Keller Williams office in Naples and has been a volunteer of Tech4Good SWFL.
Let’s dig right in:
What is a Facebook group and how is it different from a business page and my personal profile?
Pages are more along the line of broadcasting your message and hoping to engage with people who have liked the page and comment when it appears in their Newsfeed, or they search for it.
Groups are more along the line of forums where members exchange information and a moderator posts or comments on specific topics of interest to the members. If someone who “likes” your group’s Business Page they can comment on any post, or if they try to post something on the page it only appears in the section on the right titled “Visitors Posts” which are not as visible to the average user. Example: Tech4Good SWFL Page
What are the benefits of having a Facebook group?
Is this something worth your time? The ultimate benefit is to get more participants, contributors, and supporters for your group. Drive more traffic to your website for deeper engagement.
Why a Facebook group versus some other method of staying engaged with our members?
Facebook participation is the largest of any worldwide social media platform.
What decisions need to be made in the beginning in setting up a group?
- Group Name,
- Group description,
- group photo (800 x 200 pixels),
- who will have administrator status,
- a Facebook Custom URL (see Facebook instructions on screen)
What if there is already a group with the same or similar name to our organization?
That may not be a limiting factor. Study the same group first and decide if there is a way to distinguish your group clearly from the others.
What if we want to change the name of the group in the future?
If you have more than 250 members in your group the only way to replace the group name is to delete the members down to 250, change the name and then add them back. If you do this be sure to notify your group members that they will be temporarily removed and added back. And be sure you record who you remove. If you’re not Facebook friends with them, you will not be able to add them back yourself.
What does it cost?
Where do we go to begin the process of creating a groups?
How much time does it take to set up a group and do we need help?
What if my schedule is overloaded as it is and I don’t feel I can add one more thing to my “to-do” list?
See if there’s another person who can volunteer to take this on. It can be done at home and can be adjusted to fit someone’s limited time availability. If you have several administrators, it will make it easier to implement.
Do we need to have a Facebook account to create a group?
Yes, you create groups through your personal profile. You need to decide if a leader of your organization or a staff member is going to create the group. If they are no longer involved in your organization in the future, who else will be appointed as an Administrator in the beginning to have access to the back end? If the administrator of the group is deleted or removes themselves you’ll want at least a second administrator to maintain the group. You will find as you go along that there are people in your group who post responsibly and are engaged. They are prospective future administrators.
Who will likely join the group? Is there any restriction or control?
Approval of new members is determined by settings of the group. A good suggestion is to take a look at who has already “liked” your business page and invite them to the group. Share a link on your business page and suggest that people join the group. Also include a link to your organization’s email signature, newsletter and on your website. Next, look at your membership roster or list of volunteers and donors and invite them to join your group. You can also send an email blast to your database and describe the group, its purpose and a link to join.
How many members should we set as a goal to have in our group?
It depends on the size of your current membership. Who are the influencers in your organization? Who in your organization will hold back from posting or commenting until they see participation by other persons they know? Try to add people who are icons who you know initially are active in other groups or will contribute to the group. Having a large number of members who don’t participate in your group will only attract more members but may not build engagement. Initially, depending on the size of your database and how effective you are in getting new members to join your group, you may find it grows rather slowly. A lot will depend on the number of posts and the number of comments. As you continue to grow it may build a synergy of its own as more people share it or as people see your group in your member’s list of groups.
Do I need additional help or volunteers to sustain the group?
It would be helpful if your group has more than just one person administering and contributing to the content. In choosing other moderators and administrators, be careful that the persons you choose are not too heavy in controlling the conversation and zealous about deleting comments or removing members. It takes someone with good judgment who will keep the group’s guidelines top of mind. You probably want someone who initiates thoughtful conversation rather than someone who will dominate the group. Again, be careful about setting your expectations with fellow administrators from the beginning and be sure you have clear communications and an understanding of what you want.
Is there a lot of work to maintain the group?
There’s not a lot of work to support a group other than to monitor the posts, comments and to keep the group stimulated with fresh information. If you neglect it, however, it can become harder to re-engage members after a period of low participation.
What are the common aspects of groups?
They have a focus or topic rather than a broad area of interest.
What are the most common reasons why a group isn’t successful?
- Lack of participation by the group members,
- lack of posts in the group,
- off-topic posts,
- rants by members,
- a competing group that does a better job of keeping their members engaged.
Conclusion: Stay true to your organization’s purpose, mission, vision, and values. If you go too far astray, it could be costly.
What are the tips and tricks for having a successful Facebook Group?
- Have a strategy for posting and commenting on posts by other members.
- Post about upcoming events with photos and graphics, during events and follow-up to events and tag members of the group.
- When there is a significant milestone or anniversary, create an announcement.
- Recognize the support, contributions, and volunteers your organization receives.
How frequently do we need to post in the group?
If not daily (which may not be necessary if members post regularly) at least several times a week. Monitor the posts and watch to see which topics or individuals who post get high responses and which ones get weak responses. Adjust accordingly and respond when necessary to get further engagement.
How does a Facebook group enhance the efforts of our organization in connecting with our members?
Many members of organizations do not read emails, mailings or look at the organization’s website frequently. If they are an active Facebook user, they may be more likely to engage with your organization through a group than depending on your Facebook page posts appearing in their Facebook Newsfeed.
What should be posted in a group?
- Newsworthy information,
- questions and polls can sometimes stimulate participation by members.
- If you find members aren’t viewing the posts, you can share a link to them in a private message or tag some of them in a post.
Can anyone join and can everyone post anything in the group?
It depends on the settings for the group. You can allow any member to approve new members, or you can restrict membership by requiring that every new member is approved by an administrator. Adding this restriction may help in keeping spammers out of your group.
How can our group avoid being lost in the “noise” of Facebook?
- Ask members to invite others who may have an interest in your organization to the group.
- Stay on topic, be relevant, respectful and current.
- The more active participation, the more likely you’ll be able to break through the noise.
- Use photos, videos, and graphics to enhance your posts and try to keep the length of your posts short as many people are viewing them on mobile devices.
- Link to your website for more detailed information.
How can we get more participation in our group?
- Consider having a monthly “date night” when there will be a host and people will discuss a topic for an hour.
- Post videos or add: Live” videos on a current or upcoming topic of interest.
- Remember reciprocity – if you join someone else’s local group they may have a willingness to join your group!
What ways are there to leverage the group with our members?
How will people who are not currently members or subscribers find the group?
- Unless it’s a Secret Group, it will be searchable by the group’s name.
- If you look at someone’s Personal Profile, unless they’ve restricted viewing their groups by their privacy settings, you can see which groups they joined.
- You can make a connection to new people if they discover your group through someone who is already a member of your group.
- Ask existing members of your organization or group to share the link and invite their friends to join your group.
Is there a limit on the size of the group?
Are there examples of successful local groups we can model?
Please remember, not everything you will see in other groups and business pages are “best practices.”
This is simply shown as an example of what other organizations are doing!
- Public Group: Naples & Marco Island, Florida’s Paradise Coast has over 10,000 members
- Public Group: Ask SWFL has over 8900 local members.
- Public Group: Foodies Unite SWFL has over 4700 local members
- Public Group: Southwest Florida Restaurant Crawl has 500+ local members
- Closed Group: Naples Sell/Buy/Trade Wall has more than 30,000 members
- Closed Group: 239 Car Club: has over 5000 local members.
- Closed Group: The Bonita Springs – Estero Florida Community Forum with over 3300 local members
Is there a benefit for someone to belong to more than one group?
Yes, especially if there are different focuses in the groups and varying degrees of activity in the groups.
What can be done to limit who can see the posts in a group or the existence of the group?
- Public groups are visible to everyone and their posts are also visible to everyone.
- Posts in Closed Groups can only be viewed by the members of the group, although who is in the group is visible to everyone.
- Secret Groups are not searchable or visible to anyone who isn’t a member or invited to the group.
How can you limit or delete what’s posted in the group?
One of the best practices is to set group guidelines in the beginning. Notify everyone that violations of the rules may result in immediate removal from the group. You may want to limit self-promotion and off-topic posts. Some people will attempt to post their political points of view, rants, and other fund-raising events in the group. You determine what’s acceptable, and it’s best to set the rules from the beginning rather than to have to police posts and potentially create ill-will by deleting someone’s post later.
Can the group settings be changed by any administrator?
Yes, depending on the level they are given. Be careful as another administrator can remove every other administrator!
How can we find more people to join our group?
Look for individuals who contribute or like posts in similar groups. Search for individuals who live in your city or area as an example – type in the search bar “ People who live in Naples, Florida.“
How do I keep track of when there are new posts in a group that I belong to?
Add your group to the Favorites section on the left frame of your Facebook viewing page. Be sure to turn on your personal settings for the group’s notifications. Perhaps you want “All Notifications” initially. Later you may wish to change to “Highlights” or “Friends Posts” if the notifications are too frequent for you.
How do we remove a member of the group?
Only a group administrator can remove someone (or the members can remove themselves.) Administrators can search the roster of members and click on delete this member. There is a confirmation that you want to remove someone just in case you accidentally click without the intention of removing someone.
Local Facebook business pages:
- Conservancy of Southwest Florida has over 22,000 likes
- Dementia Frontline has over 6300 likes:
- Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida, Inc. has over 5000 likes
- Community Foundation of Collier County has over 1900 likes:
- CREW Land & Water Trust has over 1300 likes:
- Teddy Bears For The Troops has over 1000 likes:
- Alzheimer’s Support Network has over 600 members
- Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples has over 200 likes:
- Tech4Good Southwest Florida has over 150 likes
- Naples Music Club has 75 likes:
So, remind me, what are the first steps to starting a Facebook group.
- Determine what your goals are,
- appoint administrators,
- identify the people you want to join the group and
- have a strategy about what will be posted by whom and how frequently.
- Once you have them underway, follow-up and
- recognize those who support the group.
How can you make a difference for Tech4Good SWFL?
- Post notices of our upcoming meetings,
- share a link to our website,
- comment on our Business Page and
- share it along with a link to our Facebook group with everyone you know who might also share them!
- Help us spread the word about who we are and what we do!
Also published on Medium.