Managing a Facebook Group

Facebook offers several ways to establish a presence on its network: Individuals can set up personal Profiles, companies and organizations can set up Pages, and anyone with a Facebook account can start a Facebook Group. A group on Facebook looks similar to Pages or Profiles with some key differences.

About – All presences on Facebook include an About section for background details.

Discussion – On Groups, the Discussion area is similar to Posts on a Page or profile.

Members – Only Groups has a Member section listing those who have joined. Pages have “Likes” and Profiles have “Friends.”

Events – Both Groups and Pages list related events.

Videos and Photos – All presences can feature both videos and photos.

Group Insights and Manage Group – Like Pages, Groups have administrative features including metrics and management tools.

Companies usually set up Groups in addition to a public-facing Facebook Page because they want to engage more with people. Pages tend to be more about posting content for others to consumer. Groups tend to be more about conversations amongst group members. If you are looking for a forum to host in-depth discussions based around common topics, Groups may be a good choice.

Like any online community, Groups require much more attention and management than Pages in order to keep the conversations going and to keep them relevant. Pages should also be monitored, but a Group requires more resources to manage it.

If you are the administrator of a Facebook Page, your identity can be “hidden” from public view. If you are the organizer of a Group, your identity is visible within the Group. You can assign officers for the Group and their names will be visible as well.

While a Facebook Page is meant to be more of a publicly viewable promotional presence, a Group can be made Closed where members must be invited or approved or even Secret so the Group won’t even show up in a keyword search on Facebook. You have controls over who can join and who can post to your Group.

Facebook Groups consist of a “wall” or “Timeline” similar to personal accounts and Pages. One helpful feature in Groups is that you can schedule posts to keep the conversations going. Another helpful feature in Groups that isn’t available on Pages or personal Profiles is the ability to upload Files to the Group for others to download.

Before you create a Facebook Group, ask yourself the following:

What are you hoping to achieve with an online community? Some appropriate ways to leverage an online community are to get informal feedback like an online focus group. Online communities can be useful for brainstorming new ideas or for organizing a shared activity or event, providing customer service or creating connections between customers.

How much time do you have to devote to your community? Online communities take time to start, cultivate, grow, and leverage. On the time-commitment scale, online community building is on the longer side of time demands. A good online community manager spends several hours throughout their day checking on the community.

Who on your team has online community management skills? You may be a strong communicator, you may write a great press release, and you may even have your own personal Facebook profile and feel comfortable posting status updates. However, none of these skills automatically translates into being a good online community manager. A strong community manager brings people together under a shared message or mission and encourages meaningful dialogue.

What are the rules of your community? Like any online forum, set some ground rules for appropriate behavior and for the consequences of inappropriate behavior in your Group. Put these rules in writing and make sure community members can access them.

Some common concepts for building online community include:

Seeding or posting conversation starters that are compelling and inviting to others to chime in.

Weeding to keep conversations on track or to weed out negative behavior that might create a hostile environment and kill the community.

Cultivating conversations is key so you’re Group posts are seen often by members. Cultivating an online community into a fruitful marketing tool takes finesse and a fundamental understand of online community dynamics.

There is no single right or wrong way to manage an online community because it depends on the Group’s purpose and the interests of its members. Be clear from the start as to the purpose of your Facebook Group and your expectations of your community members to avoid conflicts in the long run.