Are You Building a Community With A Group in 2019?
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To stand out and really engage both your current and potential audiences and subscribers, use your main Page to connect, communicate, and provide readers with what they’re looking for. This is also a great way to market to existing readers of your publication, in case they're looking for a more specific group experience.
Businesses, influencers, and organizations that have Pages can use groups to create spaces for people to communicate with each other about their business, brand, or content, and build a community powered by engagement and trust.
Many Pages already have groups for their business or organization. This feature enables you to easily link existing groups to a Page and makes it easier for those who are not using groups to create new ones. You can now:
- Create a new group or link an existing group to a Page.
- Post in the group as the Page identity (when it's linked).
- See connected groups (listed on the related Page under the Groups tab).
- See connected Pages (listed in the group).
Linking groups to Pages
Once your group is created, it can be attached to your main Page, though it'll have privacy settings of its own — selected upon creating them. This way, your Page will act as the administrator for all of its associated groups.
Day-to-Day Operations of Your Group
Getting to know your group is important. As a group admin, there are several functions that can help you better connect with your group members and understand how to best engage with them.
Analytics and insights
Groups that have been around for more than 30 days and have 50 members or more have access to Group Insights. Groups that have more than 250 members can access demographic information in the tool. This is a great way to see when people are engaging with your content the most, what the most popular content in your group is, and who the most active members are.
Group Insights also provides helpful personalized tips, like scheduling posts at times when members are most engaged.
A Group is meant to be a safe place for members to express themselves.
To help ensure this, admins can establish specific group rules in a dedicated rules section to foster a civil and respectful environment where productive conversations can happen. These rules can then be made visible and clear to everyone so expectations can be set.
Admins can create, edit, and arrange up to 10 rules for their group. These rules are also displayed when a member requests to join the group, for groups that use membership questions to help vet and approve new members. Group admins can either use the example rules or create their own.
Given the sometimes sensitive nature of the journalism world, rules can be helpful to set the standard for conduct.
Used to their best effect, Facebook groups can enable you to engage audiences, share your work, and even crowdsource reporting. But it’s important to follow your organization’s guidelines for conduct on social media as you do so.
It sounds simple, but think before you post. Is there a risk that something you write could be misconstrued or distorted? Does the post further the conversation or dialogue in some way or otherwise contribute to the mission of the group? How will your audience react and, if necessary, will you be available to moderate the conversation?
If you're feeling emotional or upset about a comment or post, pause for a moment and take a breath. An immediate response isn’t always necessary. Respond with facts, pointing out coverage you’ve done or other resources when it’s helpful.
Admins also have the ability to temporarily turn off a member’s ability to comment and post, and remove members who violate their community’s rules from multiple groups they manage in a single click. They can also comment as the voice of the group (for security or privacy reasons) or as their own voice, depending on whether or not they want their names to be shown.
On occasions when it becomes necessary to turn off a members’ commenting abilities or remove them from the group, it’s important to be upfront and open about why.
Provide ample warning to the affected group member. If he or she has violated a community guideline or group rule, point to those guidelines and rules, and consider giving him or her a warning where other members can see it.
If you must remove someone from the group, clearly state why so that other members can see it. They'll notice if a prominent and active voice has disappeared from the community discussion without explanation. That could damage trust.
Group Management & Moderation
As your group grows, so does the amount of participation and interactions of group members. This means more content to moderate.
Let's take a look at some moderation tips for sustainable growth.
Many newsrooms build out their rules into a set of community guidelines to outline the audiences’ expected behavior. These guidelines may prohibit things such as offensive language, personal attacks, all-caps messages, spam, and more.
A stated list of the guidelines can keep the group on track. You can also add a link to your own organization's values and mission statement.
Management and moderation
Facebook groups work best for news organizations when a person or group of people are designated as moderators. Moderators will function to keep the group on the topic, free from spam and unproductive conversations, and work to make them lively and engaging.
This can be more challenging for some news organizations. In smaller newsrooms, finding someone who can dedicate the time to maintain a group or multiple groups may be tricky. In this situation, small newsrooms could consider limiting the number of groups it has or the size the of audiences in each group.
The best groups populated by the group members and not necessarily by the institution that starts them.
We gave all of our Spotlight reporters admin access to do whatever they wanted, and also our audience engagement team
Each reporter who was responsible for that day’s report would jump into the Facebook group and pose a question that had to do with that day’s reporting. It also spun beyond that. A lot of the members in the group started their own conversations.
For larger organizations, moderators need to be familiar and comfortable with working with others across the news organization. In both cases, it’s best to find someone who can serve as an enthusiastic cheerleader for both the news organization and the audience, but also someone who can deftly navigate tricky situations.
Growing widespread newsroom adoption for a Facebook Group can take time. Moderators, administrators, and newsroom leaders can encourage journalists to join both offline by sharing success stories and online by tagging them in relevant posts. Moderators can contribute to adoption by thanking journalists for stepping in to answer questions or chat with audiences.
Journalists in newsrooms with Facebook groups should join those groups and introduce themselves when they do and reintroduce themselves when they share something. Interacting and commenting on posts from others will also grow meaningful engagement. Remember - for journalists, groups are a fantastic way to gather story content and gauge the temperature on stories and topics among the audience.
Managing Group Conflict
As the group grows, there also may be times when discussions can become heated and take certain turns that don't reflect the safe and open culture you're working to maintain.
According to most admins we spoke to, preventing conflict starts with creating guidelines for your group. Experienced admins recommend posting these guidelines before you think you need them. Clear guidelines can be even more effective for group culture when their tone is positive. Describe the behaviors you want to encourage, rather than listing only things members should not do.
Many admins we talked to said that acting quickly is their number one rule
Experienced admins agree that setting clear rules is a powerful way to influence your community culture. Rules give new members a clear sense of the group they're joining, the behaviors that's expected and what's not allowed. When you take your rules seriously, so will your group members.
When moderation isn't working to reset the tone of an unproductive conversation, you can turn off the commenting on a post. Some admins suggest explaining why you are turning off comments, so people reading the thread can understand your decision.
Many admins we spoke to told us that they were initially unsure about simply removing people from the group, but realized it was necessary over time. As an admin, you uphold the culture and guidelines of your community. Members appreciate your moderation, including removing other members who aren't following your community standards.
1-2 times a month I do a posting challenge and during that challenge, I encourage members to share the group with others to join in on the fun!”
At the top of the funnel are casual audiences who may engage with news content occasionally, often through a post shared by a friend or aggregation page or some other means.
Below casual audiences are intentional audiences. These people have liked an organization on Facebook, joined a Facebook group created by an organization, or signed up to hear more from them in some other way such as a free newsletter.
New or trial audiences are those who have engaged with a service that an organization typically charges for, such as a subscription or membership. Engaging with this group is the key to earn their loyalty.
Loyal audiences have determined that a news organization is worth their time and resources and have decided to subscribe or become an active and engaged group member.
Be sure to use Group Insights to see what content audiences are engaging with most, and when.
The goal? Move audiences through the funnel— from casual readers to engaged, loyal participants.
In addition to learning when to post and what topics drive engagement, you can also use the Group Insights data to identify and acknowledge your top contributors. For group members that comment the most or start a dialogue, reward them to show your appreciation. For example, you can provide a gift card or an exclusive offer to content before the rest of the group sees it.
Another effective way to do this is to promote the most engaged members to the moderator role.
They can help keep the group on topic and free from spam and unproductive conversations and work to make discussions lively and energetic.
Keep the groups' goals and aims clear and adhere to them
Having concrete Group Community Guidelines or Rules will help set the standard for conduct in the group. This can be particularly useful for Closed or Secret Groups, where it may contain discussions on sensitive information.
What seasoned admins are saying
“Be consistent. If you set a guideline, reinforce it every single time. It sets the tone for the group and maintains a positive, inviting space.”
~ Lauren Katz, Vox
Join the Group here👇🏽