What Can Groups Do for You in 2019?
Before you start a group, you should think strategically about what you and the audience should gain from the groups experience.
What audience do you want to target? Is it being served already or not served enough?
What are the aims of the group? Do you want to generate discussion on a key topic, or create exclusive content for subscribers?
What will your workflow be in the initial weeks and months of developing the group?
What are your key performance indicators or measurements for success (both for you and the audience)?
What's your long-term strategy?
What unique features or conversations does your group offer?
What benefits can Groups provide?
Create positive ties between people's passions and your publication by building a meaningful and engaged community. Spark conversations in a safe and intimate discussion space between people who share a passion relevant to your publication.
Give your audience exclusive or early access to content not available elsewhere. Deepen existing relationships by creating a feeling of exclusivity. If you use a subscription model, consider subscriber-only groups where they get access to top journalists and behind-the-scenes stories.
Better understand your group members and find out what kind of content they care most about by asking for their feedback, observing their conversations with each other, and using Group Insights to measure activity and engagement.
Ask readers questions about topics and their experiences within your group. This can create more powerful content and inform story development based on group questions and discussion.
So how can journalists have conversations with their audiences and foster civil discourse around important topics without a platform to do so? Facebook Groups can be a useful tool that any news organization can use. They offer ways to moderate and engage audiences in ways that they couldn’t do before.
- Determine the right type of group to create.
- Assign admins and moderators.
- Use the features and tools for group admins including Group Insights, Rules, and Vetting Questions.
- Add groups to your Pages and understand the benefits for publishers and journalists.
- Increase group engagement and participation, resulting in a positive group culture.
- Newsgathering and create content via new and existing groups.
- Identify groups best practices and success stories.
- Safely manage and moderate your group.
Determine an area of focus for your group
Groups can focus on topics both wide and narrow. They can be a single, overarching topic open to the world or a region (such as movies, or cultural aspects of a city), or as specific as a one-time local event (like a town hall).
A group’s name should communicate the topic of the group, but adding a succinct description will help ensure members are clear about its purpose. Consider that your audience may look back to the description from time to time.
You can also mention your news organization if you want to create consistency across your platforms and add clarity for members.
Newsgathering with Groups
Groups are also a great way to organically find new stories. In groups, members share their experiences and ideas. That can be a unique opportunity for you to find newsworthy content for an article or a segment you are already working on.
If you plan to incorporate content from your group into a story, be sure to apply your publication's own editorial policies to gain approval for the requested content.
It’s always important to adhere to journalistic ethics when newsgathering in Facebook Groups.
Transparency is key. Some news organizations establish groups that are “on the record,” meaning that audiences should expect that their contributions to the group may be used during the reporting process. However, some audience members may not understand this terminology, so it’s important to be as clear about it as possible.
It’s always better to ask for explicit permission before using group members’ contributions. It prevents unexpected surprises and also provides opportunities for clarification, increased accuracy, and further discussion.
It’s also good practice — if content or a news tip leads to a story — to post the link to the content you created back in the group and thank those who helped. Closing the loop can help people feel appreciated and shows that you value their interaction.
Lastly, always remember to verify the accuracy of the information you’re using; especially when a direct message to your source is just a click away.