I’ve personally started – and actively participated in – numerous Facebook groups. Some flop, some flourish and some are intermittently hot and cold. Ultimately, I’ve learned there are no shortcuts to creating a wildly successful group, but there are several specific common aspects that transform a regular Facebook group to a great Facebook group.
1. Have a niche in mind. A very specific niche at that.
Developing a great group starts with creating your group with a single thread of common ground everyone relates to and centers on. Create a group based on the specific common interest of your ideal group members. For example, Evita Robinson’s Nomadness Travel Tribe is specifically related to traveling.
2. Establish structure, and maintain boundaries.
Establishing a code of conduct for your group members may seem trite, but it’s necessary. One of the worst things you can do as a group creator is let your group members go HAM in your group. Establish structure in your group with set rules, but allow your boundaries to be flexible to changes as your group matures over time.
3. Enforce rules.
Nobody likes a dictator, and nobody likes being a dick; however, there are certainly going to be times where you’ll find group members push past the limits of acceptable behavior. Facebook groups are notorious for starting out good and then getting trolled and overrun with conflict. Don’t let let things get out of hand. Establish rules against trolls and conflicts, and enforce them as you need to.
4. Prevent SPAM with a Zero Tolerance policy.
Your Facebook group can easily become the target of SPAM. Members add friends and family, even colleagues and acquaintances, only to discover their main motive for participation is for heavy SPAIF (self promotion at its finest). When someone spams your Facebook group, i.e. posting promotions and making advertisements about things they’re selling – or worse, promoting their groups and agendas without respect for you or your members – make it clear their behavior’s unacceptable. Eliminate members who cannot respect the rules of your group and bar members from adding new members automatically to cut down on the bounce rate.
5. Recruit a strong administrative team.
Your admin team will help you moderate your Facebook group by helping you enforce boundaries. Choose at least two other members who can step up when you’re away, and make sure they’re respected in your Facebook group. This isn’t the time to play favorites; choose members who you not only trust, but can also be trusted to demonstrate model behavior in terms of group conduct.
6. Create opportunities for discussion.
It’s your group, so starting out you’ll have to stimulate discussions among members. Ask compelling questions and post links to content based upon the interests of the group. Unless your group concerns politics or religion, avoid blood boiling topics until members are more comfortable with one another and have demonstrated respect for differing opinions.
7. Select tribe members carefully.
Every Facebook group starts out the same: several members sharing a common interest or goals getting together to discuss topics and network with one another. The most important thing you can do aside of maintaining peace and order, is to select group members carefully. One of the tricks I use for my most popular groups is to look at who interacts with who – and very well – on my status messages. Many times, I’ve come to find that people don’t always want to send or accept friend requests from others on my Facebook statuses, but when they’re sharing a secret or closed group, they can interact more and then become comfortable allowing them into their personal Facebook space.
8. Share your resources.
Facebook groups are great for private coaching and business collaborations. In addition, it’s a great opportunity to demonstrate your expertise in an area. If you’ve created a professional group, use this group to share exclusive and free resources your group members will appreciate. In my private Facebook group, I created a Pinterest video to share with members demonstrating how to actively pin their blog URLs to Pinterest. I also shared several ebooks in my collection on Pinterest marketing.
If you go even further and create more ebooks or videos for your group to use exclusively, you can retain more members – and attract more – because you’re giving them resources they may not be able to find so easily anywhere else, and providing value to their group membership.
9. Member turnover is the result of little value… or little manners.
One of the things Facebook group creators get upset over is the number of group members who leave their group or fail to participate. Sometimes, group members are busy (yes, even with other groups) and can’t participate; other times they’re just not interested. Busy lives and audience members who aren’t in the market for what your group is about are normal and not to be taken personally; it happens. However, be aware of adding members to your group without asking them; in my personal experiences, it’s groups where members are just added without permission that experience high turnover or little to no engagement.
10. What happens in Vegas…
Finally, whatever happens in your group stays in your group. Secret groups on Facebook offer some breathing room from prying eyes and nosy people. Facebook never reveals how many times people you don’t know (or know and don’t like) troll your page looking for information (like employers), so it’s always of the utmost importance to “keep your nose clean” when it comes to your Facebook image. The same goes for your group members. Don’t take personal photos or posts of other members and put them in the public eye for everyone to see. Your group members will likely let their hair down more in the privacy of your secret or closed group, so respect that space by treating it like a trip to Vegas – what happens there, stays there.
Do you have any special rules for how to start and maintain a thriving Facebook Group?