Ok, so fess up. Do you get excited when you are added to a “Group” on Facebook, or do you instead race to hit the “Leave Group” link as quickly as you can muster? Some people loathe it, some are confused by it (and the sudden influx of notifications that they are receiving), and some love it for a host of reasons, not the least of which is the opportunity to engage with an exclusive or specific group of people to share a common interest. I was on the fence initially, then I decided to make an effort…
So, what happened when I made an effort? I found out that I kinda liked Groups. I have played around with them a bit since then and quite frankly, when used well, they rock! Here are 7 ways you can learn to love them too:
- Committees, Organisations, Teams – this one is a no-brainer. I have used Groups for committees (for two Not-for-profit organisations) and this has proved invaluable for bringing people together, following up on in-person offline meetings and getting tasks done!
- Product Launches or Special Projects – I have loved using groups in this manner. This is usually a “secret” group that is not visible to the public. It can be a great place to “brainstorm” ideas and connect with like minded individuals in your team, or even for a partnership or small trio of people working in a project. We have used this format when working with clients so that we can share ideas for social media and train the members of the team working on a project together. It works really well and we have achieved great results (better than using email!) with this format.
- Mentoring – The group format works really well for Mentoring Groups – you can keep your membership Private or Secret to hide content, and it is a great way for people to connect and inspire each other. I am fortunate to be part of an amazing mentoring group with International Speaker and Mentor, Carren Smith. We can't wait for our catch-ups and there is ongoing regular banter that happens in the group providing daily inspiration and ideas…and some fabulous good humour and belly laughs! I also participate in a small, closed group of about 10 social media consultants around the country, where we regularly share ideas, and we are already working on joint projects together which is really rewarding.
- Post Conference/Event/Workshop Hangouts – One of the great parts about going to a conference or seminar is the buzz you get out of hanging out with people who have a common interest with you. A group will allow you to continue that buzz, conversation and learning and inspiration after a great weekend or week in the “real” company of others. I have been part of a number of seminars this year that have carried over into Groups on Facebook or elsewhere. And although this post is about Facebook Groups, let's not forget that Twitter and LinkedIn are also a fabulous way of connecting in a group format. I have benefited from being part of Groups that have been established and continued post-seminar for online summits held by Social Media Examiner on both Linked In and Twitter – all super easy ways to keep in touch before, during and after an event.
- Sharing the Social Media Love – Let's face it, it can seem slow and hard when you are first building a community on any platform, so I say that there is no harm in using a few “friends” to build your community and share the social media love. A great way to do this is to establish a Blogging or Social Media Group on Facebook, where you can keep in touch with like-minded Bloggers or Social media enthusiasts so that you can post up new content, and help each other out with comments on blogs or likes, comments and (especially!) shares on Facebook as well as Twitter conversation. As an award-winning blogger friend of mine Nikki Parkinson says “A Visible Community Builds a Visible Community”. So, go out and comment on other blogs and engage with other bloggers and influencers in your niche…..and why not use a Group to help you share the love! I am part of a local Blogging Group with about 160 members and also a group related to a Blog Challenge with over 1000 members. Both are great for building your platform and making connections.
- Business Networking – this one is easy and probably one of the biggest uses of Groups I have seen. You may need to be selective as to which ones you belong to as it may become overwhelming, but they can be valuable for sharing with others, finding new clients, getting ideas and providing advice or inspiration. There are usually Group rules (especially to prevent shameless self-promotion) and most are designed to build business community.
- Exclusive Memberships – using Groups that are “exclusive” can be a wonderful add-on to your products or services, and a great way to provide content or updates to existing and new members to your programs or membership sites. The simplicity of Facebook Groups makes this a cost-effective alternative to setting up a complicated membership site, especially if you are not overly tech-savvy.
Oh and here are another 7 things to remember when using Groups for the above purposes:
- Be respectful when adding members – Groups are “opt out” not “opt in” which means that someone is added and then they decide whether to stay or not (not vice versa). Consider whether the person you are adding would like to be in your group or if it has relevance to them. Some high profile “friends” may not appreciate being added to public groups. If you are not adding many people, then I would suggest sending a short note alerting them (or even check first) so that they have a heads up. Also, remember to consider your Group “Type” – Open, Closed or Private. Open is open to everyone, Closed is visible as a “Group” but the wall and members are not visible, although anyone can request to join…and Private is well….Secret Squirrel…nobody knows you exist other than the people in the group who are added by the administrator and each other.
- Check your settings immediately – go to NOTIFICATIONS > SETTINGS and change your settings if you do not want to have notifications sent and/or specify who you want them sent for (ie do you want to know when everyone posts or just when a friend posts, or do you get driven nuts by notifications and would prefer to check back manually.
- Set some “group rules” or guidelines – Post these as a document and in the first post so that people know what they can and can't talk about. Have at least 2 admin people who can say hi to new members and also give feedback about post relevancy.
- Write a Great Intro Blurb – If you are setting up a Group, write an intro post that clearly explains the intention of the Group (and welcomes new members) so that those visiting for the first time can see what your goals and ideas are for the group. This blurb will also sit on the right hand side of the group so members can refer back to it.
- Share Docs – There is a great “Document” function in Groups – use it! One of the downside of having such great content zip through the Group newsfeed is that it can be lost quickly. I often find myself asking “where was that website recommendation, article or link to an App or product?”. If I can't remember who posted it, you can lose info quickly. A great way to get around this is to ask participants to put important info into a document that can be found easily at a later stage by members of the group.
- Use your Group List – Check in to the list of Groups on the left hand side of your personal profile on Facebook – you can see all of your groups (or click “show more” if they don't all show up) and any that have notifications on them. This is a great way to check in on the ones that you don't visit regularly, and that don't have notification settings to show when friends or “all group members” post on the group. It helps to manage your time and you alerts. If you don't use a Group much, you can consider leaving the Group at any time.
- Engage Regularly – as with any aspect of social media – you get out what you put in. Check into your groups regularly. If it is a group that you really benefit from, then set your notifications to alert you when a member posts, vs other groups that you may not want to be “alerted about”. Play it by ear and work out the best “fit” for you.
Have you used Facebook Groups? What have you used them for? Love them or hate them? I would love to hear your feedback and ideas!
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