In my last article, I attempted to make the case that instead of focusing on gaining followers, authors should spend time building a community around an idea they’re passionate about spreading.
What’s the best way to do this? I strongly recommend Facebook groups. Facebook Group has over 1 billion users (Facebook has 2 billion). Facebook Groups are so powerful because they’re built to bring together people with common interests and ideas. Authors and organizations should leverage groups to connect with their readers and supporters.
Convinced you need to start a group? Here are three tips for new Facebook Group admins.
1. Clarify Your Purpose
Before creating the group, make a plan. What are you trying to accomplish? Who is your target audience? What’s the mutual interest that will draw like-minded people to your group?
After you decide this, draft 2-3 sentences that summarize the purpose of the group based on the questions above. Share it with people you believe might be interested in the group and ask for honest feedback. Once you’ve heard from everyone, draft another version of your purpose based on the comments you received. Having a clear goal is crucial to drawing the right people to your group.
2. Invite People Who Will Add Value
In the early stages, quality over quantity is essential. New group admins are quick to invite all of their friends and family to a group that most of their friends and family aren’t excited about joining. People who aren’t interested don’t engage and ignore your posts. Another adverse effect of low-quality members is the possibility that someone might hijack the group. You don’t want this.
Invite people you know are excited about your group, and it’s goals. Send a personal invitation to those you perceive are not only interested but will engage the content you post. People who will comment and like posts are crucial to the success of your group. If you find someone who is trustworthy, very engaged, and knowledgeable, consider inviting them to be a moderator. They’ll likely be flattered by your invitation, and it will only increase their loyalty to the group.
3. State Your Rules From the Start
Groups that don’t have rules leave themselves vulnerable to unwanted and off-topic posts as well as vicious commenters. Let members know from the beginning what you will and will not tolerate. A good set of rules is the difference between a thriving community and a chaotic community.
Not sure what your rules should be? Research groups that are similar to yours and see what their rules are. After you’re finished researching, adopt what is applicable. If an unforeseen problem arises in the future, don’t be afraid to update your rules accordingly.
Groups take time to build so embrace the process and remember, numbers aren’t ultimate. If you have 10-20 people engaging consistently, you’re doing good. Using the tips above, I was able to create a thriving community over a six month period. In the first few months, I was discouraged, but I quickly realized that consistency and patience are keys to success. I couldn’t be more happy with where the group is today.
Your Facebook group likely won’t blow up overnight, but using these tips will set you up for success in the long run.
Phillip is director of communications at Reformed Theological Seminary and a digital strategy consultant. He oversees branding, print publications, digital marketing and social media for RTS. Prior to this, he served as co-founder and vice president of the Reformed African American Network and content strategist at Desiring God. Phillip and his wife, Jasmine, have one son.