Social Media Marketing 9 min read
9 Facebook Community Management Tips from Group Admins
- 07 May 2021 10 min read
Building an active and engaged online community is something easier said than done without some proper community management best practices.
But why build communities on top of posting content daily, in the first place?
You see, a social media strategy involves more than posting content and counting likes and shares. If you think about it, it’s actually about building communities and interacting with real people who have real needs and concerns. Community management forms a huge part of a social media strategy aimed to establish and maintain rapport with an audience.
If you’ve been studying how to include this tactic in your campaigns for some time now, you've probably realized that it’s a lot of work. Resources online would give you tips and tricks to pull it off, but no advice would be as effective as the ones given by the people who have been doing it themselves, those who have already successfully grown communities.
For this reason, we talked to some Facebook group moderators here in the Philippines who have been growing their following on the platform and managing communities from different niches.
Admins' takes on Facebook community management best practices
- Screen applicants based on their goals and interests.
- Engage with the posts and comments section.
- Let the atmosphere set the tone of the discussion.
- Create themed content.
- Add value to people’s lives.
- Initiate discussions regularly.
- Address a real problem.
- Let your community evolve.
- Reach out to people on other platforms.
1. Screen applicants based on their goals and interests.
Organic Backyard Gardening is a private group that allows members to share gardening tips. This very specific goal guides how the community managers screen applicants. Aiza Quides Moreno, an administrator of Organic Backyard Gardening, said that she asks people applying to the group if they’ll commit to posting gardening-related information only.
She said, “Tinatanong ko sila kung willing ba sila ituro ang nalalaman nila sa pag-garden. ‘Pag nag-add sila, agad ko naman iapprove para makapag-post sila.” With this screening qualification, not one of the group posts deviates from the objective of the community, which is to learn gardening from each other.
While some posts request plant ideas others show a photo of a certain plant they don’t know and ask what kind it is. There are those who ask specific gardening tips, such as what fertilizers to use, what to do when leaves wither, and even what garden net shades are the best.
Of course, there are posts about gardening success, showing off their fruit and vegetable harvests. Currently, the Facebook group has over 70,000 members.
Photo courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels
If you want to achieve this kind of single-minded community for your own group make sure to screen applicants thoroughly. Knowing their goals and interests is a huge part of effective Facebook community management and can boost the impact of your social media strategy.
2. Engage with the posts and comments section.
Just like Moreno, Pam Zaragoza-Quiñones screens their own applicants based on interests. She handles the community management in the Facebook group Theatre Nerds PH, a virtual social circle of over 2,000 theatre enthusiasts in the Philippines.
In their membership approval question, they ask people what their favorite musical or play is. Expectedly, the discussion in their community is all theatre-related. Since its creation, members have stayed true to the reason why the community was first introduced: to talk about anything theatre.
To keep the conversation going, Pam shared that she interacts with members.
As much as possible, when I can, I engage with the comments and posts and see if everyone is having fun and decent discussions.
Engaging with participants’ posts is important. Not only will this encourage further discussion, but also make members feel that they’re contributing something meaningful and valuable to the group. This helps in building up the social media community you’re managing.
Photo courtesy of George Pagan III via Unsplash
Pam adds that she sees to it that no posts are offensive or harmful of a certain ethnicity or gender. Conversations must be decent through and through. To guarantee this, the community managers set post approvals to review content from members.
Engage with posts and build a culture of respect for your Facebook group, and you can grow a committed community successfully.
3. Let the atmosphere set the tone of the discussion.
Respectful and decent is the general tone you want to achieve for your community discussion. A tone that’s uniquely yours will be dependent on the cultural atmosphere in the group. It’s important to build up that atmosphere. This is one of AJ Braga’s best practices for community management in their Facebook group What’s Your Ulam, Pare? which is now 530,000 strong.
While being civil to each other, members imbibe the culture of sharing, exchanging photos of their meals, even inviting each other to join in the merienda or the picnic session. The tone of the discussion then becomes encouraging. Braga says;
The food that is shared and seen by members in the feed is what defines the atmosphere of the community. Thus, the atmosphere created helps set the tone.
When building Facebook communities ask yourself the following:
- What’s the cultural atmosphere that I want members to experience in this group?
- What’s the conversation tone they must use when communicating?
- Is it encouraging? Informing? Inspiring? Persuading? Entertaining?
Whatever it is, make sure that it contributes to the community’s objective and builds up members.
4. Create themed content.
Created in 2015, 1st Time Moms PH is a community for moms who want to learn more about motherhood. Group members, who are all mothers, get parenting tips and ideas from each other.
To keep participants engaged, community managers introduced a “secret Nanay", according to Jin Zu, one of the group administrators.“We have a “secret Nanay" where we hide the identity of our members who ask for advice or share their stories anonymously,” she said.
This themed content boosts the engagement of members as it creates interest, borne out of the topics and narratives shared.
Adopt this practice in your group and if possible, maximize user-generated content as well. Again, this will make members feel like they’re contributing something meaningful to the group. They’re more motivated to be active in posting and engaging with others.
On top of the “secret nanay,” Zu and the other community managers hold giveaways and playdates every year to grow their group and welcome new members. Today, the Facebook group has over 40,000 members.
Photo courtesy of freestocks.org via Pexels
Ask participants in your community what types of content they like to see. Maybe they’re into trivia quizzes, webinars, or template downloads. Once you know what they want, name it or put a title to it as a formal segment in your group posts.
5. Add value to people’s lives.
Similar to 1st Time Moms PH, the #ZeroGadget Facebook group was borne out of the desire to connect with other parents. Dorcas Lledo Brion, one of the people spearheading community management, shared that their journey started with her posting about parenting activities on her wall and the page Bibong Pinay.
She then said, “Nakita namin na maraming parents ang nakaka-experience ng negative effect ng too much gadget sa mga kids nila, that’s where we decided to form a community that will inspire parents to repurpose the use of gadgets and be intentional parents.”
(Translation: "We saw that there were a lot of parents who experience the negative effects of their kids’ overexposure to gadgets, that’s why we decided to form a community that will inspire parents to repurpose the use of gadgets and be intentional parents.")
Ever since the creation of the group in 2019, they’ve been advocating for the benefits of zero gadgets in raising kids. Because the community managers prioritized adding value to parents’ lives and meeting needs, they grew their group to almost 4,000 committed members in only two years.
Photo courtesy of Karolina Grabowska via Pexels
While Brion encourages intentional parenting, she emphasized that they don’t impose their perspectives on others. “We respect every context, every opinion and beliefs. Hindi kami pushy. Magkakaiba ang family. We are experts of our own family. What works for us, might not work sa iba. So yes, we encourage and inspire parents but we don’t force our advocacy sa kanila.”
(Translation: We respect every context, every opinion and beliefs. We’re not pushy. Each family is different. We are experts of [managing] our own famil[ies]. What works for us, might not work for others. So yes, we encourage and inspire parents, but we don’t force our advocacy on them.)
Respect for others’ perspectives is likewise important in adding value to people’s lives, as it acknowledges unique experiences. Take note of this as you do Facebook community management.
6. Initiate discussions regularly.
Similar to Brion who considers her community an expression of her advocacy, Aimee Morales, a community manager in the Freelance Writers of the Philippines, also treats her group as a cause.
In their platform, they talk about matters that concern writers in the country, including the rights of professionals, the importance of decent pay rates, and advice on building one’s portfolio.
To get discussions going, we initiate discussions on pertinent issues and encourage members to participate via weekly chikahan sessions online.
“To get discussions going, we initiate discussions on pertinent issues and encourage members to participate via weekly chikahan sessions online,” Morales said. Even intense discussions are okay, “as long as people are civil to each other,” according to her. These regular, relatively unrestrained conversations are important in growing communities as it sustains the interest of members.
When you dedicate a consistent schedule for discussions, you’re giving participants something to look forward to. They might even be compelled to invite their friends for these regular meetings.
Photo courtesy of Charles Deluvio via Unsplash
According to Morales, community managers exemplify good and healthy discussions, following the rules themselves. For posts that don’t abide by the group’s standards, admins issue warnings and delete conversations. In some cases, members are taken out of the group. Today, the Freelance Writers of the Philippines Facebook group is 18,000 strong.
7. Address a real problem.
Women in Marketing started out as a counter group, so to speak. Four women, April Theis, Stephanie Solheim, Jessica Moog, and Ashlynn McBride were all part of another marketing group, which was helpful to them until the founder decided to charge money to members.
Bothered by the profit-driven policy, the women created their own social media group where information would be free. Put simply, they endeavored to address a real problem. Because of this, they grew to almost 30,000 members in one year alone, moderating more than a hundred posts a day.
Ideally, I believe I wanted to be a part of something that did not turn into a profit — I just wanted to help, and with me being in school — any resource about marketing was a safe place for me.
McBride shared, “Ideally, I believe I wanted to be a part of something that did not turn into a profit — I just wanted to help, and with me being in school — any resource about marketing was a safe place for me.”
Ultimately, the community managers’ inspiration must be to create a safe virtual space for people who have real needs. This should guide you not only in forming a group but also in screening content and responding to posts. In the case of Women in Marketing, they provide feedback for submissions that were denied posting, so members will have the opportunity to fix issues.
Photo courtesy of Joshua Hoehne via Unsplash
At every move, from the creation of your Facebook group to the approval of posts, you must ask, “Does this meet a need? Am I creating a safe virtual space?”
8. Let your community evolve.
While addressing a problem, do understand that people’s needs will change. This is why your social media community must be adaptable. This is what happened to Filipino Creative Careers, a group that initially started as a design and creative services community, and later evolved into a jobs board for creatives, according to group administrator Myles Delfin.
The community caters to professionals who are looking to be hired, as well as individuals who are looking to hire. Currently, it has over 21,000 members.
According to Delfin, the move was primarily driven by what creatives were looking for. To make sure that all of their members are indeed professionals, they implement a strict policy of membership questions.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay via Pexels
He said, “It makes sense because people who are looking for jobs would be naturally willing to answer a few questions for the opportunity to find job openings. In a way, it also screens out people who are not as committed to finding work in the creative industry.”
In the same way, allow your Facebook community to adapt to the needs of the audience you’re catering to. As you transition, introduce safeguards to make sure that your community remains a safe space for future members.
9. Reach out to people on other platforms.
Aside from Filipino Creative Careers, Myles Delfin also supervises the Facebook community management of Bike Scouts, a non-profit group that pioneered volunteer bicycle messenger service for disaster response. Sharing their humble beginnings when Typhoon Yolanda hit in 2013, he said, “The community that formed around on Facebook became a social platform to do the work of helping in times of disasters using bicycles.”
Since then, they grew their group into almost 4,000 active members. Content plays a huge role in their growth as a community, Delfin shared. They interact with people’s posts on social media platforms other than Facebook, such as Youtube and Twitter.
Photo courtesy of Tracy Le Blanc via Pexels
“We've discovered that people have a natural interest in helping others. They just need a community where they can find others who want to do the same,” he noted.
Don’t be tied to Facebook when promoting your communities. Venture out into other channels to spread the word.
After talking to these social media group administrators here are lessons to keep in mind when it comes to Facebook community management:
- Use controls to ensure quality. Almost all community managers shared that they use membership questions and post approvals when managing their communities to ensure that all participants and pieces of content abide by the agreed rules imposed by admins. This will ensure the quality and relevance of the posts published. Ultimately, the information stream is useful for all members.
- Create a positive culture. It’s not just what you talk about that matters. How you talk to each other is equally important. This is why it’s important to build that positive culture. Positive would mean different things to different groups. It can be supportive for gardening hobbyists. It may be passionate for theatre enthusiasts. It can be inspiring for first-time moms. Whatever it is, you must have a positive culture within your Facebook group.
- Immerse yourself in the community. Listen to what members say. Engage with what they contribute to the group. By being involved in the discussions of your group, you’ll learn topics that are most important to members, which can inform the conversations and programs you’ll initiate later on. Put simply, be social on social media.