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Building a social community [Part 2]

18th May 2016

Last week we spoke about the importance about building a social community and the value of your advocate marketing. This week we are going to go into more detail about how you can build you community, and firstly we are going to look at using Facebook.

Facebook Groups are probably the best and easiest way to build a community on social media. Unlike a ‘page’ where there is one voice speaking to the followers, a group encourages peer support and guidance. Depending on your industry, there are various ways you can approach this.

A group can be public, private or secret. A secret group is only recommended for friends, as you need to be in contact with the other members before they can join. Creating a ‘closed’ group is probably the best place to start, as you can control the number of people who are joining, and also monitor those requesting to join. It is vital to have a strong admin team within a group, and to uphold that groups rules and regulations.

For our recent project, LOVE Digital, we created a closed Facebook group for all of the women who were on the project. This fulfilled a number of criteria that we had as part of the project.

social community facebook groups love digital

It worked incredibly well, for a number of reasons;

  1. The women were kept up to date with new content on the website and within the project
  2. Questions were asked in the comfort of a private group so no-one was made to feel inferior or silly for asking what may be a straightforward question
  3. We were able to let them know of updates to workshops including venue and time – without having to contact them all separately
  4. It was open forum for all the members
  5. Their confidence grew through using the group, they were able to network with each other
  6. As the project went on, the women were able to support each other, and answer questions before we got there – further increasing their confidence and their relationships with each other.

The group was an equal forum – somewhere private and comfortable, with people that they trusted. They are now at a point where any of those members can either recommend each other, or network together, further increasing their possible reach of products and services.

A very successful Facebook Group has been created by one of our clients, Yarlington Housing. 

social community Facebook groups Yarlington Housing

Ultimately, Yarlington Housing wanted to find a way to involve all of their residents to improve communication with them. Barriers such as mental health, physical disability or location were factors that may have affected the residents ability to attend meetings or other ways of communicating, so a Facebook group was formed – the aim to create an online community. This helped Yarlington Housing build relationships with their residents, and form the trust required for both parties to be happy with the service. Friendships were formed, questions were answered and members supported each other over a number of issues including depression and housing matters. The group continues to be a huge success and has over 4,000 members.

To read more of their success using online community you can read a Guardian article here: http://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2014/sep/08/how-build-online-community-residents

Creating your own group

It is easy to find groups that may be relevant to you or your business by searching the keyword in Facebook and then clicking ‘groups’. Remember however that you can only join a group as a person, not a business.

social community facebook groups finding a group

Creating your own group is also very easy, but be clear from the outset what the purpose of the group is, and how it can benefit your business. You may want to have it as a Q&A forum, you may want to network with other like-minded people, you may want it as a support network, however you want to use it you must make it clear to those joining.

social community Facebook groups creating a group

Once you have created your group and you have regular members joining, remember to;

  • Share updates that are useful for your community
  • Publish updates often - both new content as well as responses to your community
  • Make information easy to find for your community - fill out your bio, add links to your website, etc
  • Do your best to keep your community engaged on your profile by responding to comments, holding chats, building groups, etc
  • Let other members answer the questions for you - you will find that the support each member gives each other is more valuable

Give your members the opportunity to answer questions and advise others. But why?

  • It boosts their confidence
  • They gain realisation of their own expertise
  • They have first hand experience
  • Builds relationships with each other
  • Open forum
  • Equal between admin and members

As an admin, always monitor the activity on the group, by asking members their thoughts, which helps you tailor the content throughout your wider social media or website. Can you be writing blog content on frequently asked questions?  What other content can you devise from your group chat? Remember to always be authentic which in turn will build up trust within your group members, and they then can become your advocates and shout louder than you will be able to!

Next week we will be looking at how to build a community using Instagram challenges & campaigns.

If you would like to talk further about the advantages of a Facebook Group for your organisation please give us a call on 0845 094 6108.