Facebook Groups are online communities within Facebook’s platform that users can join and where participation is encouraged. Groups are built around common interests or goals and may be open to anyone or closed to selected members.
- Time to do: Depending on the length of a post; participants can contribute within a couple of minutes
- Staff: at least one facilitator/moderator who can check the group regularly to encourage participation and ensure posts comply with group rules/etiquette
- Cost: free
- Equipment: Participants will need a computer, tablet or smartphone
- small groups
- large groups
- at a distance
How to do it
- Identify a clear purpose and goal for the group. This will be visible on the group’s page even to non-members, and will help people understand why they should join.
- Log into Facebook and select “Create Group” from the drop-down menu in the top right-hand corner. For step-by-step instructions please see the guide on Facebook Help.
- It is important to select the correct privacy settings:
- a public group allows anyone to find the group and to see all the content and who the members are – but there is a high likelihood of spam
- a private group can be found through searching but people have to become members before they can see members and posts – this is the recommended setting
- a private group can also be hidden which means it does not appear in search results and is open to invitation only
- Think about how you will run the group: what behaviour do you expect from members? Will comments from members need to be moderated before they are published? How will you encourage regular participation from members?
- Group rules are listed in the About section and can be edited under the “Moderate Group” settings. It is a good idea to get the group to agree its own rules or etiquette.
- Think about how you will promote the group – both online and offline. It is possible to use paid advertising on Facebook, but getting other accounts to post about it is a good way to grow an audience organically through personal connections.
- Can overcomes geographical barriers
- People can contribute at a time that suits them
- Accessible via desktop and mobile devices
- Potential huge audience, with over 1.62 billion people using it every day
- IT literacy
- Privacy concerns – ensure the privacy setting are correct and review regularly
- Trolling – think in advance about how you will deal with inappropriate content. A clear set of rules can help
- Lack of engagement – online communities often start out strongly but falter due to low levels of participation.
Do not underestimate the amount of time and effort it will take to get discussions going, particularly in the first 6-12 months.
- NHS Employers (2016) Social Media Toolkit for the NHS
- AdEspresso (2019) Everything You Need to Know About Facebook Groups (2019 Update)