Remember Wendy and her Everyday Pinterest Projects? She’s another one of my favorite bloggers, and she’s awesome at Facebook. Really, she understands how to engage, spark interest, grow her community, and nurture her blogger tribe. She just gets it. And even if Facebook’s algorithm is unexplainable, and the numbers of people who see posts on the social media is dropping, Facebook groups are a great resources for bloggers. Wendy welcomed me into her group after I met her in April, and I’ve learned so so much from the ladies there. Sometimes having a tribe makes all the difference.
While many bloggers are at an interesting crossroads with Facebook these days, the private groups we belong to remain to play an important role in what we do. Groups can come in a variety of sizes and niches, they can spark high drama or be a safe haven for discussion about best practices or general venting.
I joined my first blogging Facebook group after attending BlogHer in 2011. It was a moderately sized, fast paced group of seasoned bloggers. There were opportunities and event invitations but the group was city-specific and I lived way beyond the county lines which limited my ability to participate. I was desperate to find my own tribe, and unfortunately this group wasn’t it.
So what did I do? I decided to create my own blogging-specific Facebook group, ITS. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way:
1. Bigger isn’t always better. Size definitely matters when it comes to a productive blogging group. ITS currently has 36 members and has always been relatively small compared to some of the other groups I belong to. Small groups foster a sense of community and can definitely lead to a distinct camaraderie amongst the members.
2. Consider what your goals are from the group. I wanted to find my tribe but I also really wanted to learn more about the difference facets of blogging. For example, I needed SEO guidance, photography tips, advice on working with brands, writing skills, marketing expertise, graphic design, and more. Some groups are simply set up to share each other’s blog posts, while others are created to share event invitations, social media jobs, or conference talk. The options are limitless, however, if you define the purpose of your group, it will help you decide its members.
3. Of course, you want your bloggy BFFs in your group, but definitely consider reaching out to bloggers outside of your particular niche. Mix it up and diversify. Create a group with people who bring unique strengths or a specific expertise to the group. Often, too many Facebook groups are made up of the same circles of people. Encourage alternative ideas and suggestions. Imagine the possibilities of “think tank” versus a “groupthink.”
4. Create clear guidelines for your group. Situations can get sticky when there aren’t any rules to follow. For example, we had a member promote a brand without disclosing the link was part of an affiliate program. Some of the other group members felt deceived after learning later that the blogger promoted the item as something she loved versus a method to generate income. The cautionary tale here? Establish what is appropriate to share and what isn’t from the onset.
5. Get help and select a co-administrator for the group. I suck at confrontation. I take things personally, I get fired up, and I get very passive-aggressive. Yes, these are my weaknesses. Choose a co-admin to help balance you out and take the reigns when you aren’t able to.
6. Encourage active participation from members. This can sometimes be very difficult because while you want your group to be everyone’s priority group, realistically, it isn’t. I personally like to see the ITS members check in a couple times a week. It’s an indication that they value the other members. Again, this is a guideline that should be established early otherwise you might be faced with a decision to remove members, and that can be awkward.
7. Play nice. Be respectful. Don’t stir the pot. Don’t brag. Offer solutions. Share contacts. Encourage others. Be transparent.
8. Have fun. ITS isn’t all blogging, all the time. Here’s the last five threads: Gift Guide Links for sharing, upcoming photography conference talk and how freaking expensive it is, a compliment from one member to another on a recent blog post, strategies on how to create Google+ circles, and “my husband is driving me crazy” rant. We may or may not have discussed – at length – People Magazine’s decision to name Adam Levine Sexiest Man Alive.
I am really happy with my Facebook group. Is it perfect? No. Are there areas that can be improved? Yes. There are some amazing things that have come from the power of a Facebook group. My biggest takeaway? I’ve finally found my tribe.
I’m curious to know: how do you use Facebook groups for your blog or business? Do you have a tribe? Wendy’s description of everything a Facebook group can be is right on. I told you that she knows what she’s talking about. You should follow her on Facebook right here, or see her Pinterest awesomeness. (She has a board that’s gifts inspired by What Does the Fox Say!) And can you say Pumpkin Spiced Chocolate Chip Cookies? Yum.