I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Are you ready?
Everything I know about blogging and online ministry/business, I learned in a Facebook group.
Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration. But for real, Facebook groups have been a huge part of my learning curve. The number of groups I am in has exploded over the last year (I need to do something about that … see item #5 below!) and the information available there is first class.
All of the groups I am in are friendly, helpful and generally well-behaved. But the stories I hear about “mean-girl” tactics and “godless chatter” in other Facebook groups make my hair curl and my heart hurt.
Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 2 Timothy 2:16
So here are some things I’ve learned about navigating the world of Facebook groups and being a welcome member of a group.
1. Know and respect the rules
Most groups will have rules or guidelines either in the description or in a pinned post at the top, so read them and respect them.
Administrators create groups for different purposes. I find that most blogging groups have some element of community, shared learning and promotion, but individual groups may have different rules. So don’t assume that just because it is ok to post a link to your latest blog post to the wall in one group, it’s okay to do it in another.
I joined one group that has daily threads for promoting your blog, but one of the rules is “no religious posts.” Well, that pretty much leaves me out. That doesn’t mean it is a bad group. It’s just not the right place for me. I may choose to stay in the group to absorb any shared learnings, but I don’t actively participate in the group (which means it is a prime candidate for item #5 below!)
Part of respecting the rules is respecting the admins in the group. These are usually volunteers who are doing the best they can to keep order and maintain a healthy environment. When you have issues with the way they are doing things, it is best to deal with them privately rather than to string up a line on the page and air your dirty laundry on it. And if you feel you’ve been treated unfairly or can’t make it work, just quietly leave the group and move on.
2. Be kind and helpful …. to a point
People ask all kinds of questions and if you know the answer, it’s great to be helpful. But nobody likes a “know-it-all” so give others a chance to answer and give input as well. You don’t have to answer every question.
Again, check the group rules. In some groups, it’s okay to answer by saying, “Hey here’s my blog post that answers your question.” But it in others, that is considered “self-promotion” and it’s not okay. But it might be okay to say “Here’s Suzie’s blog post that answers your question.” See why you need to read the rules??
3. Use the Search
Can I please say that again? For the love of all that is sacred, use the Search feature on the page before asking a question, especially if you are new to the group. I can guarantee if the group has been around for a while, they have answered “What’s the best way to monetize my blog?” and “How do I switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org?” and “Which hosting service do you recommend?” many times over.
So do everyone a favor and use the Search feature (you can find it on the top right, under the page cover photo) and 90% of the time, you will find your answer. If what you find is conflicting or outdated or doesn’t work, then you can ask. But search first.
4. Go beyond the minimum requirements
This is probably the number one complaint that starts trouble in groups. If you are going to participate in promotion threads, but sure to meet the minimum requirements for promoting others, and go above and beyond if you can. Dropping a link and running is about the worst thing you can do in one of these groups. The whole point is to build community and relationships and support each other. So keep your commitments, even when it is hard.
I was new in a group one time and they had a Twitter follow thread. You could post your Twitter link but had to follow every one else who posted their’s. Little did I know that over 300 people would join that thread! I kept my commitment and followed all those people, but I learned my lesson and don’t participate in forced “follow-for-follow” threads. I look for ones that I can pick three or four from the list that interest me and/or fit in my niche so I can truly engage with them.
5. Clean up your groups
Too much input can be distracting and disruptive to your focus. So don’t join and try to participate in every group you find. Hang around for a couple of weeks and determine if it is a good fit for you. If not, quietly remove yourself from the group. It’s better to have a few key groups where you are actively engaged than to have a lot of groups cluttering up your newsfeed.
I haven’t done this in a while, so hold on for a second while I run clean up my groups ……
There. I just removed myself from 20 groups! About half of them were blogging groups of various flavors.
Of the ones I stayed in, these are my favorite:
For Community, Encouragement and Support: The Peony Project
For blogging education and information: Inspired Bloggers Network
For well-run Promotions threads and collaboration: Blog Passion Project
Those groups are all free. I am also in a few groups that are associated with courses I have purchased. There is one for the Rapid List Building Course from Bryan Harris, and Spark Mentoring from Lindsey Hartz.
So which Facebook groups are you in? Give a shout out to your favorites in the comments!