8 Great tips for Organic Facebook Group Engagement

Being a Facebook Certified Community Manager and a UK Power Admin (an invitation-only recognition from Facebook) I have helped many develop meaningful and very successful communities using the Facebook platform - both for myself and for clients. I have also seen monumental errors that have nearly destroyed communities.

I thought it would be useful to bring together my top 8 tips (plus a few pro-tips!) to help existing and future Facebook group owners make their Facebook communities better and avoid the nasties along the way! So here's how to manage Facebook groups - do get in touch with me if you’d like any more information on any of the following (use neil@obvi-us.com);

1. Have the right mindset

Your group is an extension of the topic. For example, many authors have groups around their books. The product, the bit that makes money, is the book. The group adds value to the product. The group provides a near real-time connection with the author (and/or team) and fulfils Seth Godin’s modern marketing mantra - “people like us do things like this”. An even more modern marketing definition comes from Carrie Rose, CEO of Rise at Seven - “things that people talk to the mates about down the pub” or “do they give a f**k about this?”.

From the very moment you start your group, your mindset must be around adding to / extending the experience of the community member - and making it of value to belong and interact with others.

2. It’s not about you

This is SO important! I’ve seen too many times when the FB Group admin is the centre of attention and it’s all me, me, me. This type of admin style is not sustainable and will have huge member churn, with little loyalty. Just as the admin style is all about them, the group will behave the same - what can they get out of it and then depart when they get it. It could be argued this works for the gurus out there - but they are hardly authentic and it’s all about the money around their latest webinar, course, mastermind whatever. But they will tell you themselves that they pretty much have to start from scratch each time - and will actively use FB ads to do so.

Then there is conflict resolution - it's not just about applying your gut reaction (or the available admin tools). You have to learn to be pragmatic - balance your own views against those of others; not presuming an outcome but actively exploring outcomes that work for everyone.

But there is a sweet spot - where the balance is right between what you uniquely provide in your group and how your group wants to use it.

This is how your group member feels when you are getting the balance right - 

If you want authentic, meaningful and organic growth, you need to focus on the group members and what engages them - and be prepared to let your community evolve; becoming what it wants to be (in the context of value and mission - see #4).

3. Size isn’t everything - get the right KPIs

Size is always related to vanity (right?!). You may have heard the expression “turnover is vanity, profit is sanity”. This means that the thing you should focus on is profit because that is where growth comes from - and is more meaningful. You could have a turnover of £50Million but make a £10,000 loss…

So how does this relate to your FB group? Unlike Youtube and Instagram, size of membership/subscribers/followers in Facebook do not have thresholds. You don’t get more fucnctions or new buttons,or new monetisation for having more members. Whilst it’s great to have many members in your group, it is only meaningful if you have engagement.

For exanple, here is the growth in one of my groups for July 2022 - 

Growth is nice - and I'm lucky enough to be able to say that all of my groups grow every month - organically, with new ad spend. Granted it is smalll - but the quality is great! So the growth here is 1.6%.

Now look at the same group and the same period for engagement -

You'll see that engagement broadly speaking is around two thirds - 66% - of the membership. That's good. That's an engaged community.

Engagement is the key metric you need to monitor for your group. It is true to say that there will always be an element of the group shy, who won’t interact/engage but do find great value in being a member, and you just have to accept that you will never have 100% engagement.

(Pro tip - if you ever want to show you appreciate those quiet folks, make a post thanking all those who do not use their voice. Say that you appreciate them and welcome them. They’ll like your post - and might even comment!).

Engagement can be measured in several ways - but the main ones are posts, likes and comments/replies.

Always keep this in mind - The more valuable groups are those of 800 with 80% engagement than groups of 2,000, with 20% engagement…

4. Develop a mission statement

Know your ‘why’ - understand why the group exists what it offers to others; what opportunities does it provide; what are the benefits of being in the group? (Pro tip - there’s a growing trend that I support which is moving away from ‘what problem do you solve’ kind of approach; it is in the negative. Talk about what the benefit of having a solution - what does that look like; feel like?)

It’s a great idea to capture your mission statement - it helps keep you focussed on what the essence of the group is and it helps your members keep to that too.

Your mission statement should make it clear who the group is for - which demographic you define as the one that will get most value from the group. Having a mass-market approach will only serve in not being attractive to most of them, however if you focus on your key demographics your group will be of more interest to more of them.

If you have an admin team for your Facebook community, make sure you socialise the mission statement with them prior to publication - they can give valuable feedback and fine tune it so it’s group ready.

If you fly solo, then you could release a draft to the group asking them if they would add anything - you might be surprised at how they see things! It’s also a great method to use as it means the document is owned authentically between you, the group owner and those who are within the group.

The more authentic and transparent you are, the more engaged your group will be (trust me on this!).

5. Learn the tools

There are many great tools that Facebook have made available - tools that benefit both admin and group member. The tools exist to either make information easier to access or to keep order and structure within the group. I highlight the ones below that I think you should definitely be aware of - there are many more; become familiar with what they do and more importantly, why.

Name your group so that it can be found - when you create your group, Facebook will give it a link. It is usually full of numbers - not very intuitive! In settings you can give your group a unique name that means it can be more easily found in searches (and better for promotion too).

(Pro tip - think about how you would try to find your group and call it that!)

Make sure Group Growth is turned on - this is not available to everyone right away, so don’t worry if you don’t currently have it in the left hand panel of the group navigation (desktop edition). But if it does appear, make sure it is activated. What this means is that if your group is useful, growing and has engagement, Facebook will show it as a suggested group to people with similar interests. It’s gold for organic growth.

Set group to private - You can have public and private - public means your group can be seen by everyone and anyone can join there and then. If you want to have any control about who can join, then set your group to private. It is the only way to have membership control.

Admissions/Screening - related to the above. When you set your group to private, it means people have to ask to join and then you have to approve members. Facebook allows you to ask the applicants to answer some questions - this helps you review for potential scammers or disrupters or bots (they’re all out there in abundance). Letting this people/bots in can be disruptive and upsetting - and if such disruption (usually spam, or offensive spam) happens often, people will question the quality of the group and eventually vote by pressing the ‘leave group’ button. This takes time and there is no shortcut (unless you employ someone like me to do it for you). You need to protect your brand (be it personal or professional) and your status.

You can also look at applicants' public Facebook profile - this shows some basic information like what other groups they are in (bitcoin groups should be considered as a red flag!), where in the world they are (Nigeria sadly remains the primary source for scams), how long they've been on Facebook (avoid anything less than one month and with no personlised avatar) and latest public posts. Review carefully before letting anyone and have high standards. If your gut is uneasy then you're probably right, but in those cases I give the benefit of the doubt. After all if I'm wrong, then I can hit the block button - it's quality not quantity (see #3 above).

(Pro tip - watchout for innocent looking profiles that want to point your members to their group. This is a poor practice and not recommended. Such people are permanently removed and blocked from my groups. And yes, Facebook sees that.)

So - have a think about what questions you would ask to determine if they are serious about joining. eg How long have you bred labrador’s? What would you say is the most important aspect of dog breeding? What do you expect as a member of this group? Do agree to to the group Rules? Some admins also ask for people’s email address - I don’t do that myself but can see why it could be helpful to build an email list (just make sure you comply with national privacy laws where you are!).

Rules - talking of agreeing with rules… when you setup your group, Facebook gives you a selection of template paragraphs for you to use. Things about being polite, no abusive behaviour etc. They are all valid - but you are only allowed a few so choose wisely. I have found some of my groups needs some rules and others don’t. Then the ones with rules need different rules again. So I have my own ‘no self-promotion’ rule. And also a ‘stay on topic’ rule.

The useful thing about rules is that you have something to point if things are kicking off and you need to get things back on track.

So have a couple of rules, bearing in mind that you may need to create some new ones in response to how your group evolves.

About your Group - When you set up your group you can have some text to explain what your group is all about. If you’ve set your group to private (recommended), then when people find you on Facebook, the only thing they will see to determine if the want to join or not, is your ‘about’ text. So make it interesting and clear - so that people can tell if your group is for them or not.

Alerts - these are a great admin tool particularly if you have a larger group. You can set alerts around a number of elements that let you know when a condition is met. It could be if a swear word is used, or if a competitor’s name is used. It could be if someone’s tagged someone in particular. These are definitely worth exploring!

Insights - Remember to look at insights (on the left navigation panel, desktop version). These show you a number of things - engagement, growth, top contributors, popular posts, when is most popular day/time in your group. As mentioned before, engagement is your primary focus; growth too if in early days of your group. Just as every business owner should know what their lead conversion rate is, you should know engagement and growth rates month on month. Because if it goes down, you want to be proactive in getting the figures to get back up again.
The graphs I included earlier are from the insights area in Facebook.

Screen the group content - It is possible to set pre-approval for posts. This can either be for everyone or for a select few (see disruption below). If your group is around a sensitive topic or a highly regulated one, then pre-approval for all posts would be wise. However it does mean that you have to read every single post and either approve it or reject it giving a reason why you rejected it. This could be very time consuming.

The other use is for when someone needs to be vetted prior to posting anything new - more of that below.

Polls - are brilliant! I love them. First, they are a great engagement tool - everyone loves to be asked what they think. It could be about the future of the group, or about a topic, or a challenge/quiz, or could be engendering user feedback about your product or service. Use them when needed - but don’t over-use - folks can tire quickly…

Control disruptive members - sadly, this will happen and best that you’re prepared for it. I mentioned the pre-approval above and that is just one way to control and individual’s activity in the group. You could also limit how often they post in a day, or even in an hour. You could mute them for a period of time - they can see but interact with the group. You can issue warnings to them through the Facebook mechanism. You can say three warnings and they’re out. I have a strict approach - you break any of the rules (Facebook or mine), they’re out and they’re out permanently, they’re blocked and they won’t even be able to find the group on Facebook.

Oh and be under no doubt - if you are not vigilant in supressing and/or removing people you know are breaking Facebook rules, Facebook will see this and will temporarily close the group. This is without warning - FB will close pending review. If the review upholds the decision, then the closure will be permanent. So remove the bad apples!

Identify Content Trends - this is a wide topic but to keep your group active and engaged, it helps if you can post about emerging trends around your topic; nails, hair, SEO, flower arranging, new vitamin protocols - whatever. It's brilliant value to your community if they can rely on your group to get all the latest information - it saves them doing it. We live in a time when people want instant answers with minimal clicks (zero clicks is definitely a thing now - according to Amanda Natividad). So make your group the place to go - which means you have to spend time on twitter, insta, pinterest, etc to catch these new trends and then reacte accrodingly (bearing in mind not all new trends are good trends!).

Finally; Your profile - conflict can and will happen. People might not agree with how you admin, or your rules. Worse case scenario is that it can get personal in that your DMs become a weapon against by individuals. Whilst you can report these individuals to Facebook it can take time for action to be taken, and in the meantime can be distressing for you (or your admin team).

So I recommend you consider creating a group that has only admins as members - you then add this group to your main group and make it an admin. It means that your posts are effectively anonymous as your personal profile is not the poster, but the admin group is. It also helps keep you personal FB timeline less noisy!

(Pro tip - if you want to experiment with Facebook group tools, or learn them, without being public in your group, set up a new private group where you are the only member. Now you can do whatever you want with damaging anything or anyone!)

There are many more tools available and impossible to cover in detail here - get in touch if you'd like to chat about learning about all of them and when to use them.

6. Content

Stay on topic! Whilst it’s nice to shoot the breeze with folks, keep it focused on what the group is about, its value and its mission.

Or even more focused - address the problems you seek to solve within the group.
Ultimately, your group is a safe haven, a place of inspiration to meet those needs around problem solving or learning. There are so many different types of groups out there from medical, self-help, hobby-based, quality of life, carpentry - you name it, there’s a Facebook group for it.

But all the members of all those groups are seeking information to help with their journey - whatever that might be. Don’t waste their time - keep your content relevant, meaningful and useable.

They will love you for it!

7. Tone & FB Rules

This is important - what is the tone of your group? Helpful? Positive? Negative? Rude?
People who contribute to your group will not stick around if the tone is not conducive to a warm fuzzy feeling - ie desired experience. So you need to be a bit like a referee at a sports event - reminding people of groups rules if necessary, keeping the tone of interaction at their optimum for the group dynamic (joke groups are going to have a very different tone dynamic to an end-of-life care group). Work out what your tone is - as with everything else you read here, the tone will be at its best when you apply your own standards to the group. The most effective tone is an authentic one.

Something else to consider along with tone - Facebook has rules about inclusion and prejudice, vulgarity and incitement. Rightly so - however I would put them under the category of common-sense. There’s no real way of learning these things - your group, unless aimed for a very specific demographic - domestic abuse for example - should welcome everyone equally. Be careful about the use of images - nudity or otherwise offensive images can get you in trouble. Similarly of you copy other people’s work - even using protected music can cause you issues.

Your tone should be authentic and compliant. Most people are, so common-sense is likely to be your friend here!

8. Customer journey

If your group is related to a product - like your book, or your training course, or your jewellery range (etc), then your facebook group is a critical part of your customer journey and you need to plane it accordingly.

For example, many of my own groups are around keyboards/synths - particular types/models. Some of the members own the instrument - so they’re customer journey is post purchase and wanting to a) solve a problem - they don’t know how to do something so ask the community for a pointer and / or b) they have a tech issue - “my keyboard does this is? Is this normal or should I return it?”. They are then a new journey that even the manufacturer can’t manage - it’s all about the learning journey - and of course in this case, about creating music with the gear. If this all is a positive experience - your group grows; it has reputation as being helpful and of value. There is then a fan base of the product developing - in the modern customer journey this phase is called ‘advocacy’.

This is where the group member has such a positive experience with the product/service that they advocate it to others (remember Carrie’s “talking down the pub” earlier? - well there you go!). Advocates cannot be bought - influencers can, but advocates can’t. They are authentically representing their positive opinion in the confident belief the product/service will help. Kim Kardashian really does not care if those sun glasses are any good or not…

There is another phase - or mode as I prefer to call it - for people joining your group. This is called evaluation or consideration mode. Again referring to my synth groups, these bits of gear can cost up to £5,000 - so most people can’t drop that kind of money without evaluating or considering if the fit is right for them. What do people do in this case - they go on to Google and see what vids there are. Then they go to Facebook and see what groups there are. If you have good current engagement (see KPIs and Tools above), Facebook will show your group (among others of course - unless your group is around a unique product/topic). Now we see the value such people seek - “I am thinking about an x - I have three questions. What are your views on a, b, c?”. Enter you as admin, your community and the advocates! If you have an authentic and vibrant community, the new member will get many responses from those who have had a great experiences (and support from the group - advocating both the product and the group!).

So - be aware of these two modes and plan your engagement around the stage of the customer or learning journey they are in.

Be mindful of the guides above - and you will create or further develop a vibrant, active group that’s useful and dynamic.

Being a Facebook Admin is hugely fulfilling, but can be infuriating amd time consuming. But when you get feedback like this, it makes it all worthwhile - 

Whatever you agenda is - monetising or otherwise - by being authentic and transparent you will create and maintain a positive and collaborative environment that your group members will love to be part of.

And that should be your ultimate objective - somewhere people can talk to each other just as if they were down the pub - your pub ;)

There are lots of moving parts to being a Facebook Community Admin - but it's easier than it sounds, particularly once it's made OBVI-US.

I run OBVI-US, a creative facebook community and CRM management agency in Glasgow - do book a chat if I could help you develop or establish your Facebook group for your business and/or brand.
Facebook Group Management