15 January 2018 | 16 Comments
Over the last 2 years, I’ve fallen head over heals with Facebook groups. Specifically, I actively help to run a different Facebook group for each of our games.
I love the community and engagement these groups foster. I’ve mentioned this in several posts (see links at the bottom of this article), but I haven’t actually described the specifics of how a creator can run a Facebook group. That’s what this post is about.
Why Facebook? And why a group, not a page?
Facebook now has over 2 billion active users. So even though some fans and potential members may not be on Facebook, most of them probably are. It’s already a part of many peoples’ daily routines, and it’s super easy to use.
Stonemaier Games has a Facebook page, and it’s great for broadcasting information and letting people comment and share on the content you broadcast. It’s also the best place to host Facebook live videos.
However, groups are all about conversations and discussions generated by any user, not just you (as is the case with Facebook pages). Yet they give you, the creator, as much control over the content in the group as you want.
Also, groups enable focus. Stonemaier Games publishes several games, and someone who is interested in Charterstone or Viticulture might not be interested in Scythe, Euphoria, or Between Two Cities (or vice versa). Groups allow people to precisely choose the product-specific communities in which they want to participate.
When should I start my group? How should I name it?
- Existing products: Start the group today! Though, before you do, check to see if someone else already created it. If so, join as a member to get a feel for the group, and maybe request permission to be given admin status.
- Upcoming products: Start the group today! I started the Charterstone group long before the game was released, and it provided a great place for people to post questions and for me to share updates.
- Upcoming secret products: Stonemaier has certain products we want to reveal at just the right time, so we’ll wait until the official announcement to start groups for them.
Is it better for a group to be public, closed, or secret?
For a long time, our groups were “public.” But then I got some feedback from users who explained the downside of the public setting: It means that your activity in the group is visible in the scrolling feed of your friends and followers.
Compare this to the “closed” setting, which is a bit of a misnomer. It’s no more closed than a public group, which still requires admins to accept new members (and anyone can search for the group and ask to join). The difference is that only current members of the group will see your activity within the group.
The downside to a closed group is that members can’t share content from the group with other people, which impedes word-of-mouth expansion of the group. So my current method is that I make a group public when I announce a new product, and then when we release the product, I change the privacy setting to “closed” (followed quickly by a post in the group explaining that the group is still as open and inclusive as ever–again, “closed” is a huge misnomer).
The last option is “secret,” which means that people are only going to know about the group if you specifically invite them. I have a secret group for the Stonemaier Games Design Day, as the group is only for people who actually attend Design Day.
There’s a chart explaining the various privacy settings here.
How should I define the purpose of the group?
When you create a group, Facebook will ask for a description. This isn’t a place for a few throwaway sentences. Rather, this is an opportunity to define the purpose of the group with as much or as little precision as you desire.
For example, when I create Stonemaier game groups, I use some variation of this as the description:
“FB group for fans of X board game to discuss the game (rules questions, strategies, anecdotes, photos, etc). Members will remain respectful, considerate and aware of the many diverse people in this group. No insults, swearing, belittling, name calling, etc. Also, no selling–this isn’t a marketplace. Constructive criticism, considerately shared opinions, and stated preferences are welcome, but if you’re here to complain about X, please do it elsewhere. Members who don’t follow these guidelines will be removed from the group.”
That’s just one example–your group may have a vastly different purpose. But I’d highly recommend thinking about this description carefully before posting it. You can revise it later, but when you do, it’ll jump to the top of the group feed (so make sure to proofread the description before posting it).
How should I moderate the group?
This is something I’ve learned over time, and I’m still learning. I’ve found that people choose to share their passion in a variety of ways and with different levels of social awareness. I view my job as a moderator/admin as one of making people feel safe in the group. That means a lot of different things, but perhaps first and foremost, it means that it’s a group where you can feel safe as a fan of the game. You don’t have to defend your love/like of it here because you’re with other people who love/like it.
Sometimes there’s a clear violation of the purpose of the group (spam, hateful or inappropriate comments about a person/gender/ethnicity, etc). If it’s a post, I’ll delete it and contact the user privately to explain the guidelines. If it’s in a comment thread, I’ll chime in publicly–when someone is hateful or inappropriate, I consider it a time to show the group that we simply won’t tolerate that type of behavior. You can also simply turn off comments in a thread if it gets out of hand.
Keep in mind that someone may exhibit this type of behavior while attempting to support or defend you. That doesn’t make it right.
Also, you don’t need to be the sole moderator in your group. I’ve assigned several different admins to our groups, which gives them an official-looking badge.
As the creator, how should I interact in the group?
This is really up to you. I genuinely enjoy participating in our Facebook groups, so I’m often there just to have fun. It’s also work, as it’s a place for me to post updates, joke around, celebrate fans, host live videos, and answer questions. I often get a lot of the same questions, so for most groups I pin a link to the FAQ page for that game on our website.
What’s your experience with Facebook groups as a user or a creator/admin? I’m curious to hear about different methods, as there are many ways to run a group.
- 10 Things I’ve Learned About Social Media This Year
- Lessons Learned from Quitting Kickstarter as a Creator, Part 3
- How to Create an Engaging Facebook Board Game Group (external link)