Do You Need to Start a Social Community?

By: | October 22, 2019 | Tags: , , , , ,
12 respondents share the pros and cons of starting a social community.

A social community.

Do you need to start one?

My friend asked me to start a Facebook group social community with her.

I made an excuse and bowed out citing time constraints.

I genuinely believed starting a social community would be a time drain without a strong ROI (return on time invested).

Did I make the right choice?

So many people start groups on social media sites.

Let’s ask people who actually started a social group if they would do it again or if they regret their decision.

Consider these comments from Search Engine Mogul:

“Start your own Facebook group. Invite your friends to join your group, request the existing group members to add their friends to your group. Facebook group is a brilliant source of community and traffic which is ideal for promoting your posts and that too for free.”

Is he right? Will starting a Facebook group bring your blog free promotion and boatloads of traffic?

Should You Start a Social Community?

Let’s find out by asking people who have started social communities.

“Last year, I started a Facebook group for English learners looking to find speaking partners. Specifically, this was for people who were preparing to sit the IELTS exam.

The group was and is a greater challenge than I predicted due to the sheer volume of targeted spam and scam posts that I encounter each day.

Nearly 20% of people who apply to join the group are intending to sell fake IELTS certificates, and they are good at masquerading as real learners when they apply.

However, I have managed to keep the group pretty free from those posts, and fostered a safe space for people to meet and share online.


Overall, I have been happy with the group’s success, but it is still quite exhausting to run. I strongly recommend that anyone starting an online group of this sort learns how to identify fake accounts and ban them before they have a chance to enter the group.”
David S. Wills– www.ted-ielts.com


“I strongly recommend that anyone starting an online group of this sort learns how to identify fake accounts and ban them.”

I started a Facebook group for young travelers called the Young Travelers Network. I started the group because I wanted a specific community of peers like me, but the space didn’t exist yet. I also wanted a space to inspire young people to travel more (my personal mission) and give them the resources to do so.

So far amazing good has come from my group! We only have around 500 people, but having a very niche group fosters understanding, community, and great resources! With my group, I’ve helped share opportunities that have helped at least two young people travel internationally, to Russia and Azerbaijan. I also have domestic meet-up plans to move the group offline into the real world.


If I had any advice, I would say be patient. Facebook groups may take a while to hit their stride or catch momentum. It took my group about 3 years I think. But now it’s more lively and beneficial than ever.


Name: Gabby Beckford
WebsitePacksLight.com
Twitter: @packslight


I started a FB group and now have 14 k group and helping thousands! It’s super cool.

I started RNInterview Tools 2/2016 because I was a bachelor prepared registered nurse who could not land a decent job in our oversaturated California market. Everybody I spoke to said I was an anomaly. Come to find out there were thousands of others like me! 


Everybody says, “Be a nurse, you’ll always be in demand.” Nobody tells you that as a new graduate nurse in an oversaturated area, it’s brutal landing that first job. 


✔️There is NOT a nursing shortage in places like California. 
✔️There IS a shortage of hospitals willing to train! 


So, I started a Facebook group called RNInterview Tools. I’m excited to say that in the past 2.5 years we’ve created a supportive community of 14 k nurses and have helped thousands land jobs! Our tips have made their way across the USA and into other countries! 


I’ve also been recognized by Facebook as a Power Administrator, beta group tester, and was invited to Facebook HQ to answer questions about FB groups!


It’s been a whirlwind. I work as a nurse in a job I love, have a family, and never intended to have a business. My sole intention was to help other nurses! 


✔️Nursing school is super hard. 
✔️Passing NCLEX is another level of frustration. 
✔️THEN not being to land an interview or a job IS BRUTAL! 


My goal was to create a community to help other nurses learn how to play this game – which we were not taught in college. 


I’m happy to say we are blowing that goal out of the water as have hundreds of testimonials to prove it. 

RNInterview Tools
New Grad / Old Grad / Reentry Grad / Non Acute Experienced RN / Experienced RN / LVN / ADN / BSN / MSN Nurse – The Struggle is Real! Our intention is to help you learn how to play the game and get…

Melissa Wayne Rudy BSN RN PHN


Should you start a social community? 12 experts share
Image Credit: Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

I’ve started a couple of different groups/pages on Facebook. The first one is a Facebook page for people who are building the same floor plan as my home: the 2012 Southern Living Idea House. Southern Living sells the floor plan to our home and we started a Facebook group for people interested in building the house. It’s become a great community. Everyone helps each other with questions and solutions, revisions and suggestions for improvements. That group is https://www.facebook.com/SLFarmhouseRevival/  


The other group I started is: Camp Dearborn Youth Camp, which just had it’s 500th member join last week. We are all people who attended the same youth camp as residents of Dearborn, Michigan. The camp was in Milford, Michigan, about 45 minutes away from Dearborn. It was an integral part of growing up in Dearborn in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. People share photos, camp song lyrics and camp stories on the page. It’s even facilitated a reunion of campers and counselors. 

I started the group because one didn’t exist and because I wanted my fellow campers to be able to connect with each other and reminisce about the great memories we share as children. 


The only drawbacks is that both pages need new content all of the time to keep people interested. So, the pages are somewhat time consuming, but all in all, I enjoy the efforts.

Susan Stitt 


We started a Facebook and also a Twitter social media account for our business LegalAdvice.com. We started the groups with hope and expectation to engage in dialogue with customers that wanted to learn about trending topic in the legal services industry. We had minor expectations that perhaps some people would want to receive legal advice via a social media account but quickly discovered that most people do not want to discuss personal legal topics in an open forum.

David Reischer, Esq.
Attorney & CEO of LegalAdvice.com

Host blogger’s comments:

Although it doesn’t sound like David started a Facebook group, his experience with social communities on Twitter and Facebook could be beneficial to others.


“The community leader or founder needs to lead the charge for the community.”

I’m the co-founder and CEO of Commaful with a storytelling community that reaches millions. Not only is our main site a community, we also have side communities on Facebook and Discord.


In reference to your query on online communities, I can share a few thoughts:


On Commaful, we have the main site with sub-communities for various fandoms to participate and share stories. The community feel allows everybody to share feedback with each other and also collaborate on their creations. We have writers who have coordinated collaborations with dozens of other writers to create stories.

Setbacks:


Communities require a critical mass to get going. Nobody likes going to a community that is dead or inactive. We have made many mistakes when starting off communities when there isn’t enough activity and things just then fall apart.

Tips:

Early on, the community leader or founder needs to lead the charge for the community. Tag people, encourage discussion, manually welcome people, post good content. This helps kickstart the flywheel necessary.

Benefits:

The social community has been one of the most critical parts of Commaful’s success. Community members often tell others about the site as a result of being part of the community. The community also provides constant and direct feedback to every feature we build. We never run out of ideas for what to build because the community constantly provides more feature requests than we can handle.

Sydney Liu
Co-founder of 
Commaful

“Communities require a critical mass to get going. Nobody likes going to a community that is dead or inactive. “

Facebook Groups:

I’ve started two facebook groups for Instagram influencers and brandreps. I started the first one when I couldn’t find any information online for what I was looking for. It got out of hand when too many people joined and I didn’t vet properly and set up proper rules. I’ve culled some of the trouble makers out of the group and it’s gotten dramatically better. I also have a smaller more intimate group of people who are also Instagram influencers, we help each other and have a strong bond. I prefer the smaller of the two. Amber Faust www.faustisland.com @faustisland

“It got out of hand when too many people joined the social community and I didn’t vet properly and set up proper rules.”

Starting a Facebook Group for Poets

I run a private support group for writers participating in Pitch Wars, an Instagram poetry fan page, and a speculative poetry page on Facebook. I’m still developing these pages and can speak to the start-up process. Bio: Holly Lyn Walrath


Starting an Online Community: Reddit

The two I currently moderate is the subreddit r/Aikido, a traditional Japanese martial art, since myself and my husband run a school. The community is currently just over 7.5k members. The other (while I have ownership of it, I have a team to help me moderate it) is a Discord server called the International Community of Martial Artists (500+ members). The three I started are an Aikido Discord server (100+ members), a backyard poultry Discord server (30+ members), and a small business Discord server (100+ members.)


The first two that I took over moderation for were happenstance. The previous moderators passed it onto me. The other three are because those are the things I have knowledge and are interested in, and thought it would be a great place to provide resources and information. I was also somewhat fed up with how the community that I am most often in (Aikido) had a very toxic online presence, and had heard the sentiment from others, so I sought to create social communities where while one is not safe from criticism, the debates are constructive and don’t devolve into personal attacks.


Some challenges have been:
1. Driving community engagement. I came up with a “question of the day” for the ICMA and Aikido Discords, and a Question of the Week for the Aikido subreddit. Then for the Aikido subreddit, I and the other mod also set up an AMA (Ask Me Anything) event every month. This helps some of the shyer members engage with the community without having to feel like they’ll be rolled into a debate. I also run a fun monthly raffle in the ICMA Discord server, to drive interest and engagement.


2. The martial arts community, at large, can be quite prickly to one another. Establishing rules when there were none prior was especially difficult—the biggest one being that everyone can say whatever they want (within reason), but not HOWEVER they want. If someone is aggressive, threatening, racist, or condescending, we request they either edit their comment/post or we will delete them.

We’ve had a few who believed their right to say what they want how they want trumped the rights of others to not be verbally attacked, and for those situations we issued temporary bans or a time-out channel. Further infractions results in permanent bans.


3. It involves some knowledge of programming. For example, you’ll want bots that can do things when you’re not around (such as warn for inappropriate language, assign permanent roles that someone can’t shake off by leaving and coming back in again, self assigning roles, reminders, the raffle, etc.)


4. Trolls, or users who come in to mess with the subreddits or servers on purpose are a problem. However, they’re isolated relatively quickly. 


5. Sometimes not all of the moderators agree with one another on issues, such as when something has crossed the line into inappropriate. In those instances, we have a voting structure,.

My biggest tips would be: 
1. Set up all the programming and bots before making it live. Auto-moderator for the subreddit, bots for Discord. They can “meet and greet” new members and give them the rundown.
2. Make your rules clear and concise, with escalation protocols in place. This way users know exactly what behavior is unacceptable and what your response will be.
3. Figure out what your goal for your social community is and make that visible. The small business Discord, unlike the rest, isn’t as social or active. But it’s something we made clear that it wouldn’t be, because small business owners are usually very busy. However, we would answer questions that come around.

Did any good come of starting the social community?
YES. I made lots of friends and am spending time in communities I enjoy being in. For Aikido especially, it’s less toxic than other forums that are unmoderated, which means a lot to me personally. 

Josephine Fan
www.liaikikai.com
www.dearjuneberry.com

Make your rules for your social community clear and concise, with escalation protocols in place.

“I’ve set up a private advice group on Facebook for readers of my blog, which has steadily grow to over 1500 members. Ironically, I started the group mainly because I was getting next to no social reach from my main business page unless I paid for it! 

In terms of setbacks, the hardest thing for me is keeping the group busy and interesting. Some weeks, when I welcome new members, we kick off several interesting discussions, but on other occasions there’s a deafening silence! Timing is certainly important, as is thinking up interesting topics to spark conversations. I’ve also had a few trolls and the occasional argument to deal with, but that’s all part of managing social media!

Tips for starting a social community:

One piece of advice I would give is to not let people freely post without moderation. Some people join groups specifically to market products and scams. It’s also handy to have more than one admin, so that somebody can quickly respond if something kicks off!”

NAME: Ben Taylor
SITE: 
www.homeworkingclub.com
TWITTER: 
https://twitter.com/homeworkingclub

“One piece of advice I would give is to not let people freely post without moderation. “

I’ve successfully started a few groups on Facebook with my business partner Alex. A few of them are bonuses for being a part of our paid blogging courses, and one of them is a general free group about blogging.

Here’s some of what I’ve learned from running both groups so far:

First, the groups that are part of the paid courses get significantly more engagement. The people in them are asking questions directly related to the courses, and everyone in the community is really awesome about helping each other out if they already know the answer or are further along in their blogging experience than others are.

Second, having a group related to the course makes it really easy for us to become aware of any issues that may arise. While email is still the way, many people let us know of course log in issues or if there is a broken link, we have found that if one person is having a problem with the material others might also have the same trouble.

This signals to us it’s time to either fine-tune our current material or even create new modules and videos to break things down even further.

It’s also been really nice to see the people in the courses get to know each other. Some have even collaborated on projects, boosted each other up on social media, or even become affiliate partners of each other’s product launches. 


A few pieces of advice I would give for anyone thinking about starting a group of their own:

1. Don’t do it alone.

You’ll quickly become overwhelmed by all the messages, comments, requests, etc… It’s best to have at least one other person in there as a moderator to assist with answering questions and troubleshooting issues. Whoever you bring on board to help moderate should be well versed in your products and courses, especially if they will be answering questions and addressing comments on your behalf.

2. Groups that results from paid coaching and courses will always have better engagement.

These people paid to connect with each other, so they are less likely to flood the feed with spam messages, and self-promotional pitches. However, some people still might do that, so keep an eye out.

3. You have to set boundaries early on when starting a social community.

If you don’t want to answer questions all day, express to your members that you will not be online all day. Make a set schedule for how often you or your team are willing to pop in the group.

4. Squash spam as fast as possible and make your group a promo free zone.

This kind of goes along with setting boundaries, but it’s so important. If you allow any and all posts to be added to the group from members, your page could quickly get out of control. You also have to make sure it’s a hate-free zone. Make it clear that bullying and negativity will not be tolerated.

5. Finally, don’t be afraid to pull the plug on your group if it’s not working out for you, or not giving you the return on time investment you were hoping for. A lot of group hosts are closing down their groups on Facebook these days because they are so incredibly time-consuming. You can’t allow yourself to get to a point where your miserable in your business, and if you do get there, it’s time to re-evaluate and figure out what’s working and what isn’t then trim the fat. 

Name: Lauren McManus
– Title: Co-founder/ Full Time Blogger
– Company:
Create and Go

You have to set boundaries early on when starting a social community.

Since 2010, I have managed “SwimBikeMom.com” which has off-shot and spunout over thirty-four online communities and groups – free and paid. I have experiencewith what works and what doesn’t from free to paid to ambassador programs. I am currently an admin for a group of 56,000 women.

Good: Bringing people together, meeting people
Bad: Vitriol, entitlement, cruelty 

Meredith Atwood. http://www.swimbikemom.com/

Final Thoughts: Pros and Cons of Starting a Social Group

Many respondents offered tips for starting a social community on Facebook using Facebook groups.

Additional examples of people who started a social community in a social network group:

One of my online friends starting a social community on Skype. She enjoys the group and feels free from the risk of hackers and feels comfortable sharing passwords.

Another one of my friends, DJ Harrington, started a Follow Group on Instagram which quickly turned into a culture.

I look forward to your views in the comment section: Have you ever started a social community? If so, which social media site? If not, would you consider starting a social group?

Readers, please share so people who want to create a social community learn these advantages and disadvantages before they begin.

  1. Liton Biswas | at 12:35 am

    Hey Janice,

    Creating, building, and managing a social group takes a lot of time and efforts. It’s not an easy task.
    Especially for new bloggers. As they have many other things to do in a day.
    So, you should rethink again whether you would start a social group or not.
    But if you have enough time, the result can be rewarding.
    However, thanks for sharing this post.
    Liton Biswas recently posted…Content Brainstorming: A Guide For BloggersMy Profile

  2. Ryan K Biddulph | at 10:21 pm

    Super advice Janice. Two things jump out at me; the time/energy commitment to maintaining and growing a social community and moderation. Folks will try to sneak thru low quality links so keep moderating tight.

    Ryan

    • Janice Wald | at 1:37 pm

      Hi Ryan,
      Many commenters agree with your concerns: Starting a social community will be a time drain and an energy drain. However, so far, no one has expressed concern over low quality links people might try to sneak through. The people I interviewed, however, expressed bad experiences with this.
      Thank you for writing. Great to see you.
      Janice

  3. Joy Healey | at 10:48 am

    Hi Janice, I’ve never started a social group but I have joined a few and watched what goes on. With one or two honourable exceptions they seem like very time-consuming and draining activities for the host. Perhaps there are tons of sales going on behind all those insightful comments – but somehow I get the feeling there aren’t.
    I won’t be rushing to start one 🙂
    Joy Healey – Blogging After Dark
    Joy Healey recently posted…Fake Traffic Is Costing You MoneyMy Profile

    • Janice Wald | at 1:27 pm

      Hi Joy,
      Great to see you. Thank you for writing me.
      I agreed that starting a social community seemed like a time drain. I hadn’t thought about how exhausting starting the social community might be.
      This is the reason I conducted this interview– to see if the experience of starting the social community is one they’d recommend to others.
      The people I interviewed seemed to report mixed experiences with the community.
      However, the commenters, so far, agree with you and say starting a social community is not worth the effort.
      Thanks for commenting.
      Janice

  4. Elena Peter | at 12:09 am

    Nice post Janice! I love social media and I believe some day I will become a very valuable resource in a big organization when it comes to social media management. But the overall goal of social media interaction is to engage with the customer community and ask/find out their want.

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