How to Moderate a Facebook Group

Facebook Group image

As a business Facebook Groups are a great way of growing a community with a focus on your business sector. But how do you moderate a Facebook Group and why do you need to?

Last time I posted about using Facebook for Business, and in this post I’m going into more detail about using Facebook Groups and how to moderate them.

How are Facebook Groups useful for business?

Facebook Groups are increasingly popular as a business marketing tool. They create a community around a specific topic and allow group members to discuss, problem solve and network in a closed and moderated forum. Groups can be based around geographic locations, business sectors, or as promotional vehicles for your business, but are best used as an indirect marketing channel.

For instance a fabric retailer may set up a group about sewing, an accountant may launch a group about small business finances, or a physiotherapist may set up a running discussion group.

As with every marketing the group should focus on the needs of the users, and be of direct benefit to them. No-one is going to stick with a group that overtly sells to them at every occasion. As a business you can benefit from the group as it positions you as an expert in your field, and there will be the odd promotional opportunity that you can post.

Why moderate Facebook Groups?

Over the past week I’ve seen three Admin posts on Facebook Groups highlighting inappropriate content and behaviour.

I run a Facebook Group that thankfully runs itself most of the time, but even so there were, at times, too many advertising posts and some unrelated content posted. As such I wanted to highlight some key benefits and actions for anyone running a Facebook Group so that you can get your group off to a flying start.

Select a group type

In the first instance ensure that your group is set up as the right type to meet your needs. The three main types are:

  • Public – Anyone can see the group, its members and their posts.
  • Closed – Anyone can find the group and see who’s in it. Only members can see posts.
  • Secret – Only members can find the group and see posts.

The privacy settings are really important as they will impact on people’s willingness to join and post in the group. It may also govern the type of information they share in the group.

One recent incident I witnessed saw a closed group descend into inappropriate over-sharing as group members realised that their friends and family were unable to see what they were posting in the group and saw this as a licence to get everything off their chests!

For more information about the different types of Facebook Groups visit this help page.

Set the group up fully

Complete all the fields for the group, particularly the About section as this will help new users find the group and explain the group’s purpose. Add a cover image and any other details you can. A well maintained group will look more professional and is more likely to create engagement.

Key documents, like the rules discussed below, can be added to the ‘files’ section for ease of reference.

Choose your admin style

Whilst in the main groups can generate their own momentum based on my experience the most successful Facebook Groups operate under strong leadership from an Admin or ideally Admin team. You may assume that everyone will be sensible and not abuse the network but in reality sadly that is not always the case.

In a post, set out clearly the group’s purpose and lay some simple ground rules. Pin the post to the top of the group so that it is the first post any new members (and returning members) will see when they visit the page. This effectively becomes your constitution and you will be able to refer back to the rules should you need to do so.

Anyone who appears to post something not in keeping with the spirit of the group should be made aware of the rules and given a warning. A second misdemeanour and the member should be removed and banned from the group. This may sound harsh, but once your Facebook Group gains hundreds or even thousands of members it will become an impossible task to enter into negotiations with everyone who has broken the rules.

Be fair, consistent and respectful, and your group’s members will appreciate the time and effort you put into running the group.

Moderate members

In all group types —Public, Closed and Secret—any group member can add their friends using the field on the right hand side. Anyone else can request to join a public or closed group and must be approved by a group moderator. Moderators can invite anyone you’re not friends with to join the group by clicking ‘Invite by Email’ which is situated in the top right of your group page.

Every request to join should be vetted to make sure that your group retains authenticity. A quick check of each profile should indicate when the person joined Facebook, where they are located and how many friends they have. Clearly you should reject anything that looks like a fake Facebook profile or anyone not in keeping with your group. By this I mean if your group is geographically focussed or is just for a specific type of person.

In order to filter out some rouge requests you can ask those wanting to join to answer some brief questions. Navigate to the ‘Edit Group Settings’ menu and complete the ‘Membership Requests – ask questions’ section as shown below. You may want to ask where they are based, their reason for joining the group, or anything else that will filter out spammers.

How to moderate members in a Facebook Group

Create an admin team

As a group grows it can quickly become a large task to vet new members and moderate posts, so a team approach shares the workload out.
Bear in mind that there are different levels of Admin rights and it’s important to select the right levels for each individual you add to the team.
Only an ‘Admin’ can change the group settings, and add or remove Admins and Moderators. A Moderator can do everything else.

For general management of the group the Moderator role should be enough for most team members. Be careful not to add anyone as an Admin who may remove you as the group owner or you could be ejected from your own group! More detail on the two roles can be found here.

Have admin-only discussions

A great tip from my own experience is to set up a separate, secret Facebook group just for the Admins to discuss matters in private. This has proven invaluable to discuss how to approach an issue whether it is agreeing new rules, member requests or how to respond to a post that is in breach of your group rules.

We’ve used this approach to agree the main group’s rules and highlight anyone we have blocked from the group. It allows you to have open discussions away from the eyes of the main group members. Once a decision is made it can then be transferred over to the main group and the Admins are seen as one united team.

Remember to remove anyone who is no longer an Admin or Moderator in your main group.

Moderate posts

If you notice posts that aren’t in keeping with your group’s ethos, are off-topic or have caused offence then the Admin team needs to act quickly. There’s several approaches, and which one you take will depend on your chosen style but also the severity of the issue.

  • Remove post – use this approach if the post is simply not relevant, offensive or blatantly selling. You may want to message the poster to let them know what you have done and why, and refer back to your group’s rules.
  • Close comments – it’s possible to switch comments off for a post. This is useful when a post itself is useful, but the comments have gone off-topic or got out of hand. Again, let the original poster know why you have taken this step.
  • Delete comments – It may be that the post and the majority of comments are acceptable but a single or few comments are not. In this case delete the specific comments but allow the remainder to stand. Let the person making the comment know what you have done and why.

Moderate your Facebook Group with style

Most of all a Facebook Group is a great way to connect with your target audience and establish yourself as an expert in your field and show your personality. Try not to dominate discussions and encourage others to post and comment without your intervention. There’s no need to comment on every single post.

If you set up your Facebook Group using the tips above you will start with everything in your favour to make your Facebook Group a success.

Do you have any other tips for moderating Facebook Groups? Let us know in the comments section below. If you need help managing your social media marketing activity contact us today.

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Roisin Kirby is an experienced Marketing Consultant based in Nottingham (UK), specialising in education and services marketing. A Chartered Marketer and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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