Why is my Facebook community important?
Facebook is where over 1.9 Billion people spend an average of one hour each day connecting and sharing with their friends and family. Facebook is not just a platform; it is a community.
Creating a Facebook Page for your NGO lets you directly engage with your supporters, your critics, and people who have questions. When people comment on your page or send your page a message, they often expect a reply. Replying to comments is one of the most important things your nonprofit can do Facebook!
As an NGO on Facebook, it’s likely you want two things:
- More supporters
- More supporters doing more for your cause
Comment management plays a big role in both of these. Building an engaged community of supporters requires being part of the conversations that take place around your cause. The majority of these conversations are taking place on your Facebook posts.
Let’s get started building a great community on Facebook!
Step 1: Establish community guidelines
The first step to building an engaged and self sustaining community is to establish some ground rules.
These rules should outline what you wish to see on your page and what you don’t. Frame up what you hope for your page and its community. Paint an image of the ideal state.
Here are some things to make sure you include:
- What is the mission of this Facebook page? (Not your overall organization, but your Facebook page. What does success look like?)
- What does encouraged behavior and participation look like? (How does this link back to your greater mission and goals for your Facebook page?)
- How should supporters treat one another? How is that monitored and enforced?
- Clear list of what is not acceptable
- Clear procedure to deal with unacceptable content (Deletion? Three strikes? Banning?) What’s the evaluation look like?
- Are supporters encourage to help police the page? Should they report comments to your team?
- Who should supporters contact if they have a problem?
Once you have your ground rules finished, plug your comment policy into the About section of your page and as a Note, like the example below:
Here’s an example of one of our favorite guidelines (from Feministing) that you can alter as your own:
"What is not allowed in the comments section and the community site?
Our Facebook page exists to better connect young feminists online and off, further feminist dialogue, and encourage activism. Sexism, racism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and hate speech have no place here. While we can’t guarantee a completely safe space, we can strive for an accountable one. And though we love differences of opinion, there’s a way to disagree respectfully and thoughtfully. We expect civility, generosity, and patience for your fellow readers and for this space. Please remember that we are all here to grow and learn from each other.
Comments or Community posts that include the following things will not be approved:
- Racist, sexist, ageist, transphobic, sizeist, ableist, homophobic language or ideas
- Personal attacks and insults (Even if most of your comment is constructive, if the last line is “So thanks for that, asshole,” we will probably not post it.)
- Dismissal, silencing (e.g. “Ehh, I don’t think that matters too much.” or “This isn’t an issue.”)
- Questioning the feminist validity of a topic or post (e.g. “Why do you care about this? You should really care about x, y, z because it’s more important.”)
- Derailing (Don’t take the discussion off in a completely different and unproductive tangent from the original post.)
Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list. Ultimately, it is up to the Feministing team whether a comment or post stays up or not. If you see a comment that seems to violate our policy, please let us know by flagging it.
You erased my comment/banned me/won’t let me post on the community site. Isn’t that censoring?
No. This is a feminist site whose purpose is to further feminist dialogue in a progressive manner. If you aren’t contributing to that end–if you’re derailing a thread, making personal attacks, or trolling–we will erase your comments and possibly ban you from the site. Our page, our rules."
Step 2: Enforce the guidelines all of the time
Letting go of something small may not seem like a big deal at the time, but it sets a bad precedent. If something big happens, you don’t want the perpetrators pointing at times when you didn’t enforce the rules. You don’t want to be accused of playing favorites or being unfair. The rules apply fairly to everyone on the page or no one at all.
Step 3: Foster community
Facebook is a community where you and your NGO participate. To be a part of this community, start with a humble tone that also confident in the work that your organization. Be real and talk like a human. If we sound like a press release, the people who are participating will simply check out.
Here are some other tips to build a strong community on your page:
The benefit of the Doubt:
As my kids’ preschool teacher use to say, “first try to make a friend.” When someone makes a negative comment, give them the benefit of the doubt. Stay cool and treat people with respect. If a person asks a question or makes a statement that is negative but not egregious, respond respectfully or simply ignore it. But also feel free to hide the comment.
Never feed the trolls (and there will be trolls):
If you respond to troll comments you’re playing into their game. Trolls by nature want to stir up drama and get a response out of you and your community. Therefore you don’t want to “feed them” by giving them what they want most: a response from you.
Hide unproductive comments:
Don’t be afraid to hide comments. If you find a comment that is not egregious but is adding no value, quickly made a decision between leaving it alone or hiding it. Keep in mind that hidden comments are still seen by the person who wrote it as well as their friends. But no one else will see them.
Ban bad actors (and there will be bad actors):
Spammers and trolls are a fact of life, our job is to weed them out, so they don’t hinder real conversation. In ActionSprout, you can quickly see each person’s previous comments, when you find someone that is clearly a bad actor, simply ban them and move on.
Responding to comments:
Don’t feel obligated to respond to all comments. And when we do, we should keep it simple. We should have a goal of “Liking” all positive and productive posts. But it is okay if we are not present in every single conversation that takes place on the page. But we should aim to be seen as very active and attentive. We want people to feel that our Facebook page is a vibrant organization with people who really do want other people involved. And responding to comments is one of the most powerful ways to do.
Remember, Facebook is not a broadcast communication channel: It’s is a social network. For pages, the social part is most seen and experienced in the comment stream.
Step 4: Draft Sample Comment Responses
To save time and allow others the opportunity to help you manage the comments, create some sample replies to the common comments that your page receives.
Managing your community on Facebook will take time and effort but is well worth the investment! It's one of the most important things you can do to retain passionate supporters while decreasing trolls and negative comments.