Have spent the last couple of days investigating how to create a Facebook Group with representatives of the Parents Association at a local school.

They wanted something on Facebook that would allow them to communicate with each other but also to encourage other parents to participate in their events to raise money to fund extra curricular activities for the children. Such functions always require volunteers and it is far easier to put out the message in one place where many have access than to rely on word of mouth or a newsletter sent out with the kids.

After going through the pros and cons of Business Pages vs Open Groups - with the former you cannot tag or mention individual personal profiles or communicate directly with your likers other than through your Wall and Edgerank makes that rather a difficult process for small businesses.

Whereas with open groups, you can mention people by name on the wall and they will receive a notification but any comments or status updates that they make on the wall will appear in their feed, which means that their friends will see it too and thus, it will encourage them to find out more about the group and its activities.

However, you cannot 'check in' to a group in the way that you can to a page so if you have a physical address and want to encourage that type of activity to promote your project, that might make groups unsuitable for you.

So, a group it was.

How to create a Facebook group

We went to the Create a Facebook Group page

how-to-create-a-facebook-group

As is the case when you create a Facebook page, you are offered the option to invite your Facebook friends to join your group, as well as promoting it on your personal profile, in your blog, your Twitter account, etc. to get the word out. The more active your group is, the more popular it is likely to become.

But then we had to decide on the status of the group - should it be open, closed or secret. As the Social Media Managers discovered, recent changes to Facebook practice means that if you are a member of an open group, anything you post will be seen in the newsfeeds of all your friends, not just those who are also members... and, once it gets to 250 members, you cannot change its status from open to closed.

So, if you're dealing with things that you don't necessarily want plastered all over the internet, best to go with closed or secret. The difference is that other people will be able to see that a closed group exists on a subject when they search but a secret one will not show at all.

Originally, the PA chose to go closed - they could invite other parents to join them but keep the details of school events contained within their members. However, it quickly became apparent that there were some things that they did want to be public to those parents who had not chosen to join the group.

As a result, at 100 members, it was decided to open it up but have a secret one for committee members to carry on the day to day running of the PA. Being open means that they are able to communicate directly with other interested parents about matters relating to upcoming events, help needed or just notification of the date and details. This information will then appear on the walls of members, where it will be seen by other parents who are their friends but might not have joined. It is also something that can be put onto the school website and act as a resource for parents.

How to create a Facebook Group - Changing Status

how-to-edit-a-facebook-groupTo change the status, find the 'edit group' link in the drop down from the cog wheel at the top of the right hand side bar. This will take you to a series of options including the choice of whether to be open, closed or secret and also whether anyone or only admins can approve requests to join.

To approve people who have asked to join, admins or members should look on the right side of the page for the section called Requests. You can click the Add or Ignore link for each individual. If the permissions have been set for members to approve, then anyone who is a member can make the decision about whether individuals should be allowed to participate.

You can also have a profile picture - click on the square at the top next to the name and upload from your computer - and there is a question option on every status update that will allow you to run a poll.

Should unsuitable remarks be added by members, these can be removed by the member who posted or by an admin by hovering over the top right hand corner of the status update. Clicking on the downwards arrow will reveal the option to Delete or Report/Mark As Spam. Other members will only get the latter option.

More recent changes mean that the number of members, pics and documents uploaded are all shown immediately under the name of the group at the top of the page and there is also a search panel so that you can find posts on the wall - a great improvement! It is also possible to put a detailed description of the aims and goals into the right hand sidebar.

It seems to me that if you're not running a physical bricks and mortar business where people can use the check in facility, then groups actually offers a lot more functionality and communication options than a regular Business Page.

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