It can be hard to keep track of an entire group with so many different communication options available today. Between text messaging, email, Facebook, and more, it can get very confusing to know who is doing what when everyone is on a different platform. That’s why creating an online profile for your group can a powerful way to track everything that needs to get done, while also providing a place for group members to talk with each other, have fun, and discuss important issues.
But how do you get started? There are so many options for building a community online. Between different apps, websites, and all the small factors that go into creating a vibrant online group, what is best for your organization? We’ve put together this Ultimate Guide to Managing a Group Online to help you get your group’s online profile started off on the right foot.
Congratulations, you’re already tackling this step just by reading this post! We know it can be really tempting to decide you need a group and immediately start creating a profile, registering a name, taking pictures or making graphics, but it’s probably best to go ahead and take some time to plan out what your new group is going to look like. First, do some research. See what options are available and what tools and strategies other groups are using online. Take some notes and present your findings to the rest of your group members.
This is usually best done in some kind of group meeting. Whatever the format for the discussion, however, the goal of this new online group or community should be laid out clearly for all involved. Will this be a place to socialize or a place to organize? A place to make announcements or a place to have debates or important conversations? It’s really up to you hot to answer the question, “how will this online group help your organization meet its goals?”
In addition to group goals, another important topic of conversation is the leadership of the online profile. Who will administer the group? Who will create the usage guidelines? Who will moderate comments and discussions between members? All of these topics should be discussed and agreed upon before you create your new group profile to make sure that it is a welcoming and successful initiative for your group.
After deciding on your group goals, leadership, and operating rules, the next step is to actually create your profile, right? Well, almost. First, you need to figure out where this group profile is going to live online. There are a lot of different platforms to choose from and aspects to consider that will impact how your group profile will operate.
One of the primary aspects that you should think about is accessibility. Are your group members mostly on their phones or mobile devices or are they mostly on desktop computers or iPads? How are they going to want to interact with this group page and your online community? It is probably best to select a platform that fits all devices but was built primarily for the device your members use the most.
Next, think about simplicity. This group needs to have a user interface that works for your members. If it’s too difficult to send a message, reply to someone, or post a photo, no one’s going to want to interact with the page.
Also important is speed and reliability. Being able to send out an announcement or message and get responses in a timely manner is very important in a modern online group. Users should be able to ask questions and get responses quickly and easily.
Finally, one of the most important aspects to think about when choosing your perfect group platform is security and privacy. Today, our digital footprints are larger than ever and being able to reliably ensure the security of your members’ personal data is crucial to keeping their trust and ensuring that your group is a safe space for all members.
We built our own platform for managing groups that meets all of these needs and more. If you are looking for an accessible, simple, fast, and secure platform for your group profile, you can register for Go2s here.
Once you’ve selected a platform, you’re ready to build out your profile by registering it, inputting your group information, uploading a profile picture, and finally…
This process is also known as “onboarding” your membership. Plan out a group message, perhaps one attached to a newsletter or similar piece of regular communication, that includes a link to the new profile and instructions for signup. Make sure that links to this new community are available wherever your membership interacts with other group members.
Put in a few welcoming messages for members to find when they first log in. Post the latest news, upcoming events, or a photo for members to interact with when they arrive. This gives them the feeling of getting immediate value from the new community and encourages a successful launch.
Keeping those conversations growing from the start is crucial to keeping your group active over the long haul. It’s a good idea to keep a regular posting schedule to keep members engaged and active on the profile. One common strategy is having a certain type of post for certain days (or even every day). Try Throwback Thursdays and post photos of past events. If you’re a sports group, have Touchdown Tuesdays where you post highlights from Friday night’s game. Find a theme and rhythm that works for your group.
Another strategy could be action-based. If your group regularly holds meetings or events, send out different reminders about committees that need joining, materials that need gathering, projects that need completing, etc. to make sure that your group is organized and prepared for the next shindig. Then, after the event, encourage members to post pictures or comments and share their experiences for documentation on the group page.
As your group matures and creates more great content, you’ll want to be sure that measures are in place to keep your group’s conversations respectful and secure. A group of people means a variety of opinions and the way that those opinions are shared can make or break your group.
One of the best ways to do this is by publishing a group policy that all members agree to when joining the group. This group policy can include what is appropriate or inappropriate content to post and what actions or interactions will result in a review or other subsequent administrator action. Once you’ve put this group policy in place, make sure that it is enforced equally and fairly across all members.
Privacy settings are another important factor in creating a respectful and secure group environment. Setting limits on who can see your group’s content is a very important step towards earning group members’ trust and making your community an inviting place to hold conversations. Be sure to consider privacy settings on two levels. Most platforms have privacy settings regarding who can see what posts and how they are to be found. You should also be aware of the value system of the platform itself—HOW and WHY it is administered—to ensure that not only are anonymous web visitors blocked from your page but also that the platform itself isn’t accessing your posts in an overreaching or unjustifiable manner.
One more thing to consider regarding group security is how new members will find your group in the future. Should your page be viewable by anyone that searches for it? Or, is it more appropriate that new members should be invited by another user or administrator? There are no right answers for any of these concerns. Each one should be discussed and agreed upon within your group to ensure that your group is a welcoming place for its members to talk, learn, and grow through the power of online community.
So there you have it: five simple steps to starting and managing your group online. With a little thought and planning, you’ll find the right fit for you. Whether you’re just starting your search for the perfect online home for your group or find yourself frustrated with your current platform, give Go2s a try. It’s our mission to put the focus back on kinder, more personal online interactions that lead to relevant conversations and consequential actions. If you want to start something meaningful with your group, start with Go2s today.