Things I learnt when starting up a Facebook group
Why start a Facebook group?
As well as the fact that Facebook is a great way to grow communities, sell products and create awareness; there are also ways to use it to minimise waste. One morning sat in the office, David (our CEO) started discussing all the things that people were giving away for free in Penarth through a Facebook group and I thought it was a wonderful idea.
Being the eldest of 6 children, nothing ever went to waste in my house, clothes were all passed down until my younger sibling was wearing extremely worn out jumpers (the only benefit of being the eldest child). It seems that everywhere I turn, there are donation bins overflowing with clothes and according to Dr Andrew Brooks in his book ‘Clothing Poverty’, a significant amount of the clothing we donate are traded abroad for profit. Of course, the common assumption amongst people donating is that it goes to charity which would seem, is not the case.
With that in mind, I decided to start a Facebook Group ‘Cardiff Reuse Group’. This page is to provide an opportunity for people to recycle and reuse; with set rules that nothing can be sold or re-sold following donation.
How I set it up
The truth is, I am not the most advanced when it comes to digital technology, so following a quick google search, I was pleasantly surprised to see how easy this was.
I followed Facebook’s step-by-step guide
I then created a brand image using Canva . You don’t need to do this but it’s free and makes it look a little more professional in my opinion.
I changed the settings so that it was a private group and you need to be approved to become a member. This was to ensure that people weren’t too far away from Cardiff, otherwise there would be a lot of travelling and postal costs which I felt defeated the whole purpose.
I invited people to join the group. Firstly, my friends and then I posted it on Cardiff Mum’s group and the Single Parent Wales group.
What happened next?
Within 3 hours I had over 300 requests to join the group. Obviously, this sounds great, but I didn’t think through how much of my time and energy that would take up. I was constantly on my phone approving or rejecting people. I definitely didn’t think it through properly and on reflection, I should have had a friend share the admin responsibility. I then considered the need for some rules, which again, I hadn’t thought about. I had a look at the Penarth group that David had told me about and copied their rules as they clearly knew their stuff – unlike me.
An hour or so later, I received a private message from one of the admins in the Penarth group who was very unhappy with the fact that I had basically copied their idea (oops). My argument was that we all want the same thing so does it really matter who take ownership? I think not. But something to think about before starting a group yourself. If you are going to use someone else’s idea, perhaps check with them first as they may have some tips to share with you.
To start the whole ‘reuse and recycle’ process off, I posted some of my daughter’s toys in the group which I initially planned on taking to a charity shop. Within minutes a schoolteacher asked if she could have them for the school as funding is really low for buying new toys. She collected them the following weekend from my home.
To my amazement, the group just began posting items that they no longer wanted. Things like, sofas, beds, prams; the list goes on. There are now almost 500 members in the group, and I don’t really do much to ensure it is active. I’ve posted three times in there to say hello, thank you and to provide rules. I have no idea how long it will stay active or if I will face any more challenges, but I will face that hurdle when it comes.
Take away points
If you are thinking of setting up a group yourself, my top tips from my own experiences are:
Do your research: this is something I feel I missed out. It didn’t have a massive impact but if I had researched, I would have avoided a disagreement with the other group and realised I needed another admin to share the load with.
Share the load: As I’ve mentioned, I had an influx of people to approve within the first few hours that I really didn’t think about. You could just set up an open group that doesn’t need to approve people, but it depends on the purpose.
Don’t engage in conversation with people being rude or aggressive: Unfortunately, some people are deliberately nasty and will do anything to disrupt the group. There are ways you can try and avoid the risk of them coming into the group such as asking set questions before they join but they can still find their way in. Their comments can be extremely rude and hurtful so the best thing you can do is block them. Again, this links back to the previous suggestion in that having more than one admin can help. They can also act as a moderator in these situations.
Be calm, decisive and firm: I haven’t had to really do this yet as I haven’t faced any disagreements within the group, but speaking to people who have, they always emphasise this. If there are fair and sensible rules in place, then you simply need to stick to them.
If I can do this, so can you: As I mentioned, I am the least technically savvy person, but I have managed this which means you can to. What is the worst that can happen?