Community portion of small business becoming toxic - unsure of what to do

by Common_Appearance. Posted on Sep 15, 2020    4    7

First, I read over the rules and this seems like it is within guidelines. If not, my apologies.
I run a small business with two employees. We work primarily with content creation. We created a Facebook community page to foster a sense of community while also having an easy way to moniter trends and understand what our customer base wanted to see. We were expecting a couple hundred members. Instead, we have gotten thousands over the last few months. The problem is that most of these people have no interest, or knowledge, in the company or our content at all, despite the brand name and logo being glaringly apparent. Many people use it for self promotion or for promoting direct competitors. Lately, we've been noticing a bit of bullying and its clear that this group has gotten out of hand and does nothing to drive sales. Because its a net loss to our company, we're convinced it has to go. But, I'm unsure of how to get rid of this group without damaging our brand. Yet.....keeping it open indirectly damages the brand as well. Its cyclical.

Anyways, if anyone has any advice it would be greatly appreciated. The business is doing well but this could turn into a huge fire if left unattended.


ittybittycitykitty 3

No experience here. But maybe some klutsy IT guy of yours will sort of accidently shut the group down and loose the whole member list, you will just have to sort it out and start over, invite everyone back one by one.

  Common_Appearance 1

We've certainly thought about it................

vellamour 7

I have experience running Facebook groups for my own content-based brand and for some of my clients. I have a few questions for you:

1) Do you allow anyone to join?
2) Do you have established rules?
3) Do you have moderators auditing/approving posts?
4) Do you have a ranking system for key community members?

Most of the successful communities I engage in or have previously ran answered yes to most of those questions. When I ran the group for my own business (meaning moderating the group wasn’t my full time job), I found that enforcing posts to be “approved” before becoming public was easier for me to manage vs cleaning up posts along the way.

  Common_Appearance 2

Hey there, thanks so much for your reply.

  • 1 - We did allow anyone to join, however about a month ago we put a temporary close on new members while we tried to sort things out.
  • 2 - We do have established rules that, unfortunately get heavily ignored
  • 3 - we have had mods but unfortunately all but one have been very unreliable. We did a sort of interview so they understood the work they were signing up for, but they eventually ghosted
  • 4 - we do not have a ranking system but that's not a bad idea

    Another thing to mention is that we have a patron-only discord server that is doing much, much better

    Requiring posts and comments to be approved may be the right move at this point.
vellamour 2

Okay, follow up question: are you guys (meaning you and your two employees, not the mods), in any other successful Facebook groups?

Some suggestions:

  • Rewrite your rules to be VERY specific. No promo materials except for on this thread on this day (some groups, especially B2B groups, have like a Friday Promo thread posted once a week for people to share their offerings). No bullying/harassment. Again, if this is a B2B group, you can even up the standard to professional level communication (ie, don’t post It if you wouldn’t send it in a company email). If your group is more focused on consumer level, I suggest making the rules really specific to help aid anti-bullying.

  • No mods are going to want to participate or actually “do work” unless their paid, at least not on Facebook. :/ I was paid for all the moderation work I did for my clients. If you don’t think you can add moderation work to Your’s or your other employee’s pile, I suggest hiring a VA to do it for you.

  • Become the main content creator for your community by posting discussion questions, Q&A threads, etc frequently. Your community should be another content channel with a content calendar like your other social media channels. It sucks, but that’s just the way it is. A lot of successful groups follow templates.

    An example template could be:
    Monday you post a discussion question directly related to that week’s YouTube video/blog/podcast etc. This allows your audience to have a reason to be engaged with your content.
    Wednesday create a Q&A post to allow people to ask questions and receive answers directly from you and your employees, especially if you guys are the “stars” of the show, or the trade experts. You can also do this as a live video. These are very popular, and if you have time, I highly suggest it.
    Friday is promo day. Allow people to post a link to their latest offer/blog post/video/etc in the thread you create.

  • You want to find micro influencers to really build out and legitimize your community. These are trusted audience members who follow the rules and are active. I suggest listening to Pat Flynn’s podcast episode about micro influencers to understand more of what I mean (idk the episode # unfortunately).

  • Lastly, it sounds like you have a true Wild West of a community. I suggest creating some join questions when you decide to reopen the group, and then removing anyone who is toxic/inactive from the group. Scaling DOWN the group is good. It’s pruning and it will allow your community to grow healthier and happier. It’s important to keep up with it though, and having an exclusive, but small group of high quality members that you can maintain is better than a huge group you can’t maintain.
  Common_Appearance 2

My business partner is involved in quite a few, as for me, not so much. That's probably an area that I could improve upon.

Your bullet pointed suggestions are all great and sound like they would help. It will be difficult to carve out time for that content but I think if we just added another tab to the spreadsheet, so to speak, it would be manageable.

Never thought of microinfluencers but its a great concept. I'm definitely going to look into that podcast.

Scaling down and removing members has always made me jittery because, since we're so small, bad word of mouth could be really damaging. But I guess since the group is damaging anyways, its better to risk it than just let it run wild.

Thanks so much for your insight.

vellamour 1

I think if you ask your partner about some aspects of his favorite Facebook groups and what make them successful, and then try to emulate them in your own group, it could be very helpful.

And for communities like this, quality over quantity really is key. It’s all about making super fans (another Pat Flynn reference—if you haven’t listened to his podcast, Smart Passive Income, I highly suggest it).