From the beginning I will state that I used to be a co-admin of a Facebook writing group, and I am still a member of a few writing and blogging groups.
Both have helped me to learn a lot about how to behave in Facebook groups, be a valued member, and to support others.
It has also sadly shown me how some writers and bloggers out there really are not about community.
Let’s take a look at how we can all benefit by employing our bestest Facebook groups etiquette or, in my more eloquent phrasing, not to be a Facebook git.
Read the Information Before You Join
It never fails to surprise me how many people state that they posted something they shouldn’t have because they didn’t know the rules of the group.
I’ve yet to see a group that does not have a description detailing how the group works. Most groups also have a pinned post to detail the group’s guidelines.
Read these valuable pieces of information before you request to join. You may think that because this is social media that it doesn’t matter. If you get it wrong or continuously flout the rules that’s the admins’ problem, right? Wrong. It’s yours.
You will get to be known as a perpetual pain in the bum. Group members will be annoyed and avoid you. They’ll see your name pop up in other groups and give you a wide berth there also. You’ll probably face being thrown out of other groups eventually too.
Make sure the group fits you before you ask to join. Your needs matter as much as those of the group.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
If the information provided is scant or you’re unsure, ask before you post. Message the admins or write a post checking if it’s okay to contribute something.
Any decent admin will welcome you asking first rather than just doing your own sweet thing.
Facebook writing and blogging groups, along with their admins, should be there to support you.
I find it hard to understand people who join hundreds of groups. How on earth do they have the time to contribute to all of them? The answer is they don’t.
There’s no harm in being in squillions of groups. You’ll probably never look at them, contribute, or post. However, do you really want your Facebook feed clogged up with all those group notifications?
When I join groups I read the information carefully. I then look to see what type of group it is. Is it a free-for-all where you basically dump links and run? If so, I tend to avoid those ones. The interaction is minimal if any. I know. I joined lots when I first started writing and blogging.
In these kinds of groups you’re pissing in the wind against other streams and it’s all just messy. People aren’t often there to support you by sharing your work and commenting on it. They are mainly there to link drop and run.
By all means, join these groups if you want but don’t be surprised if no one so much as likes your post let alone engages with it. To those who run these groups, no offence is intended. This is my personal experience.
Consider the number of group members too. Now this is a tricky one. Size can mean nothing or everything.
The free-for-all groups often have thousands. Then there are fab groups that have high numbers but still have amazing admins and group collaboration.
There are also small groups in their hundreds or below. Don’t write them off, pardon the pun. They can be great for a warm, friendly feel because the members get to know each other more.
On the other hand, small groups can also be a sign that the admin has given up and no one has joined since 2001. Check the activity on the wall.
Join the groups and then tally the numbers with what you’re seeing happen in the group. That’s often the best way overall, to join groups and get a feel for them. Look for what they offer in terms of promotional opportunities, engagement, and support.
Be an Active and Engaging Group Member
I’m not telling you to be on social media 24/7, although you’re a writer and/or a blogger so you’re far from innocent. I know what a fabulous procrastination tool the internet is.
I am advising though that if you keep your groups to the quality over quantity line of thinking, you’ll fare much better.
When I started out I joined just about every writing and blogging group going. Then I realised that I had a life, and that I needed time to write and blog too.
The best groups are those that have a high rate of engagement between group members. It’s really satisfying to answer their questions, have them answer yours, help each other out with promotion, and possibly make some virtual friends.
Writing and blogging are often solitary pursuits. This is your chance to get to know fellow like-minded people who understand why you talk to imaginary people, are a cat lady/man, and have a coffee IV connected to you.
Cut Out the Spammy McSpam or Linky McLink Act
I don’t like spam. As a kid I hated having Spam sandwiches. Never trust meat that comes out of a tin.
My hatred of spam has increased to that of the clogging up the internet and link dropping variety.
Hey there Mr or Ms Spammy McSpam Face and your mates Sir and Lady Linky McLink, understand this – people really don’t like you.
You have a reputation as that bloody person touting their book or blog for the billionth time today. Thankfully, many decent Facebook groups won’t let you do it.
Not only is spamming and link-dropping annoying, it’s pointless. People’s eyes glaze over. They become immune to seeing your book cover or link. The more you share it, the less impact it has.
By all means share in the dedicated promotion threads for promotion. Go wild there along with everyone else.
Just think about how often you’re wangling your wares around. It’s bordering on indecent. Put it away for goodness sake.
Give the Admins a Break
After being an admin I’ve come to realise how hard it can be dealing with writers and bloggers who don’t want to toe the line.
I’m rebellious in many ways. I sometimes throw caution to the wind and eat two bars of chocolate. Who am I kidding? That’s standard behaviour around here.
I do understand how rules can feel stifling but you joined the group. The second you joined you accepted the group’s rules.
It’s true that some groups are more rigid with their rules than others. I’ve been in some shocking groups where I was in fear of just looking at the page for the worry of not doing it right. If the rules are too much for you then it’s best to leave.
Don’t rant and rave at the admins when they say you’ve done something you shouldn’t have. You know the rules. They’re written in the group description.
Don’t be nasty to the admins. They are human beings you know. Yes, even the weirdos who really don’t seem like they are.
Overall, it is just a Facebook group.
It’s not your only source of promotion.
It is not the be-all and end-all.
It is not your God-given right to be in the group and do what you want in it. Go do that on your own Facebook page (and probably get banned for it).
Or go for it in real life. Oh how I’d love to see you shouting at the cashier in Tesco because he/she didn’t shut her till down to listen you droning on about your latest book. How dare he/she not give you all the attention because there’s a long queue of customers behind you?
If you have an issue with an admin please don’t be rude to them.
I’ve got pretty sturdy shoulders. As an admin, I wasn’t going to let a diva writer or blogger make me want to wither and die because they wrote harsh comments about how I help to run a group. However, I also most certainly was not going to let anyone slander me.
Admins are trying to do you a favour by getting rid of your rude comments on the wall so the world doesn’t see what a twatwaffle you are.
Don’t do it kids.
Admins, Don’t Be Arseholes
In the interests of fairness, I will address admins too. Yes, admins can be arseholes.
I know that there are admins out there who were dying for Facebook and particularly groups to be invented. Now is their moment of glory. Now they can be in charge. Now they can be a leader and scary idiot all in one, and it’s legit.
Dictator admins make me chuckle. When I first encountered them they scared the living shite out of me.
I’d never joined Facebook groups before. As an ex-teacher I didn’t want the shame of being put in the naughty corner. Then I got wise.
Admins are people just like you and me. Yes, they should be respected for the effort they put in and how they help to run the group, but they are not deities.
I cannot believe groups where admins are incredibly uptight about members sharing anything that even has a sniff of self-promotion while posting daily about their latest blog post or book. That is not fair use of a group at all. It leaves a bad taste and shows that the group is basically a vehicle for the admin’s ego.
Admins, remember this, you set the group up, you work hard to keep it going, and you support your group members but it is not just your group. It is a group for each and every member.
It is not something you can hold on tightly to. The clue is in the word ‘group’. If you don’t want to believe that, believe this, your group ultimately belongs to Facebook.
Facebook is not a right, it is a privilege. I have to remind myself of this every time I want to give Mark Zuckerberg a slap for changing the Facebook page algorithms so only a few people ever seem to see my posts. But it’s the truth. What Facebook giveth, it can taketh away.
Be a dick with, in, or to your group, and soon your group will be no more. It happens.
Play nicely admins.
If You Don’t Like It, You Can Leave
Joining a Facebook group does not have to be for life. You can leave any time you want to. It’s not as difficult to escape from as having kids or a mortgage. If the group isn’t working for you, leave.
I am often surprised by how many people ask in other groups if it’s okay to leave a different writing or blogging group. I’m baffled as to why they feel the need to seek permission or reassurance.
Believe me, there are many, many writing and blogging groups out there. You won’t miss out by no longer being part of one or two.
Stick with what works for you and leave the rest behind.
Don’t Take it Too Seriously
I do understand that as writers we are told to start our social media platforms practically from the moment of our conception. I
also know that bloggers need to get themselves and their blogs known.
I will state though that this is social media. Yes, it can lead to great marketing and promotion opportunities but most of all it is social, hence ‘social’ media’.
Be social. Be community-focused. Be engaged and engaging with other members.
Enjoy it, learn from it, and help others.
Facebook is just a means after all, it is not the be-all of everything writerly and blogging.
Now go and post funny memes of stressed writers, cute cats, and the like.
As you were…
Over to You
What do you think about Facebook groups for writers or anything else?
Are you in any groups?
What works for you and what doesn’t?
What advice do you have?
Share away in the comments.