Tips for online groups

Set up the online space

  • Configure the online with other leaders and your first members
  • Notification settings can be important for encouraging the pace of engagement you want, while enabling individuals to tune the communication they want from the group.
  • Determine how you’ll manage and moderate conversations
    • One of the biggest mistakes is leaving a group with no moderation.
    • Document the community description and ground-rules
    • Start testing out the engagement experience before inviting more people.
  • Choosing a Platform: See the Tools for Groups section
    • Maybe you can duplicate content to different platforms – you will have two (or more) different groups with the same name, with different audience (because people will choose the most useful platform for them).
      • Example: Such as a «BIM or not 2BIM» group exists both on Facebook and in Telegram, and the audience is different.
  • Admin & Group Manager Roles
    • When your group is not very large, you can manage it by yourself only, but when it it has more than 1000 members - you need more admins and moderators. You can give the admin or moderator role as a reward for most useful answers or for most active members.
  • Pre-populate with some content
    • Your intro & biography
    • Some useful links
    • Actual news etc.
    • A question or survey

Invite members & market

  • Soft launch the online space for a smaller group of leaders and people you may have spoken to in the beginning of your process of getting members.
  • Rally the people who are part of the very beginning discussions and to help execute any larger launch plans & communication plans.
  • Groups can get to memberships of thousands of people

Sparking and moderating conversation

"Information has an amazing property. When you share it, you don't lose it. And others still get it." - Aleksandr Lapygin, ROSECO, ГИП ГИПу друг (GIP2GIP friends)
  • Encourage new people to introduce themselves, post something on their minds, and ask questions.
    • Encourage other members to engage with new members, seek to make specific introductions
  • Positive reinforcement can go a long way
  • Conversations can be rapid and engaging. The pace and tone of the group can be set by moderators.
  • You might encourage certain people to engage or introduce people
  • Moderation + Admin
    • Clear rules help you moderate and keep conversations productive.
    • Remove SPAM immediately or people will leave the group
    • Large groups might end up having 3-7 moderators, with at least one of them online constantly
  • Surveys are a good tactic to spur engagement (e.g. «What is your opinion about…», «What software do you use for this purpose», «How long have you been in this position»
  • Some things that kill online community: too many marketing posts, only job listings/ recruiters, lack of moderation and community norms that enables toxic people & conversations to take root.

Knowledge and member management

  • The online platform should have tools and automation that help you see, organize, and manage the members who are part of the group - and the content that is shared within the group over time.
    • All the links and files are collected automatically, and everybody can find and use all the information later.
  • Content/ knowledge management: As the group engages, you may develop and identify especially helpful resources.
    • Pin or aggregate those resources for easy access.
    • Link back to key resources or conversations as you engage and moderate.
    • Example: Facebook groups include tabs for:
      • Files that are shared + allows you to create files
      • Media (photos and videos) + allows you to create albums
  • Member management:
    • Give active members more moderation privileges
    • Publish/highlight the list of members in some way as a community tool
    • Reach out to people who haven’t been active in a while

Evolve and learn

  • Don't be afraid to switch platforms if it's not working for you & your members.
Story from the Autodesk Group Network. There was a case when Anton Ilichev’s «IntC3D» Civil3D chat was launched in WhatsApp firstly. As I remember, it’d existed for about a year, until it was bombarded with spam. There was more than 100 members, when Anton decided to move to Telegram. Not everyone had Telegram accounts, but as I remember everybody installed Telegram to be able to communicate with colleagues without spam, and now he has more than 700 members in his group. The migration took about a week, not more.

Engage to improve