Create a Facebook Group

by Angie Firmalino
Founder of Essure Problems, President of ASHES Nonprofit

Facebook groups are an easy and free way to bring together people around activism. They provide an efficient way to create an online community that may share information and resources and organize events and initiatives.

The first thing you will need to decide is whether your group will be Open (open to the general public and allowing anyone to view the group’s members and posts), Closed (anyone can view the group and its members, but only members can view and/or share posts), or Secret (only members can view the group, members, and posts). Depending on your outreach and campaign goals, you will choose one of these options.

Once you are ready to create your group, from the homepage you can click on Groups section, and then Start Group. When it comes to naming your group, you will want to pick a name that is easy for others to find using keywords that are relevant to the issues at hand.

To begin outreach for your group, you will be able to directly invite people in your network to join. In addition, you be able to send links via email as well. As you invite people to join, you may want to consider asking them to help spread the word – word of mouth can be key in building a critical mass.

It can be helpful to create a separate group related to your main group for only the Administrators to join. It can be a safe place to collect information on the group’s activities for historical records. For example, if a member was removed, you will be able to record a screen shot of the member’s name and the reason why. It can also be a productive venue for Administrators to discuss best practices for the group, which may change as the group grows.

How to use the Facebook group

Once your Facebook group is up and running, you and your other Administrators will want to decide what your future goals for the group will be and how you will want to grow it.

An important first step is to establish ground rules. For example, the Essure Problems Facebook group established a Zero Tolerance Policy for conflict, rude and disorderly conduct, disrespect, political discussions, or hate speech. They also banned sales of any sort, in an effort to keep the focus on the issues at hand. They found it helpful to remove a member after a first offense, but to remove and ban a member after a second offense. Lastly, all posts must be approved by the group’s administrators.

Facebook groups, aside from being great forums for information, can also provide incredibly fruitful and creative ways of advancing your goals. The Essure Problems administrators describe some of their successful activities…

– Every member brings a different skill to the group. We harnessed the power of the large group to analyze complicated FDA and medical documents, and also to research for new information.

– We created “infusion days,” where group members would focus on a certain project and anyone online could join us. For example: sending emails to the FDA by the hundreds/thousands in one day, or having everyone contact a certain celebrity of media outlet. Organization is key: it’s crucial to focus on only one simple task, and communicating to people exactly the steps to do so, by providing good instructions or a pre-written script for them to use or inspire them.

– Offering real-world meetups is a great way to create even stronger personal relationships, and we try to facilitate those in different areas of the country.

– The Facebook group can also be a great and organic source for fundraising. Our group has successfully crowdfunded for initiatives to support the cause, such as paying for FDA meeting videos, which we could then use in our outreach and campaigns.