5 Life Lessons From Managing A Volatile Facebook Group
About six months ago, I started a facebook group for writers. Some of you may know it as Medium Dreamers. To my amazement, that name has spread pretty far. Managing a Facebook group requires Leadership, Vision, Communication Skills, and calmness of mind to hear people out. Aside from that, a good admin should also be inclusive to people from different backgrounds and ways of life.
Sometimes, the combination of all of these creates division even though you’re trying to mend.
Here are some lessons I learned along the way.
1. Being An Admin Sucks
About six years ago, a Facebook group was opened in Israel for geeks. As a geek myself, I envied that group’s leaders so much. I thought to myself, “wow! I could make some new connections, and share my stuff with people!” I’ve been so naive.
Today, that group has 42K members. I sincerely doubt that if its admins weren’t as passionate about the group as they are, it would have been such a success.
Managing a Facebook group requires you to listen to complaints, take criticism from members, and have people judge you for something a group member said outside of the group.
There’s a lot of possible negativity, especially in a group of writers — who are frequent posters — but if you play it right, you could craft a group that makes you inspired to be in and administer.
That has been my experience so far with Medium Dreamers. I love that group, and all of its members are my children. My well-behaved but sometimes naughty children. And the majority of texts I see inspire me daily.
This point is the first for a reason. If you’re not enjoying the process of being an admin — don’t do it. You could do more harm than good.
2. You Can’t Make Everyone Happy
No one solution makes everyone happy. When two people fight on the groups ‘premises’ and demand you to ban the other, you don’t have a solution that will appease both.
It’s like playing D&D. You have to make a decision and live to bear the consequences of that decision.
What you can do is listen to both equally. Maybe one was naughtier than you thought initially? Maybe there’s evidence that supports action against a member? Dig deeper by being a good listener.
When I heard a member of the group was harassing one of my moderators with private sexual notes on her sexual-themed Medium stories and saw proof of that, he was gone. No questions asked.
An admin can take their time to think — but not to hesitate. Do what you need to do and when you decide one something — fully commit to it.
By the way, that last sentence is also a fundamental rule in Leadership. Take the time you need to think things through — but act decisively and own your decisions.
3. Facebook Groups Can’t Be 100% Positive
Medium Dreamers has been at the center of more than one controversy in its short time of existence. Everyone familiar with the cases knows how complicated they were.
We’re not here to discuss those issues only the group’s role when they unravel. The group’s administration — namely me and my mods — had little to no involvement in those cases. But as groups go, people identified the people involved as members of my group and called out the group.
It’s like when you don’t want to call out a specific person in a company, so you call out the company for hiring people like that person.
When you manage a community, you sometimes forget that you don’t control these people’s lives. So, while I agree with why people call out the group — I don’t agree that my mods and I should take responsibility for something that a person I don’t know who lives in a different continent did on Medium or somewhere else.
There will be conflicts, and you can’t deny it. Instead, you should expect it. Sometimes people fight, and as community managers, it’s our job to try to mitigate the issue as it happens.
But don’t just believe that if you write “No Conflicts here” on your doorstep, it will solve everything. You have to moderate the group for the issues that deserve its attention and remove those that don’t.
4. Managing a Facebook Group is Not a Democracy
Many members sometimes forget or completely ignore the fact that a Facebook group is a closed space that adheres to specific rules made by its creator (aside from Facebook’s Community Standards, which define the code of conduct in the Facebook space itself).
When I tell you not to post advertisements, you’re okay with that because it sounds reasonable. But when I ask you to post links only in specific threads? Well, sometimes it seems that rule is only a suggestion for some people.
If a person doesn’t obey the rules, they won’t be a part of the group. That’s that.
You, as an admin, shouldn’t have to explain yourself to someone who repeatedly violates your rules.
When people are voted for a leadership position in governments, they don’t ask for permission from their voters every time they need to make a decision. And that’s how it works in a democracy. In a facebook group, people didn’t choose you, but they decided to be part of your group. If they don’t like the way you do some things — they can leave. Nobody stops them.
Don’t apologize for doing what you think is right inside your Facebook group. Not everyone will agree, and you’ll have to live with that.
5. You’re Nothing Without Great Moderators
I’m so lucky to have three fantastic moderators. I want to give them a little shout out here: Zita Fontaine, Luke Wiese, and Brianna Bennett ✨. Remember this: Your moderators have different perspectives; they see more than you and understand members probably better than you do, too.
It’s like being the manager of a store, and your moderators are the shift managers that interact directly with customers. You do too, but less than them.
Also, you can’t manage so many people on your own. Many members of my group live in the US while I live in the middle east. They interact with each other in the group while I sleep. Thankfully, I have two moderators from the US who can oversee things when I’m not available.
I also keep Shabbat. That means I disappear from technology for 25 hours every Saturday. Who manages the group then? You guessed it!
Moderators are passionate about the group just as much as you are or maybe more, and it’s a voluntary job in most facebook groups. Always respect their opinion and listen to what they have to say.
From my experience, it’s been immensely helpful.