Frequently the question comes along that many Extension professionals wish to build an online presence or gathering place for their clientele. The good news is, if you follow the outlined steps below, it is possible to build a positive page that will connect interested parties together. Once connected, following a number of steps can lead your group in the right direction to being a frequently visited social hub, versus being a tumbleweed in social media. The following directions start with you already having a personal facebook profile to begin with. If you do not have one, please contact an Ed Tech and we can help get you started – or attend one of our fantastic Social Media Workshops listed at this website – https://u.osu.edu/extensionedtech/2013/12/10/announcing-social-media-workshop-opportunities-in-2014/
The steps listed below are taken from screenshots of my facebook as of the last week of January 2014. Remember, Facebook changes often so this will soon be a rough outline.
The first thing you will want to do is to look at the main home page. This is the page that will show the news feed to the right, and then on the left a list of links including your pages, and groups that you currently follow or are a part of. At the bottom of the group section there is a link that says “Add Group”. Click that link, and then click on the Create new group button on the following page in the upper right hand corner.
After clicking to create a new group, you will see a box pop up with fill in the blank information. You will then be able to name your group, add members, and determine your privacy settings. The three options for privacy are open, closed, and secret. If you want the group to be open to the public (ie: Van Wert County 4-H) you could make it a page, or make it an open group. However, if you are working with youth, or people who may not wish for their information about meetings to be public (ie 4-H club Facebook groups) I often suggest that the group be secret. That means that only members of the group can see posts, or find the group. If the group is closed, it can be found, but only members can post to it. This setting can be changed if you decide differently later.
The next decision you make is a fun one! A window should pop up and ask you what kind of icon you wish to have for your group. This is also a feature that can be changed if you wish to at a later time. The screen will refresh and then show you the group homepage. You can see an example of that to the right of the icon screenshot. As a member you have a number of options – including posting messages, pictures, asking a question, or uploading a file.
One of the special features of the group option is that you can ask a question. Members can reply with comments, but if you wanted to find out what kind of pizza to order for your next meeting, you could list options and ask all the participants to vote. It is a fun and different way to grab the attention of those in the group.
Another special feature is the add file button. From here you can post documents for members to review, or remind them of meetings with a listing, or contact information. The ability to communicate and provide access to this information is very important to those who may have a different schedule than 9-5pm.
The best advice that I can give people using groups is to explore the options, and test the waters! Not all groups need a Facebook groups page, but there are many groups that could benefit from the added communication. Below are the top ten things you can do to use your new Facebook Group effectively! This list has been generated for volunteers, especially those who interact with 4-H clubs, but can be adapted for almost any organization.