How to Set Up and Manage a Facebook Group

Learn about types of Facebook groups and moderation tips

Joining Facebook groups
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Facebook Groups are a great way to connect with like-minded people and share stories, advice, and bond over shared interests. But like many a great thing on the Internet, Facebook Groups are also prone to infighting, trolls, spam, and off-topic conversations, all of which get in the way—or may even destroy—the original goals of the group. There are ways to prevent these actions or at least get your group under control after one of the aforementioned events occurs.

Creating a group is easy; managing one is the challenge.

How to Create a Facebook Group

From the desktop version of Facebook, click on the upside down triangle on the top right of your screen, then select "create group." On mobile, tap the three-lined "hamburger" menu on top right, tap groups, manage, and, again "create group." Next, you give your group a name, add people (at least one to start), and select the privacy setting. There are three levels of privacy for Facebook Groups: Public, Closed, and Secret.

Closed and Secret Facebook Groups vs. Public Groups

A public group is just that: anyone can see the group, its members, and their posts. When a group is closed, anyone can find the group on Facebook and see who's in it, but only members can see individual posts. A secret group in invite-only, not searchable on Facebook and only members can see posts.

Think about the topic of your group and the members it's likely to attract.

A public group is fine for a relatively neutral topic, such as a fan group for a TV show or book. While the conversations may get intense and even divisive, it's not going to get personal (well, hopefully it won't), as would a group about parenting, for example.

If you're creating a group dedicated to a particular neighborhood, you may want to consider making it a closed one, so you can ensure that only people who live in the area can join and contribute.

Making a group secret is best for more contentious topics, such as politics, or for any group that you'd like to be a safe space for members, as much as one can be on social media.

As the creator of the group, you are by default an administrator. You can have multiple admins and moderators in a group. Admins have the most power, with the ability to make other members admins or moderators, remove an admin or moderator, manage group settings, approve or deny membership requests and posts, remove posts and comments on posts, remove and block people from the group, pin or unpin a post, and view the support inbox. Moderators can do everything that admins can do except make other members admins or moderators or remove them from those roles.

Moderators also can't manage group settings, which include changing the cover photo, renaming the group if its focus changes, or changing the privacy settings. One caveat when changing a group's privacy settings is that if you have more than 5,000 members, you can only make it more restrictive. So you can either change it from Public to Closed or Closed to Secret, but you can't change a secret group's privacy, nor can you make a closed group public. This way your members' privacy isn't invaded by having posts shared with a wider audience than expected.

How to Moderate a Facebook Group

After you set up a group, you can assign it a group type, which can help potential members find it and help them understand the purpose of the group. Types include buy and sell, parents, neighbors, study group, support, custom, and more. You can also add tags to your group to make it searchable and include a description. It's also good practice to create a pinned post, which always stays at the top of the activity feed, that explains group guidelines and principles.

After you've sorted that out, there are two more important settings to consider. First, you can choose whether only admins can post to the group or all members can. Alternatively, you can opt to require that all posts be approved by an admin or mod. These settings can be changed at any time.

As your group gets bigger, it's a good idea to recruit more admins and moderators to help you manage new members posts and comments. It's often too much work for one person, especially if your group grows quickly, like Pantsuit Nation did. That's a secret group created shortly before the presidential election in honor of one of the candidates, which now has well over 3 million members. Be sure to create a diverse panel of admins and mods that reflect your membership makeup. Create a list of admins that's easy to find and encourage members to tag admins if they see a problem, such as a spammy post or personal attacks.

When approving or rejecting new members, be sure to be on the lookout for fake profiles, such as those with only a few or no friends, no personal details, and/or a profile picture that's not representative. It's best to avoid adding anyone who doesn't even have a profile picture, which is represented by a white egg shape on a dark background.

Inevitably, even in secret groups, you may end up with Internet trolls or bullies. Members can report posts that they find unacceptable, and admins can remove members from the group as they see fit. On the group dashboard, you just click on the cog symbol next to a member's name to remove them. Here, you can see a full list of members, admins, and those that have been blocked. This way, you can avoid approving a member that's been banned, and check new member requests against that list for similar names or profile photos. Oddly, there's no way to view a list of moderators, but you can easily see each members' status on your account page.

Following these tips should create an optimal environment for your Facebook Group and make it easier to deal with issues when they arise.

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