On Saturday 9 February 2019, I attended the first Facebook Community Leadership Circle in Amsterdam. Held at the beautiful and super cool Impact Hub Amsterdam, it was an inspiring and interesting event. Of the 16 community leaders that attended, we calculated that our communities together total almost two million members! This event provided us with a face to face opportunity to share ideas and experiences, as well as provide feedback to Facebook.
What are Facebook Community Leadership Circles?
You can read my previous article about Facebook Community Leadership Circles and visit the link at the end of this article for more information. The quick summary sentence from Facebook is that: “Community Leadership Circles are local chapters of Facebook admins who meet regularly to connect and learn with each other.” This aligns with their overall mission which is to “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”.
There are currently 103 circle leads in 97 cities in 47 countries, connecting 43 million community members.
Local CLC Leads
Both have a wealth of knowledge to share. They also have a direct connection to Facebook to be able to provide feedback and be informed of new features. They take this on as a volunteer role, though are supported by Facebook to attend training events (they have already been to Berlin to meet other CLC leads from around the world) and are provided with some funds to organise these local events….including cupcakes!
Supporting community leaders
Leading a community in any capacity – on Facebook or beyond – takes a significant amount of time, energy and skills. Most of the millions of community leaders worldwide have been figuring out how to do it on their own, and the majority of them in a volunteer capacity. This concept allows for community leaders to come together both face to face at regular local events, as well as be part of an online private local community leader group to learn from and support each other.
Personally, I think it’s great to have some kind of recognition of the challenges community leaders face, and the work we do. Facebook provided each of the community leaders with a nice goody bag.
I was there supporting my Dutch Australian community, which I’ve been building on Facebook for more than a decade. The meeting was held in English as many of us have moved to the Netherlands from elsewhere, though this group is most certainly open to and welcomes Dutch speakers as well.
We discussed several new features that are rolling out for groups on Facebook, including:
- Enhanced Admin activity log
- Group rules: new ways to notify members
- Brand collaboration tool for groups
- Formatted posts (for admins only so far)
- Subscription groups
If you’d like to watch the whole live broadcast of the recent Facebook Communities Summit which covers these in more detail, you can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/facebook/videos/314949872489189/
Amsterdam and NL communities
I’m going to check with the other attendees if I can share their names and links to their groups below. We had a nice mix of different types of communities – several were supporting those who have moved to Amsterdam from other countries, one was around cooking, and another supporting non-Dutch speakers in finding work. There were 16 attendees and in total, we counted a total of more than a million members in our collective groups.
Hate speech and inappropriate behaviour on Facebook
Sadly, there are people on Facebook who target groups and communities to vent their racist or sexist views, share shocking images, and generally behave inappropriately. A few of the community leaders shared their experiences here, and we discussed best practice and how Facebook is dealing with this. Facebook have a team of around 20,000 who process and action reports/complaints. Unfortunately with over 2.2 billion active monthly users, this still is sometimes not enough. Our group discussed a few ideas for Emmy to give to Facebook.
Facebook Page verses Facebook Group
Another hot discussion was whether a community on Facebook should be run via a Page or a Group. The general trend here seems to be that a Page is more suited to a business, whereas a Group should be used for a community. Many use both. Already, those of us with a Page have noticed a significant drop in engagement and organic visibility in recent years. Future features are likely to support groups even more. After attending this event, I have decided to create a Dutch Australian group alongside my Dutch Australian Facebook page. Though this will take some extra time and effort, I think there can be some extra benefits for my community members. Group set up tends to also encourage more engagement between members, rather than broadcasting from a Page.
We discussed that there are also many people who have left the platform or use it less in recent years. In the Netherlands, apparently thousands deleted their account after a tv host created some hype. We also had a younger group leader who is considering shifting his group to another platform. I’ve noticed with my own students (18-25), it’s much less popular in the last year or two. Many cite issues with GDPR and “security and privacy”. Though it is absolutely free choice whether you use a platform or not, it’s interesting to note that many instead migrate to Instagram or WhatsApp – which are also owned by Facebook.
Share your own opinion – online and offline
I most certainly think we need to be aware and educated on social media use, privacy and security and make personal decisions. I don’t think it’s effective or feasible to simply “blame the tech giants” and refuse to use them. Big data, AI, virtual reality – we are all making our way in a new world whether we like it or not, and I think coming together to continue to talk about these issues, and voice our opinions is important. Facebook provides us with a free platform to do that and ironically many people complain about Facebook – on Facebook. Which is fine, because if you are not there – you can’t voice your opinion there. Many people seem to forget that before Facebook (or blogs, or Google, or Twitter, or LinkedIn for that matter), if we had an opinion about anything – our own security and privacy included – we did not have the power to share this so easily. I’m not about ignoring the “bad” but let’s balance that out with the “good”.
It is an ongoing issue for community leaders to choose any platform that all members will be happy with. I’m sticking with Facebook. Better the devil you know? 😉 Things may change in the future, but right now, I don’t believe there is another platform that is as easy to use, as powerful, with users daily all around the world – for free. I also do appreciate that Facebook are making significant moves to listen to their users, and bring communities together – for free – with initiatives like these. We can criticise and complain – or take part and be heard. I had a great afternoon with lovely people, who all spend significant time creating and nurturing communities. We discussed challenges and came up with some tangible potential suggestions for Facebook. I love being part of that.
I’m looking forward to the next event. We will decide as a group what would be most useful to us to learn and discuss at future meetings and some of the topics we are considering include:
- The community engagement cycle
- Growing and branding your community
- Monetisation + funding
- Building a moderation team
- Managing conflict
If you’d like more information on Facebook Community Leadership Circles and would like to join, or even apply to become a lead if there is not yet a circle in your city, visit this link:
If you are in the Netherlands specifically, you can apply directly to the Community Leadership Circle Amsterdam here: