10 Essential actions for running your online group
Do you belong to a few online groups? Do you lurk, seldom saying anything, or are you one of those livewires who has something to say about everything? Perhaps you engage with some groups more than others.
Have you ever thought about what makes an online group worthwhile for you?
Whether it’s visible or not, your experience of an online group will be affected by the tone that is set by the founder or administrator. I founded The Walking Tribe, an online group of women who walk all over the world and share their experience through photos and stories in an online group.
The intention is to walk 30 minutes a day for 30 days each month, on a theme, and to add ten minutes of a secondary challenge. Being absolutely clear about the goal and the supporting intentions of accountability, affirmation and celebration has worked.
My work with this group over five years has made me curious about when an online network works and when it doesn’t.
I have explored what draws people to groups online, and what kind of people stay the course. A group I thoroughly enjoy is the superbly managed South African group, The Village, gently but firmly held by journalist Vanessa Raphaely who I have known since I was a child.
Watching her work from a distance and exploring the interactions in my own Walking Tribe resulted in finding ten key points to remember if you want to run your online group successfully.
Ten essential actions if you run an online group:
1. Clarify – It is your job to clarify the expectations of participants
2. Facilitate – You are the facilitator, not just an administrator. Facilitate. Don’t just administrate.
3. Set the tone – Be mindful of your attitude and intention.
4. Hold the boundaries – Be kind but firm when people step out of line. Finger shaking is unnecessary.
5. Build trust – You create the space for trust. Be kind, considerate and careful with what people disclose.
6. Walk the talk – Act in a way you expect the participants to act. Be a role model.
7. Be a key player – You are key to the group’s success. You are not an optional extra. Stay present, with a light touch.
8. Encourage responsibility – You don’t have to comment on every post. Leave space for others to take responsibility in the group.
9. Build your network – Connect people to one another. Encourage cooperation.
10. Encourage affirmation, accountability and celebration – This has been the core of The Walking Tribe for more than five years, and it’s a tried and tested formula. People want affirmation, accountability and celebration. It just works.
In short, bring joy to the group.
Set your intention for the group clearly, then gently nudge people into line. You want members of the group to feel joyful about being part of something wonderful. It is more important to get people to connect with and support one another than for you to connect with and support them.
The stronger the peer to peer support, the more accountable the group will feel and the better the outcomes will be.
Julia Gietzman, one of the Tribers (as we call members of our Walking Tribe) said in a Facebook post:
“More groups like these are needed, where, as a member, you feel like you’re part of a family who uplifts you, how much you do is good enough and being active in the group fills you with loads of feel goodery.”