Neighborhood Facebook Groups are the Town’s Hubs. People flock to their local Group for any and all types of support. Construction and doctor referrals, election information, tips for navigating the school system and more.
Think about communities of the past; we had a butcher, a baker and a candle stick maker. It wasn’t then and shouldn’t be now, one person’s job to take care of everything. To create sustainability and high engagement, Neighborhood Admins must aim for a division of labor. Neighborhood Admins must tap into people’s passions in order to make this puzzle piece fit together.
These are the five types of people I would want bringing value to my Community (Group). They would support the Group in a way that I can’t.
Certified Naturalist: Post asking to identify snakes, bugs and plants are very common in Neighborhood Groups. I may be the Admin, but this isn’t my expertise. Having an active, skilled participant willing to help Neighbors with virtual Q&A would be an asset for me and everyone!
Listens to the Police Scanner: Knowing about a fire or robbery in Town is important. It lets others know to stay away or be alert. I don’t listen to a scanner, but there are many who have that hobby. Neighborhood Admins would benefit if they could partner with a Neighbor who does listen to the scanner and is willing to post to the Group what they hear.
Weather Spotter: Weather can change in an instant! A Neighborhood Group’s value increases when it has up to date information, especially during emergency situations. Any one passionate about the weather would be helpful, but it would be extra awesome if that Neighbor were in the Skywarn Program! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) runs Skywarn. There are currently 350K-400K trained volunteers who report weather activities that they see (spot) back to the National Weather Service. It would serve a Neighborhood (Admin) so great if they also posted their spotting to the Group. One less thing for the Neighborhood Admin to do!
Local Photographer: I have one of these. There is a woman who enjoys taking pictures of her diverse flower garden and posting the photos into my Neighborhood Group. It’s fantastic because she brings beauty to the Group. Having a professional photographer and/or hobbyist posting photos regularly is an asset. Particularly if the pictures are scenes from around Town.
Person who goes to all the Meetings: A Neighborhood Admin cannot wear all of the hats. They cannot be in 10 places at once. If there is someone going to town meetings, it would be helpful if they also participate in a Neighborhood Group. They would report what was discussed and/or invite others to join in the future. It is especially advantageous if a person other than the Neighborhood Admin is describing information about public meetings because there is already so much political pressure on the Admin.
The type of person you DO NOT want in a Neighborhood Group: the Eternal Pessimist.
Culture before everything.
It’s more important to maintain a positive culture than it is to keep continuously negative person/people. Therefore, if one of these five types of people I want in my Neighborhood Group are actually an eternal pessimist, then I don’t want them. Their negative attitude outweighs their potential value; their positive attributes are in fact not positive.
Proceed with caution when removing eternal pessimists from your Group. Because Neighborhood Groups are comprised of in real life Neighbors, the eternal pessimist could be the Chief of Police, the teacher for the Admin’s children and/or the person living in the same building as them.
Although I recommend removing pessimists, one way to indirectly handle negativity is by recognizing the Group members who are doing what you want. If there is someone already acting in a helpful manner then say thanks.
Let’s be real; Facebook has a bad reputation. To beat that, we need to beautify our Groups. Create a calming, informative and beautiful virtual space.
The more times members see great photos, get help for questions they can’t answer (“Is this spider poisonous?”) and get information about stuff around town (meetings times/weather), the more they will positively associate you and your Neighborhood Group.
For more information on this subject, join Neighborhood Admins Resiliency Network.
I kid you not, as I wrote this article, I saw someone post a picture of a tape worm hanging from their cat’s bum! The Neighborhood Group member asked if anyone knew whether it was a worm or a string. I was like see! This is why I need a certified naturalist in my Neighborhood Group!