How to Grow a Group Part Three
Today’s socio-cultural model could be argued to be based on the drive or urge to find the satisfaction and sense of ‘place’ which earlier models had but which has been progressively lost. Yes, it is all about constant growth and the accumulation of wealth, but that wealth is then supposed to be used to find meaning and depth in living, a sense of security, and a fixedness in a higher condition. The modern seeks a fixed universe too, but one in which he or she is comfortably at the top.
The thing driving the modern socio-economic model is desire.
All I desire is a place in the universe in which I can be said to be accomplishing my own life’s purpose without material hardship. I do not seek vast wealth; I do not want to be at the ‘top’ of any hierarchy; I do not want to be perpetually socially mobile. I want enough to be able to do my job for you in reasonable comfort and security. I suspect that I am not alone in a rejection of the modern mantra to ‘grow at all costs’ and to compartment and divide and sell in perpetuity, as discussed in earlier articles in this series.
Therefore the Inner Circle Writers’ Group grows as it needs to to achieve its purpose, and that purpose could be stated to be an equilibrium in which it has the assured and required means to continue to function at its best.
What specifically does that mean in terms of its operations?
Here are the main points about growing a social media group, which you should note down as guidelines for any group you might think of starting up:
1. Membership is by invitation only - only myself or other members are able to invite others. All requests to join go through me as the sole admin. In this way, expansion occurs only along affinity and interest lines rather than ‘shouting from the rooftops’ to get mass membership. We pursue friendship and patterns of appeal, rather than numbers for their own sake.
2. Members should not - and do not tend to- simply ‘plop’ other people into the group without asking them whether or not they’d like to be a member. Membership must be something that each member desires and is glad to have, not an imposition.
How should this invitation process occur? Naturally. Organically. You may be chatting with a friend online and the subject might come up; you might be sharing your work with someone and the thought might occur to you that this person might enjoy ICWG. I do not expect members to go out of their way to invite quotas of people - though I will be very happy if you decide to invite lots of people, as long as you do it as above, with their permission.
4. The group remains 'closed' as a category on Facebook, which means that it is not open to everyone but still visible to the public at large. That means that interested passers-by are able to request to join, but they are asked questions before I admit them, along the lines of
Is the person seriously interested in writing?
Would the person enjoy this group in particular?
Would the person add value to the group and benefit from the group in some way?
In this way, we ‘grow’ a group but along the right lines.
5. To keep the group as alive and interesting as it is at present, posts from members should always try to:
• add some kind of value (insight, humour, depth, richness, information etc)
• celebrate success
• be ‘on-topic’ in some way
• show small excerpts for comment (under 500 words) where desired.
In other words, much the same kind of thing that we have happening now.
6. Posts from members should not:
• attempt to sell anything (except through the well-known Marketing Monday slot)
• be inane or incoherent
• if an excerpt, be more than 500 words
• be ‘off-topic’ e.g. politics
(You don't see a large amount of traffic which comes towards the group but doesn't make it into the feed, because I stop it. If I were to let it all through, you would soon 'switch off' and go elsewhere. I will remain a vigilant gatekeeper.)
7. I regularly invite people to download free gifts, or to purchase members’ works, or materials that I have specifically written to assist writers. The group was originally designed as a place where you could learn more, especially from my materials. And you can learn LOTS - more than you probably currently realise - about the craft of writing and marketing just from the material that is already available to you in the group.
With the above in place, we are able to minimise
Inanity and incoherence
Long, distracting posts
and to maximise
Pertinence and value from and for members
From all of this, the Inner Circle Writers’ Group continues to be a reflection of a different kind of social model: one based on more than purely commercial motivations, and one which becomes deeper, richer, more meaningful as Time goes on, rather than simply ‘bigger’.
As I say, if you are wanting to set up a social media group, you could do worse than emulate the above. These principles work and they guarantee that the group continues to serve its prime purpose and its membership.
I look forward to hearing from you.