Some of us hear the word Facebook and think annoying status updates, privacy breaches and irritating adverts. It’s easy to think of the negatives but Facebook can also be a great way to connect, share and inspire!

Facebook is the worlds largest and most actively used social media platform - it provides a way for people to communicate with friends and family, keep up to date on the latest news (and gossip), find out what’s happening locally and connect with like-minded people at home and across the globe.

You might not be keen on using Facebook personally (or maybe you’re a Facebook fan) but when it comes to your creative group or project, having a presence on Facebook is a great way to:

- Raise the visibility of your group or project;
- Showcase the fantastic work you do;
- Create a community around your group or project;
- Share updates and invite new participants, volunteers and supporters to join you 

Facebook can be used in different ways, as an individual (Facebook Profile), an organisation (Facebook Page) and as a group (Facebook Group) - it's important to understand the difference before getting started. Read on for more information and some practical advice how to make make the most of Facebook for you and your creative group . . .

Facebook Profile

It’s free to set up a personal profile on Facebook but in doing so you agree to Facebook's Terms of Service, which gives Facebook permission to use the data you provide.  However, it is up to you what information you want to share - you can put as much or as little personal details on your Facebook Profile as you feel comfortable with, adjust your privacy settings and dictate to Facebook who you want to see the information you choose to share.

If you want to use Facebook to promote your group or project you will need to set up a Facebook Profile, there is no getting around this - but if this causes concern, fear not, you can create a very basic personal profile by including the minimum information required and setting your privacy settings to the max. That way you will have access to all the functionality that will be useful for your group without having to worry about maintaining a Facebook personal profile.

Further reading:

- See this useful step-by-step from Digital unite on how to join Facebook.
- This Digital Unite guide explains how to stay safe on Facebook and edit your privacy settings.

Facebook Page

Once you have a Facebook personal profile set up you can create a free Facebook Page for your creative group or project and become an administrator of that page. Once set up, you can invite people to ‘like’ your Facebook Page, which provides you with a way of building a community around what you are doing, who you can share information and updates with.

There are lots of tools available to you when logged into your Facebook Page, which can help you safeguard your page, get your message out there and engage new people with your activities, this includes the ability to list events, collect reviews and share photos and live video.

A dynamic Facebook Page is one that sees people regularly liking, sharing and commenting on the content that is put up – this tells you that people are interested in what you are doing and that the information you are sharing is being well received. Growing your followers and level of engagement is a great way to demonstrate interest in your group or project and build support for what you are doing.

When applying for funding or looking for supporters, such as local businesses, politicians or partner organisations, if you have an active Facebook Page, this can be a great way to demonstrate your impact and following. Chances are that potential supporters will search for your group online anyway so having a Facebook Page that reflects what you do and how it is making a difference can be a really worthwhile investment. 

If your Facebook Page has a good level of engagement, this can also help with Search Engine Optimisation, which is concerned with how visible your group is online.

Example: if you have a Facebook Page for your knitting group and you regularly have people liking, commenting and sharing your posts, when someone uses Google to search for knitting groups in your area, you will have a better chance of coming up in the results and that person clicking through to find out more.

This video gives you some practical tips on how to manage your Facebook Page and make the most of the free tools available . . .

Further reading:

- This useful step-by-step video from Org Spring shows you how to set up a Facebook Page for your non-profit organisation.

- Download the Voluntary Arts Briefing ‘Creating engaging content for social media’ for some top tips on how to get your message out there on Facebook.  

- For more information on Search Engine Optimisation see the Voluntary Arst Briefing 'SEO: Getting your website noticed'.

Facebook Group

As an individual, group or organisation on Facebook, you can also set up a Facebook Group. Groups can be:

1. Closed - can be searched for on Facebook but only people invited by the group members can join.

2. Secret - can only be seen by those belonging to the group. This is often used for members of committees and similar so they can hold online meetings without information becoming public.

3. Public - anyone can search and join the group.

Facebook Groups are commonly used as a way to bring people together who have similar interests and passions, to discuss and share information. At the time of writing there are 29 million Facebook Groups in the UK alone!

Facebook Groups can be extremely useful for creative groups or projects, with the functionality to share documents, create group events and hold live video meetings.

Setting up a Facebook Group can complement your Facebook Page and offer a different way to share information with people who are active members of your organistion.

Example: an amateur dramatic group might set up and use a Facebook Page to promote upcoming shows, share casting calls and post snippets from behind the scenes. This provides a way for the group to raise its visibility and get more people involved, both as participants and audience members.

In addition to its Facebook Page, the group might also have a closed Facebook Group comprising members of the committee, cast and crew. This more private space is ideal for discussing group matters, sharing ideas and making plans for upcoming productions.

Over recent years Facebook has seen a rise in creative community groups existing purely as Facebook Groups – where members, in the main, only ever meet in the online group to share inspiration and have discussions.

The Facebook Gallery of Groups exhibition took place at London’s Southbank Centre in early 2018. It showcased six unique Facebook Groups, demonstrating how Facebook is making it easier for people to find and share passions and interests that they otherwise might not have been able to enjoy due to location or circumstances. One of the groups featured was Love on the Rocks UK – a group set up for people that love to paint and hide rocks. This has been set up as a public group that you can request to join, take a look to see how it works!

This video shares some practical tips on how to manage your Facebook Group and make the most of the free tools available . . .

Further reading:

- This step-by-step tutorial from Digital Unite talks you through how to set up a Facebook Group.

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