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How to Survive (and Thrive) in a Large Facebook Group

Writers are kind of a solitary bunch, but we need connection and support, too. We need connections with other people working for a passion beyond the 9-5. We need a community of other writers.

Now, I’m a huge fan of not leaving my house, so the Internet in general, and social media in particular, have been very helpful in this regard.

Enter: Facebook Groups.

FBwide

I’m in a few of these. Some are for networking/sharing each others’ content, and more are for encouragement and advice and learning from each other. The smallest group I’m in has about twenty people. The largest one has almost six thousand.

Yeah. You heard it. 6,000 people. In one group. 

And at first, I was excited about connecting with people and learning about their dreams. But then it turned into a giant vortex, sucking me deeper and deeper, constantly checking, fearful I’d miss something, devouring my newsfeed.

Eventually, a group ceases to help if you become a slave to it. 

So what do you do? How do you put the group back into its place and get your newsfeed (and your life) back? 

Step 1: Rescue Your Newsfeed

First, turn off notifications for the group. Do this from the menu bar on the group page; on the right side of the bar, you’ll see a button for “Notifications,” which you can set to “Off.”

You can (and will) still get notified for likes or comments on anything you’ve posted or when people tag you. But killing the general notifications will significantly reduce the traffic in your inbox.

Also, remove the group from your newsfeed. From any group post in your newsfeed, click the little gray arrow in the upper right corner of the post, and choose “Unfollow {GroupName}.”

This won’t remove you from the group, and you’ll be able to get back to it from the list of groups at the top left in your main Facebook newsfeed view. But it will stop delivering a million-and-one posts from the group into your newsfeed, leaving you free to notice Grandma’s post about her new hip or to find out your parents are selling your childhood home.

Step 2: Set Your Priorities

Once you’ve freed your feed, you’ll find yourself clicking on the group incessantly to see the new posts you might have missed. Or was that just me?

Sometimes, especially in a big group, the volume of posts can be overwhelming. I had to let go of the idea of “keeping up.” In a really large or really active group, it’s simply impossible to read every post and every comment.

Learn to be OK with skimming and with missing some posts so you can focus on what really matters to you.

In other words, choose your priorities before they choose you. For me, I have to focus on my writing first. If I open Facebook before I write, I find it much harder to write freely without distraction.

Step 3: Engage Strategically

On days when it works, I set aside specific times to skim through the group, commenting and encouraging other members. (On days when it works not-so-well, I leave Facebook open and look at it three times for every sentence I complete. Not a great role model here, am I?)

If I have enough time available, I’ll pick one or two posts that group members have shared to read through and comment more deeply. But when time is tight, sometimes that doesn’t happen.

Also, I know it hurts to post something vulnerable in a big group and get swept down the feed quickly. So I try to engage intentionally with pieces or people that either really connect with my own passion or who seem to not be getting the attention they deserve.

Are you ready?

On the days when I follow these simple steps, I find I have a lot more time to focus on the right activities. On the days when I let it slide, I look back and ask, “where did the day go?”

So are you ready to make some great connections AND take back your day?

It takes some discipline, but in the end, it’s worth it.

What tips do you have to keep social media from ruling your life? Leave a comment…

Eight Essentials: Keys to Success for New Writers shares eight lessons I wish I had known that could have saved me a lot of time and energy. The Secret is a short eBook to encourage you when you hit one of those days when you just plain can't keep going.

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About Christine

I am a writer, a project manager, and a corporate refugee with a heart for orphans around the world. My two daughters were adopted from Ukraine at ages 12 and 14. I post about orphan issues, chasing dreams, and making a difference in the world, and sometimes on Fridays we have some fun with some fiction that’s in progress.

17 Replies

  1. Christine
    I just keep writing. This is about discipline right now.
    I’m keeping in mind about choosing a path. I believe that will come in my 2nd draft.
    Thank you for your support.
    Myra “Sunny” Soffar

    1. Christine

      Sumny, that discipline will pay off. Keep writing!

  2. These are great thoughts, Christine! On my good days, I also employ a timer. I set it for 15 minutes (I discovered 5 is a pipe dream!) and when the timer goes off, I’m done. Truthfully, that often means performing some other chore (grading exams, folding laundry, raking leaves) and then coming back for another session with the timer, but it helps me to maintain some semblance of balance.

    Thanks for this article and the specific FB tips. It is an animal I do not yet understand. And “ding” – time to shower for work.

    1. Christine

      I hear ya, Kendra. Some days, even 15 minutes seems tight, but you gotta do life, too. :)

  3. Great tips Christine! I’ve set a goal of no more than 30 min per day, usually twice, for general Facebook time. If I get into an extended conversation I will go back and keep up with that particular thread as I have time while I work. Also, I skim my notifications for comments and “likes,” and then mark all as read whether they were or not. That way I can tell new posts from older ones. Love, love this group. Have to keep making sure it works!!!

    1. Christine

      GREAT tips, Janet!!

  4. This has been super helpful . . . Thanks!

    1. Christine

      Glad it helped!!

  5. This was a timely post for me. I find myself hyper-sensitive to others’ feelings; I look for the people who get lost in the stream and try to respond to them, not wanting them to feel like they’re drowning in a river of irrelevance. Then I feel guilty if I can’t keep up. I need to pick one post and focus on engaging with quality and sincerity. As for the rest? I really need to just let it all go. Thanks for the tips.

    1. Christine

      Thanks, Staci…I have to fight that guilt, too!

  6. Sometimes, I get so fidgety about making posts on Facebook group, because, well, I feel vulnerable then. These tips are quite engaging, and I hope to not use them on the Facebook group am presently on. It’s an interesting and interactive page. Thanks for these, Christine.

    1. Christine

      It is hard to be vulnerable, isn’t it, Yusuff? But SOOOO worth it (in a good group, of course).

  7. This was very helpful as I can obsess over not wanting to miss anything. I didn’t find the “little grey arrow in the upper right corner of the post.”

    1. Christine

      Yeah, I obsessed like that for too long, Sharon. And I almost left a couple of great groups because they were overwhelming.

      The unfollow option is here: unfollow group

  8. That’s pretty much what I do, too, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing anything else, and I’d still feel anxious I’ve missed something.

    1. Christine

      Great point!! Even when I manage to sort of keep up, there’s still that FOMO (fear of missing out). So it’s far healthier to just accept it. :)

  9. This is great! I know several Group Managers, myself included, that feel swamped because we haven’t property structured our time or the rules of engagement.

    It’s hard when you have a group where the admin wasn’t involved from the beginning, then they step in after a rhythm has been established… And they change a good flow.

    I’ll share this with some other managers I know, great info!

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