Moderating a Group Page: Navigating Choppy Waters
Recently, I was asked to moderate the Facebook Group page for parents and families for my daughter’s school. I noticed the site was underutilized, and because there have been a few communication snafus between the school and parents, using the social space more fully was one way to close the gap.
Little did I know the minefield that awaited me. About the time I began managing the page, the school made some leadership and scheduling changes. Some parents were unhappy; others had questions and concerns. They gathered on the Facebook Group Page to commiserate – it is a page by, of, and for the parents. The trouble began when some the posts became accusing towards both the school and board, thus perpetuating rumors and gossip.
What to do? A board member asked me to delete the offending posts. Although I believe there are limited circumstances which may warrant that, in this case the best choice was to let the discussion play out with my role as the voice of reason, insight, and perspective. Here are some steps to accomplish these objectives:
- Listen: Learn to differentiate between comments that require no response, a mere “I understand” and those that require more insight.
- Find areas of agreement: Acknowledge concerns expressed and offer plausible remedies. Provide contact info and the suggestion of contacting involved parties directly to get answers and discuss concerns. Often, this minimizes rancor or takes it off the page altogether.
- Ask people to consider the bigger picture(s): In this case, that meant not damaging the school, and giving the changes outside of one’s purview a chance to work. Although a closed page, some comments were migrating over into a Facebook Community Page of the same name which anyone can see. As for change, it’s human nature to resist it, but sometimes we all have to adapt.
- Ask for help: Sometimes the loudest complainers can become your biggest allies once they are heard and validated. Don’t we all need validation sometimes?
- Finally, don’t be afraid to call out the guilty. Just be respectful. If someone persists in being nasty, call ‘em on it. Adults as part of a group working for common good ought to behave better. Period.
Have you moderated a group forum? What are some of your challenges and how do you address them?