How to Win at Dance Community Facebook Groups

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It seems like these days, the whole dance world runs on Facebook. Many dance groups and studios have no website beyond their Facebook page, and plenty of teachers list Facebook as their primary contact. That means that the number one way to stay informed about a particular dance style in your area is to join the appropriate Facebook group. There people can see posts about upcoming lessons, socials, and special events. You can post questions and connect with other people who share your enthusiasm.

Only, the experience is not always so easy. How many notifications a day do these groups send you? How often are the posts relevant? You’ve almost certainly gone looking for the information for an upcoming event and gotten frustrated by having to scroll endlessly through posts about events happening multiple time zones distant from you, new singles or videos from different genres, and other random promo posts. Finally you unsubscribe and count on people to invite you when something good is on.

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Perhaps you have experienced the opposite problem. You’re headed to a new town for a visit, and you want to ask about what’s on that night, but the regional group requires approval for posts, and by the time it’s approved, your trip is over. Or you hear about an awesome workshop at the last minute, or maybe even after it’s over – why? Oh, it turns out the Facebook group labeled generically “Sometown Salsa” is run by a for-profit group or teaching couple that doesn’t permit anyone to share information about others’ events, even if there is no conflict with regularly scheduled classes and socials.

Let’s say you decide to make a new group that will avoid these two extremes. No attempts to “corner the market” – you’ll allow posts from any teacher or organizer, or visitor for that matter. But you’ll limit this to posts that are relevant to the group and to your geographic region.

Sounds great, but how will you do it? What does it take to curate a Facebook group?

Before anything else, you have to decide how easy it will be for people to join your group. There are three possibilities:
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I. Make it Public – If you choose to make a public group, anyone can join
II. Make it Closed – Potential members must submit a request. You can leave it so any member can approve any request to join or
III. Make it Private – so only an administrator may approve a request to join.

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Having a public group may seem most inviting, but it also opens you up to receiving a lot of random marketing material. Private groups are useful for groups that have a narrow purpose, like preparing for a performance or sharing class material with students – but it will quickly bottleneck unless you have sufficient admins approving requests to join. Closed groups in which any members can add new members offer a perfect middle road.

You’ll quickly discover that Facebook offers three primary paths when you create your group:
1. Let everyone post.
2. Don’t let anyone but admins post.
3. Anyone can submit a post, but admins must approve them.

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Well, that explains where our two frustrating extremes came from. Obviously I’m not going to advise option 2, but you can still make things work for you using either of options 1 or 3. Let’s have a look.

Allowing open posting.
First, write a clear description of what your group’s purpose is. Maybe you only want posts regarding events and classes happening within a certain region. Maybe anything regarding bachata is fine, but you don’t want any repeat posts or outside genres. Don’t assume people will understand your intention if you haven’t stated it clearly.
Next, write a quick reminder about the group’s purpose as a post to the group wall, and pin it
Commit to checking the group regularly and deleting posts that are not suitable. You might message someone posting things you don’t consider relevant – often they’ll appreciate the heads up and that will shut down an avenue of “spam” to your group.
If the group is large enough, recruit several other like-minded administrators who can help remove the extraneous posts that clutter your group.

Require approval of all posts
To start, it is still useful to write a clear statement of purpose for your group, to cut down on submissons that don’t fit the bill.
Then you’re really going to want to commit to checking submitted posts regularly, if you’re going to avoid the same kind of bottlenecking that so annoyed us earlier. Bring some others in to share the responsibilty as well.
Plus, if you make all the local teachers and promoters admins of the group, they’ll be able to post without needing approval.

I’ll be honest, I often find the whole Facebook group experience more trouble than it’s worth. I have been a part of a couple of efforts to sidestep Facebook and help people find out about classes or events on a single unbiased website. Unfortunately, in both instances we learned that people just don’t use those resources much, which makes it hard to justify the effort that goes into maintaining them. For now at least, Facebook groups are where the majority of the dance community communicates. Since we can’t beat ’em, hopefully this article will help you find a better way to join ’em!

3 Comments

  • NJMark says:

    If you are going to use Facebook, take advantage of the event feature. Simply posting “I’m teaching at Bonzo’s this Friday” isn’t helpful. By creating an event, you can answer things like: Where is it? What time? How much is admission? What level lesson(s)? among other useful informatnio. And then others, in turn, can use the “invite” function to spread the word to more people.

  • David Sander says:

    I’ve used both Facebook and meetup for advertising events, both monthly and once a year events. Often local dance events and pages are not well known outside of the local community so its hard to promote events for social dancing.

    There are three sets of rules for doing this and being friendly to the community.

    If you find a place that is obviously open to posting outside events, its OK to add your post. The post should be informative, perhaps point to a location with more information to keep from being too long and try to anticipate the decision making questions by readers in your 30 to 60 seconds of viewing. Don’t post so often as to be obnoxious in promoting your event.
    If you find a site that requires approval, look and see if your event fits in with the site and the rules for the site. You might also write a short introduction to the site officer asking if it would fit in and if they have any questions. At one site, they properly complained because my post required making major travel plans and I hadn’t posted far enough in the future for the group to organize its travel.
    If you find a site directed at some studio or dance bar, you don’t want to be posting your event on a date that competes with theirs even if they allow that. That is unfriendly and will get you banned, the best method is to write to the site organizer privately and ask for a posting if its appropriate for their group. If you have an impressive event, they may even adopt it.

  • Great points! Thanks, David.

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