How to Use Facebook to Build an Audience and Community
I search "Vocal Media" on Facebook, and there was no community for Vocal creators. Discussing the importance of building a community online.
I was a writer on other blogging platforms until I discovered Vocal. I made the switch for good once I realized the extent that Vocal will adapt to support and enable creators of all skillsets to write about virtually any topic in any format their user-friendly editor allows for. On top of the apparent visual and structural advantages to the site, Vocal doesn't limit creators with a paywall like other self-publishing sites—allowing writers, photographers, and even brands to make unlimited amounts of money from the content they create. More reads and engagement for creators means more exposure for the company, creating a win-win-win scenario for readers, writers, and Vocal itself. I find one of the most helpful and rewarding aspects of Vocal to be how effectively their platform inspires a sense of community. This feeling of unity and togetherness is what inspired me to take it one step further and create the Vocal Media Creators Hub page on Facebook.
Creating the Vocal Media Creators Hub Facebook Page:
When I first joined a writing platform called Medium, there were four Facebook groups available where I could discuss problems with admins and other writers. However, when I joined Vocal and started writing, I searched "Vocal Media" on Facebook and found that there weren't any groups that could help me engage with the community that I knew was there, just underneath the surface. So, I decided to take the first step and create a Facebook group named "Vocal Media Creators hub." You can follow this group here.
As you can probably tell, I'm a huge supporter of Vocal, and I create a lot of content related to Vocal Media, such as the stories: You can make a lot of money writing on Vocal Media, and Is Vocal Media A Legit Site To Make Money Writing? I added our Facebook group link to those resource articles as well as my videos on YouTube because I knew people consuming that content were genuinely trying to improve their performance on Vocal—making them great potential members of the community. I also decided to team up with other prominent Vocal Creators who have written creator resources in the past, like Kathryn Milewski. Kathryn helped us reach a broader audience by adding a link back to the Facebook group in two of her articles featured on the resource page: How To Edit Your Published Vocal Stories and How I've Earned Over $4,000 from Vocal Challenges. Our goal with the Facebook group is to provide an external platform for Vocal creators to discuss problems, build relationships, share content, and celebrate achievements.
The first of Kathryn's resource articles listed above was actually inspired by a post that was shared in our group by another Vocal creator. In response to this post, Kathryn wrote a great story explaining the step-by-step process of changing the content on already-published Vocal stories—a common roadblock experienced by new or inexperienced creators. This situation is a prime example of the value that serious creators can gain by being a member of the Vocal Media Creators Hub on Facebook. Our community helps to connect problems with solutions, as well as identify obstacles that we may not have come across yet .
Vocal Media Creators hub Facebook page is one of the most active and helpful spaces for Vocal creators to join. We discuss problems, tips, and tricks, and do a weekly thread where all the Vocal creators share their stories in the comment section. It's like an alternative feed you could use to source stories based on your interests, foster longstanding relationships with other creators, or just to support other creators!
Challenges of managing the group as a solo admin:
Running a Facebook group with over 1,300 Members (and growing) is a hard thing to do. I am just a single admin, so it's hard to keep up with things. Dozens of posts are submitted every day, and I spend a lot of time curating the content I believe is most valuable to our members. For instance, I'll reject submissions because they include Vocal story links (we have a daily thread dedicated to promoting members' Vocal stories) and I'll allow posts that are problem/solution-driven or add general value to the group.
The two big issues with running a group as a solo-admin are:
- Considering different time zones; and
- Management issues
Sometimes it takes five to six hours for a post to be published in our Facebook group, which only impedes the utility of the group. When I'm asleep, major activities like approving members, approving posts, and monitoring groups to make it a safe space is not happening.
Why community building is important for any creator or company
I learned this years ago; if you want to create something on the internet, build a community first. When I built a community of Vocal creators, I didn't do it to make money or promote brands; but instead to give voices to creators and build a space where people could discuss and have fruitful conversations.
There is a difference between building a community and building an engaging (active) community.
Pros to creating or joining a community of likeminded members:
- Receiving valuable feedback: I think this is the most powerful thing about building a community. Every product, with time, is subject to losing relevancy. Getting feedback from other members is the most valuable asset you have to maximize the potential of any given story. Your community will help you refine your craft and make your product 10x better.
- Streamlining information like new features and promoting new offers: With a community, you can invite members to test new features and participate in new and opportunistic offers. In our Facebook group specifically, we usually share new challenges, bring attention to new improvements like major design changes, editor features, etc., and monetary goals that we've either hit or miss with the reasoning behind that
- Motivating community members: I run a YouTube channel where I make videos about Vocal Media and how you can use the platform to make money. A comment on one of my videos read, "Vocal Media is a scam, I published 5 stories and only made cents." If you are new to the platform, you might be thinking the same thing. The reality is; I've made over $1,000 from reads alone. In the Vocal Media Creators Hub on Facebook, we like to share our earnings on monthly basis. This not only helps to motivate creators to write more, but it also validates the efforts of the many creators who are working just as hard.
5 Things I learned while building a community of Vocal Creators:
- Communities are powerful: When you regularly post, deliver quality resources, start and foster relevant conversations, you add value to the members of your community. Furthermore, once you've proved value of your community, the members learn to trust you. In the future, when you make a recommendation, community members are excited to follow your recommendation and take any suggested steps. This is where the 1,000 true fans theory came into being. According to this theory, you need 1,000 true fans in order to make a living online. Having a dedicated community could make this possible. (Note: Vocal Media creators hub facebook page is clean of any advertising or promotional material)
- You have a huge responsibility: If you run a group where every member is interested in a single topic, you have to make sure they see those posts in their feed that are related to their shared interest—otherwise, they'll leave. Running an active community requires consistency. You have to approve posts, reply to questions asked in the group, and be a useful, proactive member. This responsibility is a great thing, and it teaches you a lot about management, and even about yourself.
- You have to make some rules: While sometimes it's hard to keep up with the rules you create, community leaders are obligated to keep the community safe. For instance, in the community I created, I've made it a point to reject posts promoting stories that are published on Vocal, leaving room for relevant conversation and problem-solving-based discussion.
- Patience is a virtue: When I created this Facebook group, it had zero members for days. I lost hope thinking that there might not be enough active writers on Vocal. Later on, I found out that I was very wrong, and that there truly were people looking for the same thing I was. We have added over 1,000 writers and I expect it to reach 1,500 by the end of June 2021. It takes time to build a community, and patience is paramount in this endeavor.
- It's important to share what you've learned and experienced with the community: Growing a community is a lot like raising a family. You always want to teach your children the information you wish you knew, so they can be better off than you were. With this analogy in mind, I like to share posts about the knowledge I've gained as a writer on Vocal because I know some of the other community members will run into similar issues. Shared information begets group progress, and group progress helps to eventually establish your group as one that harbors proven thought leadership.
I hope you've enjoyed learning how to utilize facebook to build an audience and community! It feels so rewarding to have created a group from scratch and build it up to where it is now. While there are some challenges, you'll find that the pros to administering a facebook group strongly outweigh the cons. Above all else, keep the conversation going and be a source of useful information to the community. This information and the conversations that follow will be what inspires likeminded individuals to join, and what makes people happy to call themselves members in your community.
You can be part of our Vocal community here: Join the Vocal Media Creators Hub Facebook group.