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The Case of the Pretty Pink Purse: Advertising Within a Local Facebook Group

As penance a public service, I volunteer as an administrator for a locally-based Facebook group. Today I witnessed a social media meltdown which could have been avoided at several turns. In an effort to help others avoid these pitfalls, I’ll walk through what happened. It’s long, but there are a lot of lessons to be learned (see the bold print). Plus, there are lots of pictures!

The group currently has 4,837 members. That’s more than any of our other local Facebook groups, several of which were started as (angry) spinoffs from this group when members disagreed with admins. Some of the other groups are dedicated to marketing and commerce, both by individuals (flea-market-type groups) and local businesses. As an additional local digital marketing resource, there is also a Facebook interest list to round up all of the local businesses and organizations into one virtual place. Because this group is the largest and most active, however, local businesses have found it the place to be.

Though there are established group guidelines, there had still been some recent discussion over how tightly the reins of the group should be held. What should be the group’s policy on advertising? Should new posts be moderated by the admins, or should members be free to post whatever they like? Should multiple posts on the same topic be edited down? As one might imagine, with a group this size, it is difficult to develop consensus on anything.

Amongst the day’s usual posts about impending weather, local news, and an occasional lost pet, a few local business owners posted about their goods and services. Some businesses post more frequently than others. One local crafter often hawks her wares, including luxury purses, handmade wreaths and decor several times a day.

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