Have you considered starting an online community but aren’t sure if you have the stamina to keep it going? A pop-up Facebook Group is a way to test how it feels to design, develop and manage an online community without the pressure of a long-term commitment.
A pop-up Facebook Group is a temporary group created for a specific purpose or event. The group is usually closed after the event or purpose ends. The group allows people to communicate and share information about the event or topic, and is typically accessible on an invitation-only basis.
Most pop-up groups are open for fewer than 90 days, though some might last longer. You’ve likely participated in pop-up Facebook groups offered in conjunction with an online challenge, product or book launch, or a short-term course or program. If you think for a moment, you’ve probably enjoyed some experiences with pop-up groups more than others.
Benefits and Challenges of Pop-Up Facebook Groups
For any community to capture attention, it needs to immediately make a difference in people’s lives. For most people, that means saving time, money or energy, or by providing a sense of belonging to prove they are not all alone in this big, wide world.
Groups that do best have a specific focus and clearly identify who they are designed to serve. This is where pop-up groups excel. But like a duck calmly floating across a pond, there is a flurry of activity required under the surface to make any community thrive. And in the case of a pop-up Facebook Group, which is temporary by design, that flurry of activity has to happen quickly with little room for error.
Pop-up Facebook groups feel like a double-edged sword. Everything you expect to be great about them usually holds true. You also find that each benefit has a shadow side that can take you by surprise.
The benefit of pop-up groups is they are focused and temporary. You can do anything for a short period of time, right? By designing a group to be temporary, you free yourself from the worries of long-term maintenance, engagement and member retention.
You have the freedom of making in-the-moment decisions because you don’t have to worry much about living with the long-term consequences of those decisions or feeling like you’re setting a precedent for the future.
The temporary nature of a pop-up group also allows you to narrowly focus your content and topics discussed. Rather than scratching the surface of general conversations, you can choose to have a group that goes deep into a specific facet of a big topic or issue.
In addition to using them for challenges and student support, pop-up Facebook groups are great for helping you gauge interest in a topic or offer you think will resonate with your audience. We’ve all made the mistake of building pretty castles nobody else wants to live in (i.e. creating complete offers nobody buys). A pop-up group allows you to validate a concept, so you know whether it makes sense to invest in creating an offer around it.
The benefits of hosting pop-up Facebook groups are also challenges. Because they are focused and temporary, pop-up groups are intense to manage.
These groups usually experience explosive, rapid growth as members invite their friends and family to join before the group closes or is paused.
Onboarding members is an intense experience because you are letting several — sometimes hundreds — of people into the group each day. If you don’t have screening measures in place, you might unknowingly accept requests from fake accounts or individuals with a desire to troll or spam members.
Not cool for the members who are in the group for the right reasons and not fun for you as the person who now has the added responsibility of removing bad actors and repairing the damage they’ve done to the community and its culture.Hosting a pop-up Facebook Group is like speed dating, amplified. Click To Tweet
The temporary nature of pop-up Facebook groups means you don’t have the luxury of a gentle onboarding process to ease members into the community.
If your group is only going to be open for a few weeks, you have about four days to ensure everyone is properly oriented to the group and that the members start to gel with one another toward the shared purpose or goal of the group.
A pop-up group is like speed dating, amplified.
If you don’t make the time to onboard your members thoughtfully and quickly, you run the risk of members tapping out before the group even gets off the ground. This is the main cause I see of pop-up groups with poor engagement.
Organization of content is another challenge. When you’re building a permanent or evergreen Facebook Group, you have time to figure things out as you go. If the initial way you organize your group content doesn’t work, you can rearrange it according to member needs until you get it right.
With a pop-up group, the content needs to immediately make sense to members and you have to support their orientation experience quickly so you don’t lose them before they have a chance to see the value in the group.
The biggest challenge, though, with pop-up Facebook groups is your own capacity of time and energy. It is your job to actively moderate the group, or ensure it is being actively managed by someone else. You have to set clear guidelines, care for your group members and promote engagement to have a successful pop-up group.
No matter how you choose to fulfill your obligations as the leader of a pop-up Facebook Group, energy management is important.
Whether you’re managing a pop-up Facebook Group for yourself or for someone else, energy will be your most precious limited resource. No matter who you are or how you live, you don’t have more than 24 hours in any given day. And you have to reserve some of those hours for meeting your own basic needs of sleeping, eating and day-to-day living. Th
If you want your pop-up Facebook Group to thrive, here is what you have to do:
- Embrace the mindset of a sprinter. It takes a lot of time and energy to make a community out of strangers from various time zones, cultures and backgrounds. Evergreen communities eventually sustain themselves after a few months. But pop-up groups require your full attention from the time they open until they close. Plan a one- to two-week period of rest after your group closes to recharge your batteries.
- Create a solid structure for your group. To feel safe participating, your members need to clearly understand your group’s rules of engagement. Make them clear in your group description, community standards and how you facilitate conversations.
- Onboard your members with intention. First impressions matter more online than they do in face-to-face situations because you don’t have the context of facial expressions, gestures, or vocal tone to convey your meaning. Show members they matter from the moment they enter your group by warmly welcoming them and inviting their participation. Video is a great way to accomplish this by showing members your personality in real time, but it’s not a requirement
- Get people talking to each other. Carrying the burden of conversation is exhausting. Lighten the load by tagging folks in comments to meet each other and invite them to share their thoughts and experiences to foster richer discussions.
- Have a sunset plan. Sudden stops are jarring, even in communities designed to only last for a short period of time. Plan a cooldown period for your pop-up group, where you tie up loose ends and let members know how to stay in touch if they’d like to continue the conversation when the group closes.
- Get help. If all of this sounds overwhelming to you, consider hiring a professional to manage your pop-up community. You can negotiate a scope of work that allows for the proper care and feeding of your community while giving you the opportunity to focus your own efforts on the aspects of the project that you find most enjoyable.
At the risk of sounding trite, the lasting impression of you and your pop-up Facebook Group won’t be in your dazzling graphics or polished branding. It’ll be in how you made members feel. Take the time to make people feel known and loved, and they’ll return the favor with grace and loyalty.
Resources to Support a Successful Pop-Up Facebook Group
If you want to go a step further in caring for your community members during a temporary or pop-up group, check out these resources:
- Creating a Facebook Group and setting one up that positions you – and your members – for success are two different things. Use this checklist to think through every step required to start and sustain a successful online community, even if it’s only going to be open temporarily.
- Want to inject your personality into your online conversations, no matter where they take place? This video shows you how to create GIFs, so group members can see and feel the intent behind your comments and responses.
- Responding to emails and answering questions in groups involves a lot of typing, much of which feels repetitive. TextExpander saves hours of time by allowing you create templates activated by a few simple keystrokes. This is also a great tool for anyone who struggles with pain associated with repetitive stress injuries
- Feel like your group doesn’t have much engagement? An Australian researcher has spent years studying Facebook groups and found there are six types of healthy group members, not all of whom actively post even when they find the groups to be highly valuable. Learn the types and how they contribute to healthy groups here. Rather than beat yourself up over who isn’t part of the conversation, accept the reality that some of your audience is choosing to be invisible.
- Want to learn the ins and outs of running successful pop-up groups that actually have value and won’t suck you dry? Check out Eli Trier’s Community Magic program. Eli is a heart-centered business owner who understands the art and science behind connecting on a human-to-human level. She’s the antithesis of the dude-bro marketer. Her programs are friendly and accessible to neurodiverse individuals, and she encourages participants to do business in a way that respects their boundaries and capacity limits.
Need Help with Your Community?
Team Kubo specializes in online community design, development and growth. Whether you need help with strategy, training your admin team or day-to-day management of your group, we can help. The first step is to complete our no-cost community health assessment, so we can identify your needs and customize a plan to get the results you desire.