Managing a closed group on social media
How to set up and run a closed group on social media.
Closed groups allow you to build an engaged community around your agency, event, initiative or campaign. They can help you to deepen your connection with existing customers and connect with new ones. Closed groups refer to groups that require users to apply for membership to be able to view or engage with posts.
Whether your audience is internal (that is, government colleagues) or external (that is, the public), you may wish to consider a closed group. These two uses of closed groups will need to be carefully considered and dealt with separately.
Promote the purpose of the closed group
Any group associated with the NSW Government should have a clear purpose.
In the “about” section, you should include:
- introduction to and information about the group and group admin/s
- the intended audience of the group
- the Code of Ethics and Conduct for NSW Government sector employees (for all group members to which the Code applies)
- acceptable code of conduct (if the audience is external).
Ask screening questions
To ensure the right people join the group and discussions are relevant, admins should screen and approve new members. Some platforms have a function that allows admins to ask screening questions, such as:
- Do you work in a department (or industry) that is relevant to this group?
- Do you agree to follow group rules?
- What do you hope to get out of this group?
The NSW Government Social Media team uses a Facebook group to collaborate with social media professionals from across government.
We screen new members by asking:
- Do you work for NSW Government?
- Does your day-to-day work involve social media?
- If you answered "Yes" to both, please send an email from your work email address (with your signature) to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will then consider your application.
We also conduct monthly audits to remove people who are no longer qualified to be a member of the closed group. For example, removing ex-employees. Such audits are necessary in order to ensure the integrity of the group.
Group naming conventions
There are currently no naming conventions for social media groups run by the NSW Government. We recommend including the name of your department or agency, or “NSW Gov”, in the group name.
A code of conduct (group rules) should be in place to ensure members understand what is expected of them.
Group rules should cover expectations and behaviours of members, including the need to:
- treat all group members with kindness and respect
- avoid posting material that is threatening, defamatory, abusive or harassing
- avoid posting material that infringes copyright
- respect others privacy
- add value to the closed group.
The platform where you’re hosting your group may have suggested group rules that you can modify.
If you write your own rules, keep them short. Explain why each rule exists, and the consequences of breaking the rules. Some platforms limit the number of rules you can include, so you may need to keep rules broad enough to cover multiple issues.
Sample group rules
- Keep it professional — respect the opinions of other members. If you disagree, focus on the topic and not the individual voicing it.
- Bullying will not be tolerated.
- Respect everyone’s privacy — group members should feel confident in sharing their ideas and opinions. Members should not take or share screenshots outside the group without permission.
- Try to make it accessible — this means including alt text or image descriptions, checking colour contrast, providing video captions, and avoiding excessive emoji use.
- Make it relevant and add value — understand the purpose of the group and share accordingly. Engagement is strongly encouraged. All group members are here to support and learn from one another.
- Be kind and considerate — this is a welcoming environment. Healthy debates are encouraged. Treating everyone with respect and kindness is required.
- Breaching any of these rules may result in your comment or post being deleted, and you being removed from the group.
Where to host group rules
If you're unable to host your group rules within the group, you must host them on your agency's website or on a third-party website. Then provide a link to the rules in your group.
Establish clear roles and responsibilities for admins and moderators prior to creating a group.
Admins in charge of a closed group are generally responsible for:
- vetting and approving new members
- moderating the group
- approving content and posts
- managing conflict between members
- auditing and removing members no longer qualified to be part of the group (for example, ex-employees, members breaching group rules).
While moderators have a similar role to admins, they typically cannot:
- change the settings of the group
- add or remove admins.
Establish an escalation process that can be followed when conflict occurs within the group.
Sample conflict escalation process for a closed group
When risk arises or conflict between group members occurs:
- engage with the member in the comments and try to reset the tone of the conversation
- restate the rules in the comments of the thread
- turn off commenting, if needed.
If the conflict continues:
- engage the member/s privately
- temporarily mute the member or conversation
- consider removing the member/s.