A Safe Space for Black Women in the Facebook Community
I have had the pleasure to be a member of many well-functioning and highly-active Facebook groups. Instead of using a group that I have been part of, I decided to join a new group to see how their community works.
I joined the Self Care for Black Girls (SCBG) group because I want to create a similar community for my final project. Created in May 2019, the group has over members 8,300 involved and it has themes implemented for each day throughout the week. According to Colette Broomhead, a blogger and business coach, daily themes are likely to increase member engagement.
This group was created by a counseling organization, RS Counseling & Wellness Center, LLC, and it offers to “provide guidance, activities and information surrounding self care and wellness for Black women and girls.”
Immediately, I thought about Silvana Ordoñez’s article on how the Boston Globe created a Facebook group to discuss whether the city is racist or not. Although there were different motives — that group was created with the idea of generating a two-way dialogue for a specific project — both groups have the same outcome: organizations creating (and possibly steering) the conversation without interfering with the discussion.
SCBG has eight administrators and two moderators. Sharea Farmer, the owner of the counseling & wellness center and group creator, seems to post at least twice a day, and three times on the weekend. Either Farmer or another admin will post an image with the theme of the day, which has been a helpful way to foster conversation. On occasion, Farmer has went on Facebook Live within the group to discuss timely, relevant topics. Being that she is a licensed clinical social worker and specializes in aiding clients who deal with anxiety, depression and other negative emotions, she is able to give expert advice to the women in the group.
Group members are free to post any links or graphics that promote the “spirit of positive and personal development.” Active members are awarded with badges, such as a visual storyteller (someone who accompanies graphics in her posts) or rising star (a person who creates high engaging posts in her first month since joining the group).
Note: Facebook incentivizes engagement by creating badges for members, which takes minimal effort from group leadership.
The group was created a preliminary set of rules which was most importantly to post uplifting content. Over time, Farmer and the group admins have modified rules to handle any discrepancies. In July 2020, Farmer created the daily post for members to vent and seek advice. As she unveiled this new idea, she wrote that this is an “effort to keep the original vision for the group, respond to some group feedback through messages, discussions with admins and careful consideration as to how I can keep the timeline post positive, manageable, encouraging and keep with our group purpose; while still being supportive to those on different stages of their healing journeys.” As a result, she also updated the group’s description, showing that leadership are actively involved with adjusting to the group’s needs.
Since I’m new to the group, I decided to post in the discussion to see if I could create an engaging post and see if I receive any interactions. Before my post was published, it had to go through admin approval.
My original post was short and requested members to participate. It was a pleasant surprise to see other new members and a group administrator participate in my post.
Member participation, even with just a handful of comments, made me feel like my post was valued. I will have this idea in mind, when I create a group. I want to make sure that I will try to interact with each post, whether it’s liking or commenting on it.
Ultimately, I learned that groups continue to evolve and leadership can have a hand in directing changes and adding to the conversation.