How to start a local AYWMC meetup group

Stourhead was the first AYWMC meetup I went to, with the Somerset AYWMCers

Stourhead was the first AYWMC meetup I went to, with the Somerset AYWMCers

How to set up your Facebook group

You have volunteered to get the ball rolling - thank you. It's a lot easier to do the initial set up on desktop, not mobile. Before you start, just check there isn't already a group for your area. Go to the AYWMC Facebook Group and find the document called "AYWMC meetup FB groups" under the "Files" section. 

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All set? No existing group? Follow these steps, including most importantly, the one about letting me know you've made a group:

1. Go to "Groups" and click "Create Group"

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It's better to set up a group rather than a community page for privacy reasons. Anyone in the world can see a page, but groups are limited to those who have been approved. Many people won't want to advertise where they are going to be at a particular time, or share their photos publicly. 

2. Follow the prompts

Name your group with your location and either "A Year With My Camera" or "AYWMC" so people will know they have found the right group. Please don't put a date in your group - just AYWMC and your location. Add at least one person to get started. "Closed group" is the best privacy option for this kind of group.

3. Add screening questions

You can prompt anyone requesting to join to answer up to 3 questions before they send their request - this stops random people joining. When you are notified of a new request you will see their answers and can choose to approve or deny them. They aren't notified if you deny.

Go to "Edit Group Settings", and then "Membership Requests". Finally, "Ask Questions".

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This is very useful to stop spammers and bots joining the group. It will also stop speculative joiners who don't know anything about AYWMC. Most groups use something like: "1. Which county are you in? 2. Who runs AYWMC?"

4. Invite members

If you know people who want to join, you can invite them direct via the "Add Members" box at the top of the right hand column on desktop:

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Please invite me to join. I don't chip in to the general chat, but I keep an eye on meetups and will come along if I can possibly manage it.

5. Approve new members

Facebook will notify you when you have a new joining request.

Don't be afraid to refuse membership to people who don't answer the questions. You don't want to group to fill up with people who don't know what they are doing. People can always request to join again, and answer the questions.

6. Tell me about your group

I will add it to the master list of groups, so we don't end up with 2 or more groups covering the same area. 

That's all you need to do to get started. You can add some bells/whistles though:

7. Complete the "about" section

This is where you can set out what the aim of the group is, and lay down any rules you want to have for posting and commenting.

8. Add a cover image

The easiest way to do this is use the "use member's profile pictures" option, but you can design your own in the free software Canva.

9. Edit other group settings

Go back to the "Edit Group Settings" page and change these if you want to:

- group icon

- membership approval (Can anyone approve members, or just you? The default is anyone, so change this if you want to screen.)

How to run your Facebook group

People doing AYWMC are generally very community spirited, so you shouldn't have any problems. You are in charge, so if you do get anyone posting inappropriately you can always ban them from the group.

Please remember that AYWMC is a non-competitive, supportive course. If anyone in your group is consistently aggressive or confrontational, please either raise it with them privately, or ask me to. Although your group is a private group run by members, it is my reputation at stake if people feel intimidated. 

Most groups share images, ask questions, and organise meetups. If your group is quiet, try asking general questions at least once a week so that it stays at the top of people's notifications. If people don't engage with the group, Facebook stops notifying them of new posts, so they might miss announcements about meetups. If you haven't heard from someone in a while you can always tag them (put "@" before their Facebook user name and they will get a notification). Use tags sparingly to avoid filling up their notifications.

If you don't want all the responsibility, ask 1 or 2 other people if they would be admins as well. You need to change their status to admin.

You might get people posting links or advertising their own products in groups. If you don't want that, you can just delete the posts. If you want to make it clear, change the group description and add, "No commercial self promotion".

If you are ready to retire from AYWMC, please hand on the admin role to someone else before you leave the group.

How to organise a meetup

Please don't meet anyone you don't know on your own, or anywhere that's not a public place.

The most efficient way to organise your first meetup is for you to pick a place, and then run a poll of possible dates that you can make. People vote for the dates they can do, and then you pick the most popular. That will get the ball rolling.

Not everyone will be able to make every meetup, so don't kill yourself trying to make it happen.

For future meetups you can invite everyone to suggest a place, and/or let anyone add suggested dates to your poll. At some point you do need to have a cut off, and announce the place and the date.

If some people in the group can't make weekends, or can't make the dates most can, invite them to organise their own meetup on a date that suits them (or do it for them). 

Once the group has decided on a time and a place use the "Group Events" function to keep all the details of upcoming meetups in one place.

Bear in mind not everyone will have a car.

Any questions?

Anything I've not covered? Drop me an email:

Emma Davies