Contribution by Cree Whelshula, NLCC TTA Director
Social media and technology are continuously evolving to meet the demands and needs of its users. An interesting way that Facebook has evolved is through analytics that you can collect through groups and pages. This information generated can be useful for reporting, community feedback, surveying, outreach, etc.
Here are some things that I have learned through my own Facebook groups. I have two Facebook groups, 1) smxicnatkw in the stream (advanced), and 2) We’re going to read in nslxcin (beginner). The group smxicnatkw in the stream is for advanced language learners who are interested in more grammatical and linguistic aspects of the language. We’re going to read in nslxcin is for beginners who would like to learn the sounds, reading, and basic beginning lessons of nslxcin.
I initially started smxicnatkw in the stream because not many resources for learners existed to get to an advanced level in nslxcin, and many people would come to me and ask me questions about grammar. I had this group for 2 years prior to starting the beginner group. What I do in this group is I live stream to cover certain topics and encourage people to ask questions live. I had noticed after a while that beginner or low intermediate speakers would join the group. I felt like the type of topics I would cover might be overwhelming and discouraging, so I started the second group. After I started the second group, I noticed I gained members much quicker. While I have had the advanced group for 2 years, there are 165 members compared to having the beginner group for six months with 206 members. By observation, I could surmise that there are more beginner learners interested in starting to learn, versus high intermediate speakers wanting to grow to the advanced level.
While Facebook does provide “group insights” to collect data, it does not provide that until membership numbers reach a certain level. For example, if your group or page has 12 members or followers, you would not be able to see a “group insights” option on the back end. Some of the analytics you can collect on Facebook are information like popular days, popular times of the day, and track group member engagement in the groups post. It also tells you how many active members you have. For example, in my beginner group, I have 206 members and out of those 206 there are 154 are active members. Additionally, Facebook will allow you to schedule posts. This means, you can create a post and Facebook will wait to post it until your groups most active time.
Facebook groups allows you to change the “type” to social learning. This setting allows you to create an agenda/curriculum, order posts, create units, and track completion of posts within the units. You can monitor these under “group insights” with the other analytic information. Another cool feature under group insights is Facebook offers you the option to download all your analytics into an excel spreadsheet that you can save on your computer.
Lastly, you can create polls to get unique information. Types of information you can gather from polls could be to demonstrate a need for a project or resource, community climate, community knowledge of language efforts or needs, or general community feedback. Using this poll example pictured, 50 Facebook group members would be interested in participating in an online class, but only half of that (25) members said they would be a language teacher if given the opportunity. Information solicited through polls can help in identifying a project direction, interest in future classes, where you should put your valuable time and energy.