Secrets to Building a Powerhouse Facebook Group with Ali Kelly – Ep 98

Learn how to build a powerhouse Facebook community from Social Media Examiner and Ali McGee Kelly, social media manager for Social Media Marketing Society. We interviewed Ali McGee Kelly from Social Media Examiner about her top tips for building a paid Facebook community.

About Ali McGee Kelly

Ali McGee Kelly is the manager for the Social Media Marketing Society, serving on the management team at Social Media Examiner, based in San Diego, CA. Ali has worked in social media marketing since completing her MBA in 2013 through Midway University where she focused her master’s thesis on usage of social media for marketing local small businesses. Ali lives in Lexington, Kentucky and is often joined by one or more of her four cats on live video.

Episode Highlights:

Question: Tell us a little about how you started working in social media and for Social Media Examiner?

Answer: I live in Lexington Kentucky, which is horse country, and I worked for many years at an equine hospital doing backend computer stuff with their practice management software. I got an MBA to work my way up in that company, but in the process I started to get more interested in marketing and started to focus my degree process on social media. I started to see it as a space where there was huge opportunity and I flooded in that direction. The year I finished that program was the same year that Social Media Marketing World came into existence. As a graduation gift, my parents helped me go to that first conference and the rest is history. I went back every year as a paid attendee. In 2015, they opened up the Social Media Marketing Society and I was a founding member, and then later that year they really needed a full time person to help manage it and I applied. I was rather well known to the people within the company and they thought I was a good fit. It’s my dream job to work in this business and help other people do social media marketing and work from home and I’m really happy to be in this place in my life. 

Question: How do you manage a group that provides training, support, and community in your industry?

Answer: The training, support, and community are the three pillars that we live by in the Social Media Marketing Society. We bring in experts from outside and we do webinar style training, office hours and the Facebook community. All of those things provide the training, the support and the community. The Facebook group is the central hub and we make sure everything we’re doing gets streamed to that group using live video. That’s where we make all of our announcements, help people find each other and answer questions. That’s where all the magic happens. 

Question: What do you deliver on a monthly basis?

Answer: Because our community relies on us to keep them up to date in the social media marketing industry, it’s a challenge in any industry to always come up with content and that’s why we bing in people from the outside. Were always following the news, the latest updates, algorithm changes and everything on the different platforms and we look for where there is a need for training and then we find the experts to train on that. The majority of our content are those training sessions. 

Question: How do you create a safe and trusting environment in the group?

Answer: Facebook has introduced a rules feature for group admins that allows us to list out the rules in a dedicated space. Even more recently, they have introduced a feature that when someone does break a rule and you remove their post, it allows you to select which of those rules was broken and sends them a message with that as part of the message. This has been a game changer for us. We use to have to delete the post, locate their email from the member list and email them to let them know about the post removal. A lot of people break the rules without meaning to. There’s creating rules and also enforcing rules so people have a space where they feel they can trust the people around them, know they aren’t going to get marketed to, know they can post anything and not be judged. 

Question: How do you leverage members to help you moderate your group? Do you have a paid team? 

Answer: We have both paid and volunteer moderators. Are paid people contract with Social Media Examiner. We opened up an application process for members who were already active in the community and give them an incentive to help moderate the group. We vet them to make sure they have a certain level of expertise. In return, they get recognition with a badge and we also give them a plug when they first volunteer, which we don’t let people do for themselves. As an added benefit, if they are interested in working for us in the future, it puts them on the radar and integrated as a member of our team. 

Question: How do you maximize the usefulness of some of Facebook’s built-in group features?

Answer: The main built in feature we take advantage of is called Learning Units. You can make them available in your group if you change your group type to social learning. That will give you the feature, initially designed by Facebook to be used as a course, but the functionality is quite versatile. We use it as a filing system for different types of content in the group. Learning Units is helpful for people to find what they need, but also for the admins to direct people to the most common things people are looking for. 

Question: What are your top 3-5 tips for people looking to build a Facebook community?


  1. Make rules and enforce them. You want your community to be a safe space for your members and you want them to feel like they can go somewhere and know that someone else is breaking the rules, that it’s going to be handled. You always want to start off with a good set of rules and don’t be afraid to change them as needed.
  2. Make sure every single question gets answered. Take time to make sure people feel heard because that’s what’s going to keep them coming back and keep them engaged with people.
  3. Make sure you take advantage of all the features Facebook has to offer. Make sure you engage with people using all the tools you have at your disposal across all platforms.
  4. Be human and treat everyone else as humans. This is critical in today’s social media world. Keep it professional, don’t make assumptions and have  compassion.

Links Mentioned:

Take Action

Explore the features in your Facebook group and use one of them to engage with others in the group.

How to reach Kami:

If you’d like to learn more about Kami Huyse, visit her website at www.zoeticamedia.com. You can contact her by email at kami@zoeticamedia.com or tweet to @kamichat.

How to reach Madalyn:

If you’d like to learn more about Madalyn Sklar, visit her website at www.madalynsklar.com. You can contact her by email at madalyn@madalynsklar.com or tweet to @MadalynSklar.

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