by JORDAN HAMONS
Earlier this year, I started using a Facebook group to stay connected with students from my cooking classes. I love how it allows for casual conversation, gives me the ability to share information, and allows them to ask me questions. Here’s how to get started with your own group:
1. Create Your Group
You can start a group by choosing “Create Group” on the left hand menu of your Facebook home page. You’ll need to choose a name for your group and select the desired privacy options. I use the closed group option. Then, upload a cover photo and profile photo and you’re ready to get started.
2. Buy A URL to Redirect to the Group
It can be complicated to find groups on Facebook and the search isn’t always reliable. I purchased a URL and set it up to redirect to my Facebook group. This way I can just tell people to go to www.PeopleWhoLoveToEatGroup.com.
and it takes them directly to my page.
3. Promote Your Group in Class
I created a small flier to promote the group and I hand them out to every student in class. I also talk about the group in class and tell people how to find it and sign up. Don’t be afraid to pitch the group and give reasons why people should join.
4. Invite People Via Email
I collect emails at all of my classes. I invite everyone to the group via Facebook and email them a reminder and include a link to the group. If you’re inviting them via Facebook, then make sure you get the email address that they use to login to Facebook or it won’t work.
5. Post Consistently
I try to post 5-7 times per week. I’ll post photos of what I’ve been cooking or I’ll link to an interesting article. Sometimes I will just post and ask everyone else what they are cooking this week. You could consider having themed posts for each day of the week, i.e. post tips and tricks on Tuesdays. Also, don’t forget to use the group to promote your own classes and events.
6. Encourage Interaction
I encourage group members to comment with questions, post photos of their own cooking adventures, and ask for help from the group. Sometimes it takes people a little while to warm up and get comfortable, so don’t be discouraged if the group is quiet at first. Keep working at it and eventually the interaction will happen.
7. Try New Things and Ask the Group for Feedback
This month, we are trying a virtual cookbook club. I suggested Maureen Abood’s Rose Water and Orange Blossoms and group members are cooking recipes and posting about them. The best part is that Maureen joined our group and is commenting and answering questions. I’ll ask the group for feedback, and if they enjoyed it, we will do it again next month.
You can check out my Facebook group by going to www.PeopleWhoLoveToEatGroup.com and then requesting to join. I’d love to have you in the group. Feel free to email me with any questions about starting your own Facebook group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Excerpted from the Summer 2016 edition of the IACP Cooking Schools and Teachers newsletter. Read the full issue here.