We extended the membership of the Nuneaton and Bedworth Neighbourhood Watch Association by utilising “private” Facebook groups, bringing in over 18,000 new members to bolster our exist 4,000 strong street scheme membership.
This not only brought a form of Neighbourhood Watch to those currently without street scheme coverage, it also gave existing street scheme members a brilliantly efficient way of sharing information between schemes.
Duration of project: Two and a half years
What worked well?
Setting up one Facebook group for each area of the Borough helped drive engagement, members are able to raise and discuss issues that affect their local community 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The “private” nature of the Facebook group gives the members the security of knowing that group business isn’t in the public domain.
Each group has a “social media coordinator”, who controls membership and moderates content to ensure the groups are not only focused on Neighbouring Watch content, but also uphold Neighbourhood Watch principles.
Each group also has a companion Facebook “Alerts” page, which the Social Media Coordinator can use to publish selected group content, such as crime alerts, which can be shared to adjacent groups or the wider Facebook community.
How did you overcome any challenges?
Social media can be daunting place and people can behave very different there compared to face to face meetings, so, in conjunction with our Force Association, we drew up a set of social media policies that set out not only acceptable group content, but also exactly what was acceptable in terms of member conduct. This has resulted in a online community very different to that of other social media forums.
In terms of group membership, each individual group can have up to 4,000+ members, so having a member sign up process is key. Fortunately, Facebook has the ability to set a series of “joining” questions that allow the Social Media Coordinator to validate join requests prior to admission. New members are also asked to agree to abide by the social media policies prior to being admitted.
How did you cover any costs?
Since starting the first group November 2017 (one of the first in the country), we have not spent a single penny on this project. We have also assisted other Associations in setting up groups in Warwickshire and beyond.