by Rick Nevins
Facebook is a powerful tool and is a very popular means to share cycling related information. There are a number of Facebook Pages and Groups that target our geographic area and cycling communities. There may be some question amongst our membership about when to use Facebook versus our website Message Board. I thought I’d take a few minutes to share what I know about Facebook Pages and Groups so that you can better understand how you might want to engage.
First – the distinction between a FB Page and a FB Group. In many ways they look similar in appearance and behavior but they are different animals!
- A Facebook Page can be thought of a mostly a 2-way communication – between an organization (such as the Williamsburg Area Bicyclists) and the public. So you can access an organization’s FB Page to find information about that organization and to provide information back to the organization. A restaurant might share their menu on their FB page, and patrons might comment back about their experience. But a FB Page does NOT provide a good means for interactive discussion between people. To be notified of posts to a FB Page, all you must do is like the page, and you will be notified through your newsfeed when an administrator makes a post to the page.
- A Facebook Group, in contrast provides a way for the group members to post questions to the group members, share pictures, announce events and engage in discussions. So it is a more any-to-any interactive experience. Members are notified of all posts to a FB Group, whether an administrator or a member makes them. But you must join a group to be notified. FB Groups can be either Open Groups or Closed Groups. An administrator must approve membership to Closed Groups.
So what cycling related FB Pages and Groups are of interest in the Williamsburg area?
- The Williamsburg Area Bicyclists (WAB) Facebook Page. On this page, you can find general information about WAB as well as informational posts about past and upcoming events. However, this page is not kept current with ALL club rides or cancellations. Our website Message Board and Calendar are the primary means for communicating club ride information to our members. You can think of the WAB Facebook Page as primarily targeted on the general pubic and non-WAB members, as a means to help people find and learn about our club.
- The Williamsburg Road Cycling (WRC) Facebook Group. This is a closed FB Group that is focused on cycling in the Williamsburg area. Membership in WAB is NOT a requirement to be a member of the WRC FB Group. Upcoming cycling rides and events are shared on this group include WAB as well as non-WAB sponsored rides, such as area shop rides, PBA rides, Williamsburg Winery rides and ad-hoc “pop-up” rides. Furthermore, there are frequently posts related to cycling tips, questions, member photos and general cycling related discussion. WAB Members are encouraged to join the WRC FB Group as we view the WRC Group as the most appropriate means to engage in cycling related discussions, especially focused on the immediate Williamsburg area. WAB Members will also benefit from visibility into other non-WAB rides and events that may be of interest.
- The Peninsula Bicycling Association (PBA) Facebook Group. This is another closed FB Group very similar to Williamsburg Road Cycling but associated with the Peninsula Bicycling Association. Membership in PBA is not required to join. Generally the focus is more the Newport News/Yorktown area but you may want to join this group as well as there are frequently rides or other topics of interest.
- Friends of RABA Facebook Group. This is an open FB group, very similar to the WRC and PBA groups, but geographically more focused on the Richmond area and sponsored by the Richmond Area Bicycle Association.
- Hampton Roads Cycling (HRC) Facebook Group. A relatively new (and growing) open FB group targeting the entire 757 area. Frequently includes ride announcements within the Williamsburg area, so this is another group you may want to join. This group also maintains a cycling calendar and is attempting to be sort of an “umbrella” FB group listing rides throughout the Hampton Roads area.
So must I use Facebook to be aware of WAB rides?
No! In some ways, Facebook provides a more engaging way to announce and promote rides and events, and WAB does and will continue to use Facebook for this purpose. Facebook provides access to a large number of non-WAB cyclists and so is a great way to reach out to others beyond our membership. However, this will always be supplemental to and not instead of announcement on our Website Calendar and Message Board. We understand not all WAB members are Facebook users and so you can rest assured that all club rides and events will be announced through our Message Board and posted on our Website Calendar.
When should I post to the Message Board versus the Williamsburg Road Cycling FB Group?
We have positioned our Message Board as primarily means to communicate topics of general interest to our membership. The announcement of club rides and ride cancellations is by far the most important use. Ride Leaders are encouraged to use our Message Board to announce and promote rides, provide ride reminders and ride changes/cancellations. We do not require or expect our Ride Leaders to post rides to the WRC FB Group, since this is being done on your behalf by one of the WRC FB Group Administrators. You may also use the Message Board to post items for sale, or announce topics you think of general interest to the membership. Read more about our Message Board guidelines here. However, if you would like to start a discussion and solicit input from cyclists on that topic, then we advise you to use the WRC FB Group, since as explained above , it is more conducive to an any-to-any interactive discussion.
If you have questions about this, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or join the WRC FB Group and post your questions there – we will be happy to help!