Tutorial: How we got everyone to read our Facebook Group Rules

TL;DR: With a “progressive” GIF and Google Emojis. PSD here.

Even tho I believe that the current “startup”-terminology is overused and occasionally has become a euphemism for “company without a market that burns through money like a drunk pitmaster through sausages”, nobody can argue that I’m not heavily invested in helping founders to get sh*t done.

One of the places I regularly contribute to is the Austrian Startup Pinwall, which I co-moderate with some awesome journalists, local co-working space-managers and companies like Blossom, Codeship and Product Hunt.

There is one problem all larger Groups on Facebook have in common: Users don’t read the rules.

This is a big issue for a startup group that tries to create value and a sense of community in a space that over 60% (made-up number) of its target users only visit when they have something to distribute. But this post is not about the rules and tweaks our moderators made to keep the conversations interesting, this is a post about how we got people to READ THE RULES.

Rules that rule

While looking for solutions, I realized that current groups mainly follow three patterns:

  1. They try to put the rules in the header,
  2. write down the rules in a sticky post,
  3. and/or they completely moderate every single submission.

But they were all not really successful or required too much overhead from the moderators. So achieving visibility was the best path to go down.

We had to trim the bullet points and make them fun to read.

Thanks to the recent GIF-support of Facebook, I decided to go down the animated image path. Why not videos?
Next to there small size GIFs start playing automatically on all devices and loop indefinitely in contrary to Facebook videos.

To make everything digestible I used the beautiful Google Emojis as bullet points and separated the group GIF into five cards:

  1. Welcome (USP)
  2. Dont’s (more important in terms of moderation)
  3. Do’s (positive spin)
  4. Monday event rules
  5. Friday event rules

I designed them in Photoshop and used the timeline window to make them switch every 5 seconds.

Very basic Google Emoji based rule cards for our Facebook Group

To test the setup I used one of my closed Facebook Groups and asked a few friends to check out the post (online and offline). It became apparent really quickly that people needed an indicator of how long the GIF was.

By adding five tabs to the bottom and an active state for each rule card it became easier to wait for the right tab to appear.

But the best result was reached when adding a timeline cursor with a “Difference” blending mode at the bottom.

To render it properly I exported the result as an mp4 (my Photoshop sometimes has issues with Timeline exports) and used ezgif.com (This extra step was necessary as Giphy doesn’t convert mp4s that are longer than 20 seconds) to transform it into a 10fps GIF.

After uploading it to Giphy.com (shoutout to our Betaworks family) I posted the link directly to the Facebook group and pinned the post to the top.

If you want to use the PDF yourself, you can download it from my Drive Account and tweak it however you like :)

Have a great day,
- Felix