Facebook Groups Meets Disney Adults

“Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards — the things we live by and teach our children — are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.”
— Walt Disney

I joined Facebook when I entered my freshman year of college. It was a social media platform that I was not allowed to join prior. My parents just did not see the appeal of posting status updates or wishing a friend, “happy birthday” on their timeline. Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat were the primary platforms of choice while in High School.

Credit: TechnologyRaise.com

I arrived at college and realized that classes were using Facebook groups to discuss topics, ask questions, and network. I quickly made an account. Facebook groups were so helpful. Facebook groups were used as my sororities announcement board, the way to invite friends to the 21st birthday party, and a great tool for buying and selling furniture for your first apartment. There is a Facebook group for just about anything! I used the Facebook group, “Gainesville Word-of-Mouth”, to promote a survey I had to get out to over 200 people for a class project. The survey spread like wildfire, and more than the required number of respondents filled out my survey.

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Currently, I am most active in a Facebook Group for Walt Disney World Annual Passholders. I was an annual passholder for 5 years. While I no longer have a pass, I still love to be part of the community and stay up to date on what is happening at Walt Disney World. I would say that the group is highly successful. There are over 253 thousand members in this community, and 6,081 posts were made last month. I attempted to contact the two admins and one of the moderators to ask some questions about their best practices, challenges, and community in general. However, I was unable to reach them. I will comment on the following questions based on my personal experiences as a group member for three years.

What best practices does the group follow?

While this group has not made a post with ways to improve the value of the types of posts seen in the group, like in the Medium article, “How One Facebook Group Nails Engagement Every Day.” The Annual Passholders — Walt Disney World Resort Facebook Group has established clear and concise group rules. There are ten rules, and they are explained in detail. They range from no spam to pandemic etiquette. The admins and moderators do a good job at pointing out broken rules during discussions or when things get out of hand. ­­Recently, RJ Wheeler, one of two admins, reiterated the rules and consequences of breaking the rules in a post earlier this week.

The admins and moderators do a good job keeping a close eye on the group’s activity, but they are not members who post frequently. Much of the group conversation is led by general members, not the admins or moderators. However, they will interject or add to a conversation every once in a while. They also will comment on posts. They show they are listening!

The group avoids link-dropping and any sort of direct selling (Barnhart, 2021). Members of the Annual Passholders — Walt Disney World Resort Facebook Group — are not allowed to share personal links; it is the second rule on the list. All links must be Disney related in nature to post them on the discussion board.

Most of all, this group, with the help of the admins and moderators, fosters a feeling of community with like-minded people. This leads to the wonderful engagement this group achieves (Roberts, 2021). The people posting in this Facebook Group love Disney and want to share the magic with others.

What challenges have they faced and how do they resolve any issues that arise?

One of the biggest challenges I witnessed as a member was during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the Walt Disney World parks reopened in 2020, following CDC regulations and guidelines, there was a lot of squabbling on the discussion board. The group was divided. People were arguing that the rights and wrongs of visiting a theme park during a pandemic. It was mayhem for a while. The admins and moderators resolved issues that arose by either deleting hateful comments, ejecting members not following bullying guidelines, and adding a new rule, #4 Pandemic Etiquette.

What makes this group unique and drives the buy-in from the members?

What makes this group unique is the amount of engagement people receive. I have recognized familiar faces and seen people share their magical moments in the parks. What makes this group different is the closeness between its members. For such a large group — it is the largest Annual Passholder group on Facebook — you get to know people! It is not just a group about sharing tips! It’s about finding people who want to share in the magic of Walt Disney World even when they are not visiting the parks.

Resources:

Barnhart, B. (2021, September 17). How to build your community with Facebook Groups. Sprout Social. Retrieved January 23, 2022, from https://sproutsocial.com/insights/marketing-tips-facebook-groups/

Roberts, D. (2021, December 12). How One Facebook Group Nails Engagement Every Day — Donisha Roberts. Medium. Retrieved January 23, 2022, from https://medium.com/@donisharoberts3/how-one-facebook-group-nails-engagement-every-day-4fe44133482d

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Ali Cozzolino-Smith

Ali Cozzolino-Smith

University of Florida Advertising Student