Here are the answers for some of the frequently asked questions on the topic of our new community platform.
Q: Why is I Am A Triangle moving to a new community platform?
Your daily interaction with Facebook is managed by an ever-changing set of algorithms that dictates what it allows its users to see and do. It also impacts how a group is allowed to interact with each other. With our group being so large, often very important (and sometimes sensitive) questions which are posted in the group, are quickly buried due to the sheer number of new posts that are added. The members who are in need of assistance and support are not getting the help they so desperately need because they are not being heard. When this happens, we as a community are letting them down.
Facebook has now started utilizing those same algorithms inside of their Groups Product, which means that each one of our members has a different experience inside our community based on which posts they have previously liked or commented on, or who their friends are inside the community. In a community that thrives on being open-minded and diverse, the fact that algorithms design our experience is opposite to our goals and aspirations in offering support to each other.
We have nearly four years of amazing resources, support, answers and intel however Facebook has recently adjusted their search function, which means that searching for a topic near and dear to you will provide very limited results, only a few months into the past - as opposed to providing the entire search results for a total of 48 months.
Facebook recently held a Community Summit in June (Chicago, IL, USA) and invited 100 admins of "large and meaningful" groups to a think tank. One of the announcements made during that Summit was that Facebook would introduce several new features to help admins "grow their communities." But what about the communities that do not WISH to grow - except by word of mouth and their own members' invitations? In the past two months, Facebook has aggressively added the I Am A Triangle group to their "Suggested Groups" and we are being placed almost as an ad would be, inside other relevant or similar groups. As a result, we are getting bombarded with new member requests from individuals who have no plans to ever live abroad, but sure do love getting postcards, traveling once every couple of years, or going on a once-in-a-lifetime short-term missions trip. While there is nothing wrong with those types of scenarios, those individuals do not closely match the individuals that our community serves and the future culture of our community is impacted by these efforts on Facebook's part.
In addition, Facebook has recently started moving very quickly towards Groups existing with paid advertising being added to our user experience. I have spent an incredible amount of time with my ear to the ground, and many hours upon hours researching what's next for Facebook Groups. The future of paid advertising presence in Groups means that based on the Recommendations our members suggest, Facebook can then directly court those same businesses with advertising opportunities. Currently in our Facebook personal feeds, every FIFTH post that you see is a PAID advert. That same experience is JUST around the corner for Groups. Facebook launched Groups back in 2010 and Mark Zuckerburg was quoted then as saying:
Facebook Groups will be as simple as inviting your best friends over for dinner. Facebook experimented with algorithmic solutions to understand which friends and information users care about the most, but that those could go badly wrong if, for example, it decided that a tradesman who you had emailed daily over a work project must therefore be a close friend. The conclusion was that algorithms were OK for news feeds and lists of friends for chat, but not groups of friends.
That statement and value has clearly changed as the product has evolved. Facebook will continue to make changes that benefit them, as they are an advertising and media company, without any say from their users. I am forecasting the needs of this community by migrating us to a different platform while we still have the ability to do so with minimal invasion for you - our members. This migration means forward steps are being taken to ensure the future of your community, as well as allowing the continued support and encouragement of future I Am A Triangle members - without interference from advertisers, engineers and a top down company structure.
Q: Why is the new platform so much better than Facebook for our community?
Our new platform is provided by Mighty Networks (if you're interested in checking it out as an admin / founder of a community, they have an amazing community for Hosts - free to join and learn from some of the greats!). It's been carefully and thoughtfully created by Gina Bianchini and her amazing team, Rachel, Audra, Katherine, Brian and many more brains, for the purpose of promoting community and deep and impactful groups. It is available to you via an app (both for Android and iOS) AND a web interface that you can access via your laptop, phone or handheld device.
Some of the most meaningful features are:
- Not interested in travel destinations or recommendations for Airbnb homes in Bhutan? Simply unfollow Topics that are not of importance to you, and design your own feed.
- More easily and seamlessly locate TriCONNECT groups that are near you, or are in locations you are soon to relocate to.
- Connect simply with other members who have experiences that you are interested in (Mercy Ships, teaching in China, homeschooling abroad, etc.)
- Find and help create groups that cover the wide array of interests that apply to our members. Missionaries, military personnel, entrepreneurs, parents of special needs children, solo travelers, international educators, the list goes on and on!
- Robust search function to isolate the content that is most important to you.
- Find members near you. Whether you are traveling for work - or a holiday - and have a long layover, or you're on a look-see trip and would like to get together with other Triangles, this feature makes that super simple!
- Streamlined Ambassador program allowing you to invite your friends and family with one click, and you can earn discounts on our Shop!
Coming soon to the Mighty Networks platform:
- Language localization (read the content in our community in YOUR native tongue)
- Job Board
- Courses and e-learning
- And more!
Features of an online community that remain:
- Chat with other members, privately
- RSVP for local events in your location
- Follow conversations that are important
- Show support with a "cheer!"
In addition to the above reasons, our community will be free from any corporate decisions on advertising, our members will be more enabled to speak openly and share the nuances of their private lives and truly reach out for support when it's needed. We also have frequent requests to "let us know when you're not on Facebook" as many individuals are not using it for various reasons. This new migration allows us to be truly inclusive and allow the greatness of our community be accessible for everyone.
Q: Do we have to pay now for something that has previously been free?
The I Am A Triangle Facebook group was originally simply created to be a place of support and encouragement for people who had read and resonated with the I Am A Triangle, and Other Thoughts on Repatriation blog post, published in September of 2013. It has since grown by leaps and bounds to become the thriving group it is today. As of the writing of this post, we are over 16,000 members. The group originally was moderated by a small group of four volunteers, then it became two, and for the last year or so, I have solely moderated the main group. We also have an amazing team of leaders for our TriCONNECT groups and they have been generous with their time to moderate their subgroups and that has been wildly helpful. Each time the group swells and continues to grow, it became increasingly difficult to manage the hours required to moderate the group (duties include ensuring new member requests are legitimate, approving new members, welcoming, reviewing posts, responding to inappropriate language or behavior, protecting the group from constant spam, advertising and political posts, etc.). It has been suggested we simply add more administrators/moderators to share the load, but that is simply a temporary solution to a larger challenge.
The feedback received from IAAT members has shown that Facebook no longer supports the larger issues our group face on a daily basis. Our community has outgrown what Facebook allows the success of the group to be, and that, combined with feedback, suggestions and ideas received from a large number of members, led to the decision to go to new community platform. This migration will continue to offer free access to the community and TriCONNECT groups.
Managing the community on Facebook -- while there is no cost charged by Facebook to have a Group -- has cost resources, as the time spent moderating and growing the community results in time being taken away from my full time job - as the owner of 8th & Home, a real estate company. In addition, Facebook doesn’t allow for any institutional information to be captured, collected or created. The creation of the website and new community platform levels the amazing expertise, advice and information that is shared across the whole of the I Am A Triangle group, offers an opportunity to earn a small amount of money from affiliate relationships (more on that down below) and efficiently streamlines the task of stewardship, which will allow me to better focus my time and efforts on things that will bring value to you.
Q: So this is free for members, how are you going to make money?
Originally we intended to create a paid membership site so that website costs, trademarking costs, bringing on team members to help moderate the group and other costs of doing business would be covered, however ...
Along this journey of creating the website and researching platforms, I have since realized that this community -- and access to the resources we can provide -- need to be offered at NO cost to our members. I do believe in the value offered by various membership sites, but believe MORE in the power OF our community. We are stronger and more able to serve if access to I Am A Triangle is offered FREE to members.
The funds raised during the crowdfunding campaign have been used to design, build and create the website, and to partially pay for the cost of trademarking both the logo and name of I Am A Triangle. The remaining trademarking costs not covered by the crowdfunding campaign were borne by me personally as were the costs for the creation of the logo, etc.
The new platform subscription fee is currently being paid for out of my own funds. Those costs and any future costs will be paid for by the I Am A Triangle organization, once money begins trickling in. This monetization will be accomplished by onboarding partners who align with our values and ethics who will be sponsors for our community. Additionally, we have also created a shop, where we will earn a small (keyword: small!) affiliate commission when members purchase items showcased. I aim to be transparent in this regard and hope the value and benefits are appreciated by the I Am a Triangle community. In addition to those two streams of potential revenue, various products, courses and training will be offered at a nominal cost to members, and a portion of those proceeds will be captured by the I Am A Triangle organization.
Launching in mid-2018 will be a philanthropic arm of the I Am A Triangle community. A portion of all profits will be donated to various humanitarian non-governmental organizations around the world, with a spotlight on a different organization each month. I am committed to ensuring that the I Am a Triangle community will meet the needs of our members for years to come.
Q: If I supported the IndieGoGo campaign because I thought I would have to pay for membership anyway, can I request a refund?
The campaign was an invitation to participate in supporting the creation of the resource website and some of our support levels matched the membership prices we originally thought we would be providing. As the membership fees have been removed, and our community remains free to you, all Indiegogo backers will receive a $25 "store credit" to our I Am a Triangle shop, valid when selecting any of our "swag" items (t-shirts, mugs, etc.). When the website launches, I will send out another message with that code so you can shop away! To the backers who contributed $50 or more to the campaign, in addition to the store credit code, a separate email will be coming soon to get correct spellings of your name, along with any tribute message you'd like included, for the Founding Members page.
Q: Is I Am A Triangle now a business?
A: I Am A Triangle was incorporated as a business in October of 2016, doing business in the State of Ohio. The logo and name are nearing the final steps for having trademarks in place to afford protection worldwide. The Articles of Incorporation are on file with the State of Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
Q: Why is there a website AND a community platform?
Imagine two buckets. One bucket holds our community platform. This is where we converse with each other, find events near us, ask for advice and support each other. The community platform is our gathering place where we can come and go from our time together as we need to get filled up, spend time with each other, or ask questions.
The second bucket holds our resource website. In order to best offer the resources that our members - and future members - will find valuable, we needed a smart place to "store" them, and as such, the resource website exists. It is not a final or perfect product - it will be an ongoing project to always bend with the needs of our growing community. You can find expert's articles, our blog contributors, the shop, a fun collection of Triangle related songs, relevant videos and more on the resource website.
Q: What does the website and community platform look like?
Please see these sneak peek images of the website. The website is very streamlined, user friendly with a simple and classy interface. The community platform is available both in an app as well as a website interface. Both work seamlessly together, so you can pick and choose in which way you engage with the community.
the resource website: