Never ignore a person who cares for you. Because someday you’ll realize you’ve lost a diamond, while you were busy collecting stones….
I have been connecting people, creating small groups way before we became accustomed to the internet world. So naturally with the advent of the online experience , I transferred my skills and experience onto WhatsApp. Near enough the whole world is using WhatsApp now and all sorts of groups are being formed.
In regards to the da’wah, one of the most challenging aspects of this is to keep the group active and lively.
Below are some ideas that may help, although I am sure there are many other tips that have gone amiss, so in the comments do add your tip and we may even edit this blog to accommodate your suggestions.
“I’ll add you to the group” or “Can I join your WhatsApp group “
Are some of the opening typical enquiries that I have been receiving over the years. This is the easy part. You either send a link or as an admin you add them directly ( with or without their permission!)
Initiating a WhatsApp group and then adding members is easy. But maintaining the group and making it productive has become a challenge.
WhatsApp Groups: For both Members & Admins
Imagine you walk into a room, you say Assalaam Alaykum all! and then you ask a question. Everyone then ignores you. Or perhaps only two replies, would you not want the others to at least acknowledge your existence?? How would you feel about not getting a reply ? What would you think?
The above scenario should be kept in mind and we need to treat the WhatsApp group like this. As if it’s happening physically and everyone is in the same room. You may see a telephone number on the screen but it’s actually a human being behind these digits. So be considerate & think how they would feel.
This may spur you on to always make a significant effort in replying and not become a silent dormant observer.
Too many groups? Choose carefully.
More is not productive. Yes enthusiasm is a commendable virtue but not at the expense towards reality, your time and resources. You will be limited in committing your time and energy to multiple groups.
Make a poster, a large one. Add in what groups you’re in, stick this poster on the bedroom wall or somewhere visible, and check it daily.
Interact in Group
Even if you don’t have an input into a discussion, at least 2 or 3 times a week, reply with a “Jzk khayr”. ( takes three seconds of your life!)
Or even type the word ‘following’ or even “I am not sure how to answer this”
But don’t ignore it, never ignore the chat & move on, do not leave before saying something.
Try to be informal as possible. Look upon this group as if you own it! Don’t worry about decorum or what others would think. Don’t spam, but ask as many questions as you can.
Get to know as many members as you can. The ones that you have ‘clicked’ with, have a call now and again and encourage each other to become an active member.
Why is calling important?
Before starting the group or if you’ve recently become the main head, have a call with each member first before adding/ starting the group.
Tedious, I know but this critical induction will keep you in good stead in the near future. In the induction insist upon active participation rather than becoming a silent observer.
When adding, welcome the new member, ask them for a detailed intro ( not just studies) and then ask current members to give a brief intro again ( yes you have to keep repeating, so maybe copy paste from a note already made for this).
This way it is much more interesting & people will see commonalities eg “oh same city as me, or I’m studying that too. “
Encourage Productive Discussions
Getting responses. Very tough, because there’s too many groups and not enough time. So it’s like a social media competition, competing for attention.
Try the video calls option.
Instead of typing out a question or initiating a new task or even just to keep the group ‘chatty’
- Try making a short video just to say hey!
- Try voice notes.
- Try making a small poster.
- Take a pic with a small caption. Don’t always demand updates but ask a random Q e.g. what would you put in your sandwich? Memes? Tag different people, not the same one.
- Reply there and then if possible. If you think I’ll reply later, then more often than not, that later won’t come!
- Use of different emoticons. Stickers.
- Don’t forget the description option. Pin a doc of rules? Announcement of Next event online or a face to face meet up.
- Change the display picture now and again, something to catch the eye of the members.
- The group displays pictures, making them bright & shiny. Again, think from the point of view of the member. When they scroll down their WhatsApp chats, they may see your group as the one that catches their attention.
- Find out the optimized time when people sit down to check their messages on their phone. Post your question or link at that opportune moment, as opposed when everyone would be asleep.
- Use the Reminder option on your smartphone. A simple “check fulan WhatsApp group” today and reply.
Always chase up dormant members. Scroll up for a few months and check that a certain person has been completely silent for months upon months. Tag them, if still no reply, PM them. If still no reply, then have a call.
Sometimes you have to be ‘harsh’. What this means is that the greater good of the group/ project is much more important than the feelings of a member. Members will rarely say “ I cannot commit/ I need to leave”.
So you have to be Frank ( with compassion) and ask whether they want to take a break for a while or leave altogether. This is because if you allow one dormant member for a long period of time then this allows others to think they could do the same.
If after exhausting all avenues a certain member hasn’t improved their interaction, then it is better to remove them rather than they ‘left’. This is to create a good standard and an example to others who are watching all this unfold.
Teamwork makes the Dream Work
Recruit other group admins, share the burden Assign tasks to certain members. Especially the chatty ones and the ones that use whatsapp regularly. For example member X has to post a meme every few days.
Another member has to post a short motivating video and ask for people’s thoughts once a week. This keeps the group lively & active. Team work makes the dream work, The WhatsApp group team is the team!
Now and again, a zoom / google hangout/ Skype group call helps. Once every two months or something. In this, that human touch is helpful and motivating. You can also remind everyone to keep replying and be an active member and not just a silent observer.
Outcomes: Lack of Follow-up
Both as an admin and as a member, remember this. If everyone only observes & doesn’t say anything for days and weeks subsequently the group will slowly go quite. When it goes quiet, demotivation sets in. When that happens, people may leave the group and suddenly the whole project dies!
That’s quite tragic. Just because of a lack of replying and discussion, what could have been a world changing project, has to end in such a way.
Since we established the Team DM group in 2017. It has been constantly active. Yes it is tedious typing and checking, but think about this: If you keep your group active, then in a few years you could influence many people.
The following divine principles will help us maintain our groups. As members & as Admins:
And when you are greeted with a greeting, greet [in return] with one better than it or [at least] return it [in a like manner]. Indeed, Allah is ever, over all things, an Accountant.
Remember this ayah constantly, this may encourage you to reply more and be less silent.
“Faithful believers are to each other as the bricks of a wall, supporting and reinforcing each other. So saying, the Prophet Muhammad clasped his hands by interlocking his fingers.” (Al-Bukhari)
“It is not lawful for the Muslim to desert his brother for more than three; they meet, so this one turns away and the other turns away, and the better one of the two is the one who greets the other first.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
These were some ideas that may help. There are many other tips that I missed, so in the comments do add your tip and we may edit this blog to accommodate your ideas.
P.s Do add your own tips for making a group active, the DM website editorial will edit and keep on adding your points, giving credits to you!
– Nadeem Ashraf