Local Facebook groups for moms continue to grow, spread positivity

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Facebook may still be the number one social media platform in the world — by a long shot — but the number of people using Facebook groups is declining.

The slide started last year, with users telling Facebook that most of the groups on their page are no longer relevant. But, there is one type of group that seems to be thriving. "Mom-centric" pages have plenty of users. Women are logging on to help their children find friends, a tutor, or a team to play for. They can also use it to find local contractors or other businesses and services close to home. As the saying goes, just as all politics is "local," it would seem that mom-centric Facebook pages are thriving based on how deeply local they go.

There are several that are gaining popularity in central Indiana, but one of the more successful is "Z'ville Moms," started by Kate Carr, who believes that moms can help each other without judgment or ridicule. "It's great for getting recommendations for small business and for any advice about a day-to-day challenge that you might have," she says.

Carr started "Z'ville Moms" in 2014 after surfing a local site set up to sell things like used bicycles and furniture. She thought that a forum where people could just share useful pieces of advice and ideas.

It started with about 10 users. Today is has nearly 5,000, and so many of them are active that Facebook has designated "Z'ville Moms" a "power group" — way beyond where Kate ever thought it would go. "I never knew, I never dreamed that it would get this big," she said. And that success means power: "It's a small community, and this group is large," she said. "As it's gotten bigger and bigger, I really feel there has to be a little bit of social responsibility."

For Carr, social responsibility means keeping it positive. She is well aware that negativity can kill a small local business or deeply damage a person's reputation. That's why she asks each member to adhere to a list of 14 guidelines that are the first thing you see when you go to the site. She deletes any posts that are not in keeping with spirit of the page.

At Zionsville's Big Dave's deli, John Stehr sat down with two of the Zionsville moms who plug into the page just about every day. The mural on the wall says Big Dave's has the "Best Burgers in Zionsville," and if that's true, Rhoda Nyce and Kate Guerrero probably already know. Both have two children. They both run small businesses and neither has much free time. They rely on "Z'ville Moms" to keep them up to date. Kate Guerrero says it works because of the spirit of the town: "This is a special town and I think we really are invested in the community. We want to know what's going on, and we want to share that with other people."

For Rhoda, "Z'ville Moms" is also a news source: "When we've had some issues in the community as a whole, the moms could kind of share and find out more information that maybe even the newspaper has sometimes."

Users on the page can keep up with what's going on around them, and share things like recipes, parenting ideas, and recommendations for businesses or services. Families who are new to town can use it to get information about schools, sports, and clubs. It has been an invaluable resource. Discussion topics have included things like school curriculum, safety and security, even government policy. Most topics are welcome, but users have to follow guidelines that are meant to keep out the negative and the snark. It can be hard to keep the discussion positive, but that is the goal. Moderators have to stay on it and not be afraid to delete negative content.

Carr has been the moderator since the beginning and as the group has gotten larger, she has been more aggressive in keeping negativity out. At first, she was reluctant to delete posts, but she has come to believe that creating a positive, judgment-free zone is what makes the page so successful. "I think people are drawn to positivity." she said. "People don't want to be surrounded by negative thoughts, and those can really drag a person down. I just want people to be thoughtful when they post things, and to be kind, and really be conscientious of what they are asking."

The premise behind this is that many parents are going through similar things. The page is there to help them find each other -- and share their experiences and advice -- in a constructive way. User numbers have been growing in other places too: like Carmel, Fishers, Indianapolis and Westfield.

If you live in an area that doesn't have a mom-centric group, organizers say it's easy to start. You can find out more by following this link: https://www.postplanner.com/how-to-create-a-facebook-group/.

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