Image via CrunchBase
If you are one of those companies still wading into the social media water, Facebook just made the water even more inviting to lure you in with Facebook Groups.
In a recent post for the IowaBiz blog, I talked about some of the features I wish we would see from Facebook and other social sites that would further enhace the usability for my various clients, including companies, B2B businesses, universities and associations. When the new changes to Facebook were released I felt like one of those people in the Microsoft Windows 7 ads. Picturing an improved version of myself - which, like it was for Liz Lemon on 30Rock, was Julia Louis Dreyfus - I sat typing my Business Record blog post and the executives at Facebook listened and made my recommended changes!
Okay, perhaps a bit of romanticizing on my part. Nevertheless, the improvements get a 'Like' from this social media chick.
Facebook Groups allow me from my personal profile to limit who sees what to a greater degree, but without the potential offense that comes with some of the other privacy settings. Members of my family group for example can enjoy pictures from our vacation to Vermont to see the fall foliage or discuss Holiday planning without boring everyone else in my network and with more ease of sending communication to the entire group at one time.
If this feature becomes widely used, which I believe it will with time, it should also generally reduce the noise on Facebook. My hope is that the noise level can come down to a place where we see an increase in effective message delivery. Currently, it's surely bumping up against a noise ordinance.
For businesses, colleges and organizations this provides a much needed way to develop groups for team collaboration on projects. Even beyond the development of employee leadership and team groups, imagine the possibility of developing groups of consumer leaders, alumni leaders, shareholders, or social media rapid response teams. Companies can and arguably should look to build, organize and activate their most loyal supporters internally and externally through social media. The same goes for universities with their students and alumni or associations with sponsors and volunteers.
Facebook Groups takes many of the benefits of a proprietary social network like Ning or elgg and delivers it on Facebook. Some have even made the investment to build proprietary networks from scratch rather than using templates like Ning. Buyer beware of the ROI if you are considering this. It is expensive and you do not have the benefit of a network tested and improved by several others before you and for those that I've worked on has meant continued investment even beyond the sizable initial outlay.
These proprietary social networks have proven to have more useful tools for activation. They allow entities to build a large network focused specifically on one issue or brand, but also let the members and administrators create public and private groups to interact on a deeper level. For example, sharing up-to-date information on a piece of legislation or an upcoming product launch. There are hurdles involved with these social networks though including driving traffic; getting individuals to create a profile; bringing them back to the site with regularity. Facebook already has the audience and the platform for videos, photos, presentations and documents, but until now lacked many of the other tools needed to organize and collaborate on a more sophisticated level. Enter Groups.
We have not seen the last of the evolution of Facebook. Integration into the comfort of our homes, automobiles and everyday lives will continue to improve in a way that will benefit us greatly. Social media as a medium took the Internet to the next level, it is the new television. Those who have the tenacity to grab social networking by the horns, invest in it and find ways to use it that no one else has thought of yet are the companies who will see the most success from it.
I could talk all day about the many benefits and great potential of Facebook Groups, just ask my husband. There is still one significant barrier: taking advantage of it. In order to use it most effectively, you are going to have to think outside the group.
So your feet are wet and you are used to the temperature, are you ready to get your hair wet?