The Beauty of Facebook GroupsPosted: May 23, 2012 | |
In February 2011 I joined Social Fresh Tampa’s Facebook group, which became the Social Fresh East group this spring. This experience has shown me the beauty of FB groups up close and personal. Facebook groups are a very versatile way for people to communicate, where the members don’t have to be FB friends. Groups go a step beyond ‘Liking’ a brand page, which posts status updates to your news feed, because you receive FB notifications when anyone posts to the group. While Facebook’s original intent for groups may have been for families or close friends, there are some excellent organizational uses for groups that everyone, not just marketers, can use. Here are some ideas:
Conferences & Events
After registering for Social Fresh Tampa, I received a confirmation email with all details, along with a link to their open FB group requesting I join. Prior to the event, there was a lot of activity in the group, which generated pre-conference excitement. I was getting to know people ahead of time; names, faces, positions and could follow them on Twitter, etc. During the event, the FB group was an excellent method for communicating logistics. Have you been to a conference recently? Many people aren’t on their email constantly, but they are on FB and Twitter. The group provides an easy method for all logistical info: “Please use the Twitter hashtag #socialfresh if you’ll be live tweeting; We’re having boxed lunches delivered at 12:30; More water is on its way ~ you all are a thirsty bunch!; Is it too hot/cold in here?; We need more Power strips! and last, but not least, Reminder: cocktail hour begins at 4:30 sponsored by Chevy.” But it was what happened after the conf ended that amazed me; the year between SF Tampa and SF East the group remained very active. People would ask app questions: What app do find easiest to run FB contests? Peeps also post jobs, make comments on changes within the industry, give shout outs and props to peers, make career/book announcements, etc. The FB group made Social Fresh Tampa much more than a 2 day learning event. Before this year’s conference many speakers, whose topics were already announced, posted, “Scheduled to speak on xyz; but what do you really want to know about this topic?” Yes, the group was used to gather customer requirements before presentation preparation. I flat-out loved this;) It’s so special to go to an event where you know people will give you information you really want! Any conference or event that’s not using an open or closed FB group is really missing out on an amazing tool for creating synergy.
Many software companies have user groups set up by region, etc. for their products. These groups often meet every quarter or year. Using a closed FB group for your user group doesn’t replace forum software per se, but it would combine all the advantages listed above for events as well as provide a prompt communication vehicle for bugs, a way for users to help each other, etc.
I don’t advocate teachers being FB friends with students under 18, but I can’t in good conscience overlook the amazing power of groups for education. As long as parents review their kids’ security settings on FB and know they’re tight, each member shows what you have set as your public profile. So whether it’s English, Chemistry or Physics, there could be a closed group for each class, grade level, etc. Again, they are such an easy way to communicate logistics: ‘Don’t forget we have a quiz tomorrow;’ ‘Snow Day today!’ or any other information that needs to be communicated immediately. Of course there are all the extracurricular school activities; clubs, sports, etc. that can use closed groups for the same purpose: ‘Practice is cancelled; we’ve rescheduled to tomorrow after the rain stops, same time, etc.’ Facebook must agree because they launched Groups for Schools last month.
Whether it’s middle school, high school, college, recreational or professional, any sports team can benefit by using a closed FB group. It’s particularly helpful when you’re in transit or at events; not everyone travels or stays together, people aren’t hooked up to email, but they have their smart phones and can communicate with everyone at once: ‘Accident on 5 near Exit xx, standstill, get off before …’; ‘Let’s meet at 6 a.m. for a quick pep talk before the meet.’ Besides logistics, these groups are a great way to foster team spirit and pre-game energy.
Zoos, botanical gardens, philharmonic orchestras, museums, parks or any organization who offers memberships, but who are also open to the public, can use a closed group as the perfect way to offer members extra perks and deals, such as reduced food prices, advanced notice of upcoming acts or events, etc. Use the group to give extra perks or benefits to your full-time members. Facebook marketing maven Mari Smith explores this concept in her article “The Secret Power of Groups” in the February 2012 issue of FB & Business magazine.
Facebook announced file-sharing for groups this month, which incorporates a ‘Dropbox’ like feature. So now you can communicate and share docs too! Clearly Facebook’s group functionality goes way beyond families sharing photos; the potential uses are as limitless as our creativity.
Do you participate in Facebook groups? Do you like them? Are you using one for another purpose? Please share your ideas!