A guide to Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups are not as well known as the more popular Profiles and Pages but there are good reasons for using them. So called ‘new’ Facebook Groups were launched back in October 2010 with the intention of replacing ‘old’ Groups. However, this process has taken some time and the process of migrating old Groups to the new style is still underway. If you have an old Group (setup before October 2010) you should make a manual note of your members so you can re-invite them. Whilst photos, discussion threads and Group descriptions will remain, members in the Group network will not.

The new Groups have some great features and the emphasis is now very much on communication, sharing and collaboration amongst members. They are therefore ideal for Groups of people with a shared interest such as networking groups.

They could play a part within large companies as an internal communications tool which is an area I’ve been consulting on lately. Facebook Groups are a lightweight easy to use alternative to Socialcast and Yammer and the product shares similar objectives.

There are three types of Groups:

  • Open – Anyone can see the group, who’s in it and what members post
  • Closed – Anyone can see the group and who’s in it. Only members see posts
  • Secret – Only members see the group, who’s in it and what members post

Facebook Groups are ideal for people that share similar goals and interests and need a central hub to share ideas, obtain feedback, ask questions to like minded people or perhaps just chat. Such groups of people could include:

  • network members
  • hobbyists
  • fans of a sport or celebrity
  • charities
  • sports teams
  • clubs
  • classmates
  • event organisers

For example, the organising team for Digitalks Cheltenham (Closed Group) use a Facebook Group to plan and manage this regular event. We have our own mini social network and a storage area for agendas, meeting notes and templates all in one place. The Glosbiz – Gloucestershire Business Network (over 300 members) and Local Business Network (approaching 300 members) are two examples of Open Groups where business people in Gloucestershire can meet new contacts and network with existing ones.

With Ning now charging for their product it’s hard to think of a free tool that provides the same features as Facebook Groups – please let me know if you are aware of any by commenting below.

Here are some of those great features:

  • Easy wall updates – no need to select a Share button;  just tap the enter key
  • Page rendering – the latest Wall Posts rise to the top of the Page
  • Navigation/menu – easy access to all the main actions at top of page – Posts, Photos, Videos, Questions and Docs
  • Docs – Create notes and short docs; ideal for agendas and minutes
  • Group chat – ability to chat with ALL members of the Group at the same time
  • Update via email – send and receive updates using the Group email address

Groups are quick and easy to set up so if you’re one of a group of people who want to communicate, share or collaborate go to http://facebook.com/groups where you can set one up and invite your Facebook friends to join.

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