Facebook and the new “Groups”

Yesterday Facebook announced some new features, including a newly revised “Group” functionality. My friend and social media expert Christine Pilch set up a Social Media group on Facebook to test it out and see how it works.

Facebook got it right from their perspective, but as usual, did not get many things right from the user’s perspective.

The new group feature is clearly designed to be a chat system (as shown by the fact that you just hit return to post a comment instead of clicking a Post button, which is how every other status box on the site works), and yet the default setting is to have email notifications when posts occur. And since anyone can invite you to join a group, this will result in thousands (possibly millions) of people getting swarmed with email, without asking for it, or knowing how to turn it off. I know you can change your default notification settings, but even I, being pretty adept at social media tools, find that Facebook is obscenely obtuse when it comes to understanding how to get the notifications that you want. The new Facebook groups feature has no Daily or Weekly digest option such as LinkedIn Groups do.

Ultimately, I think this is just a sneaky way to get people to use Facebook Chat when they wouldn’t otherwise. It seems that Facebook is still a little jealous of twitter real-time conversation, and the new groups may be a good answer to that. However, I see the potential for people being added to groups something that will spiral out of control for people with a lot of friends, i.e. people are going to get sick of being added to groups really really quickly.

Also, Facebook got it right, from their perspective, to make groups grow rather rapidly. Any group member can add anyone else to the group. So popular groups will increase in size exponentially as friends add friends, who can then add their friends, etc.

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4 Responses to “Facebook and the new “Groups””

  1. Morriss Partee Says:

    For more about groups, read Ron Miller’s excellent blog post this morning: Facebook groups change everything. I responded there too.

  2. Morriss Partee Says:

    After further deliberation, I did realize why this is a big lose for FB in its current form: Facebook has created a situation that turns everyone into spammers just by inviting someone to join a group.

    Facebook needs to fix this by doing one of two things (really they should do both): 1.) A person needs to ACCEPT the invitation to join a group BEFORE they are in the group. 2.) A person needs to OPT-IN to emails from a group, not have emails sent by default.

  3. Christine Pilch Says:

    Thanks for the mention, Morriss. I agree wholeheartedly with your summation, and I believe that Facebook Groups show potential, but many on the web are touting them as a new business communications solution. I disagree. Until Facebook locks down the member-add-member component, info security is in jeopardy. And if Facebook locks down the member-add-member component, they diminish their goal of promoting viral growth.

    So, Groups are good for collaboration, but they’re far from secure, (even secret ones,) so exercise best judgment for business use.

  4. Molly@Postcards from a Peaceful Divorce Says:

    I found the group feature very frustrating. I definitely agree with you about the email notifications. It took me a while to figure out how to turn off the emails. It’s within the group itself instead of in the settings. Hopefully they will change that.

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