Should Organizations Use Facebook Groups?

Facebook has a revamped their Groups feature. In an attempt to address one of the most common feature requests, Facebook is giving users the ability to publish content, share and communicate with only a group of friends rather than all your friends. This seems like a natural enhancement for Facebook, but it’s also easy to speculate that this move is a reaction to the continued onslaught of criticism that Facebook has serious privacy concerns. Either way, it’s a pretty cool feature and I think it will get used by many people. Friends will create groups, families will create groups and teams will create groups. But will organizations create groups?

How do Organizations Centralize Communications with Facebook?

Sure my small group at church could go and create a group on Facebook. And then I could create a group for my soccer team and one for my family. And while that makes my life easier what about my church? Does that improve communication for the church on a whole? What about the school that’s trying to get all their teachers to use the same tool? Sure there’s half a billion people on Facebook, but there are still those that choose not to participate, mainly due to privacy concerns (and rightly so) and what happens when that one teacher won’t join? Is Facebook private enough for that person to change their mind and join Facebook so that they create a group for their classroom?

One of the biggest problems that private group communication tools solve is the challenge of ensuring that members, volunteers and people know how to reach their group, where to get the latest information and where the communication channels are. For an organization that has privacy as an utmost concern, using Facebook to centralize communication with and among members seems like a daunting task.

How do Organizations Manage Multiple Groups?

Imagine you’re responsible for communication at a nonprofit and you need to create an announcement to get to 3 out of 15 committees. How do you do that now? Maybe you run some query from an Access database, export some email addresses (that are outdated and will likely bounce) and send an email to all 30 of the members on these 3 committees. Okay, so maybe you have some sophisticated group communication software that will allow you simply create an message and send it to a select set of groups. Cool. But instead, what if those committees each have group on Facebook?

You’d have to go into each group, and post a message, assuming that you’re a member of the group…because you started the group for them, right…the group on Facebook. Do you catch my drift? As an administrator, can you mange multiple groups in Facebook, move people around in groups and make sure that your members are plugged in correctly? Can you look at one of your members, see what groups they’re in and then make sure they’re engaged?

How Effective Will Groups be For Planning?

One of the biggest benefits to MemberHub, particularly for small to medium size organizations, is that you’ll get membership management combined with communication tools. Having one tool where the administrators can manage membership information and communication effectively is a time saver and a must have if your organization’s mission will be accomplished. It’s about getting organized and taking care of the business of being a member. It’s not about social networking and spending lot’s of time on the internet.

Example: How many unviewed RSVP’s do you have in Facebook right now? Go look. I bet at least 5 are sitting there. And you know why…because one of them is likely from someone from high school that you decided to be friends with, that you barely remember, and is now having a pumpkin decorating contest at her neighbor’s house and she wants you to come. You’re thinking…”that’s weird, kinda creepy maybe.” Now imagine getting another RSVP from a board meeting that’s taking place next week to decide on next year’s budget (because they’re using a Facebook Group). What are the chances that this invite will get lost in the tsunami of information that’s being fed to you by Facebook? This is obviously just an example but you get the point.

How Will You Use Groups?

Facebook is asking people “How will you use groups?”. That’s perfect right, cause Facebook is all about you…your profile, your friends, your network, your social graph. It’s a social networking tool! It’s not an organizational planning and private group communications tool.

So I’m asking, how will your organization use Facebook groups? Will it? If so, how? If not, why?