Last week I blogged about Groups being an important concept, and I was making the point that you need tools to manage groups and that this might be a startup opportunity for someone. This excerpt from OnStartups where they have just migrated a group from LinkedIn to Facebook shows the customer pain point today and discusses some of the features they use to manage their group.
Regular readers of OnStartups will likely know that sometime ago, I started a LinkedIn group so that those interested in startups would have another forum in which to gather. Today, the LinkedIn group for OnStartups reached 1,000 members. This is not too bad given that the community is “closed” and I manually approve all members.
However, I have been playing around with Facebook recently and I must say that I am very impressed with the application and the degree of flexibility it provides just with their basic “groups” feature. Here are a few observations now that I have used both systems to some degree:
1. Starting a group on LinkedIn required a manual application. Nothing happened for the first couple of months. I followed up again and resubmitted the application and finally the group was created. Starting a group on Facebook took 30 seconds, 15 of which was figuring out how to navigate the Norwegian version of Windows that I happen to be using right now.
2. LinkedIn provides no notification when new members have requested to join the group. I have to login manually to figure this out. I do this once a day or so and it is very annoying (and clearly unnecessary).
3. On Facebook, I have the ability to designate other administrators to help manage the group. Though I do not need this just yet, I have a strong feeling that I will. This is an exceptionally important feature.
4. On Facebook, the feature-set available within their groups app is just much more compelling than LinkedIn. However, this is not saying much because the LinkedIn groups feature is brain-dead.
5. The only thing that LinkedIn provides that Facebook does not (that I miss a wee bit) is the ability to get a custom link that users can use to join the group. It lets you send out email invites to friends to join (and invite those in your network), but a simple “join” link would be useful. If I just happened to miss this feature, please leave a comment.
What is particularly impressive is that all of this functionality in Facebook does not even require building a custom Facebook app (though I will likely experiment with this someday). It is really, really easy to get started.
You can join their Facebook Group here. I have.