You need features to manage groups – an example

By September 6, 2007Enterprise2.0, Facebook

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.

  • Nic

    It is interesting what you say about the increasing power of social networking groups.

    Last week, HSBC reversed its decision to take away students’ interest-free overdrafts as soon as they leave university after it suffered a consumer revolt by graduates on the pages of Facebook. Today, Eric Knight, a New York-based shareholder activist requested HSBC to undertake a fundamental review of the group’s strategy and is setting up a social networking site to garner support.

    Companies have been able to dismiss or ignore blog rants (like LinkedIn groups) as the audience has generally been quite narrow.

    Facebook’s more public social networking groups, as a collective voice forces companies to listen to their customers and is likely to exponentially increase activism as consumers grasp their power in numbers.

    PR companies urgently need to become the ever vigilant eyes and ears to manage and protect enterprises and organisations from widely broadcast blogs, rumours and smears in a fully connected world.

    Today HSBC, tomorrow the world.

    Best regards

    James Vinall
    LastMile

  • Nic

    It is interesting what you say about the increasing power of social networking groups.

    Last week, HSBC reversed its decision to take away students’ interest-free overdrafts as soon as they leave university after it suffered a consumer revolt by graduates on the pages of Facebook. Today, Eric Knight, a New York-based shareholder activist requested HSBC to undertake a fundamental review of the group’s strategy and is setting up a social networking site to garner support.

    Companies have been able to dismiss or ignore blog rants (like LinkedIn groups) as the audience has generally been quite narrow.

    Facebook’s more public social networking groups, as a collective voice forces companies to listen to their customers and is likely to exponentially increase activism as consumers grasp their power in numbers.

    PR companies urgently need to become the ever vigilant eyes and ears to manage and protect enterprises and organisations from widely broadcast blogs, rumours and smears in a fully connected world.

    Today HSBC, tomorrow the world.

    Best regards

    James Vinall
    LastMile

  • nic

    Indeed James. And it has been a similar blogoshpere revolt against Apple that has forced Steve Jobs to offer $100 credit to anyone who paid the original high price for their iPhone.

  • nic

    Indeed James. And it has been a similar blogoshpere revolt against Apple that has forced Steve Jobs to offer $100 credit to anyone who paid the original high price for their iPhone.

  • Roth

    Doesn’t it seem like all of the feature sets on groups pages are relatively identical? Even facebook offers nothing different or new than any other site. Groups should be about engaging the user base and sharing collaboratively. The two tools that are missing almost entirely from group pages are presence awareness and creative collaboration. Allowing users to create together would be nice, i.e. wikis.

    Discussions are difficult at best and rarely evolve into powerful, meaningful dialog unless they are in real-time. Facebook’s group pages are essentially the same as profile pages in terms of interaction and engagement. I give credit to facebook as they allow group members to create community photo albums.

    Do you think that making these platforms presence aware would increase the effectiveness of group tools as a whole? I feel that real-time communication coupled with collaboration and the usual feature set would increase my usage and enjoyment level. Dynamic, interactive, personal group chat rooms?

  • Roth

    Doesn’t it seem like all of the feature sets on groups pages are relatively identical? Even facebook offers nothing different or new than any other site. Groups should be about engaging the user base and sharing collaboratively. The two tools that are missing almost entirely from group pages are presence awareness and creative collaboration. Allowing users to create together would be nice, i.e. wikis.

    Discussions are difficult at best and rarely evolve into powerful, meaningful dialog unless they are in real-time. Facebook’s group pages are essentially the same as profile pages in terms of interaction and engagement. I give credit to facebook as they allow group members to create community photo albums.

    Do you think that making these platforms presence aware would increase the effectiveness of group tools as a whole? I feel that real-time communication coupled with collaboration and the usual feature set would increase my usage and enjoyment level. Dynamic, interactive, personal group chat rooms?

  • ivanpope

    There’s a real problem with Groups on Facebook. There are no moderating tools. In fact – there are no tools. So now you’ve got a group that anyone can join. It may grow to be a large group –
    Web 2.0 (Entrepreneurs) has over 17,000 members. Problem is – there is absolutely no point to these groups. OnSartups doesn’t even seem to try to set out an agenda for the membership – so it will end up as a pool of opportunistic and undifferentiated meanderings.
    Sutely there’s an opportunity for someone to build ‘Supergroups’ for Facebook with a bit of oomph – like collaboration, sub-grouping, communication, archive etc tools? Otherwise we’re just playing silly numbers games.

  • There’s a real problem with Groups on Facebook. There are no moderating tools. In fact – there are no tools. So now you’ve got a group that anyone can join. It may grow to be a large group –
    Web 2.0 (Entrepreneurs) has over 17,000 members. Problem is – there is absolutely no point to these groups. OnSartups doesn’t even seem to try to set out an agenda for the membership – so it will end up as a pool of opportunistic and undifferentiated meanderings.
    Sutely there’s an opportunity for someone to build ‘Supergroups’ for Facebook with a bit of oomph – like collaboration, sub-grouping, communication, archive etc tools? Otherwise we’re just playing silly numbers games.