Organizations of all types, whether nonprofit or not-for-profit associations or for-profit corporations (hereafter all just called “organizations”), should establish groups in Facebook right now. Jeremiah Owyang has described this as the equivalent of the domain name land rush for Facebook group formation.
Here are the top three reasons to act now:
- It’s Free. Not only is membership free, but you can create a group for your organization within Facebook, for no charge. You can pay for a sponsored group, as Apple has with Apple Students (415,056 members as of this writing), and that may be a valid tactic for you. But if you can create a presence in a cyberspace community that has 31 million members, and is growing at more than a million members a week, why would you not take advantage of the opportunity?
- Stake Your Claim, and prevent cyber-squatting. This is related to #1 above. You may not realize how easy it is to create a Facebook group, but a mischievous prankster could create a new group in Facebook with your organization’s name in 90 seconds or less, at no cost. If you create an “official” group for your organization, and encourage constituents to join it, the real thing will drive any impostor groups to irrelevance, sort of a Gresham’s Law in reverse.
- You can create more than one group, and the second one is half price. (OK, that was a joke; see #1 again.) In reality, you can have an infinite number of groups related to your organization, each with a different purpose.
- You can have an “open” group that anyone can join, as your organization’s public face in Facebook. If you need to communicate quickly with everyone affiliated with your organization, you can use Facebook to send the message.
- You can have a “closed” group that is visible to the world, but for which people need permission to join. This is ideal for a membership organization, to create a value-added space for networking, mentoring and discussion of issues of common interest.
- You can create “secret” groups that aren’t visible to people in Facebook unless an Administrator first invites them. This could be used for a Board of Directors, for example, or for communication within an employee group or work unit…anytime you want to be able to communicate confidentially, and even keep the existence of the conversation confidential.
More to come on how organizations can use Facebook to communicate with constituents and others who share common interests.
Update: This post was written several months before Facebook developed Pages as an alternative for organizations and brands. You may want to have a page for your overall brand, and have groups that are ways for employees, customers or constituents to collaborate. See the Facebook Business page or the Facebook curriculum here on SMUG for more recent thinking.