Facebook 104: Intro to Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups are a great way to gather people with a common interest, and have a common space for them to interact.

There are three basic kinds of groups in Facebook:

Open Groups – Anyone can join these, and they can form on a whim. In fact, as you are categorizing you group, one of the choices in the drop-down menu is “Just for fun – Totally Pointless.” Later in the curriculum (Facebook 120) I will show you just how easy it is to create a group. That doesn’t mean it will have any members, but starting the group is simple. And of course if you’re a SMUGgle you really should join the SMUG Facebook group.

Closed Groups – A limited portion of these groups can be seen by non-members, and they can request to join, but group administrators have to invite new members or approve those requesting access. This, for example, was the group type we used to share video and photos of my new granddaughter, Evelyn Grace. So if you want a moderate level of privacy, a closed group is a good option.

Secret Groups – These are quite private, and are not displayed on any of their members’ profiles. As I said here, don’t store bank account numbers or nuclear launch codes in a secret group, but for a fairly secure way of interacting with a defined group of Facebook users, a secret group can work. These are a little harder to form, in that you have to invite Facebook friends; they can’t request to join because they won’t be able to even have access to make the request. A good way around this is to form the group as closed, but then change it to secret once everyone has joined.

Members of groups don’t need to be “friends” in Facebook, so a group can be a way of allowing people with a common interest to interact. So I established Facebook groups for my daughter’s basketball team last year and her volleyball team this year. We’ll do this again for basketball season. So we can share links to news stories and upload video and photos, all without a bunch of high school students needing to be my “friends.”

If the people who are part of your “target population” are already in Facebook, a group can be a great way to bring them together, as we did for this Mayo Clinic Career Festival group, where we added about 350 members in a single day.

If you’re forming a group entirely made up of people from your workplace, a Yammer Group is a much better option than a Facebook group. But if you need to mix people from your workplace with others outside your company, a Facebook group can be a good solution.

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Author: Lee Aase

Married father of six and grandfather of seven, and the Chancellor of SMUG - Social Media University, Global. By day I'm the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion, and doesn't reflect the positions of my employer.

2 thoughts on “Facebook 104: Intro to Facebook Groups”

  1. Lee, have you explored GroupTweet (www.grouptweet.com) at all? I’d be curious to hear if any other SMUGgles have given it a shot for virtual brainstorm sessions or other type of group interaction.

    I have yet to dive in on Yammer (your posts will certainly guide the way when I have some time to try it out) but one thing I’ve been thinking about is whether Yammer or GroupTweet will ever take the next step of actually recording or somehow cataloging interactions. The notion being that you could have this great brainstorm or whatever but obviously want to capture those ideas in some capacity for future reference. Again, maybe Yammer already has this capability.

  2. Thanks, Scott. I’ll have to look into GroupTweet. I think Yammer is really well positioned to do what you’re asking (provided all of your group members have email domains in the same company.) We’re experimenting with it for this anyway. The messages can all be viewed as part of a thread, and it’s as easy as email, so adoption should be easy and painless. The messages replying to a single post can be viewed as a thread, so I think it would work well for this.

    Also, I’m hearing Yammer will have a way for people outside your company to get special access to your Yammer network (e.g. contractors or freelancers.) Nothing on that yet, though.

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