Facebook‘s Chat functionality is really great. My youngest daughter, a big IM user, thinks it’s the best and easiest one she’s seen, and she loves how it is integrated into Facebook. I’ve had several conversations with it in just its first day of general availability.
That said, it still needs some features that would make it exceptionally powerful and valuable for business networking. Here are my top three:
- Move from only 1-1 chat to allowing chat among multiple Facebook friends. This would enable work teams to have brief virtual ad hoc meetings on a particular tactical topic without the overhead of scheduling, walking to the conference room, waiting for everyone to assemble, and returning to their desks. This could enable more nimble reactions to business opportunities. In the PR world, it could be a great brainstorming tool for story ideas. It also would make it easier to get input from the people who are typically more reserved and quiet in face-to-face meetings.
- Enable chat to take place in connection with Facebook groups. So, for example, if I have a secret Facebook group and would like to have a chat in which all of the members can participate, whether they are Friends with each other or not, that would be a valuable function, particularly in the work setting. This could be great for customer focus groups, for instance.
- Enable users to filter their list of on-line friends according to their friend lists. This may not be a big deal unless you get lots of friends and they are all on-line a lot. But I can imagine that Scoble with his 5,000 friends would have something of a cluttered window. But still, since you can search by friend name to find whether someone is on-line, the clutter may not be a problem if you are purposefully seeking out a particular individual. If you’re browsing your on-line friends looking for small-talk, though, being able to filter (say, for instance, by limiting to your list of professional friends) would be cleaner.
How about you? What do you think of Facebook’s Chat function? What additional features are most important to you? Share your thoughts below…and maybe we can form a Facebook group to petition for our top priorities.