Facebook Groups and New Privacy Features

What was announced?

Facebook made three announcements this past Wednesday, but one of them was more important than the others by leaps and bounds.

The latest game changer is the launch of a revised version of Facebook “Groups”.

Facebook Groups allows you to build a space for important groups of people in your life – and share information with only them. You can now interact amongst your various groups of friends – family, work, clients, fantasy football league – and keep the conversation focused on the topics that group usually talks about. The new Facebook Groups will also allow you to post photos, chat with members, and use the group to send targeted e-mails. By default, all groups are closed (searchable but the group administrator needs to approve all members), but you can choose to make them secret (non-searchable) as well as open (fully public / anyone can freely join).

What are the business and client opportunities?

The fringe benefit of Facebook Groups is that it strengthens Facebook as a business platform. Facebook Groups now provides companies and organizations with the ability to facilitate the sharing of information with groups of individuals both internally and externally.

Mark Zuckerberg said yesterday: “‘For brands, we have Pages.” He added, “Going forward, there is nothing stopping them [brands] from making a group,” but, “Pages are much better for you to build a massive open ended community.” However, you will see companies create private, customer only groups, and use the platform as a way to share information with this group. This tool will also surely be used by companies as a way to privately share information internally.

A handful of concepts come to mind on how Groups can be leveraged for our clients and business:

  • Customer Loyalty Groups – Create a private Group for your most loyal brand advocates; i.e. Customer Loyalty Groups. Empower your brand advocates to meet each other and share information and opinion about your brand in a setting controlled by the brand. By doing this, brands can create an enhanced sense of community as well as a forum for idea generation and sharing amongst customers that are most familiar with their brand.
  • Customer Focus Groups & Feedback – Leverage Groups for obtaining feedback when a brand is launching a new product or service by creating a closed customer Facebook Group and inviting loyal customers to share their feedback. Loyal customers will be see that the brand takes their feedback and ideas very seriously.
  • Employee Community / Intranet Enhancement – Empower employees to share information within a company by creating a private Group. Companies as a whole, departments and internal committees can all create a Group that focuses on their particular agenda. Other services like Yammer and Chatter offer these services but since Facebook has such a massive user base, the employee will likely not have to sign-up to a new service. Furthermore, this group can be utilized as an enhancement to a company’s Intranet to keep employees in the loop on company information. Your employees may not remember to visit your Intranet every day, but a well-placed, well-timed update to the Facebook Group can be sufficient to win awareness.
  •  Internal Customer Service Group – A Group dedicated to logging customer service issues could assist in making sure that any issues that arise from Facebook be posted within the group. This way, the issues can be logged for follow up and will keep managers in the loop; making sure all issues are dealt with. This concept would also provide a rich archive of past issues that can be updated regularly to track recurring issues.
  • Live Chat – As part of the Groups launch, Facebook is also now offering chat functionality that could make for opportunities to instantly crowdsource opinion from consumers as well as brainstorm with employees from branches across the world. No matter the use, chats will create further engagement within Facebook itself.

Facebook Groups can be created by going here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/

Facebook’s other announcements from Wednesday, 10/6:

  1. Download Your Profile’s Data – You can now quickly download to your computer everything you’ve ever posted on Facebook and all your correspondences with friends: your messages, Wall posts, photos, status updates and profile information. This feature offers the ability to back-up and have a record of the entire life you’ve shared online.

Access Hub to How Applications Access Your Personal Data – Facebook launched a new dashboard to give you visibility into how applications use your data to personalize your experience. In your Facebook privacy settings, you will have a single view of all the applications you’ve authorized, and you’ll be able to change the settings for an application to make less information available to it, or you can even remove it completely.