Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Facebook Releases New “Groups” Feature

Posted by Amanda Walsh

The latest news from Facebook is their new “Groups” feature. The re-designed product allows users to add friends into a group, send messages out to those members and even participate in a group chat session.  Facebook markets this as a unique tool for students working on a group project or families sharing photos and videos.  

My first reaction to the news was that perhaps companies with satellite offices may find this useful or employees who work from home.

Some changes to “Groups” are:
  • Group notifications sent to your email. This is an opt-out feature, meaning that any person in the group is automatically included on email outreach unless they change their settings.
  • Posting and sharing of documents within the group. This feature reminded me of Google docs, but could be helpful in some settings. I will be interested to see the ease of use concerning document formatting and exchange of documents within a group.
  • Group chat.  For companies who have employees who work at home, perhaps the group chat ability would be helpful and increase productivity.  The lines of communication would be open for realtime feedback and collaboration.
Facebook has more than 400 million active users.  Out of those users, more than 60 million post status updates every day.  Let’s face it, the statistics from DigitalBuzzBlog are astounding.  People are using Facebook constantly and yes, at work too.  Why not bring it into the fold and turn Facebook into a productive tool for the workplace?

Some other questions include what will happen to the old groups feature? So far, Facebook maintains that they continue to support the old Facebook groups feature. But we’ll see what the future holds.

I predict that large companies will abuse this feature and begin to send out mass e-mail promotions to members of groups and many members will leave the group or report messages as spam and complain to Facebook.

Some great resources to learn more about the changes are here, here and here. What are your thoughts about the new groups feature? 

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