In the last few days, there has been very vocal complaints about Facebook’s decision to require opt out to leave a group. While some concerns are certainly legitimate, I believe many have missed the potential networking implications of such a powerful tool. I’ve been fairly successful at social networking and traffic building. I understand the enormous power of Facebook as a networking tool. This is backed up by hard data I gleamed from studying my site logs and Google Analytic reports. Google is still king when it comes to building referrer traffic but Facebook is gaining fast. In the last year, not a day goes by without Facebook showing up as a top 10 referrer site for this blog. The addition of the Facebook LIKE button has allowed others to propagate my articles beyond what is possible by myself. I simply cannot send links to people I do not know but the LIKE button allows others to do that for me.
Now Facebook has introduced a new feature in group that allows friends to add their friends to groups. The possibilities are exponential and nearly limitless. Like the LIKE button, this feature allows members of a group to connect with people they have yet to know about. On top of that, they are likely to share the same interest. Here are some points I made in a previous article. I’ll repeat them here and expand on them.
What are some of the advantages of the new Facebook group?
- The opt out only scenario is a huge networking plus for members who can leverage it. It immediately and easily adds new eyes to your profile and content.
- Group chat can be a great tool to easily connect with many members of a group for planning. Groups can be very small and temporary. For example, a photographer collaborating with a makeup artist, model, hair stylist, and wardrobe stylist can create a group specifically for planning that shoot and use it to communicate and/or chat with all members of the team. Groups even have a feature to upload photos and documents for sharing. Photographers can upload a model release, sample poses, location shots, etc. The wardrobe stylist can upload photos of sample outfits and the hair stylist can upload sample photos of different styles. There simply is no other comparable free web application where other collaborating members are already likely to be a member and already know how to use the site. Google tried it with Google Wave but they have abandoned that project. These temporary task oriented groups can be set as private groups so they are only known to members of that group.
- Since anyone can add any of their friends to groups and those added can then add their friends, it can potentially add an audience that is exponential in size that would be impossible to achieve individually. For example, I create a group called ‘Awesome glamor models’ and add five members because I only know five awesome glamor models. But Stephy, who is one of those five members, adds 25 of her friends who are glamor models and 50 of her friends who are glamor photographers. Joan, who never knew Stephy existed or anything about the 75 friends she added can now network with 76 new members who share similar interest. That is the incredible networking power of the new Facebook group feature and few have yet to realize it because they are too obsessed about wanting to be asked permission before being added to a group. With an opt in only system, this type of exponential network will be very difficult to develop as hundreds of millions of group invites will sit idle with no responses. Obviously, there will be some joke and controversial groups created and inevitably, people will be added without their permission but the solution is simple, just leave the group and defriend.
Now you’re probably saying “That’s a great theory but let’s see some hard evidence”. No problem. I created a group a couple of days ago and added Stephy. Stephy is a gorgeous glamor and nude model who has appeared in Playboy. I have seen her network online and she is one of the best at building a fan base and a following. When Stephy was added, she did not complain about not being asked permission. She leveraged the added exposure and posted this image on the group wall. The first 7 comments on this image are all from the group post and there will surely be more to follow. Now here is a screen cap of one portion of that exchange. Note the post by David.
Now here is an update on Stephy’s wall a little later.
Now I can’t say unequivocally that this connection was a direct result of their membership in the group but it certainly didn’t hurt. In all fairness, they were already aware of each other from another site so the “friending” was an easy and logical step.
Here is another example that speaks for itself.
Facebook is unlikely to modify the auto include feature of groups. Doing so would destroy the networking potential of this tool. I do, however, support the addition of a feature to globally block adding of a profile to groups if a user chooses. I believe this is the best compromise between networking and offering users flexibility.