Facebook has just recently launched its new Groups feature, and it has the potential to be a handy new tool for managing and organizing various friends and coworkers on the site. From now on, if you only want to share certain content with certain people, Groups will help you do just that. Think of it as Facebook within Facebook – allowing people to navigate the vastness of the site by interacting with their friends in a smaller, more intimate fashion. Facebook has been steadily working on ways to achieve this goal, and Groups is their latest attempt. So far it looks like it just might do the trick.
MARKIT Group did some investigating into this latest Facebook initiative so you don’t have to, and we’ve broken down the new features into a few key points to bring you the highlights and give you the info you need. Here’s how Facebook Groups can help you:
1) Selective Sharing. Discussion topics, photos, comments – all of these things and much more can now be easily circulated among a select group of friends. The information about each group, and within each group, can be set to Public, Private, or Secret, giving Facebook users more control over what other people see on their profile. For example, setting a group to ”Secret” means that it will not show up in your profile, nor will its URL be ‘found’ when searched for – unless the person entering the URL is already a member. A “Public” group’s content, information, and members will be displayed for everyone to see, but anyone who is not in the group will be prohibited from contributing in any fashion. Group members can share documents, comment in shared discussions, participate in group emailings, and utilize group photo-tagging (when someone shares a photo, all the members can tag themselves and others easily). Furthermore, all groups are by invitation-only, giving members the opportunity to select exactly who they want in their circle.
2) Connectability. The information shared within groups is controlled by each member, not just the admin; and the new “group chat” option allows all members in the group to chat with each other at the same time. You can also create an event invitation, which will automatically select all of the friends in your group, so you don’t have to go through and click each member one at a time (FYI: groups are capped at 250 members right now). how much more 3) Ease of use. You don’t have to revamp your profile, change your privacy settings, or re-categorize your friends; just select who you want in your group, and invite them to join. Even better, once you start using Groups, Facebook will pay attention to the ones you visit most, and they will be listed on the left-hand navigation panel so you can access them quickly. Like other Facebook applications, Groups will also be the recipient of the mobile interface and “Open API for Groups“ feature (embeds Facebook Pages anywhere on the web: these sites can be ‘liked’ and have all the features of a Facebook Page, and they will be able to publish stories to the streams of their fans). And since Skype and Facebook have recently joined forces, you’ll even see a Group invitation show up on your LinkedIn wall.
Of course, there are Facebook users out there who bill the Groups feature as plain obnoxious, and find it to be another unnecessary application floating around the web. For any new application, there will be people who are satisfied, and people who are dissatisfied, and we want to hear both sides of the story. Give Groups a try, and then come back and tell us what you think. Is Facebook Groups an upgrade or an annoyance?
MARKIT Group staff