In our last blog article (“Get Your Group On“) we discussed the new Groups feature that Facebook rolled out earlier this month. We highlighted its benefits for personal use: sharing a variety of information and communicating with friends in a more focused, controlled, and private environment. Now that Groups has been out for a couple weeks, professionals are naturally beginning to investigate ways of leveraging it for business purposes. So with this in mind, today’s post explores several possibilities for how Groups will become important for improving sales and marketing strategies, customer relations, and communication within the office in the future.
Target Audience. Businesses have been onto this strategy for years: find your target audience, market to that demographic. Facebook Groups helps companies take this one step further by allowing them to hand-pick their clients and organize them into specific, easy-to-reach clusters. Groups also encourages users to take advantage of its ‘group email’ feature – meaning that you can create one email account that’s accessible to each member of your group and use it to get the word out about what’s going on. In the future, businesses may be able to offer special promotions and incentives for clients in a particular group.
Conversation. Companies know that a healthy relationship involves accessibility and reliability – and Groups makes this easier than ever. All members can post documents or other media, start discussions, make comments, and participate in the ”Group Chat” feature offered.
Discretion. – To put it simply: Not everyone has to know about something. With the option of making groups public, private, or secret, companies can share information with everyone, or with only a specific selection of people. This may be most helpful for coworkers in a company. Management can create a private group to discuss topics they do not wish to share with the whole office; employees working on projects or in specific departments can have groups to collaborate and coordinate. Individual group emails make sharing information or invitations a breeze, and Groups even acts like a smaller, less sophisticated version of Google Docs – allowing anyone to throw up a document for all members to view and critique.
There is one problem, however, that is already coming to light: privacy. I know -we just finished talking about the various confidentiality possibilities available when creating groups and sharing information, but consider: how private is anyone’s Facebook, really? Passwords can get shared around or hacked, profiles can be accidentally left open on a computer. Businesses will do well to create and share information with a measure of caution, and stick to the old-fashioned rituals of calling clients or meeting face-to-face to discuss their most sensitive issues.
The possibilities continue to grow, but it’s too soon to say what Groups will do for marketing and communicating. We’ve made a few speculations and observations, and we’d love to hear from you. What else do you think Groups will change for Facebook users? Will you try Groups for yourself? Leave us a comment and weigh in on this newest Facebook invention.
MARKIT Group is a full-service traditional and digital marketing and public relations firm with an emphasis on social media, reputation management and monitoring, as well as brand management. Headquartered in Bonita Springs, Fla., with offices in New York, Pittsburgh and Charleston, S.C. www.markit-group.com.