A few months ago, I heard that Facebook released their new groups feature and, to be honest, I was confused about this announcement. People have always been able to create groups to share their interests and obsessions, so how is this a new feature? Actually, for a while now it seemed that the group feature is on its deathbed being pushed out in favor of the fanpage.
After a little digging, I realized that Facebook has a clear naming issue at hand, what they meant with groups are more like personal groups for users much like Twitter lists and, at the release of the service, it was actually labeled as “create a new list”!
Have I lost you? Well, let me give you an analogy. Remember when you first started using Facebook where only people you really wanted to stay in touch with were on it, and you felt free to share with them your pictures and status updates without a worry about either security or privacy and how that feeling was completely ruined when everyone and their kitchen sink became your friend on Facebook? Well, groups help you regain that private space by allowing you to select a group of your friends that you would like to share updates, photos and documents privately (or if you like openly) that is separate from your main profile effectively creating a mini-Facebook profile within Facebook.
So How Do I Use It?
The groups feature is available on your left-navigation sidebar, after clicking “Create Group…” you will be prompted to name your group, add your friends to it and select a privacy setting. There are 3 settings for privacy,
- “Open” : Both members and content are available publicly.
- “Closed” : Members are available publicly but content is private.
- “Secret” : Only members will be able to see the content and the members of the group.
While old style groups are left unchanged, you can no longer create any groups in that style.
So What’s New?
The redesign of the service aims at making groups appeal to individuals and their friends rather than the entire Facebook community at large, hence people added to a group no longer have to opt in; as long as they are your friends they can add you to a group but you have the option to opt out of it.
The new groups have a group chat function where you are able to share documents and anyone in the group is able to create group events. They have also added an email notification setting that is also useful.
While those features are a welcome addition, there has been a lot of outcry about what has gone missing! For instance, there is no longer any discussion section or photo archives available for people to see all the photos uploaded to the group.
Personally, I see a lot of potential for the new groups; the way they are done makes them have a purpose on Facebook rather than being the fanpage’s ugly cousin. With the new groups, it will be a lot easier to organize and communicate with a group, especially with the group chat. The other thing that is noticeable is that they pushed groups into a more personal space, they made it hard for marketers and promoters to use the groups feature and pushed them into creating a fanpage.
So, what do you think of the new groups? Have you used it? Share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.