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October 09, 2008

If you build it, they will come Vs. If I don't build it, what will they come to?

I got this question from a friend a few days ago...

Any suggestions about where to find info about external social networking started by members VS. by staff? I think you set up a facebook page for your members, right? Are you the administrator or members? Seems like if it’s not allowed to be organic that it misses the point vs. if you build it they will come.
I have experience on both sides of this and would advise that you not completely cede administrator rights to your SNS to members. It isn't a bad idea to delegate to members some control over the SNSs you set up. After all, when you give members some ownership over the SNS, they'll be more likely to encourage their colleagues to join. But you want to position your association as the administrator. If you're looking at Facebook, I recommend starting a "Facebook Fan Page" instead of a group, and titling it something like "Our Association Name (official)".

UPDATED 10/17/2008: In the comments on this post, Lindy points out:
Messages from Groups go to the Facebook inbox and trigger an e-mail alert to group members' real inbox. [Fan Page] Updates go into a magical mystery Facebook tab that few people ever visit...and no e-mail alert.
This is a huge drawback to Fan Pages. [end update]

And I wouldn't recommend that you wait around for members to start an SNS presence for you, or request that they do so. I believe your association will want to be the one who starts it in order to reap the benefits of being the initiator.

Of course, if you've already got SNSs in your industry that were started by others, you definitely should join them, participate, and conduct yourself as if you were a guest in someone else's home.

Tagged: ; ; ;

3 comments:

Lindy Dreyer said...

I agree with you on pretty much every point except the Facebook Fan Page versus Facebook Group debate. To use an example, since we've moved YAP to a Fan Page, we've had a lot less success re-engaging the group on Facebook because you can not send messages, only updates. I'll explain.

Messages from Groups go to the Facebook inbox and trigger an e-mail alert to group members' real inbox. Updates go into a magical mystery Facebook tab that few people ever visit...and no e-mail alert.

Groups like these need some nurturing and cheerleading, especially at the beginning. I'd always start with a Group so that I could take advantage of that e-mail connection. Later, when you know the group is viable and you have lots of ways to communicate with them, you can always move to a Page.

Ben Martin, CAE said...

Good info! I will update the post!

Mike Cutlip said...

It really depends on your needs.

We started a Facebook group for the MA Realtors because we could lock down those joining. That way we can provide discounts and other "facebook group-only" stuff to those members.

However, you can't add applications to a group. On a Facebook Page, for instance, you can add the Simply RSS app and pull in your feed from a blog for constantly updated content. Not being able to add Apps to a group is a serious limitation but, like anything, weighing these pros/cons is always a balancing act.