Facebook Groups – a complete Guide

About a month ago I started getting really annoyed by the new Facebook Groups function as I was being added to virtually all kinds of e-mail lists, thus getting my inbox completely crammed with different messages from “friends” and other people who had decided I should join.

I truly hated this new feature that Facebook described as a completely new Groups product. I must say, I was completely wrong. If you set your privacy settings the correct way you can actually manage your groups really neatly and they work a lot greater than Google groups and other such e-mail lists I have found.

So what are Facebook Groups?

Facebook Groups is a new product from Facebook where they allow you to bundle friends into packs. You get to form your own communications networks and you are able to collaborate and communicate more effectively as a result. It is like a normal e-mail send list but with more social functionality. Sort of like the way a Skype group works, but with e-mail as well.

So what kind of Facebook Groups are there?

Well, there are virtually three types of Facebook Groups. Closed (default setting), meaning only the people invited by the group members can join. Secret, meaning no one but the people in the group can see it and finally Open, in which case anyone feeling like it can join the group and start posting.

You can change the setting of a group from either one of the three so if you start out as a secret group you can quite easily move it to become an open or a closed one. This is a great new feature which did not exist in the previous Groups package.

How do I create a Facebook Group?

You start out by going to the Facebook group landing (http://facebook.com/groups) page or navigate from your left hand navigation bar of your Facebook home page after login. In the image below you can see the yellow icon and the “Create Group” text next to it.

You click the “Create group” option and a pop up display is shown to you. You select a name for the group and add the participants to it. You also select whether or not the group should be Open, Closed or Secret.

1. Choose a name

2. Invite some friends

3. Set your privacy level

Your group is now created and you will be able to access it from the left hand navigation of your Facebook home page after login.

What can I do in a Facebook Group?

You can do virtually anything you could do in the previous version of the Facebook Groups, but now you have your e-mail connected to it in a much neater way and you also have the Facebook Group Chat connected to the members which means you can chat with everyone available in the group at once. Much like a Skype group chat.

You navigate your actions and activities from the top of the group and you join or setup a group chat from the right hand side of the group page.

The only problem I find with the last feature is that the chat window is really too small and if you are a couple of people able to type considerably fast, it creates a problem to keep up. I wish one could adjust the chat window height better than is possible today.

How do I edit my Facebook Group settings?

In the very top right corner of your group you have two options. Edit Group or Edit Settings. By clicking either one of these options you can edit the general settings of your Facebook Group as well as edit group members and name. The main difference between the two is that Edit Group is general to the whole group whilst Edit Settings are personal and for you only.

1. Edit Group

2. Edit settings

Are there any risks with using Facebook Groups?

Yes and no. You should always stay cautious towards new things on Facebook. Usually they have some kind of security bug at first. But with the help of great developers and a load of users, it usually sorts itself out after a while. Please read up on what some other bloggers have said about the risks.

What are the benefits of using Facebook Groups?

Well the benefits are many if you can handle the privacy settings correctly. If you’re working with link building you can create co-ordination groups to easily handle link trade, if you’re working with news and gossip you can easily reach out with your PR messages fast and furious, and if you’re just having fun you can have more fun in a group than by yourself. (yes I too used to think that it was the opposite.. but please… try sharing the fun and I promise you’ll wont be disappointed).

No seriously. For a business you might not want your employees chatting about what they do at the company through Facebook more than what is allocated to your Facebook Page. However, if you have a big organization that needs to share online content with each other than a FB group might do the trick.

Let’s say you’re in a position where you are launching a new product that you want the local teams to promote for you. Well then use a group. It is a much better place for a resource than the e-mail inbox. As long as it’s not confidential, go ahead and share it and let other users discover it whilst you solve a co-ordination problem.

For the gaming industry I find it highly useful as well. If you play any game where you need to keep track of old scores or of scenarios or tactics, a group is the place to store it.

What can I say… it is a GROUP… haha… nothing more nothing less. However, the chat functionality as well as the e-mail lists really bring these groups to another level.

Any question I haven’t answered I’ll gladly answer it in the comments.

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