Larry BraunerLittle by little, Facebook members are discovering the dark side of the new Facebook groups.

In The Problem with Facebook Groups, I complain that old Facebook Groups lack member engagement. Members aren’t notified when content is added to the group and only learn of new posts or comments if by chance they visit the group’s page or if a moderator broadcasts a message to them.

Problems with New Facebook Groups

FacebookThe new Facebook groups have the opposite problem. By default, a member is notified every time another member posts. If the new Facebook group is large, members will be bombarded with unwanted email notifications and chat window popups. The engagement problem is solved, but a new notification problem is created.

Users who are bothered by the quantity of email notifications can change their notification setting to “only posts I am subscribed to” and reduce or eliminate the notification problem –  once they figure out how to do so.

However, there’s a bigger problem not yet mentioned: One can be added by Facebook friends to new Facebook groups without pre-approval. Therefore, before one knows what’s happening, and before one can leave the group or change one’s notification setting, emails start flowing into his or her inbox, seemingly out of nowhere. Sounds like fiction, but I’m not making this up!

Marketing vs. Collaboration

These problems render the new Facebook groups, as currently formulated, totally unsuitable for Facebook marketing.

On the other hand, new Facebook groups work very well for collaboration, especially with their group document creation and editing capability.

New Facebook Group for GroupGain Collaboration

GroupGainI’m working closely with a team of interns promoting GroupGain, a social networking site for group buying with a unique twist that’s launching soon. We have a new Facebook group that’s tiny, has just nine members, and each of us knew in advance that we’d be added to the group. As a result, there haven’t been any problems associated with our new Facebook group.

More Information about New Facebook Groups

I suggest you read Facebook Groups – A Walkthrough of Group Email, Docs, Chat, and More for the new Facebook groups basics, and Facebook Groups Spam and The Notifications Dilemma, as well. Both pieces are featured on Inside Facebook.

New Facebook Groups Verdict

If the new Facebook groups would require members to opt-in, not opt-out, members wouldn’t be taken as much by surprise. Until Facebook makes some adjustments, I give the new Facebook groups a thumbs-up for group collaboration (or small-scale networks) and a thumbs-down for marketing (and large-scale networks).

Having been forewarned, you my join my new Facebook group if you dare:

Larry Brauner’s Group

Have a new Facebook groups war story to share with us?

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16 Responses to “New Facebook Groups Wreak Havoc”

  1. Sheila on October 17th, 2010 9:17 pm


    I have 30 or more e-mails from people who are part of a group I “joined” thinking something good would come of it and it’s no better than spam. Maybe the old way was better for my purposes, anyway. I have/had some control about what was disbursed.

  2. Jack Goldenberg on October 17th, 2010 9:42 pm

    Thanks, I noticed the problem, but didn’t know the background. I agree with Sheila, the old way was a lot less intrusive, even if you had to be proactive about going to look for new groups posts.

    You said there was an antidote? How can I change the notification settings?


  3. The Fitness Diva on October 17th, 2010 10:29 pm

    I got to experience a bit of this new twist on FB groups today when I received notification that I “was now a member of” a group that basically exists to build an email list to hawk its products. I was made a member of this group by a ‘friend’. When I read that notification I was so incensed! What audacity one has to have to think it’s okay to do that!

    Well, I unjoined the group, and deleted the person from my friends (was not a “real” friend, but an FB friend). To me, adding me to a group without my permission is definitely crossing the line.

    I’m just wondering, why can’t Facebook leave well enough alone? Why all the constant tweaking and changing of things? It’s not broke, so why do they keep fixing it?

    These types of changes turn people off, and in the long run, they will begin to lose members as a result of it.

  4. Larry Brauner on October 17th, 2010 10:46 pm

    @Jack Click on the edit settings button at the top right and choose: “Only posts I am subscribed to.” And if you get tired of a particular conversation you were involved in, there an unsubscribe link.

    @Fitness Diva - Don’t know whether Facebook thought this through far enough. (If these groups are used properly, they work great.)

    We’re all learning and experimenting. Please don’t write somebody off for this if they haven’t caused you trouble in the past.

  5. Mirdza on October 18th, 2010 8:44 am

    The new group features are definitely geared more towards small groups of people, not large scale marketing groups. The nice thing about having the new groups is that you can always see the people who are in the group and can contact them individually if you have a question of comment. It’s also nice that you can see who is on at the time so you can chat together or individually.

  6. Larry Brauner on October 18th, 2010 10:13 am


    That’s what I like about Ning groups.

    In fact, the groups on Ning networks are what I like most.

    One option worth exploring with the new Facebook groups is leaving them open. While that does expose the group to spam, it could solve the opt-in problem.

  7. Fiona Bosticky on October 18th, 2010 2:14 pm

    When I first heard about the possibility of being added to a Facebook group so easily, and without my direct subscription, I became very suspicious. I’m not so sure that Facebook is doing the right things with their NEW groups.

    I agree with you about the previous problem of engagement, but now it seems like it’s gone too far the other way.

    It will be interesting to see what happens next. Thanks for the analysis Larry :)

  8. Tom on October 23rd, 2010 8:37 pm

    Facebook is undergoing a lot of changes these days but some changes are upsetting a lot of members due to inconvenience and intrusion into privacy they are causing.

    It is about time Facebook stop being stupid or else it is risking a potential gradual take-over by other social network sites…who could just be in the corner waiting for the right time.

  9. Jon McCulloch on October 26th, 2010 9:34 am


    I think part of the problem is most people simply don’t have a clue about marketing in these forums (not that it SHOULD be difference from any other form of marketing, I hasten to add).

    Their idea of “social marketing” is, in effect, to stand there in the middle of the room jumping up and down yelling, “Buy something! Buy something!”.

    The true power of social marketing comes from the ability it gives us to develop those all-important relationships that eventually lead to business.

    But for many reasons, laziness included, they just don’t want to bother with this.


  10. Jackson Lo on October 26th, 2010 6:30 pm

    I would give a thumbs up to Facebook for it’s collaborative feature in the new Groups. I’ve only started fiddling around with the settings and features, and so far it is quite simple to use. Not only that, but I find that uploading a photo is real quick, and updates will be posted onto your News Feeds (whether public or private) and you can turn off your email notification if that gets annoying. I also agree that Facebook needs to up their privacy settings, whether it is to have an approval process before it announces in other people’s feeds that someone had join a group (and they are oblivious of this until they log into Facebook or checks their email). They could be added to a group that didn’t want any association to, what will you do then? How well will this new Groups application work out? Who knows, but I think we can all use this to organize small groups to share thoughts, ideas, files and what not.

  11. Larry Brauner on October 26th, 2010 7:53 pm

    Good assessment, Jackson.

  12. New Facebook Group – Uncontrolled? | Jackson Lo on October 26th, 2010 7:58 pm

    […] can easily get bombarded by a pile of unread notifications from the new Groups. But all this talk about SPAM can be fixed with a minor tweak in your Groups […]

  13. Mark on December 7th, 2010 11:43 pm

    Does anyone know if it is still possible to set up the group and have people join if they want? Also, is it possible to still create an ‘old’ group, or to convert an existing ‘old’ group into a ‘new’ group?

  14. Larry Brauner on December 8th, 2010 12:13 am

    Hi Mark,

    Can set up either old or new, but can’t convert one type group into the the other.

  15. Dani Nir-McGrath on February 27th, 2011 8:37 pm

    Larry, as you know, I started a new Facebook group The Blogging Mastermind Comment Tribe just 2 days ago. I’ve had a handful of people, approximately 5%, who’ve chosen to opt out of the group so far and roughly 30% of folks actively posting in the group! The topic and vision of the group may have a huge impact on the response of those who were automatically “opted in!” But I agree, for someone who perhaps is away for a day or a weekend, to return to 100 new emails, is not going to be a happy camper!


  16. New Facebook Groups for Better or Worse | Online Social Networking on May 8th, 2011 9:04 pm

    […] Along came new Facebook groups, and I quickly seized the opportunity to try them out. Before long, I wrote about my experience with the new groups in New Facebook Groups Wreak Havoc: […]

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