Larry BraunerIn October 2010, I wrote New Facebook Groups Wreak Havoc. The “new” Facebook groups were brand new, and they were ruffling quite a few feathers. People added their friends en masse causing them to receive unwanted notification emails. You can imagine the chaos.

Facebook Tones Down Group Notifications

FacebookFortunately, Facebook replaced email notifications by onsite notifications as the default, and that greatly decreased the sting of being added to a group without having to opt-in.

Over time, Facebook members came to expect that they would be added involuntarily to groups and adjusted accordingly.

Facebook Onsite Notification


I belong to scores of groups, and most of them I’ve been added to without my request. If I don’t like a group, I leave it. Sometimes, I adjust my group notification settings  based both on my interest level and the quantity of posts and comments.

Helping Your Favorite Facebook Groups Thrive

The success of a Facebook group depends upon adding new members, just as much as it depends upon member engagement and the quality of posts and content.

Add Facebook Friends to Group


If you like a Facebook group, participate, contribute relevant posts and comments, and add friends to that group whom you think might be interested. Let each person choose whether to leave or to remain in the group.

My Favorite Facebook Groups

Two of my favorite Facebook groups are:

  1. Watch Enthusiasts - Discuss watches and share information about your favorite models, brands and events with fellow members. Good group for learning and seeing what’s out there. (Sponsored by high-end watchmaker, watch distributor and online publisher, Gevril Group.)
  2. Larry Brauner - Is any explanation required? ;-)

What Are Your Favorite Facebook Groups?

Respond in a comment with a link to your favorite Facebook group and a description of the group.  Also, please don’t forget to subscribe to Online Social Networking and to “like” me on Facebook.

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Larry BraunerAll media have the tendency to become over-saturated with intrusive commercial messages. There are too many television and radio ads, too much junk email and snail mail, too many billboards, and yes, too many Facebook notifications. When overload occurs, messages are perceived as noise, and people filter them or tune them out.

The most common reaction of marketers is to raise the volume in one way or another. Marketers send more messages or create snazzier headlines. Raising the volume can help, but only for a short time. On Facebook, when the noise gets too loud, the top social networking site acts to tone it down or turn it off. Behavior that was once unrestricted becomes restricted.

As examples, we used to blanket our friends with invitations to Facebook events, but now Facebook forces us to be selective. We used to add friends haphazardly if we wished, but now Facebook deters us from adding people we don’t know. Raising the volume on Facebook isn’t a satisfactory option.

Inviting to Facebook Events

FacebookIn response to Facebook Page Events Rock,  readers asked for a Facebook page event how-to. I’m not ready to write a comprehensive guide. However, I offer you here ten tips for successfully inviting people to your Facebook events:

  1. Create a Facebook event that people in your niche will naturally desire to attend. Provide a clear explanation and instructions.
  2. Line up influential supporters to help you promote the event.
  3. Give yourself enough lead time before the event to invite people and clear up unforeseen problems that arise in the process.
  4. If you plan to invite your Facebook friends, categorize your friends beforehand using Facebook friend lists.
  5. Only invite friends from relevant lists. Be prepared, in any case, for a disappointing number of responses. Not only are people overloaded with event and other types of notifications, many are also confused by Facebook and don’t get that they should read all the particulars and click on I’m Attending if they wish to RSVP.
  6. Post the event or an article that you write about it on your business page, your personal profile and in Facebook groups catering to your niche.
  7. Post your Facebook event related links several times during the period before your event and even during your event. Just don’t overdo it and become obnoxious.
  8. Promote your event on your blog and on social media sites such as Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  9. If you have an email list, send one or more messages to your list inviting contacts to join you at the event. I like to use Green Wave Email Marketing, because they allow me to directly upload my contacts without requiring them to re-opt in.
  10. Last, but not least, send individual messages personally inviting Facebook friends to attend. No only does this work if done right, it can help build relationships.

The key isn’t raising the volume. The key is better targeting and better diversifying your contact methods.

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Comments are welcome. :-)

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Larry BraunerLast week, in Whether Hackers from Anonymous Bring Down Facebook on November 5 as Threatened or Not, I suggested that you find ways to reduce your risk of loss should Facebook go away.

I asked you, “How can you protect your interests by diverting or diversifying your networking and marketing efforts starting right now?”

Some readers recommended that we back up our data, but I pointed out that we can not back up our relationships like pictures or profiles.

Sal made a couple of very good points:
Facebook

  1. “I think there is no real way to mitigate completely against the damage that losing Facebook would mean, any more than you could mitigate against losing Google.”
  2.  ”On the Internet, you always have to see it coming and mitigate against it by having as many, diverse, independent sources of prospective customers as possible.”

While I agree completely with Sal’s remarks, I ask, how can we at least partially mitigate against the damage? What practical measures we can take?

Just as an example, we might start groups on LinkedIn and invite fellow Facebook group members to join these groups. Unfortunately, LinkedIn groups don’t have the same functionality as Facebook groups, and not all of our fellow Facebook group members will join us on LinkedIn, but this is nevertheless a practical partial solution.

We might instead choose a Ning social network or a Ning group within a particular Ning social network, etc. You get the idea.

Now it’s your turn again. What are your ideas? I would like to hear them, and I’ll share mine.

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Larry BraunerI stated in How to Benefit from the New Facebook Groups that “you don’t need to lead a group in order to benefit from it.” In other words, there is value in joining other people’s Facebook groups. That value can be enormous, as I’ll explain.

Facebook Group Members Become Followers

FacebookEvery new Facebook group has members who follow that group and all of its conversations by means of the Facebook notification system. Not every member will monitor or engage in discussions, but some will. Therefore, each time you become a member of one of the new Facebook groups, you acquire potential new followers.

For each subject that interests you, join as many relevant new Facebook groups as you can find using the Facebook search function. Once you’ve joined the group and can browse its discussions, if you find that they’re in a language you don’t understand, or that the group is overrun by spammers, leave the group.

Examine the list of new Facebook groups to which I belong. You’ll find that they fall into a many categories, and that most categories contain more than one group. I suggest that you follow a similar approach, and if you wish to join some of the same groups as I, don’t hesitate.

Here are three very important points:

  1. Don’t use the new Facebook groups merely to push out your own content, since that’s spam. Group members will see through your approach and ignore you. Not only that, the group moderator might even reprimand you or expel you from the group.
  2. Share content with each Facebook group that’s relevant to that group. Group members will appreciate you, enjoy your participation and become genuine followers.
  3. Don’t just post. “Like” other people’s posts too and comment on them when appropriate.

As I browse the web, I keep my eyes open for content worth sharing. I then share it in a variety of places including the relevant  new Facebook groups to which I belong. When the time comes to share my own content, I follow the exact same procedure, but because I’ve played fair, my posts aren’t viewed at all as spam. Consequently, I receive lots of traffic from Facebook and other social websites.

Go now and acquire some Facebook followers. The relationships you build in the new Facebook groups can easily grow into meaningful social or business friendships.

Before you go, however, please do subscribe and leave a comment. ;-)

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Larry BraunerIn New Facebook Groups for Better or Worse, I shared my reservations about the new Facebook groups and their potential to annoy Facebook users.

However, after ample testing and observation, I’m no longer worried about negative effects and have come to view the new Facebook groups as a viable business networking and content syndication tool.

The  on-site and email notifications generated by the new Facebook groups can become irritating, but it’s from these in-your-face notifications that the new groups derive their power. They tend to stimulate member activity. On the other hand, the notifications from the old groups had come to be viewed as total spam and were no longer the least bit effective.

Customize Your New Facebook Group Notifications

FacebookThe customizable settings of the new Facebook groups help regulate the volume of notifications, add once you learn how to manage them, the new Facebook groups become beneficial and enjoyable.

New Facebook groups provide four notification settings that you can adjust:

  1. Notify me when - “A member posts or comments” or “a member posts” are good settings for your favorite Facebook groups or groups you moderate. For other groups, you should choose “a friend posts” or “only posts I am subscribed to.” (I myself prefer the latter option, “only posts I am subscribed to.”)
  2. Also send an email to - Unless you’re off Facebook a lot, you probably should uncheck this box.
  3. Show this group in home navigation - This setting isn’t as critical as the others, since it doesn’t affect notifications. I myself set my favorite Facebook groups to “Always” and the rest of the groups to “Never.”  
  4. Send me group chat messages - Unless you enjoy group chatting or you moderate that group, you should uncheck this box.

You Need Not Start Your Own Facebook Groups

Starting your own Facebook groups affords you some control but less than you might think. True, you make up the group rules, and while you can remove any member you wish, nobody can remove you. Nevertheless, abuse your group by spamming or otherwise, and your members will ignore your group or quit entirely.

For this reason, control of your Facebook group is illusory. Groups can be led but not controlled, and you don’t need to own or moderate a group in order to lead it. Furthermore, you don’t need to lead a group in order to benefit from it and enjoy it.

Why Start New Facebook Groups of Your Own

Here are a few valid reasons for starting your own Facebook groups:

  • Necessity - You’re unable to find any new Facebook groups that fit your particular niche.
  • Collaboration - You want to collaborate on a project with your Facebook friends or associates.
  • Segmentation - Your Facebook friends share diverse interests with you. Segmenting your friends using groups will let you explore special interests together.
  • Promotion - New Facebook groups can be used judiciously to supplement Facebook fan pages.

When you start a new Facebook group, keep the best interests of your membership in mind. Reciprocity makes the networking world go around. Be prepared to give, not just to get.

Please subscribe and like my Facebook page.

Comments are welcome — of course. :-)

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Larry BraunerThere are the old Facebook groups, and there are also the new Facebook groups that will very soon supersede the old.

I wrote several articles last summer about the old Facebook groups:

Since the content of old Facebook groups is not syndicated to news feeds, members only become aware of new content through an intrusive group broadcast or by randomly visiting the group.  Unfortunately, I became increasingly disenchanted with old Facebook groups because of too little engagement and interactivity.

New Facebook Groups Wreak Havoc

FacebookAlong 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:

“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.”

With the new Facebook groups, the pendulum had swung in the opposite direction. The potential for unwanted notifications and spam alarmed me. Facebook had created a virtual monster.

New Facebook Groups Superseding the Old

Perhaps the havoc has subsided or there was less of it than I imagined, for Facebook has decided to phase out the old Facebook groups and to phase in the new. They’ve done a little tweaking to the groups but not much. All I can advise, therefore, is to use the new Facebook groups with caution. I hope Facebook’s initiative will be successful.

Check out Facebook Groups – a complete Guide. If used effectively, the new Facebook groups can be a great tool for networking and collaboration. I plan to use the new form of groups primarily for business networking.

My New Facebook Groups

I invite you to join me in any of my new Facebook groups that interest you. Simply join a group and wait for your membership to be approved. These are my seven new Facebook groups:

  1. Larry Brauner (My Personal Group)
  2. Fabulous Baby Boomers
  3. Social Media Enthusiasts
  4. Enterprising Business Leaders
  5. Rockland County, New York
  6. Watch Enthusiasts
  7. Stumblers (StumbleUpon Group)

Want to invite readers to join your new Facebook groups? The floor is now yours. Go ahead and leave a comment. :-)

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Larry Brauner3 Key Social Media and Web Marketing Strategies for 2011 discussed the decline of open networking on Facebook, the revival of Ning networks and the continued relevance of websites and SEO in building your web presence.

Here are several more social media marketing ideas for the new year that can be especially helpful for small business marketers and entrepreneurs.

Bigger Long-Term SEO Objectives

GoogleOne of the most serious social media and web marketing mistakes I’ve ever made was choosing Online Social Networking as the name of this blog.

I considered naming my blog Social Networking Sites but decided not to, because social networking sites seemed too competitive a keyword phrase for the newbie that I was. Online social networking is searched for 12K times monthly compared to 250K for social networking sites. 12K per month seemed like more than enough traffic to me at that time.

Online social networking was a “reasonable” keyword term. Since it was much less popular than the often searched-for term social networking sites, I hoped to rank for it relatively quickly. However, in the long run, I believe that social networking sites would’ve brought me both greater and more profitable traffic.

My blog probably wouldn’t have yet hit the #1 spot in the search engines for the search term social networking sites as it has already for online social networking, but it would’ve ranked much higher for social networking sites than the present #32 and might have still placed close to the top for online social networking.

I should have considered long term potential and selected more ambitious keywords, just as I have for Gevril, for whom I’ve chosen tough keyword phrases, such as luxury watches and mens watches.

In month one, Gevril Group received 150 search visits. I’ll let you know what happens in month two.

Ning Network Groups

Ning Social NetworksNing groups function like Facebook groups with a few welcome exceptions:

  • Your potential emailing list is unlimited. You can broadcast to Ning group members even after their count exceeds 5,000.
  • The content of your Ning group can be indexed by Google and other search engines, and the greater your group membership, the greater your authority with the search engines will tend to be.
  • Group activity is displayed in your Ning network’s activity feed and transmitted to Ning group members who elect to follow you.

I’m ready and able to assist any group owner on my new Small Business Network who’s dedicated to building a large and influential Ning group, and the group need not necessarily be business-oriented.

Connecting One-to-One

SkypeYour personal network will be strong and prosper if you focus on networking one-to-one. Speak on the phone or over Skype even one time to each person, and you’ll surely build solid online relationships.

If you’re growing a Facebook page, a Ning group or a Twitter account, individually adding one-to-one connections can amount to a large number over time — and perhaps these connections will even help you make many more.

Hope you’ll find these social media and web marketing strategies useful.

Wishing you a successful year. :-)

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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?

Please “like” my Facebook page and subscribe to my blog. :)

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Larry BraunerThe main problem with Facebook groups is a problem that all online networking sites and offline networking groups face, insufficient engagement.

People find it easy to join a networking group but difficult to show up or to participate online or in meetings.

Facebook Groups Especially Problematic

FacebookOne very serious limitation of Facebook groups is that posted content doesn’t appear in members’ news feeds.

This limitation doesn’t apply to Facebook pages and profiles. However, positioning and visibility of Facebook page and profile content on users’ news feeds is subject to Facebook EdgeRank.

Since content doesn’t appear in members’ news feeds, group members can only learn of new content or read that content if they happen to visit the group’s page.

Partial Solution to Facebook Groups Problem

Fortunately, this problem is partially offset by an important feature of Facebook groups. Moderators can send newsletters to group members that are delivered directly to their Facebook inboxes. Group newsletters can inform and help to increase participation.

Too many group creators use their group’s newsletters to spam members. Spamming members makes newsletters ineffective and kills any chance of getting members to participate. My advice is to keep members’ interests in mind when you mail them, not just your own.

Please don’t forget, you can broadcast newsletters directly to your members’ inboxes provided you don’t have 5,000 members or more, so limit the size of your membership.

That’s all I have to say about the problem with Facebook groups until you leave a comment. ;-)

And if you’re new, please take a few seconds to subscribe.

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Larry BraunerI recently discussed Facebook Groups as Alternatives to Ning Sites from a group creator’s vantage point. Here I look at ways you can get the most out of your Facebook Groups from a general member’s point of view.

Facebook groups are great for meeting new people and sharing your ideas and content. Facebook groups can also help you brand yourself if you use them right.

Facebook

Following are 10 tips for maximizing your Facebook groups participation:

  1. Join Facebook groups with the intention of gaining the maximum possible benefit from each group. Do not just click “Join” merely to display interest in a subject or cause.
  2. Be prepared to give at least as much to the group as you receive, and in the end you’ll probably receive more than you gave.
  3. Abide by each group’s preferences. Look to see whether discussion is taking place on a group’s Wall or on its Discussion Tab.
  4. Visit your Facebook groups frequently, as your groups’ updates don’t appear in your news feed and may have insufficient EdgeRank to be appear if and when Facebook allows group content to show up in news feeds.
  5. Comment on your groups’ updates and join the conversation. You may disagree with another member’s content or opinion, but please, exercise restraint and comment with respect for that person and the group. Sometimes it may be better to send a private message rather than discuss a delicate or personal matter in public.
  6. Add new content to your Facebook groups that will interest other members and stimulate conversation. Include your personal take on the content.
  7. Post your own content if it’s relevant, but don’t post your content exclusively, and be very careful not to spam the group.
  8. Invite your friends to join the Facebook groups you belong to. Use your Wall, a group’s “Invite People to Join” link or private messages. However, only extend appropriate direct invitations. I’ve been extra careful when inviting people to join the Fabulous Baby Boomers Facebook group, because I don’t want to insult them in case they’re too young to be boomers.
  9. Invite group members to be Facebook friends if and when it seems like a good idea. In the invite message, remind them how you know them.
  10. Expect to receive bulletins from your Facebook groups. If your groups hold a Facebook Event or even an off-site event, do your best to participate.

These are Facebook groups I’ve created:

  • Fabulous Baby Boomers - I’m a Baby Boomer. I admit it. This Facebook group is recommended for people who were born between 1943 and 1964 — or who wish they had been. Join us for a good mixture of fun and business.
  • Enterprising Business Leaders - This Facebook group is for entrepreneurs and business leaders from all business sectors including not-for-profit.
  • Social Media Enthusiasts - This Facebook group is for social media evangelists and enthusiasts at all levels of experience and skill.

Once again, if you have or will have a Facebook group, tell us about it in a comment below. You can also share whatever else you desire. ;-)

Oh, and before I forget, my new blog, Optimize Your Web Presence, is already up and running. :-D

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