The recent announcement of Facebook Groups was met with a usual volley of user concerns. But of course that is becoming standard on every major (and sometimes even minor changes) that Facebook does. The Internet conversation has centered on the fact that any group member can add any friend to an ‘open’ group. So instead of the usual “opt-in” etiquette, the newly added member will be need to “opt-out” if they don’t want to participate. Surely, both sides of the debate have points to make here.

What Does it Mean to Facebook & the Business User?

However, what I want to focus on in this post is the ability to create “private” and “secret” Facebook groups. While this may be used in personal relationship settings to have in-private conversations with friends and family- it opens up a whole new vista for using Facebook as a business social platform. And this goes much beyond the already existing capability of fan pages.

Imagine being able to get together an industry group, an association or even colleagues at work in a private group. This is now your compartmentalized section of Facebook dedicated to your professional life that can gain from all the other functionality – News feeds, photos, status updates, likes and so on. This would aid both social curation and filtering. For example, how many of us have gone to a tradeshow or conference and then shared pictures with the team via Flickr and the like? With Facebook this interaction platform is already there – but the compartmentalization was missing. Not anymore!

Watch out Linkedin…Here Comes Facebook Groups

We do believe that Facebook groups will be a business social game changer. For other implications please read a great post from David Card at Gigaom. It will be interesting to see how Linkedin reacts to this with their recent focus on making their Groups capability more engaging and interactive. If users can switch between the personal and professional context with clear lines of demarcation (via groups) within the same overall experience – will they prefer to spend more time on Facebook to Linkedin’s detriment? Of course, this is to be viewed in the context of business social engagement outside the area of typical ‘enterprise 2.0′ apps – since these need much more functionality on security and admin than what Facebook Groups deliver.

At Groofer, We Like It!

For us, we see this development as very positive to Groofer. With Facebook’s open social graph approach, Groofer’s aggregation and filtering technology can get more exposure to business users. And as long as LinkedIn dithers on publishing its Groups API the innovation curve will tilt towards Facebook. Is Linkedin listening?

- Ronnie

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