by December 13, 2010 0 comments

Among a load of other things, both Facebook and LinkedIn offer you the facility to setup your own groups or join existing ones, and allow like-minded people to join in and share ideas, interact, and do business. But each type of group has its own features and functionality, which is closely linked to the way both social networking platforms came up. Let’s look at each and see which one can be useful for your business.

LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn has been built ground-up for business users, and therefore its look and feel clearly reflects that. Moreover, because of this, most people who’re on LinkedIn are also professionals, you get a very focused audience if you create a group there. Moreover, you see everyone’s designation and company name, giving you an exact idea of the people you’d like to deal with professionally. This is exactly the opposite of Facebook, where you get to see every member’s birthday, likes and interests, etc.

In LinkedIn, you could join an existing group or setup one of your own. What’s good here is that existing groups have been very well categorized groups directory. This can be searched based on type and language. So let’s say you’re from a FMCG company and are looking at expanding your network to connect with retailers, suppliers, etc, then you could search on LinkedIn for a similar group and join the same. You can see how many members does each group have and choose the one that appeals to you the most. On the other side, you can setup your own group and invite others to join in.

You need to be registered with LinkedIn to create or join a group. Once you’re in a group, you can have discussions, see other members and connect with them, promote your products and services, or even put up job postings or look at other’s job postings. The discussions board on LinkedIn is pretty useful. Not only can you start a discussion or comment on other people’s discussions, you can choose to receive emails of all discussions happening on your group. In these emails you can choose to comment on the discussions, say whether you like it or not, or stop following it altogether. You can choose to receive weekly updates on everything that’s happened on the group, along with the most active discussions. The group doesn’t yet offer live chat, which is available on Facebook. Nor can members send and receive files, share photos, or videos with other group members. They can however, send each other emails. If you’re the overall admin, you can send a mail to everyone on the group. So, the good thing about Linked In groups is that you know whom you’re interacting with professionally, making it easier for you to judge how it would help your business.

Facebook Groups

Facebook itself started off as a social networking site where you can find your friends and classmates, and interact with them in a casual and informal manner just as you would when you meet them face to face. The functionality, look and feel of Facebook groups is therefore also the same. Since just about everyone is on Facebook, it’s a great place to reach out to the masses. So if your organization deals in products or services for the masses, you can setup a group where you provide useful information to them and get their feedback.

You first have to sign up with Facebook before you can start any groups. Once signed up, you can create a group and invite all your friends, classmates, and coworkers that are already on your network to join in. Post that, you get all the features and functionality of Facebook. There are the usual tabs for Wall, Info, Discussions, Photos, Video, Events, etc. Any activity that happens in this group is reflected on the Wall. The information tab is meant to put more information about the group, its purpose, a link to a website if any, etc. There’s a discussion board where you could start a discussion and others can post replies on the same. You could upload interesting photos and videos, and announce important events. Organizations can setup their own groups and invite others to join. Later on also, they could keep it strictly closed wherein entry is by invitation only, or allow others to place a request for joining the group. Even the group members can send invitations to their friends and colleagues to join.

Users can send and receive updates using the group email address, just like a mailing list. You can assign a group admin for your group to control its privacy settings, wherein only members can add friends to the group. Facebook is also about to release a mobile interface and an Open Graph API for Groups, which is bound to increase the accessibility of groups over mobile as well.

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