Facebook rolled out a few unpredicted changes this week with an eye of getting users to communicate with friends in new ways.

Probably the most important announcement was the Facebook groups function. (Not to be confused with the ability to create public Groups on Facebook.) Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated in the announcement that groups are going to create a fundamental shift in how people use Facebook.

The way groups works is that you now can go through your list of friends and group them – family, work, fantasy football, clients, etc. The reason I think this has some potential for business is that you can then communicate in unique ways only with group members. You can communicate via email, chat and even post documents to the group privately.

Here are some initial ways I see business putting groups to work.

  • If you want to promote your after hours work seminar, you can pinpoint your customer related contacts group and make sure that only they see the invite (and here’s the big deal) via email. (Of course anyone can opt out of a group and I’m sure we’ll see a rise in spammish uses, but I think this could become significant for business.)
  • You will see companies create private, customer only groups, and use the platform as a way to share information with this group.
  • There’s also a group chat function that could make for some interesting business use as well. I think hosting live chats with your groups on Facebook might prove an effective way to create more engagement on the platform.
  • This tool will also surely be used by companies as a way to privately share information internally.

Here’s how you create a group

1) Go to groups page and create a group (This function is being rolled out to profile pages so you will be able to create one there as well)
2) Name your group and assign it an email address (grab them now as they email names are first come first serve) – after you set up group hit Edit Group to select an email.
3) Select your privacy settings – you probably want to keep what goes on in the group private but do know that any of your friends will be able to see who is in a group

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Tony Colan

    And with Skype and Facebook partnering, phone call communication could be facilitated as well. Facebook could mine these calls for data if they are recorded and learn a great deal.

  • I love the customer centric live chat recommendation… I can see immediate implications within my organization for that. Thanks for the great piece, just created 2 new groups!

  • I agree, I see some great potential in this groups feature, plus it solves the biggest of my privacy concerns regarding the use of Facebook. Good move indeed.

  • heres why it wont work for business. because i still have to have to friend all my business contacts and when i make a regular post to fb, they will all get it. how many ppl want ALL their co-workers, customers, partners etc. as their friends on fb?

    • People may not adopt this, but my guess is that more work on privacy settings is coming and the entire point you’re concerned with could go away.

  • randyschrum

    John – thanks for the insight on how this can be used. Definitely a positive move for businesses using facebook.

  • LasVegasIntern

    I really enjoyed the press event yesterday and as a newly placed social media consultant at http://www.pricefalls.com I am extremely excited about the new groups function. This new function will allow businesses the ability to directly contact with its consumers if it wants too.

  • carlsmith

    It’s going to be interesting to see how this works for businesses. For our business we don’t use Facebook much at all because so many of our “friends” are following us on Twitter as well. When we’ve tested both Twitter always provided more engagement. I think this is because it’s open and the ability to retweet messages to people outside the group. If, like you suggest, it becomes a more closed system for chatting and sharing that may finally make me consider a business presence on Facebook. Until now it didn’t make sense for us. I wonder if getting a second wave of businesses to sign up is part of the strategy of rolling our this functionality?

  • Many online business are already using facebook groups to promote and extend their business. That sounds similar to other social medias like google buzz and yahoo buzz.

  • Ysommer2

    I like the idea of groups. Before, I didn’t use to add business contacts to my Facebook as I didnt want to share all my personal information/updates with them. By using groups, I can separate between my business updates/shared info and my personal one.

  • Thank you for pointing out the business use of this feature, as my brain immediately went to the personal use benefits (separation of high school and life since high school, for instance).

  • The business use of this feature is very interesting. I think eventually it will catch on once people become accustomed to using the groups. Tara from OPPapers.com

  • Thanks, John! Your summary is greatly appreciated. Facebook is the most powerful tool we have found for CityCraft – the live chat feature of Groups is particularly interesting for us considering how much our CityCrafters enjoy meeting one another to share interesting projects ideas or tips and techniques.

    In fact, I see the chat ability as one of the Groups features with the most potential for businesses. Once customers start to identify themselves as a “member” of your business or part of the club (and all of the social benefits that of “club” membership), it further increases their brand loyalty.


    Callie Works-Leary

  • This is great if you have to send out invitations to all your friends. Rahter than picking them one by one, just choose the group they belong to.

  • so should a business now set up a Page, Profile, or Group?
    I like the group chat feature alot, we use it alot in the Facebook Tips group:

    • Page and profile for sure and then groups within you friends. The original Group function is still a valid tool if you want to maintain an interest group that is not purely a marketing tool

  • I like the new functionality for facebook groups, this is both an excellent marketing tools to market to different demographics and to keep all your contacts more organised.

  • Very nice to made your specific goals, It would be helpful in diversifying objects of your coupons and discounts. We can very easily communicate with our friends and families on different platforms.

  • Finally! This is what I’ve been waiting for. NOW I can look at using FB for business. Prior to this it was just too scary, mixing business with personal. Thank you thank you thank you for telling me about this.