Should you use Facebook to run your community? Here are some of my personal pros & cons for using it, taken from my experience over the last few years:
The GOOD things:
- Access – Many prospective members already have Facebook accounts, so getting them onto your community should be less effort than a separate platform. Member acquisition can be the biggest challenge a new community has, so using Facebook’s member foundation can be a great help.
- Sharing media – The platform has evolved into the perfect sharing machine, so uploading stuff and circulating it is easy to do. It’s a quick way for advocates to spread your content fast and for you to get the right messages out there – on a platform that your members will likely be on regularly for social purposes anyway.
- Commercial investment – Using Facebook Groups often has a lower cost than paying for a (and maintaining) a standalone platform’s license & ongoing development.
- History and content exploration – FB Groups do not provide members with easy access to previous activity, nor does it allow admins to effectively categorise and sort through historical content, for members to access later. This means that amazing interactions and posts can get lost in time, which is a real shame.
- Focus of discussion & purpose – Linked to the above challenge, the ‘feed’ nature of the Facebook platform means that interactions tend to be shorter and lighter-touch (even in closed Groups based on very serious subjects). There is still a member-led impression that info on Facebook is shareable and accessible, so members are often more guarded than on forum-based communities. Accounts are also linked to people directly, as opposed to on forums, where there are more options to be anonymous.
- Global platform changes – Facebook can change the way its platform works any time it likes and as a brand, it likes to innovate constantly. This can lead to features coming, going or changing over time. This can be a challenge for CMs, especially when a certain feature or process that had been working well changes and no longer serves the same purpose.