At yesterday's event, we witnessed Facebook's coming of age: a kicking off of the training wheels and the clearest indication yet of how it intends to expand in the future.
Most important, this was the first major announcement by Facebook in which user empowerment was the lead and not buried at the end of the story. Clearly, Facebook's future is about user control, user privacy and user empowerment. Users can now download all of their data in a secure way and take it wherever they want. Facebook has parlayed its past mistakes around communicating user privacy into a massive strength, offering full empowerment to its users.
In addition, the company announced a new dashboard that will let users see how applications are accessing their data. This provides transparency for users and gives them control over the sharing of information with third-party applications.
While Facebook's future puts the user in control, don't think for a second that Facebook will back down from creating the most powerful social environment for users to connect with people and businesses they like. While there are many community and group products on the market, Facebook just killed many of them by making it easy to set up a public or private group where your friends and colleagues already hang out.
The new Groups feature is all about making it easy to set up a group to share information among a small set of people. The new features comes with the ability to tag friends – just like in the Photos product – and full email integration, which will make Facebook Groups the most powerful group communication tool on the internet.
So what does this mean for brands? Zuck said it best: "'For brands, we have Pages." He added, "Going forward, there is nothing stopping them [brands] from making a group," but, "Pages are much better for you to build a massive open ended community."
Nonetheless, Facebook Groups now provides companies and organizations with the ability to facilitate the sharing of information with groups of individuals both internally and externally. A few ideas come to mind about how to leverage Groups for your business:
- Empower employees to share information within your company by creating a private Group. Yammer, Chatter and other services are cute, but why sign them up to a new service your employees are already on Facebook and you can use the new Groups feature to do the same thing? Why take them elsewhere
- Create a private Group for your most avid customers. Empower your most loyal customers to meet each other, share information and talk about your business in a controlled setting. By doing so, companies can create a better sense of community and create a forum for idea sharing amongst customers that are most familiar with their brand.
- Create a private Group for your management team. Give your most senior employees the ability to communicate in real-time through a social collaboration environment that already exists
It is clear from today's announcement that Facebook has entered the next stage of its development. The foundation is there to build a massive business and it's now putting the pieces in place to scale over the long term.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR|
Michael Lazerow is CEO of Buddy Media, whose Facebook management system is used by global brands and agencies. He founded Golf.com and sold it to Time Inc., and U-Wire, which was sold to CBS. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/lazerow.