For a long time now, Facebook and LinkedIn have been used by companies and organizations as platforms to connect with colleagues and peers, build communities, organize events, and share knowledge. There are four great reasons why they’ve become popular organizational tools, but oftentimes these are the exact same reasons why they make terrible platforms for online community building and management.
1. They are great for networking… But terrible for creating actual connections.
Because these platforms are so widespread in their adoption and usage, they have become standard digital tools for professional connectivity and networking. When you meet someone at a conference, event, or even at work — it’s easy to find and connect (and stay connected!) with them via Facebook and LinkedIn.
But because we can connect so quickly on social media platforms, we often end up with vast networks of disjointed acquaintances who we often can’t even remember meeting in the first place. Organizational or professional relationships on Facebook and LinkedIn can consequently become very diluted.
The reason for the recent surge in popularity of online community software such as Open Social is that they are purpose-built to create cohesively and involved online connections within (oftentimes large international) communities. These platforms are usually structured in such a way as to encourage collaboration, conversation, and engagement between users — rather than simply encouraging you to add more followers or ‘friends’.
2. They are great for creating groups… But terrible for creating communities.
Perhaps the most useful community tool on Facebook is the Groups feature where like-minded users can congregate, connect, and share information. These can be public, private, or even hidden Groups. Mark Zuckerberg himself realize the importance of such groups for online communities when he announced in 2019 that Groups should move to the “heart of the experience” at Facebook.
LinkedIn Groups are, likewise, a “place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share their insights and experiences, ask for guidance, and build valuable connections”.
The problem with Facebook and LinkedIn groups are, however, that they are essentially still part of the public platform owned by these companies. This means that as committed or cohesive as a Facebook Group’s users might be — they are still inadvertently part of the larger Facebook ecosystem. It is no wonder that groups are often spammed with posts from other pages, newsfeeds, and public users.
For an online community to really flourish, they need to feel like the platform they are using is theirs. Not only in terms of ‘look and feel’ or branding but also in terms of how it functions and who controls it! This is a core reason why organizations and companies choose services such as Open Social to provide them with unique, intimate, and oftentimes custom-built online community platforms.
3. They are great for building membership… But terrible for driving community goals.
Facebook and LinkedIn are built on a business model that relies on increasing the volume of users. Therefore, it offers organizations the ability to reach, engage, and connect with a vast public audience. If your organization is interested in engaging the public as much as possible, these platforms offer them the perfect solution.
If your organization is interested in creating a goal-driven community that can accomplish an organizational mission — then Facebook and LinkedIn might not be a smart pick. These platforms are built on a model that promotes superficial engagement — clicking on ‘likes’ and ‘shares’, instead of deep and meaningful engagement that can drive action.
Open Social has built specific tools for organizations that want to drive goals or inspire action through internal community engagement. This includes the Discussions board where members can collaborate on a topic related to the organization’s mission. It also includes the Crowd Innovation extension that gives community members a platform to develop, promote, and collaborate on innovative ideas, driven by community engagement.
4. They are great because they are free… But terrible because they offer no control or privacy.
The biggest draw, by far, of social media platforms is that they are free. Organizations can simply create a group page and use it to manage or build a community. No commitment, resource allocation, or spending is required.
But as the old adage goes: if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product. These platforms are free to use because they largely rely on selling user data to third-party companies for marketing purposes, and bombarding users with their own targeted advertising.
If your organization is interested in a community platform that is trustworthy, and that can foster the trust of its members, then you cannot use ‘free’ solutions such as Facebook or LinkedIn. Rather, you should invest in an online community solution that can ensure data privacy and protection for your users.
With the advent of an actual purpose-built organizational social intranet and online community software, it’s finally time to shake the bad habit of using Facebook and LinkedIn for everything!
What is Facebook Workplace and is it any different?
While many organizations use Facebook’s public platform as an organizational tool, Facebook recently launched a new purpose-built organizational platform called Facebook Workplace.
But what useful features does Facebook Workplace offer, how does it work, and more importantly: how does it compare to a purpose-built community software solution such as Open Social?
To find an answer to these questions, you can click on the button below and download our recently published Facebook Workplace vs Open Social 70 Points Comparison Guide: