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Can Facebook Groups be an intranet option for smaller organizations?


When Facebook Groups was unveiled last year, I was skeptical. Facebook tinkers with its platform so much (to its credit) that I sometimes just tune out. Professionally, I need to know about these changes. And, more importantly, I need to know how they impact my clients. But, this one just didn’t do much for me.

Until I started revisiting the tool recently.

I started by creating a secret group for a collection of individuals and colleagues I’m looking forward to brainstorming with in the next few months. I started to learn more about Groups. And more about the capabilities and potential it had for brands.

One use that jumped out at me for smaller organizations: Using Facebook Groups as an organizational intranet.

Let me explain.

Smaller organizations (non-profits even) don’t typically have the resources necessary to buy an off-the-shelf intranet product. And, they certainly don’t have the staff resources to manage a more complex intranet that would include programming, content creation and editing and community management.

No, these organizations are short on staff the budget in most cases.

Enter Facebook Groups.

Why does Facebook Groups make sense as an intranet option for these smaller organizations?

* Critical mass. With 550 million users and counting, chances are your staff is already using Facebook recreationally. So, there shouldn’t be many gaps or folks saying “I’m not on Facebook” anymore.

* Familiarity. Since so many people use the tool on a regular basis, you shouldn’t have to train folks on features and functionality. They’re already there.

* Just enough functionality. In most cases, these small organizations don’t need a full-feature intranet. They just need the basics. And, in some instances, they need a way for staff to collaborate and work together from geographically disperse environments.

So, how would staff use Facebook Groups as an intranet? I think there are a few key pieces of functionality that would prove extremely useful:

Real-time collaboration. Don’t just chat one-on-one–chat in a group setting with all members of the group that are online at any given time using the Facebook chat feature. This one has serious implications. Potential uses: Virtual group meetings, scheduled 10-minute team brainstorming sessions and a great back-channel during group conference calls.

* Seamless photo sharing. Again, familiarity wins here. Chances are your employees have already uploaded pics to the largest photo sharing site on the Web. So, we know they know how to do it, which is usually half the battle with intranet-type products.

* Group write/edit docs on the fly. Sure, it’s no Google Docs–not by a long shot–but it does have basic document sharing and editing functionality. Again, it’s enough for most smaller organizations. This would be perfect for team projects. And, would free up email for more important notes and discussions–instead of sending documents back and forth with changes and edits.

What do you think? Is Facebook Groups a viable intranet option for smaller organizations? I’d love your two cents.



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