Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
September 3, 2007 7:55 AM

Podcast Canada Group And Facebook Faces Their Biggest Challenge

Yesterday, I posted episode #67 of Six Pixels Of Separation - The Twist Image Podcast. After my usual routine of sending the MP3 file over FTP and posting the show notes on the Twist Image Blog, I usually head over to Facebook and do a little extra Online Marketing by changing my Status and adding the link of the show to the Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast Society group. The Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast Society group now proudly boasts close to seven hundred and fifty members. There's been steady growth, but not that much action, which got me thinking that the charm of joining any Facebook Group is soon going to fade unless Facebook (and her users) start finding their groove.

This will be one of Facebook's bigger challenges. The online social network has critical mass, and I find the types of groups highly interesting and targeted to my interests. The problem is that few people are using them for anything other than having a listing of what they've joined on their personal profile. If this continues, it will be a shame.

I made a decision to start another group to test out some Facebook Marketing theories I have been thinking about surrounding Search Engine Optimization, Links, Affiliate Marketing and the Momentum Effect associated with online social networks. Even though I'm presently working the Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast Society, the Business And Motivational Book Review - Foreword Thinking group, and the Canadian Music Industry Alumni, I discovered that there was no Facebook Group for those interested in Podcasts created by Canadians.

Enter: Podcast Canada.

I started off by inviting one hundred people on my list who I thought would be interested in a group that is all about Podcasting and Canada. I kept the net wide - I wanted people from other parts of the world who like Canadian Podcasts and people who just listen to Podcasting who are Canadian_ you get the picture. I wanted to see how fast (especially on a Sunday of a long weekend) the wheels of Facebook spin. Within an hour of Podcast Canada launching, there were fifty people signed up. What intrigued me is that nearly one fifth of the people who joined were not people I had sent an initiation to. The Momentum Effect is alive and well.

Now the challenge: I started off by posting to the Wall. I even added some pictures from Podcasting meet-ups over the years. I used the Post A Link functionality to encourage others to add the link to their favourite shows (along with a description). I started a discussion thread on the best gear to use to record a Podcast. Basically, I did what most Group Admins don't do: I started to populate the page by putting content that should provoke others to create, add and share. To put it bluntly: I put lots of cheese into the mousetrap.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the community reacts. I'm looking forward to seeing how many people join, but - more importantly - I'm curious to see how many take advantage of this free publicity. How many treat the Podcast Canada Group as a real place to connect, share and network or, like most Facebook Groups, how many people just want it listed on their personal profile.

Facebook makes it so easy to start a group that nearly everyone does, and sometimes (errr.. most of the time) it's about total randomness or trying to get a rise out one's online social network. This is one of the things that makes Facebook so sticky, but I'm looking forward to seeing how these Groups help individuals truly grow their online social networks. I can see that most people who Admin a group are not sure how to create action (beyond the sign-up). I'm confident this will change and I'm hopeful that it will present another fascinating layer of data and user interest that will make us all better Marketers. It seems like Facebook has given us all the tools to engage a community, but the real juice and action you get from active message boards and the like just isn't there... yet.

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Mario Parise
    Mitch Joel

    I've been trying similar experiments. The first was to start a group called Marketers of Sudbury, which has almost no activity beyond myself and my friend and associate Mark. Then, when I started One Up Marketing (my new agency), I created two groups: Friends of One Up Marketing and Enemies of One Up Marketing, which caused some good initial buzz locally but has since become a ghost town beyond my own postings.

    If you have any success, I'll be following you like a hawk.

    Reply
  • Posted by Marcus Whitney
    Mitch Joel

    Hey Mitch,

    I've been spreading the message of my friend Baratunde Thurston who has been locked out from his Facebook group. http://tinyurl.com/27fwqs

    It has had a pretty serious effect on him and his ability to reach his fanbase, which includes me. I think there are dangers of relying too much on Facebook.

    Marcus

    Reply
  • Posted by Mitch Joel
    Mitch Joel

    Mario - I'm truly hoping that by posting and linking to others that I can build this and prove the model (so far) wrong. I'm not saying I can change the world, but maybe (as Steve Jobs once said), I can put a dent in it ;)

    Marcus - Christopher S. Penn of The Financial Aid Podcast and Marketing Over Coffee gave me a simple workaround for that problem: add others as Admins! You'll note that on all of my groups, I have - at least - 2-3 Admins. That way, if I get locked out... someone can get in!

    Reply
  • Posted by Marcus Whitney
    Mitch Joel

    That makes a lot of sense Mitch. I'll do that whenever I set one up. No denying it's a powerful tool, I just get a little miffed at the potential to be locked out without recourse. Thanks for replying! Cheers!

    Reply
  • Posted by Phil Barrett
    Mitch Joel

    The #1 problem with facebook groups is that updates are not part of your newsfeed - there is no call to action to send or remind people to go back to the group for new content.

    I'm subscribed to 30 groups - only about 4 have recent content.

    Solution? We need RSS feeds so that people know when to re-engage a group.

    It's ironic that the platform is so robust in driving you back to your own profile through email and SMS alerts - yet there is so much untapped potential in groups

    Reply
  • Posted by Kate Trgovac
    Mitch Joel

    Phil ... This is my main issue with Facebook groups. I want them to notify me when there is activity - I don't have time (or the desire, really) to check every Facebook group I belong to for activity. I second the call for RSS feeds!!

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    just to clarifty, my problem is not being "locked out" of access to the group but being prevented from sending messages to group members.

    none of the other group features are really meaningful for me. i have yet to see a group message board used by members of my own group or any of the 100 i belong to.

    video? eh?
    the wall? a little, but it creates confusion with the wall on my profile page.

    it's really the unexplained disabling of my ability to message people who've opted in to receive messages from me which has soured me on facebook and convinced me not to invest further for a while

    Reply
  • Posted by Mitch Joel
    Mitch Joel

    Phil - thanks for nailing it. Such an obvious component that is missing. Facebook has a lot of those "little things." I would also love to have the groups I Admin on my Profile page... so frustrating. Or how about an email alert when someone joins one of the groups I Admin?

    Baratunde - my understanding is that once you hit the 1000 member threshold, you can no longer message the group. That being said, if you add a news item to your group, it should fed trough to their News Feed... at least I hope ;)

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Good article, Mitch. I've done much of what you propose in Facebook groups I've set up for two of my clients (ratsdeville and Canada's Telecommunications Hall of Fame). It seems to me that it's essential to have an existing network of like-minded 'friends' with in order to make Groups grow. Setting up a Group in a vacuum leads to spam warnings from Facebook admins when one tries to promote one's group to strangers with similar interests. My ratsdeville experiment worked well because there was a strong base. Updating the site with new content has been essential for retention. The other site is struggling. I tried messaging admins of other telecom-related forums asking them for permission to promote my Hall of Fame group through theirs and, while response from individual admins was very positive, the spam filters set up by Facebook made the process difficult. Frankly, there are only so many ways to explain the mission and objectives of my client's project .. yet the spam filters are so tight that I'd have to reinvent a new message every time I approached someone to avoid the filters and threats of banning. I've resorted to setting up other, subject related groups, in the hopes of building a good friends list and attracting people to the main event. Slow process. I'm hoping that slow and steady wins the race, in this case :) Cheers.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Re your Facebook group - We’re a growing women’s webzine out of Toronto – 1.2 M hits in a little over a year without advertising or promotion. Some women from Ivey are going to pursue getting our webzine to women on Facebook. You’re so right about the need to connect vocally. It’s our next step on Girlphyte.
    Best regards,

    Sue

    Sue Van Der Hout
    President
    Girlphyte Inc.
    www.girlphyte.com
    398 Glengrove Avenue West
    Toronto, Ontario
    M5N 1W9
    T. 416-485-9296
    C. 416-562-4599

    Watch us.

    Over 1,200,000 hits, read in more than 80 countries.

    Girlphyte is galvanizing women to use the economic power already in their grasp to change the current culture. Leading a full life while pursuing a career does not equate with "falling off track". Our success is holistic. The measure isn't a ladder but rather a tree - deep roots, many branches, healthy growth,

    richer lives.

    Women influence 85% of all automotive purchases, buy 61% of all home improvement products and make 66% of all personal computer purchase decisions.

    Females now make up 52 % of the U.S. online population, with nearly 100 million American women projected to be online by 2008. U.S. women control about $3.3 trillion in annual consumer spending and $1.5 trillion more in business outlays.

    In Canada women are earning their BA's and MA's in numbers exceeding that of males. 77% of women aged 25 to 54 have jobs. 73% of all women with children less than age 16 living at home work. 69% of women whose youngest child was aged 3-5 worked for pay or profit. Women are 52% of business and financial professionals and 55% of Dr.'s and dentists.

    So why must it take women 47 years to reach parity with men as Corporate Officers and 73 years to reach parity with men in the Boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies? (Catalyst)



    Reply
  • Posted by david usher
    Mitch Joel

    that falls into what you were talking to me about, the need to have your own centralized place that holds your content and builds your brand (that you control) in 3 months i have seen the time i spend on myspace drop to nothing and all move to facebook. this is bound to happen again, and again.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mitch Joel
    Mitch Joel

    You're one hundred percent right Dave. In this example, I do maintain the home for my Podcast, but I am using the Facebook Groups channel to build audience and get people excited about this new media.

    I'm just grappling with what creates sparks... and what doesn't, and I can't figure out why it's so "quiet." But, Phil (posted above) nailed it. Having a feed would kick it up a notch or two.

    Reply
  • Posted by david usher
    Mitch Joel

    like you were saying, giving them something they are interested in
    ive been experimenting
    so far, if i upload a ruff demo or ask for opinions on song ideas i get big reaction
    by trial and error im finding out what my audience is interested in

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    I've set up a facebook group to expose a wider audience to the Collaborative Blog that I manage. It is part of my visibility campaign. Let's call it piggybacking on facebook.

    As well, I am using it to publish additional content, mostly videos from YouTube that fit into our areas of interest at the Hamilton Institute.

    So far it is quiet, but all the elements are there (and then some) to create a chain reaction.

    It is my reasoning that once the masses start understanding the full extent and potential of facebook, then we will go through a very prolific period.

    We are not even glimpsing the tip of the iceberg yet, let alone what lies beneath.

    We are in for one hell of a ride folks, hold on to something!

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    In response to David Usher.

    Social networking is all about sharing. You seem to understand what more and more artists need to get. Having a presence on YouTube and LastFM as well helps you communicate to a wider audience, an international audience also that may or may not be able, at present, to afford to buy or have access to your albums.

    For the past several years I have been using the web to get to know artists from all over the world. My music and movie purchases have increased about threefold.

    It gives me access to more for my money, all the while increasing sales for artists. In the long run, it is my reasoning that worldwide culture will open up and broaden, opening wide doors for budding as well as established artists.

    Reply
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