Facebook and the Bridge Collapse

facebook bridge collapse 35w
It’s not news to people who were involved in the Virginia Tech shooting tragedy, but Facebook is a great place for people to get information about breaking news and to let loved ones know they are OK. Here’s a group in Facebook dedicated to the 35W Bridge Collapse in Minneapolis.

There are lots of photos, some videos, and 1,019 members as of this writing.

This is what Jeff Jarvis would call networked journalism.

Update: This group is growing fast. It has 1,456 members as of 11:15 CDT.

Update: 3,193 members as of 5:15 p.m. CDT…about 24 hours after the disaster happened.

Update: 3,755 members as of 7:30 p.m. CDT.

Update: 4,622 members as of 10:30 p.m. CDT

Update: 5,419 members as of 5 a.m. CDT on 8/3

Update: 5,762 members as of 9:45 a.m. CDT

Update: 6,502 members as of 2:15 p.m. CDT

Update: 7,058 members as of 7 p.m. CDT

Update: 7,376 members as of 10:45 p.m. CDT

Update: 9,650 members as of 10:15 a.m. CDT 8/6/07

Update: 10,008 members as of 6:45 p.m. CDT 8/6/07

TechnoratiTechnorati: , , , ,

Putting “Relations” into Media Relations

No, I’m not advocating nepotism. It’s about “friend”ship.

Facebook friends. And Groups.

In previous posts I discussed why organizations should form Facebook groups, and gave examples of some of the open, closed and sponsored groups.

My work is in news media relations, so I have been thinking of how these tools could make life better for journalists and for public information officers, and how they could help us work together.

The online newsroom is one particular application for a so-called “secret” group in Facebook, because it would enable organizations to distribute news announcements, particularly embargoed news, to journalists who want to receive them. Media relations staff also could use the direct messaging function to communicate directly with particular reporters, if they are pitching a potential exclusive story.

Facebook also allows users to upload video to their groups instead of to their personal profiles. So an organization’s online newsroom in Facebook could have video of its officers or subject experts, enabling TV and radio producers to judge experts’ airworthiness. Sort of a “try before you buy” for broadcast journalists.

These online newsrooms for organizations may not need to be secret; “closed” may be secure enough to ensure that only journalists who agree to abide by news embargoes have access.
Journalists could create secret lists of their trusted sources, so when they need to get a call for experts out quickly in response to breaking news, they could send a group message to everyone on the list, simultaneously, instead of picking up the phone and calling one by one. They may still want to start calling after sending the message, but by having the general call out to key contacts, they will be more likely to identify good sources quickly. Or, if they are enterprising a long-term story, they could likewise use the direct messaging function to contact PIOs individually and confidentially.

These groups could help individual journalists and organizations accomplish their goals. A digital commons would be helpful too: a meeting place where reporters and sources could meet and interact. For medical news, I’ve written in more detail about this concept here.

It makes sense that health journalists might have their own professional Facebook group, and that PIOs also would have one. The great thing about Facebook is that all these groups could be managed with a single username and password. So you could create several groups, and join several others, without needing to log in on various sites.

Most of the real action in Facebook happens at the friend level, but groups are a place where those relationships can be formed.

TechnoratiTechnorati: , , , , ,

Facebook Group Organization Examples

AAAS facebook group

In my last post, on Facebook Groups for Organizations, I mentioned that there are three types of free groups in Facebook. An organization may have use for all three types, depending on what it is trying to accomplish.

I thought it would be helpful to list some examples of the groups organizations have formed. After you join Facebook and “friend me” you will be able to go to these groups and see for yourself how the organizations are using them.
Note: I know the links below won’t work for you if you aren’t yet a Facebook member. I think they will work if you are already in Facebook. If I’m wrong in that, let me know in the comments. But whatever the case, if you search for the group names once you’re in Facebook, you should be able to find them.

Some of the “open” groups include:

AAAS – American Academy for the Advancement of Science

Society for New Communications Research

Journalists and Facebook (Poynter Institute)

ACC – The Atlantic Coast Conference (Not an official group)

American College of Physicians

Africans in Medicine

Closed Groups

Association of College & University Housing Officers — International

Cheers for Medical News, which was the subject of this post.

Secret Groups

Now how would I know that? They’re secret! But one good media relations use for a secret Facebook group would be for a no-cost, no-IT required online newsroom, where you place material that is for journalists only – such as embargoed news releases, photos of subject experts, videos, and after-hours contact numbers for media relations staff. That’s something I’m exploring for my work, and I’ll do a post on that soon. If you’re a health journalist and are interested in joining, leave a comment below and I’ll get in touch with you.

Sponsored Groups

Apple Students (415,000 members)
Microsoft Students (17,000 members)

Fox News Channel

Southwest Airlines

And thanks to Susan Reynolds for her kind words as she presented me one of her “big yellow cow of blogtipping day fame” awards.
blog award

TechnoratiTechnorati: , , , ,

Why Organizations Should Join Facebook Group Land Rush

Facebook Group Land Rush

Organizations of all types, whether nonprofit or not-for-profit associations or for-profit corporations (hereafter all just called “organizations”), should establish groups in Facebook right now. Jeremiah Owyang has described this as the equivalent of the domain name land rush for Facebook group formation.

Here are the top three reasons to act now:

  1. It’s Free. Not only is membership free, but you can create a group for your organization within Facebook, for no charge. You can pay for a sponsored group, as Apple has with Apple Students (415,056 members as of this writing), and that may be a valid tactic for you. But if you can create a presence in a cyberspace community that has 31 million members, and is growing at more than a million members a week, why would you not take advantage of the opportunity?
  2. Stake Your Claim, and prevent cyber-squatting. This is related to #1 above. You may not realize how easy it is to create a Facebook group, but a mischievous prankster could create a new group in Facebook with your organization’s name in 90 seconds or less, at no cost. If you create an “official” group for your organization, and encourage constituents to join it, the real thing will drive any impostor groups to irrelevance, sort of a Gresham’s Law in reverse.
  3. You can create more than one group, and the second one is half price. (OK, that was a joke; see #1 again.) In reality, you can have an infinite number of groups related to your organization, each with a different purpose.
    • You can have an “open” group that anyone can join, as your organization’s public face in Facebook. If you need to communicate quickly with everyone affiliated with your organization, you can use Facebook to send the message.
    • You can have a “closed” group that is visible to the world, but for which people need permission to join. This is ideal for a membership organization, to create a value-added space for networking, mentoring and discussion of issues of common interest.
    • You can create “secret” groups that aren’t visible to people in Facebook unless an Administrator first invites them. This could be used for a Board of Directors, for example, or for communication within an employee group or work unit…anytime you want to be able to communicate confidentially, and even keep the existence of the conversation confidential.


More to come on how organizations can use Facebook to communicate with constituents and others who share common interests.

Update: This post was written several months before Facebook developed Pages as an alternative for organizations and brands. You may want to have a page for your overall brand, and have groups that are ways for employees, customers or constituents to collaborate. See the Facebook Business page or the Facebook curriculum here on SMUG for more recent thinking.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine