Experimenting with BuddyPress for the SMUGgle Community

BuddyPress is plug-in for WordPress blogs that enables social networking.

You will see some changes here on SMUG as I experiment with the BuddyPress functionality. For instance, you will now see tabs for Activity, Members, Groups and Forums. And yes, I realize that the tab structure is a little out-of-whack, but I’m working on that.

BuddyPress seems it could be a powerful, customizable community solution, whereas the SMUG group in Facebook is limited and can’t be changed.

Please take a few moments to sign up for an account by clicking the Sign Up link in the top banner. Then you can learn along with me.

Facebook 240: 5 Steps to Customizing Your Facebook Page

In my post last Friday from the Facebook for Business seminar, I reported some recommendations from Alan De Keyrel, a friend from Rochester who was the keynote speaker.

Among Alan’s suggestions was that organizations with Facebook pages should create a custom landing tab for their visitors, so that you don’t “just dump them on your wall” but instead have some kind of welcome message that directs them in a way that is in keeping with the goals you have set for your Facebook page.

In Facebook 240, I will take you step-by-step through the process of customizing your organization’s page.

In keeping with my original goals for SMUG, to learn on my own before applying in my work, I will use the SMUG.Chancellor page as the demo example.

Maybe soon we will apply something like this on our Mayo Clinic page. In the meantime, I’ve learned the basics of how to do this, so if and when we decide to make that switch we can do it seamlessly.

Note: The following applies to organizational or business Pages, not personal Profiles. The SMUG.Chancellor page is what was formerly called a “fan” page, and even though it says “Lee Aase” at the top, it’s about me as an author/speaker. It’s different from my personal profile.

A personal Profile uses the “Add as Friend” terminology, and is for individuals to connect with each other. It is reciprocal; in other words, you don’t get to see my profile details until you add me as a friend and I confirm the relationship. Pages, on the other hand, use the “like” lingo. If you “like” Lee Aase, the SMUG Chancellor, you are connected to that page. No need to confirm the connection.

So I’m glad to be your friend on Facebook, but I hope you’ll like me too.

Step 1: Install the FBML application on your page

From your Page, click the Edit Page link under your profile picture:

Then click the Applications link in the left navigation to see the applications you have already installed. Your screen should look something like this (click to enlarge):

Click on the Add Application button for the Static FBML application. If for some reason the Static FBML application isn’t listed, you can search for it by clicking the Browse more applications link at the bottom of the list.

Continue reading “Facebook 240: 5 Steps to Customizing Your Facebook Page”

Facebook 125: Creating Community in Your Facebook Group

A Facebook group is like a garden, to borrow an analogy from Chance, the Peter Sellers character in Being There. It will not grow properly without cultivation.

Because a group is so easy to create, billions have been formed. Facebook currently has 400 million active users, and the average user is a member of 13 groups. Do the math.

The vast majority of Facebook groups have precious little activity.

As a group administrator, you have tools at your disposal that the other members don’t have, and which are crucial to keeping the group vital and active.

First, you can Message All Members by picking this in the left navigation:

This enables you to send a message to the Facebook Inbox of all group members. A good time to do this is when there is a Discussion Board topic or Wall post for which you would like their feedback…or a new video that has been uploaded, or a new event created.

So when I created the Facebook Group Users Group, I used Message All Members to send this message (click to enlarge):

Which looked like this in my Inbox when I received it:

This is a way to keep your group top of mind among members. Don’t abuse it by sending too many messages; otherwise your group members will leave. But if what you are sending is meaningful and worthwhile to them, they will welcome it.

Your goal should be for the group to be useful to its members. If you are sending a message just to keep the group going, and not to help your members, that’s a sign you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. And your members will sense it.

Remember, the group doesn’t exist for itself; it exists for its members.

You also may want to Edit Members of your group to designate some of them as Officers or Admins.

Be careful with your designation of an Admin; these individuals will have the same rights with the group as you, the creator, do. But you may wish to have at least one additional trustworthy person as an Admin.

Officers, on the other hand, can be multiplied. By designating officers with any range of titles you can enable group members to find the person who may best be able to answer questions. In an academic program interest group, for instance, you may have someone other than the group creator designated as Program Director or Admissions Counselor. Or if you were to use Facebook as an online newsroom, you could indicate what specialty beats a particular staffer covers. In this way, a member can send a private inbox message in Facebook to a designated officer, such as a journalist identifying the staffer who covers the cardiology beat.

Then when you look on the front page of the group, your officers will be listed, so interested members or visitors can know which person they should contact.

I don’t know what I was thinking when I did this originally; I can’t believe I chose “Czar” as my office instead of “Chancellor.” I’ve since fixed that.

In my opinion, having an active group in Facebook requires an Admin who is committed to regularly adding content that is useful to members, and who takes time to reach out and remind members of the new content (without overdoing it and causing people to leave the group.)

What’s your experience? How else do you create community in a Facebook group?

Facebook 104: Intro to Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups are a great way to gather people with a common interest, and have a common space for them to interact.

There are three basic kinds of groups in Facebook:

Open Groups – Anyone can join these, and they can form on a whim. In fact, as you are categorizing you group, one of the choices in the drop-down menu is “Just for fun – Totally Pointless.” Later in the curriculum (Facebook 120) I will show you just how easy it is to create a group. That doesn’t mean it will have any members, but starting the group is simple. And of course if you’re a SMUGgle you really should join the SMUG Facebook group.

Closed Groups – A limited portion of these groups can be seen by non-members, and they can request to join, but group administrators have to invite new members or approve those requesting access. This, for example, was the group type we used to share video and photos of my new granddaughter, Evelyn Grace. So if you want a moderate level of privacy, a closed group is a good option.

Secret Groups – These are quite private, and are not displayed on any of their members’ profiles. As I said here, don’t store bank account numbers or nuclear launch codes in a secret group, but for a fairly secure way of interacting with a defined group of Facebook users, a secret group can work. These are a little harder to form, in that you have to invite Facebook friends; they can’t request to join because they won’t be able to even have access to make the request. A good way around this is to form the group as closed, but then change it to secret once everyone has joined.

Members of groups don’t need to be “friends” in Facebook, so a group can be a way of allowing people with a common interest to interact. So I established Facebook groups for my daughter’s basketball team last year and her volleyball team this year. We’ll do this again for basketball season. So we can share links to news stories and upload video and photos, all without a bunch of high school students needing to be my “friends.”

If the people who are part of your “target population” are already in Facebook, a group can be a great way to bring them together, as we did for this Mayo Clinic Career Festival group, where we added about 350 members in a single day.

If you’re forming a group entirely made up of people from your workplace, a Yammer Group is a much better option than a Facebook group. But if you need to mix people from your workplace with others outside your company, a Facebook group can be a good solution.

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

Yammer 107: Avoiding Yammer Email Overload

A couple of colleagues have mentioned that with the recent upgrade to Yammer they have been getting many more emails than they had previously. This post is intended to show them how to prevent the overload, and how to be sure they get the emails they want.

By default, the new Yammer has you subscribe to your general network feed (in our case the mayo.edu network.) That may be fine when you only have a few dozen members who aren’t especially active. But as the numbers grow, and as people start yammering incessantly, you don’t want to get an email message every time.

So, to preserve your sanity (and to realize the promise of Yammer to make your emails more targeted and relevant, not overwhelming), here’s how I recommend adjusting your settings.

On your Yammer home page, click the little (i) next to My Feed

Then, when you see a window like this, be sure to uncheck the top box, next to your Network feed (the one that refers to your email domain’s general feed)

Then click the Members, Groups and Tags links to select the updates you do want to receive by email. You may want to follow your manager or assistant, for instance, under the Members tab. You will definitely want to receive yammer email updates for a Group established for your work unit. And as described in Yammer 103, you’ll want to follow some tags about particular topics, even if they aren’t from a member of one of your groups.

Then you might want to go to the email settings tab and choose to get not only “My Feed” sent by email, but also to have new groups you join added to your feed. That way you don’t need to remember to update your email settings whenever you join a group.

And you wouldn’t join a group unless you wanted email updates, would you?

Once you’ve got these settings in place, it’s a matter of all users learning to Yammer in the right place.

  1. If you have a general observation or information that would be helpful for reference, Yammer from your home page, with tags as appropriate (by adding a # in front of key #words or #key-phrases.) That way, people who aren’t part of one of your groups can have access to the information.
  2. If you want to send a message to a specific group (e.g. the Department, your division or one of your project teams), post your Yammer from that group page. All group members who have their settings right will get the message. They can reply by email and have their responses logged by Yammer. Everything will be saved in chronological order, and you can delete the messages from your email inbox, knowing that you can search for them later in Yammer if necessary.

In this way, Yammer can make it easier to collaborate and share information within a group (and keep the discussion limited to that group) when necessary, but can enable broader discussions and access to information when the need for confidentiality isn’t as great.

Let me know how these settings work for you, in reducing unwanted emails. Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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