I Use Facebook, Hear Me Roar

Posted on November 18, 2009. Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , |

As an officer for a certain women’s business group, I created and subsequently was asked to remove a Facebook group, as it was deemed an “inappropriate social media channel.”

This made me think: Are women’s business organizations missing an opportunity to connect online?

Facebook touts more than 300 million active users, with 50% logging on in any given day. Among US users, women outnumber men in every age group. The gap is most notable in age groups that correspond with prime career years: 26-34, 35-44, and 45-54. Women outnumber men by more than 2 million in each of these groups. In the US alone, that’s nearly 7 million more women than men potentially in the prime of their careers.

So why wouldn’t professional organizations want to reach women through this channel? Using MainStreet.com’s Top Women’s Organizations and PINK Magazine’s Favorite Women’s Business Organizations, plus a smattering of personal favorites like 85 Broads, I compared 62 women’s organizations and their presence on Facebook with LinkedIn, the traditional source for online business networking.

Encouragingly, more than three-quarters of organizations researched have some social media presence, and a slight majority maintains a presence on both Facebook and LinkedIn. There doesn’t seem to be any theme about what “types” of organizations fall into each category – nationals vs. regionals, for example. The only potential stand out is with ethnic women’s organizations. Of the four included, none fell into the “LinkedIn only” category.

Most orgs are on both Facebook & LinkedIn

For organizations with a presence on both channels, there appears to be a positive correlation on group size: the bigger the Facebook group, the bigger the LinkedIn group, and vice versa. So it would seem members aren’t flocking to one channel over the other. LinkedIn groups are usually better populated than Facebook groups at present – this could be accounted for by the fact that LinkedIn is a bit longer in the tooth.

Groups are better populated on LinkedIn, but not always

So what does all this mean for women’s professional organizations, and the use of channels like Facebook for business networking? First, you can successfully promote and recruit members through more informal networks, but you shouldn’t pick one over the other. A good social media strategy combines interesting content and awareness efforts across multiple channels. Click here to see the full list of organizations we reviewed and which seem to be following this best practice.

Jennifer Hoffmann is Manager of Customer Engagement at Dow Jones and is based in New York City.


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2 Responses to “I Use Facebook, Hear Me Roar”

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I find this to be a very interesting article because Facebook group was deemed a “inappropriate” social media channel. I agree that a Facebook group was inappropriate for this business group, but disagree that other media channels/streams, including Facebook, could be used appropriately.

The web presense primary goal of any group should be to have 1 central location that people can reach out to to get the groups past, present, and ongoing activities plus be a resource for the group. Having both a LinkedIn group and Facebook group goes against this strategy because it fragments and/or duplicates efforts. For a business group to decide on one host location the choice should lean towards LinkedIn and inversely a more social group should use Facebook.

The secondary goal should be getting the “word out.” This is where all media channels should be utilized. As a Facebook group is inappropriate for this business group, a Facebook Page would be a appropiate way to get the word out. The Facebook page should be small snippets and links about the group and ALWAYS link back to the more indepth resource at the central location. One can “Fan” the page and get these teasers/reminders in their stream or click on the page to get the past updates to quickly see what the group is about. This is can also apply to Twitter and some services even let you post once and that post propagates to all the media channels/streams. Getting the “word out” involves getting into the stream that people frequent often.

Pick the right location for your group to house all its resources and efforts. Also get involved in many the streams, because people will be exposed more frequently and as one stream dries up, another will take its place.

Thanks David for your comment! I was starting to really disagree with you, but then read on and see your point on the distinction between a central place for resources combined with multiple ways to get the “word out” – I think another way of saying that might be that you want to use multiple streams to achieve one goal. You need to be sure everyone is on the same page in terms of the objective, otherwise you’re just randomly posting information in a bunch of places, with no clear strategy.

Thanks again!

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