The obligatory Facebook post

OK, so I resisted only so long. Since I last mentioned innocently in passing that "Facebook appears to have hit a tipping point recently amongst my circle of friends" (Social networking for good), it has gone absolutely stratospheric…to the point of dominating pub conversations and news aggregators alike. So….relevant to SSE and social entrepreneurs? I honestly have no idea, currently. Ok, so the ‘Causes’ application seems promising, it’s more usable (to me) than MySpace, and the SSE group is in place and (slowly) starting to grow…but surely too early to say? Not for plenty of other people:

Facebook: social enterprise machine? seems an appropriate place to start. Tom Watson reckons that, like other online philanthropy matching sites, Facebook "holds the promise of connecting social entrepreneurship with mass
markets of consumers: of linking the motivation behind philanthropy
with the aspiration to bring about change".
Longer piece by Tom is on OnPhilanthropy

Facebook causes and effects has a good overview of what it might mean for charities / social causes, particularly focusing on the Causes application….and how to promote it. Interestingly, it also raises the point that, because Facebook was initially designed for and populated by those in university education, your friends could be ripe potential donor material! Which brings me neatly, if tangentially, to:

The class divide between Facebook and MySpace... which strikes me as, well, wrong. It’s pretty obvious to most that it’s an age divide, surely? Or a music vs photos divide? Or a ‘I embrace the randomness’ vs ‘I want to communicate with people I know’? Anyway, the argument rages in the comments…

– More relevantly, check out the ‘Beginner’s Guide to Facebook for non-profits’. Very much for beginners (here’s how you create an account…etc) but useful, nonetheless.

Falling for Facebook seemed about right to me, particularly in drawing attention to the way it "mixes business and pleasure", rather than, like LinkedIn, seeming "like some sort of massive resume swap". And, of course, that it’s about connecting to your community…

– For background on where it’s heading, here’s a good interview / article in Fortune mag: Facebook’s new face; key quote: ""We want to make Facebook into something of an operating system so you can run full applications"…

CharityBlog also gets in on the act, albeit with a slightly resigned air ("The social networking site Facebook appears to be flavour of the month"). Can’t help feeling comparing it to BBC’s Action Network is somewhat off the mark, though.

– The prolific David Wilcox thinks it could help to re-invent membership organisations

This Facebook post is quite interesting too, helping to elucidate the USPs and why you end up using it: "The first thing is that you get a feed of what changes about any of
your friends. The second is that there’s a whole lot of things to do,
so there’s a lot to see in that feed. And, thirdly…they’ve made an API
that allows third parties to add modules to their hearts content, to
add new functionality, which is nicely integrated with the rest of the

That’ll do for now, though I prepare myself for a rash of Facebook / philanthropy / social entrepreneurs /  non-profit / charity stories. I would only add that, if it’s rise / expansion continues, those spending time creating less usable, more niche, less open, less used, less, rich, non-profit-specific social networking sites might begin to wonder if they’ve barked up a very wrong tree. Those who can plug into it, and build with it, will be the ones to flourish….

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2 thoughts on “The obligatory Facebook post

  1. Ok, so I didn’t do an in-depth analysis of Facebook on CharityBlog, but my point re BBC’s Action Network was totally relevant.
    It’s only a small part of how charities might use Facebook or similar social networks, but there are actually quite a number of other sites which potentially allow people to network on campaigns. I did say (correcting slight typo) Facebook is ‘perhaps one which could attract more than the usual suspects’ which I think is a key point.

  2. Agreed, John. I guess I view the Action Network as a site that’s never really taken off (I would say because of lack of critical mass / usability) though it knew what it was trying to do. Facebook has the usability, and is fast getting the critical mass; but it’s up to the users to decide how they use it.
    And, as you say, this already goes beyond campaigning to using it as an informal extranet, soliciting donations, updating memberships, making new networks for an organisation, inviting to events etc None of which, largely, is possible on Action Network.