Facebook as communications platform

I’ve been thinking about the different types of possible communication on the Facebook platform.

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Communication consists of content, whether text, audio, or video. Communication can also be considered as dynamic signal with two primary vectors:

  • Distribution. From 1-1, one-to-many, or as many people as possible
  • Intent. Private (only for intended, specific recipients) to public (anyone should be able to consume)

Facebook offers a complete range of communication channels, allowing for variable gauge distribution of private to public intent.

  • Chat is one person to one person
  • Messages are sent to selected individuals
  • Groups have varying membership controls, leaning towards public vs. private broadcast
  • Wall messages are seen by communities within the overall ecosystem
  • Status updates are default public messaging, tempered by privacy settings

Physical tools used to access Facebook (computer, mobile) impact ability to post and nature of display, but the platform’s backbone remains the same. Alternate tools and platforms (email, Yammer, Twitter) have greater strengths in some areas and are weaker in others – but few alternates to the breadth of Facebook as communications platform exist.

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  1. It’s as interesting as it is frustrating to me when I use platforms that don’t have the same range of public to private communication options as facebook. If you are going to include a social aspect to your website or application then you need to make the communication options as flexible as possible.

  2. Peter, where do Pages fit in this graph? For a company of one to a billion employees, the FB Page is as much a communications channel as any other, isn’t it? Is it only Public in Intent from Many to All in Distribution, or is it from Semi-Public/One to Public/All?

  3. Good point Stephen – Pages should certainly be on here as well; I think they should be Distribution – All and Intent – Public for the most part, assuming that a user passes through the Like-gate.

    You remind me that the opportunities are still evolving; remember that “old” Groups were today’s Pages. When you see too much overlap in purpose of different features, you can safely guess that one of those features will eventually go away.

  4. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop on FB Groups. The old Group functionality is just short of that of Pages, enough to be frustrating when you run up against the limits and remember that you are on a Group, not a Page. And then there is the confusion when trying to explain the difference to a client…

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