As you can see I have set up a Facebook page connected to this blog:
As the spiel goes, with 350 million users you can’t afford not to be there. But I am going to suspend judgment until further investigation.
My initial frustration is that there are a number of restrictions on what you can do with a ‘fan page’ versus a personal profile. I couldn’t even use the search function without also setting up a personal profile. Although this personal profile is not directly associated with the fan page, it is the only way I can reach out to other users on Facebook to let them know about our shared interest and the page I have set up.
Of course I already have a personal profile on Facebook which I use for connecting to friends and family. To my knowledge none of them are interested in crowdsourcing, and I shouldn’t think any of my blog readers are interested in seeing photos of me intoxicated in a New York bar, or riding my bike through the Formentera countryside wearing a funny hat. So the ‘fan page’ and personal profile stay separate.
But this means that I don’t have any profile on Facebook with which I can network with like-mined people. I don’t want to use my personal details to join internet marketing groups and then have my buffoonery show up in their feeds. Furthermore, it is very fiddly to adjust privacy settings on Facebook so I don’t want to constantly adjust my settings for different types of friends.
So this means that I have a fan page, but the only way anyone will find it is if I refer them to it from another site such as this blog or my @crowdmanage Twitter account. This doesn’t make much sense because I am already interacting with people on these sites, and Facebook doesn’t offer any extra features that encourage me to direct them to it.
Another problem is that there is no easy way to synch your Twitter updates with a fan page. There was an ap that did this, but the designer took it down as it was unreliable. The only option I know of right now is the Selective Twitter app which will sync updates to your fan page so long as you end them with the #fb hashtag.
An alternative is to set up a group, but you come up with the same issue. As Mashable wrote, “Groups are also directly connected to the people who administer them, meaning that activities that go on there could reflect on you personally.” The Mashable article covers all the differences between group and fan pages.
Right now I am not sure what I will do. Maybe I should start a group using my personal profile, and just decline friend requests from the people in the group. Or maybe I should just forget about having a Facebook page for discussing crowdsourcing. When I look around at my peers such as Elliot’s Blog I don’t think that it is really adding much for him to have a fan page – take a look at the page he set up a year ago. With Elliot having such a vibrant blog with rich comment threads I guess that this fan page is surplus to requirements.
I see what Facebook is trying to do – push genuine profiles onto the web to encourage higher quality interaction. It makes sense and I am a big fan of Facebook Connect. But on the other hand Facebook is a great tool for sharing some intimate moments with close friends across the world, and it seems to me that you have to compromise this if you want to make the best use of Facebook for networking purposes.
I’m not going to give up though – I will investigate and let you know if I can make Facebook work for me.