Closed Social Networks 2015Another month, another change in protocols from everyone’s favorite shape-shifting company, Facebook.

You may have heard that on April 30, Facebook is requiring anyone running apps on their platform to upgrade from v1.0 to v2.0. For those of us who are less web-geeky and more social-business centered, let’s take this moment to shift from code-speak to plain old English.

 

Phase One – The Knee-Jerk Freak Out

The upshot of this new change – which has been coming for some time, incidentally – is that 3rd party apps and website will no longer be able to post to Facebook Groups. On the surface this might seem horrible, especially if you are an agency or agent handling the social media accounts of businesses (or your own business).

Of course, this change affects Sendible in the same way that affects any other social media management software suite. While you can still post to almost any type of Facebook page, you won’t be able to post to private groups without logging in directly on the site (for public groups we’ve found a workaround, as mentioned here). The natural initial reaction is to freak out and question why the social media gods are making things so difficult for your job. Maybe they just hate you. Or maybe you’re not thinking things through enough.

 

Phase Two – The Rational Response

Of course, being able to do more with less is always a good situation, and having features yanked out from under you is always a little discouraging. But in this case, when you consider the implications of the move they’re really negligible at best. Stay with me.

What is a private group on Facebook, after all? It’s the same thing as a closed private social network, a platform essentially for private discussions between employees, team members, businesses and vendors, and so on. In that context, access from social media dashboard designed for digital marketing is nice, but it certainly isn’t a necessity.

These types of closed networks rely on input from most or all participants to be effective, and they aren’t exactly going to help grow brand awareness or grow a following in the public sphere (hence the whole “private” thing). In other words, unless every member of the private group were using a social media tool like Sendible to manage their posts (unlikely), then the end result of this change means absolutely nothing different for the vast majority of those involved.

Of course, being able to schedule group posts for information from your dashboard is gone, and that’s an inconvenience. But it’s really a mild inconvenience, and for most it’s inconsequential.

 

Why Even Have a Private Group?

There are definitely benefits to maintaining a private group on Facebook for your business, but those benefits will vary depending on your situation. Using it as an internal sounding board among employees is great for many, and allows a more unfiltered dialogue for ideas and opinions. Or it could be used as simply a messaging platform, although that seems a little overboard or cumbersome in most cases.

When these private groups are extended to wider audiences – for example, all purchasers of a certain product may be invited into a community – they have more of an impact on your brand’s growth and feedback, but this type of input is still mostly found in the public social square. There are plenty of examples that illustrate why a private group or private network can be very useful to an organization, but they will all vary greatly.

The bottom line is that 3rd party platforms like Sendible are primarily used for digital marketing, and closing off private Facebook groups to these platforms really isn’t going to make that much of a difference to most people. It would of course be nice if social APIs allowed for any kind of posting, but nice and necessary are two very different things.

Vishal Pindoriya

Vishal Pindoriya is a social media enthusiast, strategist and writer. He lives in London, England and is particularly interested in the proliferation of social media around the world.

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