Facebook GroupsSometimes I can’t help but wonder why Facebook continues to create features that seem to betray just how clueless their developers are about human behavior. And the feature that frustrates me the most? The ability to add people to Facebook groups without their permission.

What’s the Problem with Facebook Groups?

Several times a week, friends on Facebook add me to their Facebook groups without my permission. In fact, for the last year, I’ve been added to so many Facebook groups without my permission, it borders on harassment. It’s been such an annoyance to “my peeps” (later you’ll find out why I secretly don’t hate it) that I decided to explore it and see if I could get to the bottom of why Facebook allows this feature to remain on the books.

Why would Facebook allow this kind of harassment?

I’ve thought about this one a lot. What’s the thinking behind this feature? I do my best thinking when I’m engaged in idle tasks- things that don’t require me to think much. So while I was staining my treadmill desk, I pondered the history of “Facebook think.”

“Facebook Think”

Facebook has always maintained that personal profiles are for personal relationships. Research shows we can have anywhere from 100-250 actual, real relationships at any given time. Yet Facebook allows you to have 5,000 “personal” friends. Given the disparity between the research and this ridiculous 5,000 limit, Facebook’s take on “personal friends” has always felt a little disconnected and unreal to me.

Your friends wouldn’t do that to you…or would they?

But even if we forego logic and assume Facebook’s definition of friendship, it stands to reason that Facebook thinks that your friends know you and wouldn’t be so inconsiderate as to add you to a group you didn’t want to be added to or weren’t interested in. Still, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all got that one friend who would totally create and add us to the most inane groups we can possibly imagine. You know the one. And she’s probably already added you to the Fans of Cotton Balls group she created last night. Check your notifications. I’ll bet you it’s there.

So even if it was true that our Facebook friends are only personal friends who have our personal best interests at heart, I think it’s safe to say that we still probably don’t want our friends to have the ability to add us to group sans permission.

Facebook, please just admit that Facebook is a networking tool.

In most cases, people like me who are close to (or at) the 5,000 friend limit on Facebook (and those who aren’t even halfway there) have lots of Facebook friends who aren’t personal friends and who don’t know us. Why? Because Facebook is, at the end of the day, a great networking tool (more about that in another post sometime).

Sometimes social media networking comes at a cost…just not for me*

(*Here’s where you’ll find out why I secretly don’t hate this silly feature on Facebook)

It’s not always easy to vett people on Facebook. And unfortunately, too many people have gotten the wrong idea about how to market their businesses on Facebook…and as it happens, those are often the exact people who should be my clients. So when I see someone is force-feeding their marketing messages or is sending event invitations to everyone they know, or most importantly, has added me to a group without permission, first I think, “Sigh,” and then I remember that I’m glad there are still folks out there who need my help.

Of course, everyone isn’t me.

Those folks who aren’t like me and aren’t in the business of showing entrepreneurs and business owners how to brand, market, and grow their businesses are probably not as tolerant as I am of the overall marketing mishaps that happen when someone force-feeds their brand or sales messages to his or her entire social media contact list.

So here’s the real problem:

Force-feeding your branding message to people en masse does not increase business. You will not get more clients or customers by forcing more and more spam down their throats. And you will not get more clients or customers by adding them to your groups without their permission. In fact, you’ll get the exact opposite result.

And here’s the answer:

Until Facebook changes the rules and makes it impossible to add people to without their permission, don’t do that. If you find people you think are good candidates for being in your group, e-mail them and tell them why you think they’d enjoy the group and ask them to join. Remember: just because you love what you do and think that what you have to say is important, doesn’t mean that the rest of the world thinks the same.

Your job isn’t to blanket the world with your message. If you’re still doing that, you missed the memo that those particular “old school” methods no longer work. So cut it out and start engaging with your audience. Talk to them, dialogue. And most importantly, put out great stuff. Because that is what will bring people in. Doing amazing work is what will bring people to the table, wanting to find out more…not adding people to groups willy nilly without their permission.


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