It’s Time to Take your Social Media Group Private

Connection at the expense of privacy, identity and values no longer feels like connection. Social media groups don't foster meaningful relationships and their results suffer. It's time to go private.

Facebook thinks I need rehab. 

A few posts about increased wine consumption during COVID and suddenly I’m on skid row in Zuck’s eyes. But that’s mild compared to the claims I hear from people these days: “I talked to a friend about buying a couch and suddenly I’m getting advertisements for sectionals. Are they listening to my conversations?” 

Conspiracy theories abound as no one knows what to believe anymore. In an era when digital assistants like Siri are TV show villains, privacy and data collection has become top of mind for our culture. 

In particular, Facebook’s data policies are “sus” in people’s eyes. The social media juggernaut now ranks last in confidence around digital privacy among users. Never mind the political divisiveness people feel that it stirs. But it cuts across all of the ad-driven social networks. 

Social Media Got Old

This collective unease is a characteristic of the inevitable maturity stage of first-gen social media; where investors are in the driver’s seat, and where growth is measured by ad spend, not user growth. The user growth stalled so the platforms needed to squeeze more out of what they had. And this backlash is the response. 

Groups are Being Affected

Teenagers are the bellwethers, and they are moving on. They form communities across all manner of tools and tech, which reflects the seemingly infinite social categorizations. Simple pictures, text and video. And it’s private. 

Connection can exist anywhere and identities can be transformed based on the context. Promoting yourself on social media is fine, but conversations and community are not. Private stuff should stay private. 

Which leads me (circuitously) to my point….

So Take Your Group Private

Connection at the expense of privacy, identity and values no longer feels like connection. Not only will your group members revolt, but it’s also not driving the results you want.

Why? It’s not your data. You can’t serve your members in a meaningful way because you don’t understand what’s happening. How do people engage with you (or not engage)? How should you respond and connect? What do they want? What actions drive the best experience? How can you deepen your relationships with customers? 

As if that’s not enough reason…

  • Competitors will use the data to advertise against you.  
  • People can’t separate their personal and professional lives–it’s just one identity. 
  • You can’t archive conversations, videos, documents and other materials. 
  • No flexibility in the design of the experience. 
  • You can’t manage compliance.  

It’s Already Happening

member profile images

We’ve seen an uptick in organizations coming to us to go private. Large nonprofits, companies, associations and other professional networks are catching on to the dangers of “free tools” and seeking intimacy and better organization. 

One large customer of ours had simply had enough: they couldn’t organize people effectively, they couldn’t integrate with their systems and a lot of their members refused to join because of the aforementioned privacy issues. 

Social media groups are like Times Square–it might be okay to meet people there, but you need a “safe space” to build community. LinkedIn and Facebook are the “top of funnel” place to promote your service and meet people, but you must graduate to a private space where deeper connections can be made, data is controlled and protected, identities are shaped, workflows are designed and collaboration is optimized. 

This means more member control: contextual identity, reputation management, data privacy, personalized experiences. Organizations must own the data, protect it maniacally and use it only to improve the customer experience. Consumers have choice and will support the companies that use data in their best interests. 

It’s time to reconsider how you build community. It’s time to go private. That said, if you’re hooked on social media, I can suggest some rehab options.

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