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Taariq Lewis

We've been hearing about quite a few companies unhappy about Facebook's "community and engagement" capabilities. Right now, the lowest denominator is a race/chase for Likes, but Likes and product complaints are not really community.

Mike Cowlishaw

Hmm, Facebook is the *only* online place I interact with others (rather than exchange e-mail). Every day.

Wayne H

So what is the best?


Yes, so who are the players in this space if not facebook?


A useless post! I got your point saying Facebook is not an ideal place to build community (everyone is entitled to diff opiions especially about social media platform) But compare to what?


Compare to what? Dedicated Forums (stuff like phpBB, vBulletin) embedded in an own community website. Simple as that.

Esteban Contreras

So what do you suggest? I could've read just the headline for this.

Anita Hovey

Did you forget to write the second half of this post?


but it's far from the best option... leaves me hanging... what is the best option? Thanks.


A flaccid "persuasive" piece.


Rich, this seems like a perfunctory exercise at blogging that's not conclusive and with no considered opinion. So what's next? Where's the balance?


This is actually the opposite of what I've seen in my job and the post doesn't offer any recommendations for what does work.


Pose a problem but not a recommendation? Useless post.

Ian Berry

Very well said Richard and having followed your work for some time you have answered the questions here over and over. Well done You.


A useless platform, huh?

Nothing like a bit of hyperbole in the headline to get a few suckers to bite... guilty as charged myself.

Richard, you're doing your clients no favors by telling them to avoid THE largest platform on the web. But of course, you would say that because you're in the business to build communities for businesses.

Frankly, your post is "useless" marketing babble to not so subtlety toot your or horn... beep, beep. Reality check Richard.

I can think of $70 billion and 800 million reasons why you're dead wrong.

Nice try.


Thinking that community building is a one platform activity is meaningless anyway so to single out one of the largest platforms as useless, is useless in and of itself.

You're talking about these platforms as if they are built for brands. But they're not. They're (at least attempting to be) built on human interaction and just like in real life agencies and brands have to find ways to connect with the users on users terms.

John Norris

You have to go to where the folks are (Facebook) but only to let folks know about your community (if you need to do that.)

Re-purpose your content and push to Facebook. But build your community in a place you control with the best tools you can use.

(I assume you can even have Facebook login to make it more seamless.)


At the risk of repeating every commentor on this page, I get the reasons why Facebook is not the best option, but what I want to really know is, What is?


How about ? Not 'another social network' but a Trust Network revolving around you.

Richard Millington

I could easily spend hours responding to comments and then responding to those responses. I don't have the time, so I'll respond once.

Some thoughts. First, no-one is really arguing against the points made against Facebook. You have very limited control over the platform, most of your work wont reach the majority of your audience (!), the platform changes constantly, and few people meaningfully interact on the brand pages (I just scrolled through the top 5 and mostly saw people writing "yeah!" or "Love coca cola!!!!£@$@£$".

I'm sorry, but if I'm building a community. I want to do it on a platform I have control over where I can create a unique identity. I want to do it on a platform where I can actually send a message to everyone. I want to do it on a platform that wont suddenly change without warning. I want to do it on a platform where people interact and build genuine relationships - not blast out a few short messages and leave.

I don't doubt that brands have huge audiences. Sure, Skittles has 19.5m people. But only a tiny fraction of them actually receive the updates. Skittles has no power to message them all...ever.

Second, yes Facebook is very large. I don't tell my clients to avoid it. I tell my clients not to build a community on it. I tell them to use it as an outpost for the community, but not the community itself.

Third, there isn't a best platform. I generally prefer open-source platforms like Drupal, Joomla or BuddyPress to build communities - but it depends very much upon what I believe the audience will yes. Telligent/Lithium etc can be great for larger brands. Ning, Forum packages and the like can be great for smaller efforts.

Hope this helps :-)

VAR Marketing

As some of the comments suggest, Rich may have an underlying motive in bashing Facebook as a community-building platform.

But at the end of the day, he makes some good and relevant points ... in particular, spending time and money on something for which you have no control.

Bottom line is this ... it's best to build a "community" on your own domain. You can use FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc to re-direct some of the audience those platforms have built for you ... but it should all lead back to something YOU control.


Please, shave your neck!

Simona Biancu

Richard, I wasn't sure I agreed with your post. But your comment, more specific and punctual than the post, has been able to explain better you thoughts about Facebook.
Yes, don't avoid Facebook but, as you wrote, don't consider it the main way to build meaningful customer relationships.
I normally use Facebook to have news about friends, or events in the surroundings. For what regards the "community" . I mean people to have a professional interest to share with...well, I think Linkedin is far better than Fb. Or using Twitter to have quick news about issues I am interesting in..namely, to know what happens in the world.
I basicly think that social networks should be used in different ways, aimed at different targets and integrated one each other.


Good post. But it is important to point out that there are different types of communities with different goals; and different levels of engagement that those communities foster to support those goals. For brands like Coke, the community is not about deep levels of engagement, but rather about highly branded, mostly one-way communication with small doses of customer interaction/feedback. A brand management firm in this case looks for a platform that provides breadth (lots of users to expose messaging to) but little depth (deep interaction and engagement). Facebook is an okay platform for this. It's high on reach, but low on engagement.

On the other side of this spectrum are communities that are centered around a niche, interest, or common goal and that therefore have a need for deeper levels of engagement. To support that need, the platform may need to provide features such as privacy/permissions, document collaboration, file-sharing, tagging, following/subscribing, or rating. Regardless of the suite of features these communities need, Facebook is usually not the right platform.

To answer the question of what platform to use, you have to first define community and what that means to you, your organization, and your goals.

Facebook may be just what you need, or it may be absolutely horrible. But it's not useless, at least not for everyone.

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