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Why Are Facebook Groups So Lame?

Posted by on Oct 27, 2009

I’m a member of a local Chamber of Commerce. Once a month it has breakfast networking, usually at one of the Chamber member businesses. Once a month it has a lunch networking, moving around from a few different restaurants. Then every once in awhile it’s part of helping to host an after hours networking event, always at a Chamber members place, sometimes big, sometimes small.

I can’t say that I’m the master networker. I’m someone who won’t interrupt a conversation if there’s one going on, even if I know the people. If I don’t know them, I’m certainly not stepping into the middle of anything. Sometimes I know people who are there; something I don’t. It seems strange that there are times when I don’t know someone, especially since I’ve been a member 4 years now, and have been to enough of these things.

I’m starting to learn a few things, though. One, the breakfast networking events are, for the most part, useless. Yeah, every once in awhile I meet someone, but there’s no business I’m ever going to get out of it. Sometimes not very many people show up; that’s actually most of the time. The things officially start at 7:30, but people will trickle in until around 8:15 or so. I usually get to these things around 8AM; y’all know I don’t go to bed all that early. This doesn’t give much time for talking to anyone, but truthfully, I’m not much of a talker that early in the morning anyway.

Then it’s time for things to begin. The executive director talks for a bit, then everyone goes around saying their name and the name of their business. No one remembers anyone’s names; it’s kind of a waste if you ask me. Then the host gets at least 15 minutes to talk about themselves and their business; that’s fair. There’s always something to eat, but usually nothing I’ll eat, and something to drink, but nothing I’ll drink. I don’t think I’m going to any more of these.

The luncheons are pretty much the same. You get maybe 15 minutes to try to talk to someone before everything gets going. I’ve shown up early, only to realize that I might be alone because most people aren’t going to show up until around 15 minutes before the meal is served. Anyway, almost every lunch meeting, we end up going around the room introducing ourselves and the name of our business; no one remembers any of it. Then we have a presentation, and often it’s, well, a third class presentation. It’s not really anyone’s fault; not everyone is a professional speaker.

I also have a problem with most of the lunches. I can’t eat pasta or many carbs at lunch time because it puts me to sleep. I understand chicken is relatively inexpensive, but at every meal? I don’t eat the salad because there’s never a dressing I like. And dessert; rarely anything I’d eat (not that I’m supposed to be eating it, but if lunch is lousy at least have a good dessert). I’m considering not going to any more of these either; at $12 a shot, it seems like a terrible use of my time.

Where am I going with this as it relates to the title of this post? Facebook has tons of groups. If they don’t have at least 50,000 groups, I have no concept of how it works. There’s a group for almost anything your heart desires. Yet, for the most part, there’s no real conversation going on in any of them. I don’t always think it’s for a lack of trying; it’s just that people either want controversy, or they just want to lurk, or they join because they’re looking for something, not finding it, and moving on.

Right now I belong to 7 groups; two are groups I created. I used to belong to 13, but I killed the others. I’ve also joined groups, stayed a little while, then left. My reasoning is simple; no one was saying anything. And I don’t mean people were talking but saying nothing; I mean nothing at all.

Out of the groups I belong to now, there’s only one that has even a modicum of conversation, and it’s political. Almost everyone who’s joined the group believes in the same thing; that’s because those who don’t believe have been tossed out. It’s not that the group can’t handle people disagreeing; it’s that the group doesn’t want people coming in with an opposite point of view and suddenly going postal, which they have. They have their own group for that, so the moderator kicks them out. However, that leaves the rest of us without much to talk about all that often; that’s kind of a shame.

With my own groups, I have dismal participation. I’ve come up with enough discussion topics, but no one wants to say anything. I’ve posted links, and posted things on the wall, but without almost any response. It’s like I’m talking to myself; heck, I do that already in my own home, so I’m starting to think I don’t need to do that in public.

There’s this thing about some folks. They like to join stuff, but they don’t want to show themselves. It’s kind of like blogs. If you’re lucky, you have people who are reading your stuff on a consistent basis, but few of them write comments. But many people who don’t see any comments ever coming their way will stop writing entirely; that’s a shame, but it happens.

So, is it that the groups on Facebook are lame, the owners lame, the people who join lame, or am I just being unfair because I’m looking for something that’s just never going to happen? I do know this; I’m going to drop at least 3 groups I’m in now, and then we’ll see about the rest of them. Even my own groups; if no one’s really interested, then why keep it going?

Better uses of time; isn’t that what we all strive for?

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Thanks for the very thoughtful post. I am commenting so you keep posting! What your post made me think of is what it is like in face-to-face organizations. It seems that no matter how large the membership, there are always 6 – 15 (numbers grabbed from thin air) people who do all of the work. I guess what you are noticing is just human nature being played out in social networking.

October 27th, 2009 | 11:56 AM

Good point, Sharon. I hadn’t actually thought that far in advance when I was writing it, but you’re right, it usually isn’t everyone who’s giving their all, even in the workplace. Wow, the implications are staggering now that I’m thinking more about it.

October 27th, 2009 | 1:35 PM

It seems like on most of the popular social networks (Myspace, Facebook, StumbleUpon, BlogCatalog), the group participation is very low. Even Yahoo Groups are dwindling in activity.

I wonder if it is the real-time direct interaction with people on social networks that have made groups not as useful. The theory before was that you had to go to a group if you wanted to get an opinion on something, because you couldn’t just befriend a random stranger that happened to be interested in the same things as you.

Now, you can just look at a Twitter directory, find a bunch of people into, say, blogging, and send them direct messages and replies to get your questions answered.

The only real “groups” I have seen that are very active are the ones in forums. Not all forums are thriving, but the ones that are have a lot of great discussions carrying on.

~ Kristi
.-= KikolaniĀ“s last blog ..The New StumbleUpon – Likes and Dislikes =-.

October 27th, 2009 | 4:33 PM

Hi Kristi,

You make an interesting point as far as the dwindling group activity, but then it wouldn’t explain why less than 7% of all Twitter members are commenting at all. That’s definitely real time.

I was thinking about it after you wrote this, and I’m wondering if what happens now is one, people can access information easier because of the internet, which means they don’t have to wait on others, and two, if people want to talk to someone, they can easily message their friends, and thus don’t have to participate in these groups as much anymore. They still want to be counted as someone who cares or likes something, but beyond a quick hello just don’t have much of anything else to say.

Then again, the old bulletin board system used to be like that, before the internet was what it is now. Maybe it’s just human nature.

October 28th, 2009 | 9:51 AM
John Dilbeck:

Good morning, Mitch.

You bring up some very interesting points and I’ve been wondering some of the same things, but never took the time to write about them.

In the past, I’ve been a chamber member and came to much the same conclusions you have. It was a waste of time, effort, and money. But that was long ago and far away.

I’ve not joined the local chamber here in Murphy, but I’ve been considering it, lately.

I don’t expect to get much from the networking events, but I’ve been thinking about volunteering to help with new members. My main reason for doing this is to meet new people in the area who are opening businesses and seeing if there is a way I can promote them to both our benefits.

I haven’t made up my mind, but I’m considering it.

I’ve noticed the same thing you have about groups on all the major social networking sites. I’ve created a few and closed all of them. No participation.

Even when it is obviously in someone’s best interest to participate, they just don’t do it.

Perhaps Sharon’s observation is correct.

On the other hand, maybe we’re all just over-committed and so scattered that we just don’t find the time and energy to follow-up on all the things we start.

Perhaps it’s a lack of focus or a clear intention to start something and then persevere with doing it over time.

By cutting out the things we want to do, but don’t, maybe that makes it possible for us to really do the things we intend to do.

Just some thoughts on a rainy morning in the mountains.

Act on your dream!


October 28th, 2009 | 3:10 AM

John, good stuff. I don’t know about the over-committed part for most people, but everything else you say seems to be pretty much on the nail. I mean, one of my Facebook groups is diabetic support, because sometimes we’re just depressed without knowing why, and it’s associated with diabetes. People have joined, but no one says anything; it’s just weird.

October 28th, 2009 | 9:53 AM

Hi Mitch,

You’re absolutely right. It’s just as Sharon said, the human nature. I always find that people will never participate in a discussion or something unless they have something to gain or motivate them. If this fact wasn’t there, the groups would be much better. By the way, if you didn’t notice, I’m new to your blog and really enjoy it. Thanks for posting…

June 2nd, 2010 | 4:23 AM

Thanks for the comment, BA. I did notice you’re new to the blog; I need to refer you to the comment policy which is just above the comment box because, as you notice, I keep changing your name. It does take getting people’s interest in something that personally affects them to get them going. Even that group that set itself up to draw images of Mohammad didn’t have a lot of commentary or interaction in it, just lots of people who joined for the sake of joining. I didn’t bother, but I wanted to see what people were saying; not much.

June 2nd, 2010 | 8:52 AM