24 hours ago I was a member of approximately 20 private or secret Facebook groups. Some of the groups revolved around mom blogging, others were for Stumbleupon, others were regional and others weren’t particularly homogenous, we just happened to “know” each other.
I logged onto Facebook on my birthday and had the standard notes from friends, real friends, but I noticed that the folks in my groups were wishing Lady Gaga a happy birthday.
Because ya know, Lady Gaga is as real to them as I am.
I took a look at what those groups offered me as far as traffic, comments, social capital or inbound links and I realized there was a void. So I left. I left each and every Facebook group that’s not required as part of a job. I couldn’t even be offended because the folks in these groups aren’t my friends, they’re not even Facebook friends. We’re not obligated to one another in any manner. For the most part we don’t share common interests other than a career of relentless self promotion.
Secret groups of friends or family might work well on Facebook but I haven’t experienced one yet. Regional groups where you’re planning events together could make a lot of sense. Maybe planning a sports team or a party. I imagine that planning a wedding or a family reunion might be made much easier with a secret Facebook group but I found that by being a part of of them being a blogger was limiting.
Although there are great exchanges of knowledge and tips people probably wouldn’t share with the world there is also a lot of “support”. Support typically comes in the form of leaving comments on someone’s blog, submitting their site to StumbleUpon or thumbing up one of their posts. Support can also be tweeting their post or sharing it on Facebook. Support is awesome when the content is good and compelling and I love to share great posts with people but support has little value if you’re in the same tiny circles. People notice and people tune out.
What happened for me is that I felt compelled to read and share blogs that didn’t resonate with me. Sometimes I shared their posts but most often I did not. I wasn’t valuable to the group because it would take a very special writer to get me to share their brand sponsored post with you. When I did share posts from within these groups they didn’t resonate with you, my real community. Great writing discoveries don’t happen in small groups. Great writing discoveries happen when you cull the internet and read outside your own niche.
One of the many reasons I love Stumbleupon is the randomness of the sites that pop up. I love images and write ups of cars almost as much as I love discovering open source software or silk shirts. I assure you no closed group will provide this bounty of content. Facebook will provide diversity as well as twitter and google plus, but by sequestering myself in small groups I was wasting my most valuable non renewable resource, my time… and yours.
So I quit everything private and I’m back to diversity of content.