This post about Groupsite.com continues the series on finding valuable online conversations
Following on from my recent posts about looking for conversations, starting with LinkedIn Groups (here and here), I’ve spent some time today on the Groupsite.com platform, searching for groups of possible interest to me and catching up with some of the groups I belong to on that site.
The exercise has reminded me of the fact that, typically, when I mention Groupsite (formerly CollectiveX) to people, it’s new information for them. At which point I always become an evangelist for the platform: it’s that good.
Incidentally, until I started writing this post I had not realized that my evangelism was helping fulfil one of Groupsite’s explicit guiding principles:
Engaged users are our sales force. Through every touchpoint, we inspire users to become Groupsite creators, champions and evangelists.
I had the good fortune to become aware of Groupsite quite a while ago, through Shaun Callahan, who has the excellent title on the Groupsite management team of Chief Involvement Officer. As Shaun’s bio there states, enthusiastically and in my observation accurately, “Shaun is focused on helping customers achieve a stronger return on involvement”.
The Company Overview states that “Groupsites are a powerful social collaboration tool for ordinary people in everyday groups”.
Before looking more closely at groups to which I already belong, I spent some time in search mode, having first clicked the (not very obvious) “Find a Group” link at the top left corner of the site. I used both the keyword-based search and the category search and found the category search more interesting. With the keyword search, I repeated my endeavour with LinkedIn, aimed at finding groups of professionals working from home.
Using the keyword phrase “home based” I found a handful of groups, the most populated with only 98 members and only eight in double figures.
Then I tried “work at home” (which the system read as “work home”): there was, not unexpectedly, a goodly number of MLM groups: there were also groups which were professional and specialized, e.g. homeland security specialists, and local, e.g. Tampa Bay. There were nine pages of groups showing up for that keyword, but membership of groups was down to 2 and 1 before I was half way through.
I then switched to using the Categories and focused on Business/Finance and Computers/Internet. I had a quick look at Family/Home but did not stay long there because the groups were, not unsurprisingly, about families and home – not, as far as I could ascertain in my scan, about professionals working from home.
For Business/Finance there were hundreds of pages. In both that category and in Computers/Internet, quite a few groups were local and/or specialized, such as the Chesapeake Sustainable Business Network or the SAP Elite group. There were a couple I found had catchy names, such as Paddytech, for IT professionals who work or have worked in Ireland, and “Vegemite in the Old Town Square – For Kiwis and Aussies living or working in Poland”.
One of the largest groups in the Business/Finance category was the LinkedIn Forum with 2,854 members, including me.
The basic service is free, with the service including all standard features, unlimited users, 250 MB storage and up to five subgroups. Then there are various add-on premium services, for branding, enhanced security etc, at $9 a month each and then packages of services in various configurations – details here.
In terms of finding groups where professionals working from home hang out, this was not a hugely productive exercise. Not just because I could not find clusters of professionals clearly working from home, but also because I realized that some groups have only one or two members.
On the other hand, spending some time scanning through the lists showed me that Groupsite is evidently attractive to many groups, internationally and across a wide range of professional and personal interests.
So one way of finding interesting conversations as part of connecting with the market could be to scan through the listings of groups and find ones where you have some shared interest, whether in terms of the group’s professional or hobby interest or local/regional membership, or both: then join and participate (for some groups you have to apply or be invited).
For example, I found a group with a Web focus and with members from my locality and am considering joining that.
The question arises as to how much conversation is actually going on in the various groups. As we saw with LinkedIn, the fact that a group is set up and perhaps has substantial numbers does not necessarily mean there is a conversation happening.
In the next post in this series I will share some more about Groupsite, specifically about some of the features and how we can use them to help us in our networking.
Then I plan to tackle Yahoo! Groups, which I expect to be a bit more unwieldy than Groupsite or even LinkedIn, but an interesting and potentially productive platform once you get the hang of how it works.
After that I will look at Ning.
If you have experience with or observations to make about Groupsite, or indeed any of these platforms, I trust you will share with us via the comments.