Academic Societies on Facebook- Why?

One of my academic societies, namely the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, has a Facebook group page. At present there are over 100 people* following the group with nothing happening. Maybe about three posts on the wall.
This brings up the obvious question.
What role can a Facebook group possibly play in the function of academic / scientific societies?
I realize this is part and parcel of some larger questions about the role various so-called Web2.0 functions and features can play in the conduct of science as we go forward.
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* my failure to recognize many names suggests to me that this is primarily an exercise for trainees at the moment.

11 responses so far

  • I belong to the APS facebook group as Isis and while the group page appears a little stagnant, it offers an easy way to message all of the members. Also, the group can list announcements there for easy access by its members. The APS page is totes awesome.
    (PS: I saw this via your tweet).

  • DrugMonkey says:

    the question is, does anyone want to message all the members. and for what purpose? How does one hit that perfect sweet spot of content wherein the tool enhances community and furthers the science without turning into annoying spam?

  • bill says:

    At this early stage, I think it's mostly a matter of making the tools available and waiting to see which ones get used. Well, that and asking your question at intervals, to see what we've learned from the ongoing experiment and tweak the conditions.

  • Science Bear says:

    I actually found out about Jorge Cham coming to PSU through a facebook group, though I haven't joined any related to scientific groups.
    A lot of people seem to join them as some sort of statement, even if they haven't been active in MONTHS. I think this is a waste of time and should be considered for entertainment purposes only.

  • ecogeofemme says:

    I could see it as a tool to facilitate planning for upcoming meetings, or to promote interaction among topical subsections of a society. But it seems like mass emails can do the same job and reach more people, since lots of folks still don't use Facebook with any regularity, if at all.

  • Bhetti says:

    Facebook's communication. Communication always helps. In any medium: the communication has to be mindful of its audience, clear and targeted.
    Also via twitter!

  • That's the fine line, isn't it Drug? My society doesn't abuse it's power to Facebook message everyone constantly and uses it very judiciously. For example, when I announced my award they sent a message to the society message asking for support. They announced the deadline for abstract submission to our annual meeting. I get maybe one message every few weeks. That's the key. The ability to access the society as a whole by message is limited to an administrator. This can then serve to drive the conversation to the group page.
    It is smart of the society to make use to the fact that we are inherently social creatures who are more likely to check a social networking site than to read a paper newsletter in out mailboxes. Plus, being able to connect faces with names of people helps establish a community in a larger society. The APS also has a trainees page where the trainees chillax and plan physiology stuff.
    You know the bulletin board at the meeting where people tack messages and job postings and stuff? This has the potential to completely take that over and allow it to stay active instead of being used one week a year.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    The l337 backchannel for the Society, Isis? Hmmmm...

  • Laura says:

    Joining the Facebook group makes it easier for other members of that group to find you. If someone meets me at an event but only knows my first name and what I look like, they can go to the Facebook page for the group that sponsored the event and find me there. Then if they're in my network (if we're at the same university, they would be) they can view part of my Facebook profile, send me Facebook messages, or look up other ways to contact me.
    For me, Facebook provides a handy way way to cement relationships with new friends and acquaintances. We meet somewhere, add each other on Facebook, and then I have a better record of meeting them than a mental note. If I have a reason to look them up in the future, it's much easier.

  • Yes, D-Fresh. The APS Facebook is totally l337!!!

  • EMBOcomm says:

    We launched an official EMBO facebook group this week for our annual life sciences conference, The EMBO Meeting. Had held back for a long time but seeing how other conferences like ASCB have developed communities around annual conferences we thought it worth a try. Hopefully there will be positive networking experiences for attendees before they go to conference and after they go home. We carefully considered our target audiences for the conference and determined that facebook and other new media are important tools for message delivery etc. Time will tell..

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