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AssociCom versus Facebook or LinkedIn

I am often asked why use Associcom rather than a private group in Facebook or LinkedIn. Terry was recently asked the same question and it prompted his response. What differentiates AssociCom from other public sites for you?
asked by Bob MacKie on 2012/6/4 3:29:01 PM

Answers

AssociCom versus Facebook or LinkedIn
I think there are some “feature” oriented reasons that might make AssociCom more suitable, and some “administrative” ones. Here are the “feature” oriented ones.

• AssociCom has a number of features oriented towards social curation which are almost completely lacking in Facebook or LinkedIn. Most prominent of these is the Library, which provides a place to store, organize, and tag documents, photos, and links. Essentially, this allows the organization to build up a “knowledge library.”

• Building on that, AssociCom allows discussions to “hang off” library items. That is, you can go into the library, find an item, and then start a discussion about some aspect of that item right there. This supports the process of social curation because people can discuss the nature of the content in more detail; for example, talking about how it can be applied in specific situations.

• AssociCom allows users to form their own sub-groups. I haven’t actually looked in detail about whether Facebook or LinkedIn supports this ability, but I haven’t seen any evidence of it in the either the Facebook or LinkedIn groups that I participate in. This lets users organize themselves along specific topic lines, or just for specific purposes such as “book clubs” (there are a few examples of these sorts of things up on our Facebook page, e.g. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150755203773816).

• AssociCom has the “network browser” tool which allows users to explore both the social and information relationships in an AssociCom system. It’s hard to get a good sense of what this is like without using it, but we’ve found it to be a powerful way for people to explore an AssociCom site, find new information, and make new connections. There’s a screen shot and a brief explanation of this on our Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=289988824359082&set=a.289988821025749.75841.210956775595621&type=3&theater.

• I personally think that AssociCom’s more “structured” approach to discussions, in which you can create topic hierarchies in order to organize and group related discussions is better than the sort of “flat” here’s what’s new approach that seems to be the default in Facebook and LinkedIn.

On the administrative side:

• We have a few more options in terms of site membership that either Facebook or LinkedIn. For example, you can have a site which is read only to the public, but requires a login to make a comment or add a document. You can also make a site completely closed, so that you can’t see anything without logging in. In terms of adding new users, you can have a site open so that anyone can sign up, by invitation of existing members only, or by invitation of the site administrator only. If you allow anyone to sign up, there is an optional feature in which the site administrator has to approve their application before their account is activated.

• There is an option for integrating site membership with an external DB. Generally this requires some custom programming (which AssociCom will do as a professional services engagement), but for a larger organization it can be a significant reduction in administrative overhead.

• We also like to think that we do a more thorough job of protecting your data. Our sites are backed up daily to two different off site locations, so even in the event of a major failure at our service provider, the amount of data loss will be limited, and we can have the sites up and running again quite quickly.
AssociCom versus Facebook or LinkedIn
One of the obvious differences is that AssociCom has privacy settings which are determined by the site owner/administrator for who can see content, who can be a member and who can invite members to register. There are also other controls available to the owner which are not available when using a public site.

I never used to be concerned about using public sites; in fact I recommend that associations use public sites for their public face and also have a private community that they control. I find it hard to imagine what problems could come from using FaceBook . . . then I ran across this . . . http://community.associcom.com/Details/Content.aspx?id=856.
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