Before setting New Year's resolutions, it is always good to reflect back on the past year and see what we have learned. At Groupsite.com, we have certainly learned a lot.
Here are the top 10 things that I have learned about Groupsite.com users and groups over the past year:
1. Groupsite.com is a much better name than CollectiveX - We always knew the term Groupsite was good choice for the name of the service we deliver. However, it took us over a year to realize that it was such a good brand name that we should use it for the company name as well. Bye-bye CollectiveX, hello Groupsite.com - the world's leader in social collaboration.
2. There are more users than designers - Every day, I hear from a few web designers who complain that they wish they had more flexibility to redesign Groupsites exactly they way their artistic mind says they should look. For every one of these complaints, I also hear from hundreds of users who thank us for keeping our interface and structure so clean, simple and easy to use. We work very closely with many designers (some are even Certified Groupsite Partners) but our top priority is and will always be the end user.
3. Real-world Groups Matter - While there are a few successfully engaged groups that only exist online, the bulk of our most engaged groups are those that first existed as real-world groups who chose Groupsites as a tool to augment the communicating, sharing and networking they were already doing before they discovered us.
4. We all need a little help - As much as we obsess over user experience, and as straightforward as we try to make Groupsites, it still helps to have a place to go to get a little help. We continue to add to our FAQ library and value the tips and tricks we learn from our own users in our Champions community.
5. Group-centric is a Difference that Makes a Difference - While all of the big social networks (Facebook, Linkedin, Myspace) start with you and your page, the fact that Groupsites start with the group and the group's purpose first and foremost continues to set us apart as meeting a need that is yet to be met by individual-centric, friend based models.
6. Social Collaboration is the next logical step - Social Networking is the new thing and it is here to stay, but many question what purpose social networks serve beyond another medium to mass target consumer advertising. Collaboration software has been around for quite some time but has suffered the challenge that few people actually use it. Imagine a social network with a purpose and collaboration tools that people actually want to use. That's what Social Collaboration is all about and that is what Groupsite.com is focused on delivering.
7. I think way faster than I type - I love getting feedback from Groupsite users. The best way to receive that is face to face. 2nd best, by phone. Lastly, email. I type with two fingers. Give me a whiteboard or a sheet of paper over a keyboard any day.
8. Facebook and Linkedin are not the enemy - Despite being asked daily how we compare to Facebook or Linkedin, I see more and more of the most successful groups using both Facebook and Linkedin as a great ways to connect new dots and still using Groupsites to make things happen with those connections. Once those connections are made a Groupsite is still the best online way for groups to make things happen. Connect everywhere - then invite them to make things happen in a Groupsite.
9. Start small - While we have large groups that are successful, all of them began by focusing on the core few who expressed an existing desire to communicate, share and network. The growth and success of the group came from expanding circles only after the small initial core proved that they could use a Groupsite to really make things happen. A small group of truly engaged people can make very big things happen. (kind of like the 8 of us who work at Groupsite.com!)
10. Groups of groups - Most users are in more than 1 Groupsite. Big organizations like the ABA, ACS and NEA are using us for dozens of groups. Groupsites have become the tool of choice at National, regional, state and local levels - all at the same time.
And one additional thing I learned this year - blowing up a giant balloon that says "Groupsite.com" and letting it bounce around a sold-out Dave Matthews concert sounded like a good idea until the wind blew it out and over the lawn seats and into the parking lot after only about 20 bounces. oops.
The whole Groupsite.com would like to send out a very sincere "Thank You" to our dedicated users who have given us such great feedback over this year. Our development team is focused on making sure that, as we continue to grow, every aspect of your Groupsite works as advertised and we strive to keep things simple and easy.
Happy New Year and we look forward to helping you make great things happen in 2010.