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Leveraging SharePoint Online to Manage Facebook Group Events (Part 1)

Leveraging SharePoint Online to Manage Facebook Group Events (Part 1)

by: Cecil (CJ) John 12 Jun 2018


Creating the Group Events Document Library and Content Types

The era of cloud computing era ushered in by Software as a Service (SaaS) has tremendous appeal and benefits for document and data management. However, because it lends itself to the storage of decentralized data, this can lead to users to an experience of data fragmentation, and inefficient information retrieval. Integrating disparate data sources into a searchable and coherent whole has brought its own challenges.

Many of you are either an administrator or a member of a Facebook or Facebook Workspace discussion group. In this article, I will present a solution to the problems of data fragmentation and decentralization using SharePoint online. I will describe how to use a document library to unify and categorize access to data created for a group event.

A typical group event would have one or more of the following artifacts:

  • A dedicated group discussion
  • A link to the event presentation (e.g. PowerPoint or Microsoft Word)
  • A link to the YouTube or Facebook event video recording
  • A link to the Bio for the Event presenter
  • The actual Facebook group
  • A Facebook feed

Using the group event as our example, you would literally have to search for each of these artifacts independently. The goal of this tutorial is to demonstrate how we can use SharePoint online, content types and managed metadata navigation to present a unified front.

This is a two-part series as outlined below:

Part 1: Creating the Group Events Document Library and Content Types (See Figure 1)

Part 2: Presenting a window into the Facebook Workplace group using the Formal Media(TM) Workplace SharePoint Feed APP (See figure 2.)

Document Library with Metadata Navigation

Figure 1 – Document Library with Metadata Navigation


Workplace Feed

Figure 2 – Workplace Feed


This solution leverages a SharePoint Online document library and several content types to organize these events into a document library that at least creates the illusion of centralization while giving access to the group artifacts housed on various SaaS platforms.

To follow this tutorial, you will need administrative access to a site in SharePoint Online. I will use the closed Facebook group Social and Affective Neuroscience to illustrate.


  1. Log in to your SharePoint Online site with your administrative account.
  2. Activate the Site Feature - As an administrator, you would need to have "Metadata Navigation and Filtering" site feature activated.
  3. Create the Document Library. Figure 1 shows an example document library with a folder for one event configured.
  4. Create the following content types (See Figure 1):
    1. Document
    2. Link to a Document (this is for creating a link to the specific Facebook discussion or presentation for the event).
    3. Video Rendition (this allows you to embed a video inline in a SharePoint Online page. See Figure 3.
    4. Video (a link to the video e.g. YouTube).
  5. Enable Metadata Navigation Settings - This enables you to configure your hierarchy and key filter fields for the document library shown in Figure 1. The objective is to empower your user to search for an event in this library using faceted search (i.e. refining their search) using any of the available fields. For example, in the FIG the user can filter by date or resource and can even search the library by keyword.
  6. Give access to the document library folders, links and documents - There are a number of options here:
    1. Domain Accounts: Create a domain account for each user you want to give access. Although you can create an unlicensed domain account for each user, for a Facebook group that has a large number of users, potentially thousands this is a really labor intensive path to take.
    2. Microsoft Accounts: Giving access to Microsoft accounts is also not really practical because for one, if the user you want to grant access does not already have a Microsoft account they have to explicitly create one or federate their preferred email account with Microsoft e.g. at msn.com. This approach is also not scalable as the admin has the burden of managing a potentially large number of accounts.
    3. Anonymous Access: By far the simplest way to grant access to members of the Facebook group would be to generate a link for anonymous read access to the site and document library. This link could then be shared with the Facebook group. Share this anonymous link with your Facebook group and viola. This approach however limits user access to folders and documents. You cannot grant anonymous access to the site or library.
    4. Workspace Single Sign On: My preferred approach if you anticipate a need to scale would be to use Workplace by Facebook instead of Facebook. Single sign on for workplace can be configured so that your users can leverage the same email account to sign into both SharePoint online and Workplace. This provides seamless bidirectional access between Workspace and SharePoint Online. Another advantage of using Workplace is that now instead of being restricted to one group (Facebook does not allow you to have nested groups) you can have dedicated groups within your workspace account.

Inline Video Rendition

Figure 3 – Inline Video Rendition


Facebook Discussion Group

Figure 4 – Facebook Discussion Group


Figure 1 shows the  Formal Media™  EMBED, a feed which allows you to display posts for each group within your workplace account. This can be used to create the feed on any webpage. There is also a dedicated  Formal Media™  SharePoint APP available in the Microsoft SharePoint APP Store.

In the next article (Part 2) I will show how to configure the Formal Media™ Feed to use within the context of your own portal.

If you would like a working demo of this portal please contact cj@virtualdeveloper.com

Cecil (CJ) John is an architect, computer scientist and entertainer. He is the Chief Executive Architect of virtualdeveloper.com, LLC. The company has done SharePoint and Azure work for some of the largest companies and institutions in the world including the IMF, World Bank, U.S. Federal Government, Ernst & Young and Deloitte Consulting.

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