The Social Groups section of Self-Storage Talk is steadily growing, but several users have asked me to create a basic primer on how to use this portion of the site because it's a little different from the main forum.
Any registered, logged-in member can access Social Groups (and if you're not registered, you can do it here for free). Anyone who's not logged in or not registered—we call them "lurkers" on SST—cannot read or post anything in Social Groups, making the section's content protected from consumers' search-engine queries. This protection is the biggest reason to use Social Groups.
The easiest way to get there is to click on the Social Groups link in big white letters in the navbar on the home page. You can also get there by clicking on your user control panel, marked as User CP in the navbar, and then scrolL down to the Social Groups link on the left side of the page. Once there, members can take several different actions. Here are the notable ones:
Join a Group
Currently, 14 groups exist, though that number will likely swell as others create groups. Examples include "Magnificent Managers" in the Industry-Related category and "Over the Hill and Still Rolling" in the Just for Fun category. Once you've clicked on a group, you'll notice a blue link in the top-right corner that says "Join Group." Click here, and you'll officially part of the group, giving you the ability to start discussions and to share images and attachments. There is no limit to the number of groups you can join.
Public vs. Private Groups
Groups can be set as public or private. If set to public, the group allows any SST member to join. If set to private, the group allows only members who have been invited to join. Private groups are not completely invisible; all members can see that they exist, but they cannot post in or view them.
Create a Group
Whether it's a group dedicated to your state associaton or a fun group for people who like to cross-stitch, you're welcome to create your own groups. From the Social Groups home page, scroll to the bottom and click on the blue "Create a Group" link. Select either "Industry-Related" or "Just for Fun" from the category drop-down menu. Give your group a name, and write a brief description. Then, make sure that both albums and posts are enabled. You have the choice here to make the group public or private. The next screen will ask you to choose an optional avatar for your group. You can use an image from the Internet or upload from your computer. Once you create a group, you are the administrator and in charge of monitoring group members, as well as the discussions and images. However, forum moderators and administrators can override your decisions. You can create up to five groups. Once you've created five, you can choose to delete one to create another.
Subscribe to a Group
Similar to subscribing to forums or threads in the main section of the site, you can subscribe to group discussions. Click on the Social Groups home page and scroll to "Group Subscriptions" to manage them. While on any group page, look for the Group Tools drop-down menu in the discussion box and click on "Subscribe to This Group." You will then get the option of daily or weekly e-mail updates on the discussions.
This information should be enough to provide a good start at using Social Groups. Jump in, experiment, and play around. I think you'll find that Social Groups is a nice addition to an already useful and fun community.