How can Facebook benefit business? Facebook is a social phenomenon and volumes have been written about it, including recently the feature film. For good or ill it is a major presence in the web world. I’m not going to repeat all that here. If you want to read the background, try the Wikipedia article.
So, what’s it all about?
At its simplest, Facebook allows groups of people to communicate with each other online, whether those people are part of a shared interest group such as wheelchair users or a school year group or whether it is an individual keeping up with their friends, it is all about communities of people.
I have heard it said “If I want to talk with my firends, I’ll call them on the phone” fair enough, but do you? I know I don’t, I’m really busy with my work, both the day job and private work, my family and at weekends, being a taxi driver for my children! So do I have time to keep up with what my friends are doing? No. And I guess you may not either. Facebook allows this.
The analogy here is like working in a big office. I do and I have lots of friendships, some strong and some more ad-hoc but no less friendly. I see the people I work with variously many times per day, a couple of times per day, week, month or less so for those who work abroad or who are field sales staff. When I pass somebody in the corridor I’ll say hello, ask how they are, share a joke or whatever, the normal pattern of social interraction.
Put that online and in effect you have Facebook. You can keep up with the minutiae of your friends lives in the way that you would if you saw them everyday. There is a couple of people I worked with for a few years who moved to Thailand for a year or so and are now in Mexico. It’s good to keep in touch and there is no way I could do that over the phone.
It’s not that simple however, Facebook has lots of applications built in, games, photo albums and so on to make what is an entertaining experience. In order to experience all of this, you need to sign up and to see what your friends are doing, you have to send them a ‘friend request’, which is a request to allow you to see what they are doing. Once this is allowed, you’ll see everything they post.
How can it be used to benefit business?
What do you want for your business? More customers, more sales, more profit, however you express it, your organisation exists to achieve something. In order to achieve that something, you need exposure to more people. Take a look at these Facebook statistics, I think you’ll find them interesting. They key one is users. 624 million unique users worldwide. 151million in the USA and 28 Million in the UK. The demographics show the largest user group to be 18-25 and then declining by age group upwards. The fastest growing user group is middle aged women.
To me lots of users says lots of customers and lots of potential. I am aware that I haven’t actually answered the question.
There are loads of ways to use Facebook to benefit your business.
1. Paid for advertising. Facebooks advertising tools allow you to quite accurately target particular groups of users. This is especially useful if your products or services are aimed at particular groups. I know of one company that recruited a new worked using Facebook alone. They targetted 18-25 year old university graduates in marketing living in the Leicester (UK) area with an advert that directed them to a web page that had a YouTube video on of the girl who was leaving, talking about how great her job was. It cost them about £100 and they got loads of candidates inthe right target group with the right skills in no time at all.
2. Building a community. One of my case study clients – the restaurant, has a Facebook page to create a buzz about their business. They get parties of people in all having a good time, take photo’s and post them on Facebook where their friends can see them having a great meal. This is good publicity and spreads the word reinforcing the association of people having a good time at this restaurant.
Meryl. K. Evans on the Gigacom website has identified 32 ways to use Facebook in your business. The article was written in 2009