While I got into Facebook years ago it took me a long time to find the real business benefits of a presence there. Initially I joined a few interest groups, located some friends and generally explored a little and then got bored.
Gradually I had increasing numbers of people want to be my friend, invite me to their weird group or send my some present, ranking or other weird offering. Soon it overtook me and I just accepted every invite to see where it all took me …. that was predictably nowhere.
I soon had heaps of unopened emails, was a member of all manner of potentially useful groups and linked to endless possible prospects/friends/colleagues etc.
So time to look a little deeper and work out what all the fuss is about. Firstly I rationalised its a bit like the Yellow Pages and the White Pages combined everyone you need to know is there but they are hard to find and impossible to keep up to date with unless you know what you are looking for.
While many people think it is for kids the demographics tell a very different story.. there are in excess of 200 million active users….. over 50% are 35 plus….. The biggest group being between 35 and 44, while the fastest growing group is 55 plus. There are more than 250,000 people joining each day with 57% being women!!
So it gives you a great chance to reach over 200 million but also to slice and dice them by the demographics that you want to target as well, using its powerful demographic tools.
Generally its use has been on a personal level but on going changes in the past year or so have opened up opportunities for businesses to set up their sites within Facebook. It is no longer all about communicating with friends and family.
Companies large and small are using it in a variety of creative ways to build their brand image, direct traffic to their website and/or blog, attrcat staff, announce new offerings and events, and generally make available key information about their business to their market. Put simply its where the people you want to talk with are and they are all willing to converse with you if you are of interets to them. Its all about building Word of Mouth Marketing.
So where else can you get a free to use tool that allows you to
Build Brand Awareness
Develop Online Reputations
Conduct Research on Competitors
Develop Leads for New Business
and access well over 200 million people….. No wonder traditional advertising revenue models are being threatened with many free options that are more effective.
While generally I am a non believer in using advertising to build a brand …. it is just wasting money on reaching out to lots of people who are probably not interested in how creative the ad agency can be or how annoying the cheap do it your self ad can be, and hence your product.
But given the ability to target very well and get the right info to the right people at the right time I would encourage some use of Facebook as an advertising medium. Interesting in addition to the overdone Google Adwords advertising there are a number of new products esp fro Social Networks coming onto the market(eg LocalAdLink) that we may well also recommend in future.
One of the most common perceptions we face is that people in business are too busy and its not worth their time to find out what Facebook etc can do. When perhaps they should be looking at it as an opportunity to improve some efficiencies in the way they communicate with people they currently do business with or want to do business with, vendors, colleagues, business partners etc.
So check out Facebook as an adjunct to or in fact possibly a replacement for newsletters, direct mail and the other more traditional forms of communicatiing in future. This seems particularly pertinent at the moment with Neilsen reporting in March 2009 that 40% of compnaies are cutting direct mail budgets, 35% cutting newspaper ad spending and 28% cutting out magazine spending to focus on more interactive forms of media.
Companies that have embraced Facebook and the like find they are communicating more often with vendors, clients, prospects, clients, colleagues and people in general. This is helping them understand market needs, build trust and develop stronger business links.
Why not get started – Join up its Free.
Create your personal profile
Build your contact list
Post a message on your wall
Keep your status up to date
Join some relevant groups and participate in conversations
Build up your list of friends
Create your Business Fan Page
Checkout the Marketplace and list your products/services/features for free
Give it a go it may well be worth the effort.