Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Your future on Facebook

A reader disagrees with my contention in Monday’s Financial Post that “If you are not on Facebook by the end of '08, you'll be sending out the signal you're not serious about building your business."

He says he’s played around on Facebook and found it fine for staying in touch with friends and family, but sees no signs of it becoming a useful business tool.

Here’s how I responded to his email:

“Thanks for your note, xxxxx. I agree with much of what you say. For the most part, Facebook is still an awkward teen that doesn't know what it is going to be when it grows up.

“Just in the past few months, however, I have seen a new energy in Facebook. More and more people I know have joined and are actively playing with it. They are using it to stay in touch with friends and business colleagues alike. Some have two identities - one for friends and family, the other for business acquaintances, groups and networking.

“The new applications being created daily for Facebook are mainly juvenile and leisure-oriented, but I predict that more and more business applications will be developed. Just as important, there will also be more and more business-related groups that will find creative ways to use text, blogs, messaging and video to connect and inform their members.

“I also think that the prospects who have been Googling you before doing business with you will increasingly be checking you out in Facebook as well. (They will even judge you by who your "friends" are.) If you can maintain a mature, professional posture on Facebook, moderately self-promotional but demonstrating openness to your community, I believe it will say much about your qualifications and integrity.

“Also, targeted advertising through Facebook (much like Google AdSense) will increasingly become a useful tool for niche marketers. How can you begin to understand the potential of this new medium unless you are already familiar with the Facebook environment?

“I am not a Facebook expert, a raving fan or an apologist. I have been casually studying it for a few months, and I came gradually to the conclusion that it is going to be a useful entrepreneurial tool. It's probably not for everybody, but it's potentially very powerful for some. There's only one way to find out if it's right for you, which is why I encourage business owners to dip their toes in."

That's what I wrote. What do you think?


Eric Baillargeon said...

I agree with both of you. Facebook is/will still be fine for small business specially in the entertainment niche (shows, restaurants and clubs) and may be a bit less for small entrepreneurs.

Where I disagree it's for targeted advertising where the CTR is amazingly low specially because it's not the place to bored people with ads.

Joseph Thornley said...

I think that Facebook is attractive to some, a waste of time to others.
Businesses should do a proper analysis of who cares about them and who they care about, what their interests are, where and how they gather and interact BEFORE they decide which social medium is right for them. It could be blogging, micromedia like twitter, social networks like Facebook, or some combination of these and myriad others.

Yvonne Weld said...

I think that if you utilize the right resources and tools available to facebook it can be a marketing tool ... the problem is knowing just which of those tools to use for the best advantage to your company.

My facebook page right now is a mix of personal and business, but if done correctly, I think that maybe having a page dedicated solely to business could be a tool .... problem is that I don't know enough about facebook to make that determination right now. Maybe that should be our goal is to determine how facebook can be used as an effective tool for marketing.

Rick said...

Thanks for all your comments.
You've convinced me that there's a lot to learn still about Facebook, so I will make it a minor theme for this blog this year to explore how to use this fast-growing new tool to promote yourself and your business. So check back regularly for updates!