If you aren't on Facebook already, there's a good chance you will be soon. Whether it's your kids, neighbors, or friends, someone has probably encouraged you to sign up, set up a profile, and start "social networking."
Social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, are becoming more popular and one of the first places people go when they get on the Internet. These sites offer a plethora of "social" features, including e-mail, photo sharing, and chat.
Facebook, the king of the hill, is the number one social networking site. There are more than 220 million active users with about half a million people joining every day. Facebook increased its U.S. market share from 55.15 percent in August to 58.59 percent in September, according to Hitwise.
There is so much to do and learn on Facebook that it can't all be covered adequately in one column. We'll focus on just the fundamentals and provide an overview of what can be done with Facebook today. The next two installments will focus on the basics of successful fan pages and how to market your business on Facebook.
Setting up Facebook and Privacy
Setting up Facebook is easy and straightforward. After creating your account, set up your account settings and create a profile. Within the account settings, you can control who can see your information and what they can see.
Next is your profile. Most of this information is self-explanatory. Remember, don't fill in information about yourself if you don't want people to see it.
For your picture, I recommend a close face shot. This allows people to help recognize you better. Consider this as your personal brand. People will see this image and associate it with you and your correspondence. Your picture will say a lot about you consider what you're communicating when people see your image.
For more information on setting up Facebook, check out this tutorial. You need to set up a free account first. This covers a lot of the basics with nice examples, videos, and interactive slides.
What Can You Do With Facebook?
Facebook is like a large database of people who are using it for different reasons, but mainly as a communication tool. Applications like photo albums, games, gifts, and others enhance your Facebook experience.
- Photo Album: You can upload your family trip to Disney World or birthday party pics to Facebook for family and friends to see. A photo application makes it easy to upload and share your pictures. Once a picture is uploaded you can leave a comment and even "tag" or label people in the picture. With this tag feature, you don't need to e-mail your Facebook friends the pictures you took of them. Tagged pictures are automatically sent to your friend's wall. You can control this feature in the account settings if you don't like the idea of people being able to tag you in their images.
- Events: If you're planning an event and want to get the word out to all of your friends, you can use the Event application to help you plan the event and invite your Facebook friends. You can even invite friends who aren't on Facebook. Need something to do? You can also use this tool to find events whether local or related to a special interest you have.
- The Wall and Notes: The Wall is the main part of your profile where most of the activity occurs. This is where your friends can see your updated status, photos, and other things you've added. Friends can post comments here and you can post comments back to their wall, which is called "Wall to Wall." Notes are another way to communicate with your friends. Some people use notes to post questions and start a discussion about various topics.
- Chat: If you're familiar with other chat programs (e.g., AIM, Yahoo Messenger), Facebook has a similar feature that allows you to chat with other friends when they're available.
- Groups and Fan Pages: Are you a member of a fraternity, sorority, or a national or local organization? Do you feel passionate about a particular cause, such as breast cancer awareness? It's highly likely that you will find a group to join on Facebook that matches your interests or affiliations. You can search for and join groups or create your own.
This leads us into next week's topic on how to create a successful fan page for you business. Until then, please post any useful resources or links that helped you learn your way around Facebook. To get you started, here are some useful resources:
- Facebook 101: 25 tips and tricks
- How to use Facebook
- Facebook Safety
- How to use Facebook: Video Series
Why Does Facebook Matter to Marketers?
With Microsoft recently partnering with Facebook to integrate Facebook and Twitter updates into Bing search results, this opens the door for more real-time search results. It is likely that Google will also partner with Facebook in the near future. So having an understanding of Facebook (and Twitter) can open up new ways for search marketers to reach their audiences and brand themselves.
Facebook also presents a unique marketing opportunity for businesses with Facebook Business Pages. As more people participate with social media sites, marketers are learning that these sites are where people are learning more about products, services, business, etc. Like most social media sites, marketing on Facebook has a viral effect.
Here are some benefits for using Facebook:
- Customer interaction: Provides a place for a conversation between a business/brand and customers to happen. Through this interaction companies can build better relationships with customers.
- Reputation management: Companies can learn more about how the brand is perceived online. This is done through comments and direct feedback and with monitoring conversations both positive and negative.
- Customer acquisition: As people become fans of a Facebook page, they get a notice posted as news item their friends to see. This viral approach will then lead to new viewers.
- Drive traffic: With increased activity of a Facebook fan page, traffic will likely increase to the company's Web site. Facebook pages also appear in universal search results.
- Branding: Can generate brand awareness to new audiences in addition to a company's corporate Web site.
Meet Ron Jones at SES Chicago on December 7-11, 2009.
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