It is easy to underestimate Facebook.
Some think Facebook is an inane gossip club: highlight of the day is when Tom posts about his lunch, Dick mutters about his nose hair, or Harry reminisces about the merits of Tipex.
I get that: people create a Facebook account for the first time, link with a few "friends" and all they see is a lot of "noise". At first glance you are bombarded by "news" that adds absolutely no value to your life at all. In fact, the banality might be a little scary. Before you take your mouse and leave, give the Facebook magic a little time to work. Remember that half a billion people use the system. Perhaps you are overlooking something.
Before we go on let's just clear up misconceptions about "friends" and privacy:
Friends: A "friend" is just Facebook parlance for a "contact". Not exclusively "friend" as in those you braai with, but rather people you have some sort of connection with or interest in. You don't have to be blood brothers/sisters or spit in your hand before you shake. A Facebook "friend" simply states a link of "interest" between you. So don't be shy. Connect.
Privacy: A lot has been said about Facebook security and privacy. The bottom line is that YOU decide what you publish and who can see it. If you sleep with a tinfoil hat and think the neighbors' flickering porch light is sending secret messages to aliens, then Facebook is definitely not for you. Understand that you can LIMIT what other people can see about you. You are responsible for your own privacy. You are in control. Your privacy is in your own hands - just like in real life.
But lets get back to inane status updates: My least favorite kind are the offers to buy make believe cows with make believe money for a make believe farm in a make believe village. A waste of electricity in my opinion.
They are talking about you:
Facebook enables and encourages conversations about anything and everything. Instead of throwing Facebook out with the bathwater, I simply click "ignore this application" next to the status update. Boom! Virtual cows become virtual steaks. Dick's nose hair is equally easy to remove from my newsfeed. You control your feed - just as you choose how often you visit Facebook.
Facebook revolves around the newsfeed. A page where you see your world go by. People talk about things they've done and experienced: Restaurants they ate at, books they've read, movies they've seen, pool cleaners they bought, service they got from their ISP / bank / gardener / hair dresser / travel agent / mechanic / plumber, B&B's they've visited, contractors they've used, political parties or causes they support, etc, etc.
You will only see activities from people classified as your "friends", posts by groups you joined and new posts on pages you "liked". As you visit people's profiles, click ignore on some posts and move around Facebook - the system watches and learns about your preferences and interests. After a while it will start adjusting your newsfeed to give preference to people you interact with and hide those you don't. It will shift items depending on how current (new) it is. It will alert you about what your friends like. In short, the longer you use it the better it becomes at predicting what you want to see and what not. (I will discuss this ranking system in more detail in future articles on Facebook)
You can be sure of one thing: no matter what business you are in, your current and future customers are talking about you on Facebook.
A person is ten times more likely to use a product or service endorsed by a friend than one that is not.
Reputations can be made and broken on Facebook.
How to use Facebook for your business:
Let's say you own a company called Widgets Inc. You have a web site. It is well designed and optimized for search engine placement. It contains quality information. Google and other search engines are sending visitors to your web site, but you want more. If not - you know who to call. ;) (Cozahost web designer)
The majority of Widget Inc's customers are satisfied with your product, right? Word of mouth is a very powerful marketing mechanism. Every sale you make could lead to at least one or two more. But how do you do that? It's not like your customers have nothing better to do that to promote your business - besides it can be pretty easy to alienate a happy customer by constantly soliciting them for referrals.
So, how to unobtrusively capitalize on your happy customer base to make more sales, and to keep your existing customers happy? Answer: Facebook - or at least part of the answer. (No such thing as a silver bullet)
Here is how you go about creating a Facebook page:
1. Login to your Facebook account, or create a new account here: http://www.facebook.com/
2. Now create an "official" page for your business here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php - the page name should be the name of your business or web site you want to promote. Choose wisely as the page name cannot be altered later.
3. You can now access your page by typing it's name into the Facebook search bar.
4. Encourage at least 25 of your friends or customers to "like" your page: you need 25 "likes" before you can create a "fancy" Facebook URL, like ours: http://www.facebook.com/cozahost/. Once you have 25 "likes" visit this URL to name your page: http://www.facebook.com/username/
Every Facebook user that "likes" your Facebook page will see the status updates or links you post to your page.
For instance, let's say you are running a special of Widgets, you could post that on your Facebook page with a link to your web site.
You could link to useful tips or practical advice on your web site.
The idea is to get Facebook users to visit the links you post and impress them enough with the quality of your information so that they "like" (recommend) your post. For every Facebook user you entice to "like" your content, an average of 130 of their friends will see the "like" on their newsfeed...and that is the start of your snowball.
Provided you are not rudely noisy, in other words the information you provided is useful or valuable to your audience, you will slowly (at first) build a network of referrals that will continue to generate business for you. A network that grows exponentially. Word of mouth - automated and empowered.
Talking about you
While it is every business's decision whether or not to build and maintain their presence on Facebook, one thing is for sure: current and future customers will be talking about you on Facebook.
Whether you like Facebook or loath it, it is a fact of a life. Half a billion people say so.
Facebook can be a threat to our business or an enormous asset.
A threat because unhappy customers can complain to their friends on Facebook. If you are listing you have the opportunity try to resolve the problem and make a happy customer. Happy customers will gladly recommend you to their friends - plus they will like you more for being accessible, open and for keeping them informed.
Easy enough, right? (If not - talk to us at Cozahost our web designer service is what you need)
Did you like this article? Please show us some love and come like us - or post a comment on the blog! :-)