Oct 11, 2009

Facebook for Business?

Many People have asked me about the suitability of using Facebook for business development. Recently, The Professional Services Journal posed this question to its readers, and the Journal's editor recently summarized the feedback. Here is her article, reproduced with attribution:


Face It: Facebook Can Help Businesses

Do it right to make it work

by Meryl K. Evans, Editor, Professional Services Journal

While many businesses see Facebook (FB) as more of a personal social network where people find family and school friends, an equal amount of businesses have set up shop on Facebook to create communities and boost brand loyalty.

Facebook allows you to assign minimal access to people whom you don't know well or know only on a professional level. They won't be able to see your photos and other personal information.

Not all readers agree on whether Facebook should be part of your business marketing strategy. Their advice falls into one of the following three ideas:

  • Take advantage of Facebook Pages and Groups.
  • Go a-twitterin' instead.
  • Look to your customers.

Take advantage of Facebook Pages and Groups

Facebook Pages and Groups can be a great place to serve your customers, share tips, announce upcoming free seminars and so on. When creating a Facebook Page, focus on offering value to your customers and mention your blog, newsletter and other resources. A good social network strategy uses various social networks and refers them to each other since everyone has a preference for one network over another.

Go a-twitterin' instead

For some businesses, Facebook might not be ideal, and they should look to Twitter instead. "Facebook is designed to keep you on the page as long as possible with all those annoying applets and friends poking you. Ignore FB and work a Twitter account into your business. It's best to focus your efforts on one avenue in social media rather than spreading yourself out too much," says Greg Wolkins, Web consultant with Catscape.

Look to your customers

Marketing's first rule comes to play here. What do your customers want? What do they use? "The whole point of social media is that it is social. Determine where your customers and collaborators are and join them. If you discover that your community is on Facebook, then develop a quality presence there. The same for LinkedIn or Twitter. The first question to ask is always, whom do I want to interact with and where will I find them? Once you answer this question, you'll know where you need to be," says Joan Koerber-Walker, chairman of CorePurpose, Inc.

Some business-to-business (B2B) companies have not yet warmed up to the social networking thing, especially with Facebook. CEO and President of Retention Resource Center Terri Schepps says, "If a business is consumer-focused, I can see the value in having a Facebook page. Facebook is not the best platform for B2B businesses. Mixing personal and business can be risky for both."

You can manage your Facebook account to connect with business contacts while minimizing what they can see on the personal side of your FB account. Users connect with others, join networks through Group and FB Pages and reinforce their business brand. In fact, should you decide to try FB for your business, discover 32 ways to use Facebook for Business.