Facebook, the worlds biggest social network. Facebook’s main uses for most people include yelling at others over opinions, sharing baby pictures, and other equally important activities that include content from people and companies around the world. The big question, and one that Facebook’s currently trying to make visible, is what are the other uses of Facebook?
There are two main user groups of Facebook for marketing, the first being large companies and the second being individual entrepreneurs running small establishments. It is a completely free way for small businesses to establish an online presence, and for large companies it is another outlet in which they can interact with consumers. With that in mind, anyone who maintains a Facebook page for an entity other than themselves must be aware of both the positive and negative results that can occur.
Thunderbird Coffee, a local coffee shop, has a page that is being used effectively. Thunderbird uses this to engage with customers, put a human face on their business, and promote special events which are designed to draw in customers. A small business can use Facebook as an effective and low cost way to get in direct contact with clients. For the larger companies Facebook is a risky way to generate buzz and business. Does the good word of mouth outweigh the negative word of mouth?
Facebook appears to have its sights set on making Facebook a resource for professional groups and distribution of articles. While the distribution system is not yet stood up, there are a number of career orientated professional groups that are present on the site. These professional webpages are similar in look and function to LinkedIn groups, with the quality of comments and content being the differentiator between the two.
I joined the below SAP group and found many of the comments on the page were individuals plugging themselves or something that they are looking to sell. While this is just one instance of a professionally orientated group on Facebook, the intent of Facebook has traditionally not been for professional purposes. From this experience, it appears that Facebook is going to have to shift the culture of the user base if Facebook hopes to compete with LinkedIn.
From Publishers Point of View
Creating a page for a company or organization is extremely easy. Logging in with my personal account and creating a page for a fictitious company took no more than five minutes. This may part of the explanation as to why there are so many poor examples of pages and posts from presumably professional organizations. Unfortunately, while easy to set up, to access some of the features present in these pages, such as analytic dashboards, a page must have 30 likes/follows. Regardless, for a real company Facebook is an excellent platform for advertising and direct company to customer interaction.
Outside of the business interactions with customers and personal non-professional interactions with friends, Facebook is limited in functionality. It will be a while before Facebook is anything more than an add platform, but Facebook definitely has the ambition and the funds to evolve into an entirely different company than it is today.
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