Facebook is the largest of the social networks, with more than 500 million active users. (For perspective, if Facebook was a country, it would rank third in population, just behind the People’s Republic of China and India. That’s roughly 190 million people more than the population of the United States!) Facebook has become a favorite destination for people, businesses, and organizations to connect and share information because of its easy-to-use interface and interactive features.
It’s the most multimedia-friendly of the big three networks as members can post text, pictures, audio, and video, and can share their location too. It also offers tons of applications and widgets thatcan make your Facebook Page engaging and fun. Here’s how Facebook works: Users sign up for a free account and then make connections with other users on the service by “Friending” them: When you find someone you know on Facebook, you request to be their “Friend.” If the request is accepted, you can see that person’s profile information, status updates, photos, and more (which is why you may not want to be Friends with someone you don’t actually know).
Users who you accept as a Friend can, in turn, see your profi le, status updates, and photos. If you don’t want to share all your information with the public or all your Friends (for example, if you connect with coworkers or family members), there are privacy settings available to limit who can see what information you post or is posted about you by others.
Facebook is a great place to connect with your own friends, family, and colleagues, but it has also become an incredibly powerful platform for businesses and organizations to build community, engage with prospects, and encourage customers and members to spread your message to a larger network. Small businesses and nonprofits are encouraged to create a Facebook Page rather than personal profi le.
A Facebook Page, like a personal profile, provides an information hub that users can choose to “Like.” Liking a Facebook Page is not too different from subscribing to a newsletter. Facebook users will Like a Page to stay updated on events, promotions, and news, or to simply show their appreciation or endorsement. Anyone can build a Page — businesses, associations, actors, musicians, nonprofit organizations, politicians, etc. Some businesses have even built Pages for specifi c products.
A big advantage to creating a Facebook Page is that you do not have to accept requests for connections; any Facebook user can choose to Like your page. When someone Likes your Page, anything you post to your Facebook Page will show up in their newsfeed. This is how the network effect kicks in. If you post something that your fans like, they will share it with their Friends, who may very well decide to connect with you too.
Finally, Facebook Pages are public-facing, meaning they can get picked up in search engines and give you and your organization and its website even more exposure. (Constant Contact’s Page can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/constantcontact)
What’s good about Facebook?
• The user base is huge, and that means many of your customers and constituents are already there.
• It’s easy to use.
• You can post any type of multimedia content, including videos, photos, and links to external content.
• You can separate your personal and professional use.
• You don’t need a personal profi le to set up a Facebook Page for professional use.
What’s not so good about Facebook?
• Pages do not have email alerts; you will have to check to see if there is any activity — or you can sign up for NutshellMail by Constant Contact to keep track of the activity on your Page through a single email digest.
• It’s a closed environment — only Facebook users can Like your business or organization. (Nonusers can check out your Facebook Page, but not your personal profi le.)
Tip for Success:
People who connect with you or Like your Page are interested in what you have to say and appreciate what you do for them.
Use that to your advantage by posting exclusive updates, photos,
sales/promotions, and other content that will help to form an even closer bond with your customers and members.
When you post interesting content or exclusive promotions, your fans will Share or Like your message with their Friends. This can create an incredible network effect to drive more followers, email subscribers, and ultimately business.