About Face[book]

Social media is perhaps synonymous with Facebook, and we expect that you have no doubt at least heard of Facebook. If you haven’t, it is a social networking site where users create profiles of themselves, add friends, post status updates, share photos and videos, and so on.

Some people live and die by Facebook, and tend to post every single trivial aspect of their lives. Some call 911 when it goes down (we’re not making that up). At the other end of the spectrum are those who hate it and refuse to use it, or who have an account but very rarely post anything. Most Facebook users fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.

For businesses, the most relevant aspect of Facebook is setting up a separate page for your company. That is, you create a profile, post status updates, and encourage others to become fans, often via links on other Web sites or blogs, or in your personal Facebook status feed. Once your friends “like” your business page, any news updates you post on that page will appear in their news feeds. This is a handy tool for keeping your social network informed of any awards, accomplishments, milestones, or events.

If you are planning an event—such as a workshop or some other appearance—you can also create an “event page” in Facebook that provides the logistic information on attending, and you can invite your Facebook friends as well as see who has accepted or declined your invitation.

Facebook also has Groups that you can join and then connect with other like-minded individuals. They are best thought of as clubs, the kind you would join in the offline world: go to meetings, participate in discussions, and meet and network with other members of the group. Facebook Groups function in much the same way; members discuss various topics more or less interactively. Facebook Groups aren’t necessarily as useful for business as LinkedIn Groups (which we will look at next week), but depending on the business you are in, can be good for building up a network of contacts and potential sales leads. As with anything in social media, it is best to avoid direct sales pitches or to seem like you are overtly trawling for business. The idea is to provide cogent, helpful, or informative comment and content.

Again, Facebook was not originally designed as a tool for businesses, but they have since launched new tools and services to make the platform more suitable for business users—and the platform is evolving all the time. Most prominently, you can create Facebook ads—but we would advise against that. No one likes ads on social media, and you are much better off building Likes and reposts organically. Still, Facebook ads have worked for some. Start here and explore your options.