When talking about web 2.0 and social networks in particular, the first name that usually comes up is Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild currently has more than 100 million active users worldwide. The social networking giant acts just like all the others, in that users can create profiles, add friends, write on walls, upload photos and most importantly…POKE. These applications do not separate Facebook from competitors, like MySpace, but there are several factors that do. Firstly, the clean user interface came as a breath of fresh air to all the MySpace users who became aggravated by their cluttered profiles. Secondly, Facebook started out as a college student online social network, where members had to register with a .edu email address. The security Facebook instilled in their members came just at the right time in the market, as MySpace was becoming a haven for stalkers. Finally, Facebook opened up its doors to outside developers, who have created over 33,000 applications for the community. Applications have been developed, which allow members to send bumper stickers or find real estate listings. Their incredible success and mass utilization makes it a perfect web 2.0 tool for all types of businesses.
Everyone understands the concept of Facebook, but few business professionals understand how their company can capitalize on utilization of the platform. This article will be your step-by-step guide for unlocking the hidden value of Facebook.
1. Registration: The first thing to do for all new members is obviously registration. Once logged in, take a look around your home page and become familiar with the new feed. Your news feed will keep you up to date with all the actions of your friends. The setting can easily be changed if you only want to be notified of certain actions.
2. Friend Requests: Once you have your bearings it is time to invite partners, friends and colleagues to join your network. Now it is time to get down to business.
3. Complete Profile Info: Fill out all the information in your profile exactly how you would with your LinkedIn Profile. Search engines are going to crawl this page, so you want as much professional information as possible, as it will help with your ranking.
4. Add Applications: Browse through the application gallery and add apps that you see useful. I recommend adding the RSS reader to your page and then linking your personal or corporate blog to it. This will drive traffic to your blog and will add another link to your blog. Another useful app to add is the Twitter app, which will directly feed all your twitters to your profile.
5. Create Groups: Create a group for your whole company, departments or project teams. You can set these groups to private or leave them open for the public based on the reason the group was created. Applications can be added to groups if needed. Use the discussion forum and wall to quickly communicate with team members on specific projects or problems.
6. Create Product/Service Fan Page: Establish your brand by creating a large following on Facebook. Fan Pages are vital because they allow consumers to communicate directly with the company and/or other consumers. If you just released a new product, your fan page can give you a great deal of value feedback, as most likely your fans will start discussions on the page. These pages also allow your consumers to be very hands on because they can upload pictures and videos.
7. Advertising: Facebook makes all of its revenue from advertising and has developed quite the impressive ad platform. Depending on the size of your company, you can choose different types of advertising. Anyone can buy ads at any time by number of clicks or by number of impressions. When you run this type of ad, you choose what you want to advertise, type in the text of the ad, upload the photo for the ad, choose a social action, pick the location (worldwide, state, city), pick the sex, pick the age, type in keywords, set a daily budget, pick your max bid and finally choose your schedule. The social actions are stories about a user’s friends that are related to and displayed alongside your advertisement. You can select which pages or applications provide relevant social actions that can be paired with your ad. Another type of advertisement that larger companies use, links actions taken on a company’s website to actions taken on Facebook. If your friend rents a movie on Blockbuster.com, he/she can choose to share this on Facebook. If they choose yes and one of your friends likes the genre of movie you rented, an ad will appear in that friend’s news feed stating X rented Y movie from Blockbuster.com. The level of personalization Facebook has created for their advertising platform separates them from other social networks.
8. Insights: Along with the superior ad platform, Facebook has developed a powerful research platform to track the performance of your ads. You have access to data on activity, fan demographics, ad performance and trends. With this information, you are better equipped to improve your custom content on Facebook and adjust your ad targeting. Their robust database of authentic demographic information provides you with deep understanding of exactly who is engaging with your business and how. Best of all, this service is completely free.
9. Application Creation: Another great way to promote your company is to develop a powerful application. With Facebook Platform, you can create applications that integrate deeply into Facebook, harness the power of the social graph and create new opportunities for you business. The platform provides you with all the necessary tools to quickly create custom experiences for users to interact with your business. There is currently over 400,000 registered developers on Facebook, so don’t wait any longer.
As you now know, Facebook should not be taken lightly. It is one of the most powerful web 2.0 platforms available in the current market and all businesses should be implementing a few of these discussed steps. Social networks are not just for fun anymore, which is why companies like Ernst and Young, Apple and Nike all have strong presences on Facebook.
- Print out this article and turn it into a checklist. Make sure you have at least attempted all 9 steps.
- Lose the preconception that social networks hold no true professional value. Once organized correctlly and frequently energized through the submission of unique and valuable content, you will begin to notice a measurable increase in page strength.
- Update! Update! Update! Never let your profile page lay unactive for more than two weeks.
- Try to find a friend or a co-worker to build you a simple, yet engaging and rewarding widget to plug into Facebook and other social networks with open source.