An earlier Fast Wonder blog post with an introduction to Facebook for companies and organizations has been getting quite a bit of traffic lately, so I wanted to do a follow-up post with a few more details and updated information about Facebook. One of the reasons that I find Facebook so interesting is because it has a variety of features that are focused on community building and sharing information with friends and contacts. It is especially useful for smaller, lightweight community efforts.
While we tend to think of Facebook as something for college students, recent college graduates, and technology early adopters, the reality is that Facebook users in the 35 and older category are growing at a very fast rate. According to Inside Facebook, as of the end of March, 30% of Facebook users are over 35.
There are several primary ways to participate on Facebook: personal profiles (private), pages (public), groups, and applications. Each one of these is used differently, so I’ll cover each one of them individually. If you haven’t already read my guiding principles post, you might want to read it first, since it talks more about acceptable behavior in social media.
Personal Profiles (Private)
This is where you should start on Facebook, whether you are participating for fun or on behalf of a company. Facebook profiles are private by default – only the people that you add as contacts can view your personal profile, and they are designed to be used by individuals. You will use this as your account to log into Facebook, so you should work on building your personal profile before starting any other efforts on Facebook. This also gives you an opportunity to experiment with Facebook to learn what works for you and what doesn’t while participating as an individual, rather than jeopardizing your corporate brand image with costly mistakes and gaffes.
Here are a few things that you can do to get started:
- Add a picture that helps people recognize you. There are many other people named Dawn Foster, so it is important for people to be able to tell for certain that they are looking at your account instead of a stranger with a similar name.
- Spend a few minutes entering your information (personal info, education / work, etc.)
- Post status updates and add a few extra pictures.
- Add a few friends (personal, work, past lives)
- Try to get a mix of personal and professional information to help people better understand the whole you with as much information as you feel comfortable sharing with people.
- Go easy on your friends – save the poking, zombie requests, etc. for close personal friends.
Please do not create a personal profile for your company. These look weird and artificial, and they are designed to be private, which makes it difficult for people to interact with your company. We’ll talk about better ways to have a company presence on Facebook in the next section.
Facebook pages are publicly viewable, which makes them much better for a corporate presence, since anyone can become a fan of your company without any additional interaction or approvals. People are effectively using pages for companies, products, bands, shows, special interest groups, and much more. Facebook pages have many of the same features as profile pages, but with information that is geared toward companies rather than individuals. While profile pages have education / work information and interests, public pages have location, hours of operation, company overview, mission, date founded, and more. Some features include: wall with messages, events, video, pictures, notes, and more. Powell’s Books has a pretty good example of a company page.
Facebook also has a step-by-step guide and more information about creating a page for you company or product.
Groups are usually used to share information, collaborate or organize around a specific topic, and they can be public or private depending on what you want to achieve from the group. Groups can be a way to create a very simple, lightweight community around an effort, especially if most of your audience is already on Facebook. People can become members by joining the group, and then they can post information to the group. The features are similar to the profiles and pages described above with information, wall / discussions, events, photos, links, video and more. Corvallis Beer and Blog is an example of how you can use a Facebook group to organize a weekly event.
You might consider creating an application for your organization as a way for people to interact with your products. For example, companies like Nike and Intel have created Facebook applications.
Be cautious when using applications. Some applications have been linked to viruses and others spam all of your contacts in order to use the application. However, there are some great uses of applications. I use the Twitter application to feed my Twitter status to Facebook, and I use the Upcoming application to display a list of events that I’m attending. As I mentioned earlier, go easy on your friends – save the applications used for poking, zombie requests, etc. for close personal friends, not business acquaintences.
There are certainly other ways to use Facebook, but this covers the basic ways that most people use it. In general, remember to participate as a person first and a company second, and remember that the guiding principles that I have talked about so many times before on this blog still apply to using Facebook.
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