Are you on Facebook yet? Maybe you should be.
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Last month, in BusinessWeek, writer and entrepreneur Jeff Pulver asked that question, adding, “Maybe you should be.”
Jeff went on to explain why he has abandoned LinkedIn in favor of Facebook–because of Facebook’s rich and flexible platform and overall experience. Pulver found that LinkedIn gave him “no compelling reason…to stay and interact.” In his view, with thousands of business groups taking roots in Facebook, “FaceBook is great for business networking as well as socializing, and provides a platform for creating networks among like-minded people.”
I still see a role for LinkedIn, but I’m beginning to agree with Jeff about the compelling reasons to embrace Facebook. When I started getting flooded with invites for friends a few months ago, I peered at Facebook more closely. Since then, I’ve become increasingly enamored (and impressed) with it.
Facebook bills itself as a “social utility” that connects people with friends as well as those who work, go to school, share interests with and live around them. You can use Facebook to keep up with friends, learn more about them, see who they are networked with, along with fun stuff like upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and join groups, both professional and not-so.
Facebook, in my mind, is a seamless mix of social and professional, of serious and silly–kind of our lives in the real world. It gives you a more complete picture of all the small threads that make up the tapestries of our lives–which I think is critical in an age where we are marketing to People, not Markets. And it’s FUN.
- I’m impressed by its seamless integration of news and update feeds.
- I dig its messaging component, which allows me to fire off a quick message or email.
- I like being connected with old and new friends and acquaintances alike, and getting a fuller idea of what they are into (and up to).
- I like the ease of posting photos, video, audio and new links updates to all of those on my radar. (And unlike many internet platforms, I don’t feel like I need the “geek gene” to do so–which is a HUGE boon to Facebook, in my mind.)
- The applications — created by Facebook as well as developers outside the company — allow you to customize the look, feel and functionality of your profile page. Add a virtual bookshelf, must-read headlines, Twitter feeds… the sky seems pretty much the limit.
- And finally: I’m beginning to accept–although I’m not sure I completely embrace–the way that my personal and professional worlds are colliding.
To quote Maura Welch: Facebook is quickly becoming very relevant to me.
And I’m far from alone. As Judi Sohn pointed out in her excellent post, 12 Ways to Use Facebook Professionally, “…it may surprise you to learn that many people have already found Facebook to be an essential addition to their web working toolbox.’
All that is cool, you say. But what’s the point? Can it help you grow your business? I say: Absolutely.
From a business perspective, “joining a business-oriented group and engaging with the community make it easier to establish yourself as a brand and forge networks than relying on a third party to make an introduction to someone you don’t know,” Pulver wrote in BusinessWeek.
Facebook offers an unfiltered way for people to connect with other professionals, as Pulver suggests. But I also see the potential for businesses to interact with customers and fans on a more personal level. How, exactly?
Well, there’s no a magic formula; every business has to figure out the best approach for itself. I created the “Fans of MarketingProfs” group on Facebook, for example. I see it as yet another way for us to talk to our audience–to let them get to know the people behind MarketingProfs–and for us to listen, to get feedback on what we don’t do well or on what we do well but could do better.
Generally, it’s another way to keep an ear to the ground generally with what’s new and what works in marketing. More specifically, it’s also a way to bridge what can be fiefdoms within MarketingProfs–users of the Know-How Exchange don’t always know about our weekly virtual seminars, and readers of the blog aren’t necessarily aware of our newsletters.
I also created an event listing of our upcoming B2B forum, “Driving Sales: What’s New, What Works, What Sticks.” Seeing who in Facebookville is going, who is not, and who might show up is yet another way to get a sense of our flagship 2007 event.
(And while I’m linking — here’s my Facebook profile, if you’re curious. Of course, like all Facebook links here, you need to become a member to view them.)
The group and event I created there are a bit of experiment; I’m not entirely sure how they’ll evolve. Which is ok.
So back to you. Have you checked out Facebook? Created groups…? Events…? Added applications…?
If yes, how do you use them? If no, do you plan to?
Follow up: Tinu Abayomi-Paul gives eight reasons to start using Facebook for business… and she nails it. (Via Web Community Forum.)