In order to conceptualize how Facebook can be used as a marketing tool, it is important to understand some of its key components: profiles, "the wall", the news-feed, status messages, groups, pages, applications, advertising opportunities, and privacy concerns. Each of these can be used as a tool to spread the word about your business.
Build Your Profile
The profile is the centerpiece of who you are as an individual or as a business. It's your proclamation to the world to let them know what you want them to know about you. We'll discuss privacy later, but your profile is only viewable by the people or networks you chose to give access. Your friends and colleagues will visit your profile more often than you might think, so use it wisely. Many entrepreneurs and business professionals will post more than simply that they are the CEO of XYZ. They will use it to create an interest in the product or service they provide to viewers.
Use the Wall
Anybody who you have chosen to be a friend on Facebook will be able to write comments on your wall. You, in turn, have the ability to write on other people's walls. As a result of the popularity of Facebook, it is sometimes faster to find a contact there than searching through old contact databases. As the founder of an IT company, many of my old friends will find me through Facebook and ask for computer repair through that channel. In addition, Facebook is regarded as one of the fastest communication tools.
Review the News Feed
With your permission, anything you do on Facebook will be broadcasted to your entire social network. For example, if you chose to become a fan of Microsoft Windows, all of your friends will be able to see that when they look at their news feed. In return, if you can get your employees and friends to become a fan of your business, the viral impact of all of their friends seeing that they became a fan will cause some of them to also become fans. This can provide another opportunity to put your brand in front of wider audiences.
Write Status Messages
Facebook (and other social networks like Twitter) are making short status messages the cornerstone of instant news. Whether you are looking at your news feed, your wall, your friends list, your chat window, the piece of information that always catches your eye first is the status message. As the CEO of a company, your friends and employees will naturally be interested in what you have to say.
Many entrepreneurs use the status message as a way to get their PR messages out faster, to inform people about blog articles they have written, to ask for referrals, or simply to stand up for political or social issues.
Create Fan Pages
Many large businesses create intricate fan pages that can allow people to do anything, ranging from watching shows, to purchasing music, to downloading the latest program, to creating a downloadable collage of images. As people become fans, the owners of the page have access to send messages to whoever became a fan... creating another effective channel to spread your brand. Pages can achieve a number of business goals including collecting email addresses, phone numbers, increasing brand awareness, direct purchasing, and more.
Applications can be installed onto people's profiles, onto fan pages, and sometimes onto other social networking platforms. Applications are powerful tools that can help spread awareness of your products, services, and brands through the social network. Many applications provide social benefit to users to encourage them to tell others about the application, thus widening the reach of the applications.
Find Advertising Opportunities
Facebook's advertising platform gives advertisers the opportunity to reach directly to their target audience. For example, if a business wants to target 18-25 year olds who live in Minneapolis and are interested in technology and entrepreneurship, it takes about 5 minutes to setup that marketing campaign. Facebook's advertising system has only seen marginal success to date. However, that means it is still very cheap to advertise on Facebook.
Facebook has instances where privacy concerns by its users run rampant. For the most part, Facebook responds to these concerns and grants power to the users to control their own privacy settings. Very recently, Facebook made a decision that it will not delete data from users who drop their Facebook accounts which has caused an uproar. We will have to wait to see if Facebook changes its mind like it has in the past.
The purpose of outlining these key components of Facebook is to present a foundation of how Facebook works. In future posts, I will give additional examples of how businesses have achieved particular goals and made money from these components.
Tyler Olson has a vision, a passion for technology, and a love for entrepreneurship. Tyler's current business, HelpMeTy.com, started out of his dorm room two and a half years ago to fix computers and make Web sites. The company now provides remote IT support as well as web services for many people and businesses.