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Facebook may not be for YOUR business

December 9, 2008

Lately I’ve been inundated with requests from people to build them a Facebook page. One client told me of a conference in which the speaker told the entire room they had to have a Facebook page or their businesses would simply not survive.

While it’s true that Facebook is the largest network of it’s kind in the world and growing at an amazing rate, that doesn’t mean it’s good for your business.

Facebook is great for touching base with your long lost school friends, posting your family pictures or participating in one of the many groups on a personal level, but therein lies the problem with Facebook. It’s entirely too personal. You can create a profile on Facebook and post only your professional information. You can create a group for your business and a fan club for your products. What you can’t really do is effectively control where it goes from there.

If people “friend” you or join your group, you’re opening the door to their profiles and their friends’ profiles and you’d be amazed what people post out there. Before you know it, you and your market can be knee deep in invitations to hook up, embarrassing videos and pictures of friends and loved ones or people you don’t even know, and a host of invitations to time-sucking games and vampire battles. Employers have used the network to do background checks on potential employees.

Virgin Atlantic fired a group of service attendants for their discussions on their Facebook group even though Virgin has their own Facebook page for the company. The employees were not following company policy and they paid for it.

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for Facebook in your social media plan. I’ve got a profile and I have thrown a sheep and had a werewolf fight or two myself. What I AM saying is that Facebook is not where I go to connect or collaborate professionally.

In addition, with the advent of Facebook Connect, the new web-wide sign-in system, pretty much anything you or your friends do online becomes shareable data.

OK, so when IS Facebook good for business?

There are cases where Facebook worked beautifully for a business. Dean Koontz built both a Facebook nd MySpace profile for character in his book “Odd Thomas” the two sites quickly became fan sites and fairly effective for sales of the books, complete with fan testimonials.

Many wineries and restaurants are using the site to create fan clubs or contests for their customers. Small software companies like Serena software built private groups for their employees to use as an intranet for its 800 employees instead of installing expensive custom software.

Apps that play on the fun aspects of Facebook have been a big success. Facebook’s iPhone App had over 1 million users in just a couple of months after launch. Other popular apps “sell” for a few dollars, but the number of users quickly translates to big bucks.

Visa created the “Visa Business Network” app, which takes information about users to help them better network with other small business owners. They also worked with Facebook to offer those that install the app a credit towards advertising on Facebook.

Facebook polls are a wonderful way to reach a large market and sample their opinions. IF the people taking the poll are in your market.

So, bottom line?

I know there are those who say Facebook is the be-all end-all for business. The fact is, it’s not for all businesses at all. The people who tell you it’s a necessity may mean it’s a necessity for them. They’d love to build you a Facebook page. It’s one of the easiet things you can do on a network yet people make a living doing it for you.

Before you decide to go there, take a good long look at what you want to accomplish and what your options are. If Facebook is a good fit for you great, but if it’s not? Don’t lose any sleep over it.


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  1. facebook is the destruction of the internet and will lead to wasting of time and cost for employers. I believe it should be used to enhance your websites, but users are fooled into replacing their websites because the interface allows them to be lazy and not be responsible for their time or bandwidth use. It has use for large business but will kill the small guys

  2. I think this could use some additional insights after the present conclusion to help a business figure out how to compare its goals with the pros of what Facebook has to offer.

  3. I have to say that I agree with this post a very little, but at the same time, I lean toward having a Facebook account in most cases, at least if you have any bit of online business presence. While Facebook is great on a personal level, it can also be a great professional platform in almost all cases.

    It is my belief that all people who have some type of presence online should be building a personal brand based on their career. If this is the case, this person is going to immerse themselves in like minded people and network with these like minded people. If your Facebook profile is networked to professional people, you won't have to worry much about being slapped or poked.

    If you want a professional Facebook profile, have professional friends, and make a professional Facebook profile. This is a GREAT “tool” to draw a stream of traffic back to your home base. And make sure to add family members and CLOSE friends you have because they should be your number one fans of supporting your business.

    If you rather waist your time on building a Facebook profile of random friends from high school that you never talked to and still have nothing in common with, take that route. Then you simply waist Facebook as a social year book.

    It all depends on the user, not the business.
    I recommend choice one to all business people who have any part of business presence online.

    Kelsi Guidry,
    KelsiGuidry.com
    iWants.com

  4. I have to say that I agree with this post a very little, but at the same time, I lean toward having a Facebook account in most cases, at least if you have any bit of online business presence. While Facebook is great on a personal level, it can also be a great professional platform in almost all cases.

    It is my belief that all people who have some type of presence online should be building a personal brand based on their career. If this is the case, this person is going to immerse themselves in like minded people and network with these like minded people. If your Facebook profile is networked to professional people, you won't have to worry much about being slapped or poked.

    If you want a professional Facebook profile, have professional friends, and make a professional Facebook profile. This is a GREAT “tool” to draw a stream of traffic back to your home base. And make sure to add family members and CLOSE friends you have because they should be your number one fans of supporting your business.

    If you rather waist your time on building a Facebook profile of random friends from high school that you never talked to and still have nothing in common with, take that route. Then you simply waist Facebook as a social year book.

    It all depends on the user, not the business.
    I recommend choice one to all business people who have any part of business presence online.

    Kelsi Guidry,
    KelsiGuidry.com
    iWants.com

  5. JackZufelt, I have found that LinkedIN is the "business standard" for professional networking. I've used LinkedIN for several years and it is very useful. I'm new to Twitter and Facebook; but, haven't found their utility yet.

  6. Great post Janet.
    As you've pointed out, it's key to have a business strategy behind choosing to be active on a site like Facebook (same goes for blogging, using Twitter, etc etc).

    We've found with our Facebook group for green businesses with a focus on green business innovation, that it's a great way to find out small green businesses to find out what like-minded businesses are doing.
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=42779921039

    Cheers,
    Patrick

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