November 11th, 2010
Facebook is quirky? Really? Add Facebook was built for college students, as a social network, and now millions of businesses are trying to use it to reach billions of users with their message. Facebook definitely was NOT built for business and has a ways to go to truly meet the needs of a business category of user. That being said, I do Facebook for clients all the time. I recommend it to most clients. There are certain things it is very effective at, such as being able to hone in fairly precisely on your target market demographic for a pretty decent cost (a cost you set!). It does that VERY well. But, it’s still not a business class software tool. Lo and behold, to reach these users, we are forced to use it as is. In that case, it behooves us to note the quirks, and figure out some workarounds to make Facebook effective for us.
Aside from the fact you have to (legally) start with a personal page to have a business page (at least if you want to be able to communicate…you can have a static business page without having a personal page), and that business pages have far less functionality than personal ones (ok, and we’re trying to use this as a business tool…hmmm….), and people who “like” your business page are not really considered friends, thus do not give businesses the ability to communicate with them as friends would…And groups, yes you can make them, but the limitations are even greater than business pages, and you can’t delete them once you make them; yes even if you make a mistake. Now that’s crazy! Even crazier, you’ve probably heard most of this before. And if you haven’t, I will be the one to tell you, Facebook has heard it all before. Business users have been begging for more business functionality for a long time, but it doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Kind of makes you wonder…
Moving on however, so how DO we use Facebook effectively for business? Remember Facebook was built for students, and some of those nuances still exist. For example, feeds are a popularity contest. Yup, just like high school, the more friends you have, the more active you and they are, the more often those users appear in others’ news feeds. (Note to self as business user, be active, very active, on your own and your “friends” walls. This will raise your appearances. You have to try to win the popularity contest, or at least be a contender.) And just like high school, that makes it really tough for the newcomers. Posting away will NOT draw fans to your page. It is “social media” so you have to go out and Be Social. That’s a two way street and a one way will not cut it. By going out and posting with others, you need to be interesting enough to get them to click back to you. When this happens, you start to get noticed. Again, just like high school. New kid in town, put forth a really cool differentiator, people will start to notice, say hi, eventually have a whole conversation…and then the others will want in on the bandwagon. You have to go out and visit others, to get them to visit you, and it is the latter that ultimately will increase your popularity.
Ok, let’s read that above paragraph again…popularity contest. And how does the new kid break through? By showing a differentiator that ultimately gets someone/people to notice them. They create a common bond, or in social media terms, a link. Yes, links are a big deal. This is one area that Facebook is similar to other business apps. Links say a lot. When people are willing to share links, it ups the credibility and accelerates your status in the popularity contest. Afterall, no one wants to risk embracing the next loner. Which leads to the next point, comments. So you’ve started to get a few hellos, a few people are linking, now is time for the litmus test. What do people think? Do you pass the “newbie” test and get allowed to take one step closer to the inner circle? Well, let’s see what people think. Logical, eh? In Facebook terms, these are comments. People have to comment on your exchanges with others. Posts and links are ways to do this, but even better…a picture is worth a thousand words. Pictures and videos have a huge impact in driving many of the behaviors to win the popularity contest. If you can navigate through these bumps and turns, you’re well on your way. Hold on to your seat however. Don’t get too crazy in your thinking…another quirk…whoa Nellie….don’t go after the quarterback or prom queen, that’s a no-no for any newcomer. You have to work and earn your way up there. Associating with people with “too much popularity” will not win you popularity as quickly…slow and steady wins the race. You have to build yourself up.
Oh, and just to throw another hitch in your plan…just for the heck of it, go in and muck with your permissions and privacy settings from time to time. Guess what, sometimes your Wall just plain stops appearing to others. Or it appears, but no controls (ability to write/comment on it) show up. Seen it many times over and no it’s not necessarily because you’re blocked. It’s another quirk. Remember high school…the rules in the popularity contest were never very clear. So go double check, turn some off, some on, save, exit, logout. Login, then go ahead and change them back if you’d like. This should clear the air. Facebook quirks? You bet! That said, I’m sure we all remember a time we wish we could have hit the restart button in high school. How nice it would have been to make a few quick changes, logout for a bit, take a break, and check back in to have it all good again.