[this blog entry was revised by the author on November 8, 2011]
Less than a year ago Facebook changed its privacy policies and clumsily lost the trust of some of its users – including those who wanted to establish a business presence on Facebook. The reaction was so intense I removed all mention of Facebook in the social media presentations I did for most of last year. But, now I believe the company has re-established some amount of trust with users. It has actually increased the number of privacy features available to users, and it seems to acknowledge the rights of its members. Even so, the perception lingers on – “Facebook is not safe for business!”
Here are some of the the realities (and corresponding misconceptions that business owners have) about Facebook that I believe make it a compelling marketing platform.
Reality: There Are More Than
600 800 Million People on Facebook
First, let’s face reality. Facebook has the highest number of members of any social networking site. On Facebook’s site they say they have
500 more than 800 million users. Wikipedia says they have 600 750 million. Believe me, your customers and clients are on Facebook.
Reality: Your Young Customers and Employees Like Facebook
A large number of young business people have experienced Facebook and identify with the brand. According to Nick Gonzalez, former writer for Techcrunch.com, social media speaker and creator of the page www.checkfacebook.com, 68.5% of Facebook users are between the ages of 18 and 44. The percentage by age range breaks down as follows:
- Age 18-24 30.9% or 45.8 million
- Age 25-34 22.3% or 33 million
- Age 35-44 15.3% or 22.6 million
If a young person comes to your web site, what do you think happens when they see the Facebook logo on your home page? Perhaps an emotional connection because that is a site on which they spend a lot of time and with which they identify?
Reality: Largest Adoption Rate in 2009 was Women Over 55
The last point lends itself to the next misconception. “Facebook is for kids.” In fact, in 2009, the fastest growing demographic on Facebook was women over 55. Moms and grandmothers stalking their kids and grandkids? Maybe. But they’re there. And, a lot of them work in business.
Reality: Your Company Page Is Not
Visibly Tied To Your Personal Information
Your Facebook Company Page has no visible connection to your personal profile.
According to Facebook’s structure, you can only create a Company Page if you already have a personal profile. Facebook doesn’t require that a personal profile be tied to a business page. But, when If someone lands on your Facebook Company Page because they searched for it or they clicked on a link from your email or web site, there is no way they can navigate to your personal profile. The only way they can see your profile is if they search for you, invite you to connect, and you “friend” them (accept their invitation to connect). The only exception to this may be if your profile is completely open to public view (a privacy setting option in Facebook).
Reality: Facebook Privacy Controls Are Sophisticated
If you do allow work colleagues to connect to your personal profile (and believe me, they will ask, because people want to connect to you and get to know you), Facebook’s privacy controls are some of the most intricate of any social network. For example, you can have your work colleagues see only your posts but not your friends’ and family members’ posts on your wall. With each status update you select options to control who sees it. When you are setting up your privacy settings, you can test the results by putting in the name of a work colleague and then viewing what they would see when they look at your profile.
Reality: Facebook Is a Marketer’s Dream
Hmmmm. An online profile which includes age, sex and geographical information? A profile that includes descriptions of how a person behaves and what they do? A profile, in which a person identifies what they love, like and hate? What brands they identify with? “Oh, you mean I can focus my marketing only on my target demographics and psychographics?” Facebook is rich with opportunities for targeting the right audience – it is pretty close to a marketer’s dream.
What are your thoughts on using Facebook for business? Agree or disagree? Are you comfortable with privacy on Facebook? Please comment below.