It started as a social network for college students, and over time it has grown into a social media monster. As 500 million plus people have flocked to the online community (small country) to keep in touch with old friends, new friends, share news, ideas, videos and photos, it was only a matter of time before smart business folk saw opportunity. Opportunity to get the attention of real people, some even with real friends . But with some people rarely updating their personal profile with personal information, are these people making Facebook fake?
Anyone who has seen the film “The Social Network” will get a real feeling of why Facebook began, and how and why it began to grow. If you can overlook the dramatised-for-film aspect, you may see some part truths, especially from the creator Mark Zuckerberg.
Mark was not looking to make some quick money, or make friends with lots of people and start inviting them to webinars every week. He wanted to create a place, where people could be themselves, and keep in touch with their friends, and even meet friends-of-friends. It was all about relationships. And this was made obvious when a suggestion from a friend, led him to add “relationship status” to the personal profiles.
Clearly Facebook was meeting a need, that previous social networks were unable to meet – like MySpace or Friendster. And this service, which spread rapidly around the world, and has become the largest social network so far.
With so many people, it was only a matter of time before businesses took notice, and started to rack their brains to think of ways to tap into this new “country”. And what an amazing country it appeared to be – a place where you share things you’re doing, and things you “like” with your friends. It’s a kind of word-of-mouth opportunity that most businesses dream of.
But this of course created a dilemma, as business people were thinking of how to attract new customers in this new world – a world with its own rules, unlike any marketplace before. A world where directly selling and harassing people to buy, is a big no-no.
Facebook for Business
We can see the evolution of businesses on Facebook through:
- Facebook Groups
- Facebook Pages
- Facebook Apps/ Applications
- Facebook Sidebar Ads
- Using your Facebook account to create an account on other websites/ communities
- Easy meshing of Facebook with other popular Social Networks (eg Twitter)
There has even been a more sinister evolution, as desperate businesses have tried to set up their business as a “personal” profile, to make it easy for them to gain friends/ connections. I really don’t like this.
However, each of these avenues provides an opportunity to engage customers and potential customers, and since closing a sale is still very shaky ground in Facebook, most businesses are driving their followers towards their Facebook goal – the Holy Grail….. they want you to “like” them!
The Facebook Business Holy Grail
As in marketing any business, it’s all about the numbers – the number of potential customers you can reach, the number of leads you get, the number of sales you make. So the obvious benchmark for success in a network like Facebook, is the number of “fans” or “likes” you have.
Whether this translates into real business success is another matter. A great blog on this topic is by Augie Ray called What Is The Value Of A Facebook Fan? Zero!
This desire to achieve this ultimate goal, has turned some personal profiles very cold – almost to the point of feeling “fake”.
The Fake Profile
You know about these profiles, and they may even be friends of yours. They are happy, smiley, power-networkers whose profiles are all shine and gloss, and all businesses. Their wall is full of business posts, tweets, videos, and little or no personal information.
I expect this on LinkedIn, and I don’t mind it on Twitter, but somehow on Facebook, it just looks wrong.
Should Facebook Be for Business?
I’m curious to know other people’s opinions. In terms of generating revenue or income from this huge fish pond, it can be split into 2 areas:
- Those who create a product or service to enhance people’s experience of Facebook (an add-on), and sell that product for a fee
- Those who ARE their product or service on Facebook, and use it to drive traffic to into their desired funnel.
The good thing about Facebook, is the power each person has to choose to interact with businesses or cold, professional personal profiles, or not. This is a huge benefit.
A Business Dilemma
Your close friends and family are on Facebook, and want to keep in touch. But also your customers and business colleagues are on Facebook and want to keep in touch. It is the dilemma which has evolved in Facebook.
Luckily the privacy settings on Facebook, can be managed to split your personal and private life, with your business and professional life.
But it is a fine line, that few seem to truly master to create an ideal Facebook presence. And a fine line that many take advantage of. How can it really work? I guess only you can know what is right for you, and your Facebook connections.
How can a “fake” profile become more real without losing the professional edge? What do you think is a good balance of business and personal on Facebook?