Facebook — Friend of Small Businesses

More and more, businesses are utilizing social networking sites, like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, to reach out to key demographics and generate a customer base.   MySpace tends to be associated with music and band pages, Twitter has been used for everything from political campaigns to star-tracking, and LinkedIn is really just corporate.  However, Facebook has yet to establish its niche in the world of capitalism.

Today, the New York Times had an article in their Smart Business Guide about Facebook.  The title: How to Market Your Business with Facebook.  The article looks at what small business owners can do to use Facebook as marketing, advertising, and outreach tool.

A growing number of businesses are making Facebook an indispensible part of hanging out their shingles. Small businesses are using it to find new customers, build online communities of fans and dig into gold mines of demographic information.

The article has step-by-step instructions on how to use the social networking site to build Facebook Pages and attract ever-elusive “fans” of the page.  Here are a few tips from the article:

  • Identify a short list of goals before you begin.
  • Show some personality in your page.
  • Don’t shill.  Use your page to engage-and trust that sales will follow.
  • Use Facebook data to analyze your customer demographics.

I have been invited, and tempted, to become a “fan” of my old summer camp, my high school’s library, a non-profit I volunteered for, and the company that offered me my first summer job, among many, many others.  However, Facebook is now notorious for add-ons, widgets, and apps, like these Fan Pages.  For better or worse, or for our sanity, there are those of us who try to use as few Facebook features as possible.    Maybe it’s a backlash against feeling like we have too many options to choose from.

I recently switched to Facebook Lite, a back-to-basics, bare-bones version of the site.  Check it out at lite.facebook.com.  When I switched, a feeling of relief washed over me; the clouds had parted, the maelström of applications ceased, and the bombardment of invitations to join groups, fan pages, and events slowed to a trickle.

Maybe I exaggerate.  But there is a chance that Facebook, and businesses, might face some sort of backlash from Facebook’s now characteristic inundation of invitations and activities.

Maybe I should start a Fan Page for View from the Cubicle Farm.  Or maybe I’ll just stick with Facebook Lite.

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