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Inside//Out: Facebook

facebook_logo.jpgFacebook is riding a huge wave of popularity right now and it is a viable platform for marketers looking to reach their customers. This edition of Inside//Out takes a 30,000 foot view of how Facebook works for users and what the marketing hooks are. Creativity is paramount in approaching this community and opportunities can be created if, and only if, you play by the rules and remember:

  • You have to add value to each interaction
  • Use the naturally viral nature of the community instead of forcing it

[Feed readers please click through to the post if you cannot see the video.]

One of the biggest downsides with the network is it is a walled garden. It's great at collecting information and sharing it internally. However, it is abysmal at sharing that information with outsiders. Embedding Facebook content on other networks is not possible at this point in time. Similarly, all of the messaging is contained only in the system. Messages from other users bring people back to read them and the status dashboard that I showed you cannot be subscribed to via RSS.

On the other hand, Facebook's F8 developer platform makes it very easy to reach users at the profile level by enabling applications to be built on top of their technology. This openness is allowing Facebook to reach more people through more active development than rival networks like LinkedIn or MySpace. I foresee a lot more effort by those sites to catch up to Facebook in order to stay relevant. LinkedIn has the advantage of focus (professional networking), but it's like a plain, boring resume right now. Facebook is like having drinks with a person and learning about them...for good and for bad. I think there is a balance between the two somewhere.

Jeremiah Owyang at PodTech had an interesting thought on how Facebook could become a defacto standard for personal authentication around the net. For example, if you were to leave a comment on this post (which I hope you will) you would have the option to log in with your Facebook ID and have your information pulled over automatically. Very interesting theory.

Marketing options on the site include (but are not limited to):

  • Flyers - small ads that resemble classifieds. These are generally not effective as they're not valuable to the readers
  • Banner ads - these have very low click through rates (no value added)
  • Create a poll - ask a specific group of users questions
  • Create a group - engage your customers/fans and spur conversation
  • Applications - using the power of the F8 platform, you can allow users to pull you right in to their profile pages
  • Other options - Facebook will work with you to create custom programs

No matter what tactic is right for you, keep the rules in mind:

  • You have to add value to each interaction
  • Use the naturally viral nature of the community instead of forcing it

If you have any questions please leave me a comment or drop me an email.

iTunes.jpgTo help you stay on top of what is happening and to filter the myriad options in social media, you can now subscribe to the Techno//Marketer podcast on iTunes. Get updates in real time when new videos become available.

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