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Is Facebook suitable for business?

22 Oct, 10 | by Claire Bower, Digital Comms Manager, @clairebower

The world has never been so connected as it is today. The internet has reduced the usual ‘six degrees of separation’ to just one or two. Colleagues can interact with friends and family, old friends get introduced to new friends, and family members can keep in touch with all of your associates. Nowhere does this kind of social activity occur more than on Facebook. After all, Facebook is not just for keeping tabs on friends and filling out quizzes – it can also be used as an effective business tool.

Facebook and networking

Facebook is what you make of it. It can be a serious professional tool, a place for fun and entertainment, or a combination of both. Ultimately, you have control over what you add to your profile and with whom you share it. As more and more ‘adult-users’ join Facebook, the possibility for connecting to others with similar professional interests increases.

Many professional and academic organisations have a presence on Facebook and the roles they play on the social networking platform are as varied as their types.  While some serve to organise individuals from a large geographic area (alumni groups), others are location specific (Association of Women Journalists in Chicago) or event specific (charity walks).

According to Facebook, 85% of college students use Facebook. Following the saying ‘meet them where they are’, database developers and other educators are creating academic and scholarly applications for Facebook. For example, PubMed Search allows users to search PubMed within Facebook, share articles with friends and save them to their account for future reference.

Is this really a suitable and sustainable source of business opportunities?

Social networks can be a great way to extend branding and create a community around an organisation.  Facebook groups and pages provide an identifiable canvas for users. They can be marketed with ease, and they can create a ‘human’ touch to a product. Taking a laid back or personal approach to a Facebook business profile could help generate unsolicited interest.

However, there are inherent dangers with taking a more relaxed approach to marketing. Organisations should always remember not to mix personal and professional views and to restrict the amount of data which is shared with external applications.

For those of you who are new to social networking and would like some background information, the video below provides a useful introduction:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6a_KF7TYKVc

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