Facebook: The adults have moved in

It might have started with the MySpace and Bebo kids, but online social
networking is now well and truly mainstream, grown up, and somewhere
your business needs to be. That’s according to leading internet
analysts and business experts like Tom Smith, Universal McCann’s
Research Manager for EMEA and the man behind the influential Wave 3
report on developing trends in social media.

Speaking on a recent show on online business TV service
yourBusinessChannel, Smith explains that internet users are spending
more and more of their online time on social networks, where they can
do everything they need to – send messages, share photos, play games –
all in one place.

It is this trend in online behaviour which has made many marketers
finally sit up and take notice of Facebook’s business potential. But
there are other very compelling reasons to get involved.

First, the sheer size of online social networks means there is
potentially limitless reach. Facebook, for example, now as upwards of
100 million unique users every month. Secondly, online networks offer
unparalleled scope for targeting your specific message and engaging
with your audience. Why bet the bank on one-size-fits-all television
commercials, for example, when you can communicate online with targeted
groups (sorted by geographical area for example, or specialist
interest) for a fraction of the cost?

Of course, it’s one thing to recognise the potential of Facebook as a
business tool, it’s another to make good use of it. Most businesspeople
are a little lost when it comes to developing a Facebook marketing
strategy. Here are a few essential tips to get you started.

Marketing through social networks is a very different proposition to
the old style interruption marketing we are used to. The key, according
to Smith, is to “engage with consumers directly and be present in the
places that they like to use.”

A great way to build your profile on Facebook and attract a lot of
followers is to publish great content. Something as simple as a blog
will attract plenty of traffic and contacts. The key is that your
content is useful or funny or insightful, that it contributes real
value to the conversations your audience are having.

Next, work hard to build up a large network of friends and contacts. By
making contact with qualified, highly connected people, your networks
will expand exponentially.

If there is one key to successfully leveraging social networks like
Facebook for your marketing effort, says Smith, it is “acting how you
want to be seen, creating stuff, and getting people involved. Act how
you want to be perceived, rather than just talking about it.”

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