Facebook has surpassed the BBC in the UK, and, as of November 2008, is the #13 most visited site in the United States (source: comScore.com). Although it is mostly a consumer-focused site, businesses without a Facebook strategy may be missing a key component of their internet vision.
What is Facebook?
Facebook is a social networking application that lets users keep up with their friends, and exchange photos, location updates, and thousands of other activites due to its rich application development capabilities.
Facebook has the unique position to put your company in front of millions of users, both through traditional targeted online advertising as well as grassroots popularity.
Enterprises can take advantage of the broad reach, as well as users’ social graphs, by adapting their business processes to integrate with the metadata available there.
In contrast to MySpace, Facebook is far more structured, with a rigid template and page set up allowing very little design and content freedom. Although some users may find it limiting, it does mean less opportunity for abuse. For example, users can become “fans” of or companies or products, creating fan networks, but they can’t start boycott or other negative campaigns within Facebook’s standard template.
Example: WorkLight WorkBook
WorkLight’s WorkBook, released late last year, is the first of what are likely to be many applications that integrate with users’ existing social graphs in Facebook. These hybrid applications will take advantage of the rich Facebook API, while at the same time provide integration with enterprise systems via single-sign on and a unified data architecture. WorkLight has the benefit of already having an established presence in many large companies, where adoption rate and accessibility will be critical to their widespread success across the enterprise.
Enterprises will be significantly cutting back on marketing expenses in calendar year 2009 – making it a perfect time to explore Facebook as a low cost of entry marketing platform. Major consumer brands such as Jeep, Red Bull, and Coca-Cola have already invested heavily over the past 2 years in developing content and building audiences.
Late 2008 and early 2009 will bring business-oriented users to Facebook, looking to network for leads and build brand awareness and loyalty. This may result in fostering communities of “friends”, from smaller corporate divisions like Cisco Corporate Communications on up to General Electric.
I believe that a social media campaign is a lot harder, a lot more resource intensive than many marketers realize. Starting one without the ability to maintain it, is a form of brand suicide. Like blogs whose last entry was a year ago, an abandoned social media campaign shows both a lack of understanding and a lack of real engagement. — Simon Salt, CEO, IncSlingers
In a future blog post, we plan on exploring what I believe is more likely to occur in 2009, that is the rise of “Facebook-Like” applications inside the corporate firewall. Most major enterprise software vendors are developing or releasing products to provide functionality similar to Facebook, adapting it for use in the enterprise. Product vendors such as Socialtext exemplify the types of products we are likely to see inside the firewall in the near future.