In the Trenches: The Curse and Beauty of Facebook
I'm not a Facebook guy. Sure, I'm on there and I accept friend requests, but I really don't care to share personal details with all my friends. If I want to talk to someone, I'll call them or email them, but I really don't want to "Facebook them."
So you would think that I wouldn't bother putting my business on Facebook, but you'd be wrong. If clients and potential clients are on Facebook, I have to be there, even if it's begrudgingly.
When I first went to put my business online, I got a little confused. I started down the path of creating a "profile" before I realized that you can't do that. A profile is for people, and if you use it for business, you can lose everything you've built. Besides, I came to learn that having your business as a profile is kind of creepy. Does anyone really want to be friends with a business? (We're not that kind of business.) You generally don't want to share all your personal stuff with some business just because you happen to like it and want to receive updates about it.
The right way to do it if you're a business owner is to create a fan page. A Facebook fan page allows you to build a destination where people can come and become fans of your business. It's better to have it that way. Befriending a business is a little too intimate. But you want to have a fan page so people can receive updates about what your company is doing.
You can have your page default to any number of tabs on the site, but for me, that wasn't enough. I wanted it to look more like my website and less like Facebook. Fortunately, there's an application you can add called FBML which lets you code a page that can look just like your website. If you don't know how to code, you might want to get some help on this one or it could get ugly. (MySpace, anyone?)
Putting that page together was all it took to get my business was up and running on Facebook. As I write this, 564 people "like" us, to use the Facebook terminology. These are 564 people who specifically reached out because they want to hear more from us. That's fantastic.
I'm sure there's more to Facebook than status updates, but to be honest, that's about all I use it for. And the way the fan page works is frustrating in that area. The heart and soul of the fan page is the Wall. Only one problem. Facebook doesn't alert you if receive a new comment on your business's wall. So yeah, it can be challenging and it's entirely possible to miss important comments, requiring frequent check-ins.
In the end, I realized that if people wanted to find my business on Facebook then I would be stupid not to be there. Gotta follow the customers, right? And a ton of them -- both current and potential customers -- are on Facebook.
Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.