Facebook (Ut Oh)
I’ve been asked to look at facebook as a social marketing method for a magazine company at work. Here is what my research has turned up:
Facebook is a social networking website that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. Users can add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves. Additionally, users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school, and region. What began as a network for college students has evolved into an online networking platform for users of all ages.
Originally, brands existed on facebook in only one format: if users liked a brand, or if it held sway with a specific demographic, a user might decide to create a “group” based upon that brand. More recently, Facebook has created an official way for companies to utilize the site by creating business accounts and setting up “fan pages.”
Ideally, for either of these options, the company founder or in the case of a magazine, someone with a large number of personal contacts within the industry being targeted would maintain the group or fan page from their personal account (more about this later).
Groups can be created by any registered facebook user; any user with a personal account has the ability to create a “group” on any subject and then invite other users to join this group. Within the group there is generally a message board where group members can post comments or discuss information posted to the group board.
I believe when a user creates a group, they become the administrator for that group. They are responsible for monitoring the group. What will be monitored is determined when the group is created.
Example: The creator can decide to set the group as “invitation only” – only members specifically invited by the administrator can join or it can be set as “open” – anyone can join. When posts are made to the group’s wall, members of that group are informed, via their personal settings on facebook (either just as a ‘notification’ on facebook, or via email).
Once a group has been created, the administrator can create additional administrators who then have the same ‘abilities’ they do, to edit and monitor the group.
To the best of my understanding, a group operates in many ways like a message board or discussion forum, with the added benefit that an administrator has the ability to send the group a message through facebook’s messaging system (sort of like email within facebook).
NOTE: Creating a group requires a individual user, or company representative to use their personal account. The group is NOT considered by facebook to be official representation from the company, since any user can create a group.
Facebook Fan Pages
Fan pages are a newer element on facebook. The company decided to create a way for companies to represent themselves on the site. Having a personal account is not required in order to create a fan page (Pet Business Magazine currently has a fan page). However, in order to invite facebook users to become fans of the page, the fan page must be linked to a personal account. From that personal account, the user can invite contacts within their network on facebook to become ‘fans’ of their company or brand.
Once a fan page has been created, the administrator (whether or not they have a personal account) can fill out information including basic company info. A fan page is facebook’s version of a personal page for companies.
Both groups and fan pages, once established, are static pages that merely exist. Unless there is an interactive user base established or the administrator actively works to build a network or community around the brand, essentially the pages are useless. If the proper time and effort are put into a group or a fan page, they can be a base for building a community of users or fans of a brand (or, in the case of a magazine, its readership).
Note: See the examples mentioned here.
Establishing a fan page without linking it to a personal account stops the administrator from inviting facebook users to fan or follow the page in their personal news feed. It handicaps the page; it stops it from being able to build a ‘social community.’ I do not recommend creating a page without linking it to a personal account. I also cannot verify what features are enabled by linking a fan page to a personal account, since I have no experience doing this.
I believe creating a page, linked to a personal account, would allow the user who owned the personal account to invite all of his or her ‘friends’ to become fans of the page (therefore adding any changes to the page into their news feeds, and notifying all of THEIR friends that they have become fans of that brand’s page).
A group, by comparison, can only be created from a personal account. It has fewer features than a fan page (notably, you can not post pictures, maintain a blog, etc.); it works more like a simple message board. I am unsure if you could include contact information or basic company information in the header for the group at this time, but I believe it’s possible.
I am unsure of the benefits of inviting users to become members of a group, versus fans of a page.
In either case, the administrator must actively find or ‘friend’ other facebook users who are within his or her company’s demographic. In our case, someone would need to find readers on facebook and reach out to them, on the reader’s personal account.
For Additional Information:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook *Note: The Features Section
http://mashable.com/2009/04/01/optimize-facebook-page/ *Note: Section 5