Sunday, 22 July 2007

Is Facebook Going To Be Useful for Business?

Over the past few months the use of Facebook has exploded in Australia. I don't know about you but just about everybody in my current workplace seems to be using it now. Admittedly, it's an interactive agency so you'd expect people to be using different online social media tools on a regular basis. I'd be surprised and disappointed if people weren't. I think social media is going to become increasingly important to many campaigns in one form or another, so it will be essential for people to know how it operates.

The high uptake of Facebook here has now started to attract the attention of the traditional mass media. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald this weekend (Better than the real thing: virtual freindships thrive despite bans, Weekend Edition July 21-22) focused on reports that Facebook is being banned in some workplaces during work hours. The article also mentions that there has been an 850% rise in membership since the end of last year, going from 24,000 to 200,000 Australian users in less than 9 months.

The question is: how can Facebook be used effectively in interactive marketing and business communications. It seems to me that banner ads might be one of the least interesting and effective methods of marketing within networks such as Facebook. There are already many Facebook groups based around businesses, and people are also using Facebook to organise various social, business and networking events.

It strikes me that there might be some really great opportunities for brands to engage and converse with people in meaningful and unintrusive ways. Let me be clear, I'm NOT suggesting that brands go in and try to add as many 'friends' as possible, or use fake profiles and fake comments to try and gain positive results - they won't.

It remains to be seen how Facebook will evolve, but it's going to be an interesting ride. Have you seen any effective uses for Facebook recently, beyond turning people into zombies, vampires and virtual food fighting?


Mr Azza said...

Considering FaceBook is focused on offline relationships rather than online acquaintances (like MySpace or Flickr) it does bring to question *if* a brand was to try and use FaceBook as a advertising/promotional platform, how would it be done?
Furthermore, will FaceBook become a money seeking tyrant like MySpace, and mysteriously remove any brand identity from peoples profile pages cause they didn't cough up the dough?

I guess only time will tell...

Cheryl said...

I'm going to be talking about this in my presentation at Open Publish, but STA travel has an amazing amount of engagement from their group.

You can't buy that sort of interaction, people are posting photos, comments, questions, etc and entering competitions.

Noone is doing it yet but imagine if marketers could really do targeted ads via Facebook. I'm thinking about a few of my friends who have filled in their full profiles - so they say their favourite movies are Steel Magnolias, Beaches, Sex and the City, etc, and they love Dido and Sarah MacLachlan. If I was the marketing person for Universal and had a new "Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants" type movie, to be able to access profiles like that for advertising would be the most amazing thing ever.

Forget a banner ad that 50,000 people will see - why not do a targeted ad to 1000 people, but all of whom would love the movie, rather than including people like me in their ad spend.

There is so much potential!

Adam Purcell said...

Facebook is also a great way to facilitate the REAL LIFE connections and meetups. Although last night's meetup in Sydney was formed in Twitter, I found Facebook the key application for cementing in the details and sourcing the information.

yewenyi said...

I'm not sure that groups are a very effective method, but then I am surprised by what happens in groups in Flickr. What happens over there is that there is lots of advice on good brands, pro's, con's and the invariable legal questions. I am in the N95 group on Facebook, but perhaps whirlpool's forums are more advances. But people could just switch over.

jj said...

Thanks, some great point there. I guess only time will tell. It's still very early days and it's going to be an interesting road ahead that's for sure.