Facebook oh Facebook

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Facebook Image

It’s about time I wrote about Facebook. It is not only my favorite social networking Web site but it has a fertile ground for public relations work.

The other day I was watching television with some friends and we saw a cell phone commercial. The commercial’s main focus was that you could update your Facebook status from the product. One of my friends was bewildered that Facebook has become so mainstream, enough so that companies are creating phones to better ease your Facebook use. It’s crazy. Facebook is everywhere.

In general, companies and nonprofit organizations are putting their names on Facebook to connect to their audience. They create groups and fan pages for Facebookers to become involved in. By doing this, the companies can get feedback from consumers as well as spread their name or message.

There are a few issues I’ve heard about regarding Facebook and public relations. First of all, people who use Facebook want to keep their page personal, to use only with friends. In this New York Times article it discusses the fact that people want to keep their Facebook as a place to share with friends, not to build their business or share connections — like LinkedIn. The article also talks about Orkut, a social networking Web site made by Google. In Orkut, friends can be separated into groups (e.g. professionals, friends, family), making it much easier for people to separate their personal lives from their work lives. Perhaps Facebook should take this route. But then again, it might not be Facebook anymore.

Along with this same idea, people do not want companies to be protruding into their private lives. I know from experience. I’ve joined a few company’s groups and my goodness, it was a mistake! One group in particular would send me six or seven messages a day. My inbox would always have something in it and it was so frustrating. I would never read these messages. Instead, I’d immediately delete them. Tip for businesses using Facebook: Do not bombard people with your messages. Rather then getting your information out, you are irritating people and losing people’s interest in your company.

However, it’s not all bad! There are some good PR tactics I’ve discovered on Facebook. Maybe it’s just my personal opinion, but I really like free gifts. I’ve noticed that a lot of companies use free gifts to promote an event or a movie that is coming out, and I think that is such a good idea! First of all, people like free things. Most gifts on Facebook cost money. Second, if the gift looks appealing, people will send it around. This means that more people will see your message or brand. People on Facebook are connected to people all across the globe! I could send a gift to someone in Africa, and they’d see it. Genius!

Another great PR tactic on Facebook is using event invitations. For example, Ben and Jerry’s sent out an invitation to their free ice cream day event yesterday. I would have not known about this event if it wasn’t for this Facebook invitation, and I wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of some delicious ice cream! Companies can use these event invitations for any type of events that they are going to launch. But like the inbox message story I talked about earlier, it has some complications. Don’t overuse this tool! People will begin to ignore your invites, making the message worthless. Only send invites to people who are in your specific target audience and only for events that are newsworthy. I always love getting free stuff!

I’m sure there are many more things that Facebook is good for (relating to public relations) but those are the two tools that stick in my mind. Can you think of any others?

Below is a phone commercial that specifically talks about Facebook. Enjoy!


3 Responses to Facebook oh Facebook

  1. Eric Lee says:

    Thanks for posting the article, was certainly a great read!

  2. Angela Seits says:

    I think Facebook may have reached the point of becoming a verb like Google. I say all the time, I Facebooked so and so. It makes me feel more connected to people wherever I go.

    I agree with you that most people want to use Facebook for being personal and will purposely avoid friending employers and companies. It will be interesting to see how companies get around this barrier. You’ve provide a good example with Ben and Jerry’s.

  3. ninouye says:

    Thank you for all your comments. Facebook is taking over and it is showing no signs of slowing. I just read an interesting article the other day about why Facebook is more successful than other social networks like Myspace and Friendster. I’ll be sure to write a future blog post about it!

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