Things To Do In Facebook
Posted by at Feb 17, 2009 12:01 AM CST
Categories: Social Media
You’ve heard of Facebook, right? That social network thingy? Thingy, indeed! As if I needed to provide the justification for why you need a presence in Facebook, here are the latest statistics from Facebook, as posted on their site at the time this post was published.
• More than 150 million active users
• More than half of Facebook users are outside of college
• The fastest growing demographic is those 30 years old and older
• Average user has 120 friends on the site
• More than 3 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each day (worldwide)
• More than 15 million users update their statuses at least once each day
• More than 3.5 million users become fans of Pages each day
• More than 850 million photos uploaded to the site each month
• More than 5 million videos uploaded each month
• More than 24 million pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) shared each month
• More than 2 million events created each month
• More than 20 million active user groups exist on the site
• More than 35 translations available on the site, with more than 60 in development
• More than 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States
• More than 660,000 developers and entrepreneurs from more than 180 countries
• More than 52,000 applications currently available on Facebook Platform
• 140 new applications added per day
• More than 95% of Facebook members have used at least one application built on Facebook Platform
So, assuming you still want to have access to 150 million active users, and the roughly 300,000 new people that sign up every day, then you’ll need to know how to engage with these folks. I can think of at least 5 things to do in Facebook:
1. Your Facebook Page
2. Your Facebook Group
3. Using the applications that already exist in Facebook
4. If you are a Convio client, using your own Facebook application
5. Using a custom application
Social networks, like the real world, consist of people. Each person has a profile that belongs to them. They can add information to their profile in an effort to tell other people who they are. Also like the real world, people congregate into entities for various purposes, like companies or schools. Entities can also have a “profile” within Facebook by creating a Page (note the capital P). Pages act very much like a personal profile in that the entity can post information about itself for others to see. Individuals in Facebook can become a fan of the entity, which is equivalent to becoming a friend of a person.
The greatest thing about a Page is that you can send Updates to all Fans. An Update is essentially the same as an email, so you can easily communicate with all of your fans, letting them know of new content, or an event, etc. Note that Fans can not send a message to a Page, so the communication is outbound from the Page and not inbound.
Warning! Groups will seem very similar to Pages at first, so don’t be put off by that déjà vu feeling. Groups allow a lot of the same conversation and information flow that a Page allows. Groups can be set up to be open to anybody, invitation only, or you can accept members on a case by case basis.Groups have one marked difference from Pages. Groups can only send messages to 5000 members each day. While 5000 is a lot, it is not unlimited like a Page.
To start a Group of your own, you’ll need to add the Groups application to your personal profile in Facebook. From here, you search for existing Groups or create your own.
If you would like another perspective on the difference between Pages and Groups, check out Tim’s Davie’s post, Facebook groups vs Facebook pages.
At this point, I’d like to offer a little encouragement and advice. The encouragement is this: start both a Page and a Group. Different people want to interact with you in different ways. Offering both Pages and Groups increases your chances of reaching as many people as possible. The advice is this: don’t freak out when you find existing Groups and Pages for your organization. Generally, these are started by people who have the best intentions in mind. You should consider the owners of these efforts allies, and work with them to make sure they have the best content and information, and be a participant in their conversations as well as inviting them to be a participant in your conversations.
Applications in Facebook are the equivalent to the board games, books, and magazines in your favorite coffee shop. They give you something to do while you’re hanging out. There are applications for everything under the sun. The good news is that there are some great applications already built whose purpose is to empower people to promote your organization. I’m going to cover the major applications, but there are more. Try and find them and use them, because with 150 million people, you never know where your next constituent is hiding. To find them, try this search.
Change.org: Change.org is a great social network in its own right. Members can associate themselves with non-profits directly, or they can create a “change” and designate a non-profit as the beneficiary of the “change.” People join the “change” that appeals to them, and engage in conversation and activity to make that “change” happen in the world. One activity, of course, is making a donation. Change.org uses a 3rd party payment processor, so your organization will eventually get a check in the mail from Change.org. There are other things similar to “changes” in Change.org, such as “actions” and “ideas” that all enable some activity in support of your organization. Clearly, in this model, there can be an unlimited number of “changes” that benefit your organization. The Change.org Facebook application is simply an extension of the website into Facebook. All of the same functionality exists, with the added benefit of the viral tools built right into Facebook. At the time of publication, the Change.org application was down for remodeling.
Causes: Causes is almost exactly like Change.org. Just replace the word “change” with “cause.” Causes exists only in Facebook, so there are more bells and whistles.
Razoo: Razoo Speed Granting is an interesting application where the community votes on projects, with the winner receiving a grant. Razoo also has a web site proper which is a social network.
For another perspective on which applications are good to use, check out BL’ONG post on the topic.
This section only applies to those readers who are Convio clients, so feel free to skip ahead if this does not apply to you. For clients using Convio, you have the ability to build your own, organization specific application for Facebook. Our offering empowers you to build a website within Facebook, complete with content conditionalization and personalization. You simply get it set it using our toolkit and then build the content pages you want. Now, the people who are interested in your mission or organization can access your content without leaving Facebook, and if they want to take action, they can do that too. Their actions will be broadcast in Facebook using the viral tools native to Facebook. You can also create virtual gifts that Facebook members can send to each other, spreading the application even farther into the 150 million and counting.
There are companies out there who build Facebook applications for a living, and they would be happy to build one for your organization. Think about this as a blank slate. There are many, but a few that I know of that do good work are:
This is a long post, so I’ll wrap it up quickly. There are a lot of activities here that you could use to reach new and existing constituents in Facebook. Try them all. Sounds easy, right? It doesn’t come for free. Actually, you can do a lot without spending any money on technology, but you do need the people and time to man these efforts. Like most things, your degree of success in Facebook is directly related to the amount of effort you put in. You have to keep these outlets supplied with a couple of things:
• Fresh content that educates and inspires
• A personal touch to make sure people feel like they matter
• Feedback, because social media is about dialogue
Good luck, and please feel free to add your suggestions to the comments on this post. I’m sure there are plenty of other applications and activities I’ve not mentioned.
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