I recently talked with Mari Smith, a social media whiz who proclaims that Facebook still has its place among the most important business applications. Here’s what the co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day had to say.
Alex: People have been saying Facebook is on its way out for years now. Why do you think it has staying power?
Mari: Facebook has become an ingrained daily habit for hundreds of millions of people around the world. It's the first place we check upon awakening and last thing at night. We stay in touch with what's happening in the lives of our old school chums, current friends, family members and other loved ones. It's simply psychology that gives Facebook its staying power. And, so long as the masses continue to use the site as the one common platform for connecting, it will succeed.
Alex: One common view is that LinkedIn is for professional relationships and Facebook is for personal relationships. What can Facebook do for professional relationships that LinkedIn can't?
Mari: Facebook provides an inviting context for personal sharing; at least, as much as users are willing to share. It's natural to want to share tidbits from your weekend away, what restaurant you're enjoying right now, wedding photos, baby pictures, travel snaps, fun cat videos and the like on Facebook. B2C and B2B is all P2P: People to People. Businesses are run by people and people are on Facebook. Therefore, when business users take the time to cultivate friendships on Facebook with professional contacts, it can help deepen these foundational relationships, which often leads to more business.
Alex: What are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to spread their message(s) on Facebook?
Mari: There's a fine line between sharing too much personal content and sharing too much business content. Some users constantly push their latest professional offerings through their personal profile, and don't share much about themselves personally, which is off putting and doesn't build trust. Conversely, I see other users going overboard sharing every nuance of their personal lives, including strong opinions on politics and religion. That's a big no-no, as you never know who you might be upsetting and alienating, thus completely turning off potential customers.
Alex: What would you say are 2-3 best practices for using Facebook for work-related purposes?
Before posting anything on Facebook, ask yourself these three questions: 1) Would I be okay with this piece of content on the front page of the New York Times?, 2) Would I be okay with this piece of content being found in a Google search in years to come?, and 3) Would I be proud for my own mother to read this?
Also, simply asking yourself, “What is my deepest intent?” before posting anything can help keep your ego in check and get really clear on why you feel the need to share what you're about to share.
When Facebook was becoming wildly popular around 2007-2008, we kept hearing how important it was to be transparent. But, over time, most business users on Facebook realized it's better to be “selectively transparent.” You can share personal nuggets about yourself, but it's also perfectly acceptable to maintain boundaries on anything you wish to keep truly private. This gives you peace of mind on a daily basis, knowing there's nothing online that can come back to bite you.