Currently, Facebook is the dominant social networking site, and it has the most features useful to the social media marketer. It began in universities, so Facebook boasts a commanding percentage of college students as members. Recently, however, its fastest growing segment has been users older than 35, and recent data suggests that the 35–54 age group has become bigger than the 18–24 age group. For these older users, Facebook presents a middle ground between the stuffiness of LinkedIn and the adolescent playground of MySpace, and is a fun but easily navigable place where they can reconnect with old friends.
Facebook allows businesses to create public profiles that have many of the same features as a user's profile. Users can connect with a page and become fans. Pages can have public messaging walls, events, photos, and custom applications. Nearly every company engaged in social media marketing should have a Facebook page; it can often serve as a central place for the integration of other parts of a campaign.
One of the most popular pages on Facebook is the Coca-Cola page, yet it wasn't even created by the company itself. A Coke fan in Los Angeles made the page featuring little more than a giant can of soda, and in a few weeks it had 250,000 fans. At the time of this writing, it has more than 3.5 million fans. Facebook noticed the size of the group and asked Coca-Cola corporate to take it over, but the soda company's marketing team demonstrated its social media savvy and didn't charge in and strong-arm the original creator out of the picture. Instead, it assigned a team of people to help him maintain the page. If you go to that page today and post a comment such as "Pepsi is better than Coke," Coca-Cola corporate lets it stay. The best social media marketing is always going to be done by your fans, not by you, so get out of their way.
When you're setting up a page for your business, you can use a few applications to make the page more interesting to visitors and make them more likely to return.
Your company should have a blog to keep customers and clients updated regarding product releases and other news. Make sure it has an RSS feed. Use this application to pull posts from your blog onto your Facebook page.
After you've integrated your existing content onto your Facebook page, it is important for you to include content that users can't get anywhere else. Avoid the urge to turn your page into a watered-down version of your website. Offer exclusive deals and content that are for Facebook fans only, or give your fans access to products before they are released elsewhere. This creates a sense of excitement for your fans.
Facebook features fine-grained settings that allow you to control the types of profile content that your friends will be able to see. The best way to use these settings is to divide your friends into lists, such as family members, coworkers, online buddies, and so on. In the Privacy section, you can then specify which groups can see which features (see Figure 4-7).