Facebook’s Aging is Great News for Small Businesses

[Re-post from August 7, 2009]

Recent headlines like “It’s SO over: cool cyberkids abandon social networking sites” and Facebook ain’t cool with the kids no more imply that Facebook is going to go the way of Friendster and MySpace – increasing irrelevancy and a declining user base. However, that is far from the case. Facbook is now the fourth most visited website on the Internet (after Google, Microsoft and Yahoo), and keep in mind that it has only been open to the general public for less than three years (since September 2006).

In addition, Facebook has experienced a surge in the past year in usage by people 26 years old and older. As of the end of July 2009, there were nearly 44 million people on Facebook who are older than 25, compared with 29 million who are between 13 and 25 (InsideFacebook.com).

Unless your target market consists of tweens, teens and college students, this aging of Facebook is great news for small businesses, particularly those that are focused locally.

Think about it this way – if you are a CPA, attorney, real estate agent, florist, day care center, veterinarian or any other locally-based business, your target customers are most likely over 25. And, now that more and more of them are on social networking sites like Facebook, you have an opportunity to establish a connection and dialogue with your potential and current customers that simply is not possible with a listing in the Yellow Pages book, a radio spot or a newspaper ad.

Social media is about listening, sharing experiences, and showcasing a presence. It can be a very powerful tool for branding, lead generation, and customer support.

If you don’t yet have a page for your company on Facebook, set one up today at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/create.php. Then, start to regularly post content that your customers would find interesting and useful. Let people know that you have a page and ask them to become a fan (send out an email and add a link to your Facebook page on your website). Above all, be authentic, personable and responsive.

As they say in real estate, it’s all about “location, location, location”. Well, nowadays on the web, the location is Facebook (as well as Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube). Go where your customers are and where they can find you.

We are truly a global community

[Re-post from August 4, 2009]

I am sitting here in wonder at the amazing power that the Internet has to bring people together from around the world. Just now, I had a Facebook chat with my nephews’ grandmother who lives in Colombia and doesn’t speak English.

She had posted on her Facebook profile some photos of my six-year-old nephews on their first day of school and I commented on how cute they looked. She initiated a chat with me on Facebook in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish so I hurriedly went to Google’s online translator tool and copied in what she was writing. I then used it to translate my English to Spanish and pasted that into the chat window for her to read.

As easy as that, we were communicating a half a world away, in real time, without having to know the other person’s language (granted, I’m sure some of the translations were imperfect, but they were good enough for our casual chat).

Imagine even 10 years ago how difficult that would have been. Google was barely a year old, Facebook didn’t exist, and I most likely would never have had any direct communication with her. Now, with a few clicks of the mouse, we can stay updated in each other’s lives, share photos and memories, and communicate regardless of distance or language. What a wonderful experience!

Bridge

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shenghunglin/242339059/

 

To those who lament that the Internet, and technology in general, has made us less social and more isolated, I say, hardly!

The advent of social networking and sharing sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and Flickr, and their rapid adoption by people of all ages across the globe, shows that technology can act as bridge, not a barrier.