[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.