Can you remember the excitement and boom with the myspace rush back in 2006? Besides classmates.com, myspace was first true social networking website to penetrate the mainstream and to be solidified as a cultural icon. After all it was mentioned in blockbuster movies "Iron Man" and "Superbad". In June of 2006 the 100 millionth account was created on myspace. It had plenty of traffic and plenty of visitors spending hours of time communicating. The behemoth social networks seemed like a untapped gold mine for online businesses, so many quickly created and feverishly promoted their own online accounts. So how did things pan out for entrepreneurs? It turned out it wasn't for everyone. Considering the age group myspace attracted the networks was an appropriate advertising medium for rock bands, hip clothing lines, cell phone ringtones and other products that were "cool" for teenagers and young 20ish adults. It also quickly became infested with spam and less than noble business ventures (adult content).
At the time SEO prodigy never condoned using time and money to promote a myspace profile to any clients. Afterall most adults in their 30s upwards viewed myspace as nothing but a teenage fad at best and medium for stalkers at the worst (think of infamous "catch a predator" tv show)
Then came a breath of fresh air; facebook.com. Back in 2006 facebook was dwarfed by the roaring popularity of myspace. When I asked a college buddy if he was on myspace, he replied "no I'm on facebook.com". Facebook? I responded with a puzzled look. What on God's green earth is that? At the time it sounded like some offshoot, wannabe myspace that interested me in the least bit.
So I stayed loyal to myspace communicating with my friends and enjoying my custom layouts and cool profile songs. However as time went on it seemed that Myspace was losing it novelty. In 2007 nobody no longer cared if you had 50000 friends on myspace (in fact if you had paris hilton in your top ten....you risked being regarded as pathetic). Further souring the experience was the bombardment of almost daily spam and a growing annoyance of pop up ads. What professional business would want their name on site like this? SEO Prodigy never had a myspace profile. It was just a hobby to send joking messages and comments to long lost friends.
Then in December 2007 my loyalty to myspace got it's nail in the coffin. I was traveling to Las Vegas to attend a Pub Con conference. While out there I met a very nice acquaintaince in Las Vegas back in December 2007 I casually asked "are you on myspace?". "Myspace?" she asked very surprisingly. "That is SOOOO OLD........." In that embarrassed moment I came to the realization that it was time to find other options....along came facebook.
My effort to facebook.com quickly came as a "breath of fresh air". No blinking banner ads, no animation, no distracting videos, no overcustomized user profiles where I couldn't EVEN READ and best of all NO POP UP ADS. It took me a good 10 minutes to setup my profile. There was some learning curve at first, but it was quickly overcome by facebook's clean and crisp layout. At the time facebook would not allow customization of profiles (still few profiles are customized). While that seemed to counterproductive to what Myspace provided, this simplicity turned out to be a fantastic idea.
However despite this revelation in my personal social networking life, I still did not view facebook as a viable interface for business. Sure there was advertising (and at least it was unobtrusive). This was of benefit to some of clients who targeted young age groups. But it still didn't seem appropriate for a place to communicate with customers and clients. In fact I knew two small business owners who had their business profiles deleted.
Maybe they were over aggressive in recruiting friends or maybe they made their intentions to obvious on facebook.com. Either case it didn't seem like a good idea. Why waste all that time building out a facebook profile just to get it deleted?
However I knew a few other business owners who had a different approach. They started a facebook account, but they used a real person's name...not a business name. They also treated their profile as if it were a real person. While that method may be questionable to some, when it compared to what I saw on Myspace it was rather innocuous.
Finally a colleague of mine who happened to be a well esteemed financial planner commented to be after the new year, "Chad many of my professional buddies are on facebook, shouldn't we be on it also". At that moment I no longer had any doubt about business professionals being on facebook. The answer is YES, DO IT! Create a profile and make friends. But do it smart.
Here are three tips about a facebook business profile:
1. Do NOT name your profile your business name
This makes your intentions too obvious. Either use your real name or a made up one. You have to make sure the profile sounds like a real human being.
2. Make sure your facebook link in your website
Unlike myspace, facebook does not give you a direct link to your profile. Fortunately there is a application that allows you to create one.
You can also create custom "badges" to put on your website
3. Don't expect the world from social marketing
Social media marketing is a small component of web marketing. If you are spending more time on social media marketing than SEO, PPC, etc....then you are wasting your time. Better to maintain the account and allow it to grow. Also don't become overzealous with recruiting friends/groups. This will only get you flagged and deleted. Nothing is worse than when you try logging in facebook and you get a message "Your account has been cancelled".
To give an analogy, I would compare myspace to "Wal Mart" and facebook to "Target". I still use both, but prefer on over the other (need not elaborate why). Both social networks attract different age groups and even socio economic groups. Are you selling punk rock tshirts? That would probably do fine on both myspaces and facebook. Are you a CPA or lawyer offering services to corporations? Highly doubt you would get the right attention on myspace.