Facebook says it’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. As corporate mission statements go, it appeals to just about everyone on the planet.
Facebook’s press room has some unbelievable figures. There are more than 750 million active users, and 50% of these users tune into the site on any given day. The average user has 130 friends and spends more than 23 billion minutes a day uploading photos, posting messages, joining groups and finding friends. Mark Zuckerberg said,
If facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the world, just ahead of Japan, Russia and Nigeria
Facebook has become part of our lives
Over it’s relatively short lifetime, facebook has been the focus of much research resulting in some amazing statistics,
- 92% of marketers use facebook and 75% have increased their use
- 44% of US companies see facebook as important or even critical to their marketing plans
- 31% of facebook users are on the site several times a day
- 24% of consumers consult facebook friends before making a purchase
- 53% of facebook users would recommend brands to friends
- 70% of users are outside the US
- the fastest growing user demographic are those aged 35 or older
There are a few observations and insights that businesses everywhere should be noticing. Almost all marketers are on facebook – the people who promote the products and services all businesses sell. Nearly half of all US companies see facebook as part of their marketing plans.
Your customers are almost all on facebook, every day, sometimes several times a day. They ask friends opinions before buying. They will often recommend products & services to friends. Even the older generation, often computer shy, are now on facebook.
What can you read into this? Every business should be on facebook.
Why is facebook so addictive?
So many people spending so much time on one website looks like an addiction to me. But why is facebook so addictive?
A revolutionary change in socialising – facebook was the first usable, interactive social website, where you could connect with just about anyone. It’s the real-time interactivity, like the news feed, that made it fun and addictive. And it’s simple and easy to use, so everyone can use it. Experts say the rise of facebook is due to people moving away from impersonal search engines and searching for more online interaction with people.
Apps, games and having fun – facebook has a huge variety of applications and games to while away the hours and have a little fun. The farmville game has more than 33 million players. And over 12 million people pay for games each month. It accounts for only 1.6% of users but is enough to create a social game industry, where companies like Zynga generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue per quarter.
Everyone is on facebook – it’s passed it’s critical mass or ‘tipping point’, a term coined by Malcolm Gladwell, where if you’re not on it, you might miss what’s happening with your friends. In most developed countries it’s difficult to find an 18-30 year old who hasn’t signed up. You can now arrange, parties, meetings or get-together’s just on facebook alone.
A one-stop shop - It’s fast reaching the point where you can do just about anything with other people. It’s become a universe people inhabit. You can chat and instant message with others online, find out what all your friends are doing, arrange events, share your photos, join a group with the same interests or even start a group. And now you can upload personal videos.
Sharing photos & memorabilia – facebook is now the most popular site on the web for sharing photos, with more than 14 million uploaded daily. You can add tags, so you know when friends upload a picture of you, and you can add comments to on your friend’s photos. This all adds to the fun.
Is there psychology at work?
A cure for loneliness – most people want a little attention from others and facebook is the perfect formula for delivering attention. If you are feeling lonely you can spend hours sending messages to friends, commenting on pictures or on their news feeds. We all live such disconnected lives these days, where we can live around people but still be lonely.
Dr. Megan Moreno, from the University of Winsconsin and a specialist in adolescent medicine, says the use of facebook improves social connection between young people, especially those prone to depression.
Overcoming insecurity and jealosy – facebook is great for sufferers with it’s ability to track conversations and events. You could solve your jealosy issues by stalking your target! Or you could just peek into people’s lives without them ever knowing it. Who isn’t curious to know more about one of your facebook friends? Curiosity is a strong emotion.
Improve your self-worth through your profile – most people need a sense of self worth. This can come from your job, achievements, or family, but it could also come from your facebook profile. It’s a way of showcasing who are, what interests you have and what you like. And other people can like you by clicking a simple button. And who doesn’t like to be liked?
How can businesses use facebook?
If you are a business and you’re not on facebook yet, or you think you’re not using it to your best advantage, how can you change this?
A facebook page – this is the first step for all businesses and organisations. It is separate from your personal profile, but there is a developing art and science to creating an effective facebook page. There are some excellent resources to help you from Pat flynn’s how to create a facebook landing page to Amy Porterfield’s how to create a facebook fan page guide.
Comprehensive profile – make sure you build a comprehensive profile. Facebook is all about personal connections and your profile is public. Anyone can see it. Make sure you present yourself how you want prospective customers to see you, and there is a synergy with your business.
Facebook page insights – this is facebook analytics. It provides feedback by showing you information such as impressions per post and a full demographic breakdown of your fans and page visitors. It gives you the information you need to improve your facebook marketing efforts.
PPC advertising – facebook ads are small PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising boxes that will often see when you are on facebook. With over 60 million active subscribers paying for ads, it must be working. Facebook rather cleverly use the extensive profile data to match the ad to the person.
Like button – facebook offer a number of promotional tools, but the like button is arguably the best. It’s gone viral. 2.5 million websites have added the like button to their website. When someone likes your content or website, they are endorsing it to all their facebook friends, as it will appear on their news feed. There is plenty of advice available on how to install it.
Start a facebook group – what is your business about? You could start a group on facebook matching the kind of people you want as customers? Starting a group is easy and joining one even easier. There are millions of groups, so there is bound to be a match. Participate in discussion and post content your group would find interesting, and you’ll be seen as an expert.
Promote to your friends – here is a simple idea. Make more than 100 friends (users have an average of 130 friends), share your best content with them, then ask them to share your website link with their friends.
Network with prospects – instead of just finding existing friends and family to connect with, search for potential prospects and other professionals in your industry or business. Facebook make searching easy and even suggest people you might like to connect with.
The reasons why facebook is such a hit are many and varied. But one thing is for sure, facebook will continue to grow. How big is anyone’s guess.