Last month we probed the value of Facebook for businesses.
The AppGap is a website dedicated to the future of work, covering all the new tools and tricks of the internet for a young, up-and-coming business-minded crowd.
Through a webinar (web+seminar…get it?), a team of AppGap contributors discussed how companies are using and experimenting with Facebook to help them grow their business.
The verdict? As with most things in life, you get out what you put into it.
Researchers found that members will fade quickly if there isn’t solid content to keep them engaged. It doesn’t matter if you have 20 members or 200 members; what’s important is having a group of solid contributors who have an actual vested interest in the group or business. Having 20 involved members will stir up more business than 200 members who don’t spend time on the group.
Technical limitations are also a challenge. You can’t send documents or presentations, you can’t easily remove spammers, and once your group grows past a certain number of members, you can’t even email them any more. Really, all you can do is start discussions, ask questions, and post pictures.
Still, there is potential. Even though Facebook groups are little more than glorified discussion forums, they still provide a new medium for getting your product out and increasing brand awareness. Moreover, most Facebook users are notoriously engrossed with the site (checking their profiles four or five times per day), and with 36 million users, there’s an enormous pool of people to interact with.
The AppGap offered 10 basic tips for getting business value out of Facebook. They ranged from the obvious (find a topic people care about) to the enlightening (offer special deals and discounts on products or services for members of your group). They also stressed the importance of good leaders and administrators who can control the group, lead discussions and encourage interactivity.
The bottom line: There are business opportunities for using Facebook, but building a successful community takes time and energy, along with active group members. Facebook provides the blank canvas; it’s up to individual businesses to figure out the right format and the right individuals for a successful group.
Alec Depcrynski is a BizSense staff writer. He spends most of his time writing stories and not on Facebook. Please send story ideas or tips to [email protected]