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March 17, 2009

How to Tell If Facebook Is Worthwhile For Your Business or a Waste of Time

Social media is here to stay. There. I said it. It will be around in some form for years to come. Do you really see Facebook, Twitter and Web videos going somewhere?

Or do you just see them evolving and becoming part of a larger system the same way business blogs did? Great. Then we can start figuring out how to use social media to our benefit.

Now that we’re past this issue of whether we are in love with MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, Ning, etc., and we realize that we’re focusing on whether these tools are useful or not, (not on whether or not they give us the warm fuzzies), there’s still a fundamental question. This goes for whether you’re using Facebook pages, Facebook ads, or a regular Facebook profile.

How do you know if sites like Facebook are for YOU? How can you tell if a social networking site can help YOUR company?

It boils down to three things.

1- Are There Enough People on the Site in Your Interest Area for it to Be Worth Your While?

You have to think about business connections too, not just clients.

You can connect with people who send you business. Think about what the value of a new client is too, whether you think can get one out of 100, and how long it takes. When people come to your profile, are they visiting your site? If not, is your profile set up correctly?

Experiment. There are several very subtle things you can do that maximize your exposure, not just daily clicks through to your site.

To find out if there are enough people on Facebook who need your plumbing services, search for home improvement groups. Check your regional network and look on the Marketplace page. See if you can find people in your local area to befriend who would need your services – but for heaven’s sake, don’t be aggressive in your promotion.

Instead, create a Facebook page, run an ad, or have the type of networking conversations where “so, what do you do?” will naturally come up. And you can take it from there.

Networking at Facebook can be like hanging out at a neighborhood mixer. Yeah, you might want to mention that you’re a handyman, or that you work at the bank, and give someone your card, but you don’t want to turn those first few getting-to-know-you conversations into a sales pitch.

Let them know who you are, what you do, and after a few conversations, send them a no-strings coupon for them or a friend “just in case you ever need it buddy” and go on being friends.

They’ll remember you if you keep in touch, and are a nice enough guy.

2- Does your company have an RSS-capable site that updates frequently?

If it does, a profile on Facebook gives you another place to share your RSS link. You can import your blog posts going forward, or summaries. There are also applications like NetworkedBlogs that will help your blog posts get exposure from interested readers.

3- Do you already have clients, friends, associates, whose signal you can isolate, or whose noise you can penetrate, using Facebook?

This has to be the most underestimated use of Facebook. My first month at Facebook I had direct interactions with ten influential people I admire. Some of them I look up to for personal reasons, others are greats in some aspect of search, the internet or technology. One actually sent me a client.

Instead of installing hundreds of applications and super-poking someone or posting spam to their Super Wall, you can be the smart person who sends a letter and gets a response, the one who sends a private message and is sent a gift in return, or just get the wonderful feeling of having a world famous personality you admire not only acknowledge you, but contact you directly.

One of the greatest things about Facebook is how it can help cement relationships between you and people you know but didn’t think you had much in common with. You know how sometimes, you want to write to say hello to someone, but at the same time, you don’t want to waste their time?

Or when you think about some great author or celebrity you admire, and what you’d say to them if you could meet them? Maybe you just want to compliment a more famous colleague and not sound like a dork.

Facebook can help with this when it functions as an automatic ice-breaker, facilitating an intial contact between you and someone you wish you had more reason to interact with, then another, and another, until you become friends who call each other on the phone and plan to visit or meet at conferences.

Those are the reasons. It’s not a matter of time because you can block all the nuisance requests and there are ways around the irritating app requests.

It’s not a matter of just traffic because first, you can set up a profile in 15 minutes to automatically send you traffic and never mess with it again if you like. Or you can go in and meet people every day and it can be a major traffic source.

And it’s not a matter of whether you can get anything out of it – it’s more a matter of whether you’re willing and whether the available traffic is targeted to your topic. It’s not for everyone, because let’s face it, not everyone wants to do the work, or even use Facebook that’s way.

And that’s okay! For some people, it’s a nice little escape, like a mental, online Starbucks. For some it’s a bother, and the pain of learning a new way to do things isn’t worth the time. I don’t mean that sarcastically – if you’re functioning as a CEO, you may not want to focus on Facebook.

With a little research, you can find out what kind of role it will play in your life.

Tinu AbayomiPaul – Confused about how to get clients, joint venture partners or more blog traffic from Facebook without violating their terms with traditional online marketing techniques? Go to to learn the advanced secrets of Facebook Marketing.