When it comes to social media, there are just a few heavyweights in the ring: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. These are the “Big Four” players in social media right now and they’re here to stay.
If you’re looking for a surefire way to market your business, product, service or personal brand, your best bet is to take advantage of all the resources these platforms offer.
Over the next several days, we will take a look at each of the four major social networks in detail, emphasizing how you can best use their features and how you can benefit from all that they have to offer.
Part I of “The Big Four” series begins right now, as we explore Facebook.
Of the four platforms, the 500-pound gorilla is obviously Facebook. No other social network in history has seen the type of success that Facebook achieved in such a short time.
Founded in February of 2004, Facebook currently boasts of having more than 400 million active users, each having an average of 130 “friends.” All together, people spend in excess of 500 billion minutes every month connecting, communicating, and playing on Facebook.
This network is going to be the hub for all your social media marking madness. Your best tool here will be a Facebook Page, which other users can “like” and “share.” The importance of a Facebook Page cannot be overstressed. They are slightly becoming even more important than regular websites.
When a Facebook Page reaches a certain number of “likes” you may set a vanity URL of your choosing, by going to facebook.com/username. For instance, The New York Times has a Facebook Page located at facebook.com/nytimes.
What makes Facebook such an important part of social media marketing is that people have never been so honest and open with their information. Instead of hiding behind arbitrary screen names and cluttered profiles, the simple nature of Facebook’s structure has allowed us to digitally supplement our real lives in the online world.
As the popular Search Engine Optimization blog SEOmoz put it, “Facebook is a tremendously popular social networking site. Its massive reach provides compelling opportunities to connect with customers, both current and future, through fan pages, news feeds, groups, and throughout the site.”
In recent weeks, Facebook has made significant progress in breaking down the barrier between on-site and off-site communications through the implementation of the Facebook Open Graph Protocol. Below is an explanation of Open Graph, as written in the official documentation:
The Open Graph protocol enables you to integrate your web pages into the social graph. It is currently designed for web pages representing profiles of real-world things — things like movies, sports teams, celebrities, and restaurants. Once your pages become objects in the graph, users can establish connections to your pages as they do with Facebook Pages. Based on the structured data you provide via the Open Graph protocol, your pages show up richly across Facebook: in user profiles, within search results and in News Feed.
I predict that Open Graph is going to be huge in the next year, as online communication becomes much more integrated directly into websites, browsers, operating systems and mobile devices. This is just one of the many shifts that are in the works for social media and you can rest assured that Facebook will be among the few companies who will lead the charge into uncharted territory.
Begin preparing now by developing your online presence on Facebook, with both a page and a profile. Use the chat feature to your advantage. Join community pages that relate to your product or service and tag these pages in your status updates.
Most importantly however, be honest and sincere in everything you do on Facebook and don’t turn into “that guy.” You know, the spammer who could care less about anyone or anything other than personal profit and acts more like a walking billboard than a real person. Don’t go down that path.