I want to buy into Facebook, I really do. I know that the site has been trending well and all the tech geeks love it to no end. It is talked about all over social media blogs and has been the hot topic for 8-10 months now. But from a purely promotional side I just don’t see the upside in using Facebook.
Now let me put a few things on the table first before I get into this. Do I think people should have at least some sort of presence on there? Without a doubt, I have a personal profile and a “fan” page for my comedy blog. I believe it is a good way to keep in touch with people that read me that are heavy Facebook users and I use it to communicate with people I am in grad school with. Past that do I focus any promotional time on there? Not really.
When I look at blogs talking about the promotional power of Facebook the only valid point they really make is about the groups feature, where you can find niche groups and join a conversation. Granted this is a strong point of Facebook but also a very time consuming one. For people with a large audience jumping into the conversation is great to help create and maintain your reputation as an “expert” or an “authority” but for people coming up or establishing themselves I think it is a large time drain. Would you rather push a few people a week to your blog that over time you have built a relationship with or a mass number with less effort and probably better results?
Here are my major issues with using Facebook as a promotional tool:
1) Facebook limits your total friends to 5,000 people- Unlike other social networking services where your friends’ count is uncapped Facebook limits your total number of friends. Starting out you may think that amount is rather high and that you will never reach it, but if you are doing promotion right you can get to that number quickly.
2) It is a closed network- People don’t like random friend invites. While this is a good feature for users of the network it is a bad feature for people trying to promote stuff, it is not welcomed on Facebook. So basically you have to really make a name for yourself in groups which is rather time consuming because just friending someone and getting them to your profile is a chore and a half.
3) Other sites just do things better- I have read numerous posts while attempting to open my mind about Facebook, hoping to read something that I didn’t already know or a fresh take on how to use the site. Some people will point to using the “ask questions” application to ask questions of your friends, well LinkedIn does that much better and gives you more exposure within the community when you ask questions. Another suggestion is to use the Facebook Marketplace to promote your wares, but really doesn’t Craigslist offer more on that front as well and to a wider audience? While it is nice to have some features all in the same place but if those features don’t beat these other sites why would you want to invest your time on Facebook?
4) It is labor intensive- Looking at this from a pure grass roots type of way, promoting on Facebook is a hell of a lot of work. Give me MySpace, Hi-5, Bebo, and automated programs any day of the week, I will drive just as much traffic using these programs for an hour as you will in a week using the various techniques social media experts layout when discussing Facebook.
While I know I give Facebook a hard time because of the “attack of the applications” I still like the site for what I use it for, I just don’t see the need to invest my time in using it for promotion on a personal or professional level. That is why I shake my head when I see a whole section of The Best Internet Marketing Blog Posts of 2007 dedicated to Facebook and none to any other social networking website. While conversation and connections are important in social media, a pure numbers game backed up by good content will win every time.