Falling for FacebookHow social networks (especially Facebook) bring value to your online outreach

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I'm besotted with Facebook. I can see it becoming the primary way that I -- and many other people -- interact online. So if you aren't on Facebook already, join now. Now.

Still here? Don't tell me, you need actual reasons to join. Fine, here goes:

  • It's huge, and it's growing. While Facebook started as a network for college students, it opened up to anyone who wanted to join in September 2006, and grew more than 75% -- to almost 25 million users -- by February. I haven't found numbers more recent than that, but I can say that between 1-3 people in my own personal address book (1500 email addresses) are joining every day.
  • Your friends are already there. If you import/connect to your address book when you sign up , you'll discover all the folks you know who are already on Facebook. This is a great way to keep in touch with them. You can even find out who in your universe is already on Facebook, before you sign up yourself.
  • It mixes business with pleasure. Unlike LinkedIn, which feels like some sort of massive résumé swap, Facebook brings a personal side to its user interactions. More than half of my Facebook friends are colleagues or professional acquaintances, and now I'm finding out about their personal passions as well as their professional pursuits.
  • It's one-stop shopping. Facebook offers blogging, photo sharing, messaging, web-to-mobile communications, social networking, and groups.
  • It's a window on your world. Once you've added your contacts to your list of Facebook friends, your Facebook home page will be the best place on the web for you to find out what's going on with the folks you know. My favourite part of Facebook -- the thing that makes it truly addictive -- is checking in to see what's going on with all my friends and groups. I can see my friends' latest status reports, their latest new friends and groups, their notes, their photos....all in one place. The best way to get how cool this is is to take a look, but I don't think I can really share a screenshot because that would mean sharing details on my friends' activities. And that underlines what is so great about the Facebook feed: it feels far more personal than what you'd normally see on the wide open web.
  • It's pretty. God knows, I've fallen in love with my share of social media tools, but most of them have required me to look past a barebones or even downright ugly interface in order to appreciate the inner beauty of content sharing, social networking, or whatever. In contrast, Facebook has a very polished interface.
  • It can help you connect with your community. Facebook has now got an API -- application programming interface -- that lets people extend Facebook with all sorts of little applications and enhancements. (Check out some of the options so far.) And that API is going to see Facebook integrated into more and more 3rd party sites. If you find it easier to connect with your members, supporters, customers or friends on Facebook than to lure them into registering on your own site (and for most organizations, it will be MUCH easier to connect via Facebook) you need to start thinking now about how you can integrate Facebook's community and functionality into your own site.

I'll have more to say about Facebook -- and especially about the options for integrating Facebook with external web communities -- in the coming weeks. But if you want to understand why this matters, you need to join Facebook now. And once you do, be sure to add me as a friend!

Comments

Phillip Jeffrey says

April 29, 2007 - 10:03pm
As a student that uses Facebook as my primary communication tool and conduct research on Facebook, it is very interesting to read blogs from non-students and observe how non-students are embracing Facebook. I have been on Facebook since 2005 and I knew many students that were avoiding it. The problem is that when your friends only communicate with Facebook, plan parties with Facebook, share photos of said parties on Facebook, you can become isolated. I believe that non-students are beginning to use it in similar ways, especially those that hang in the web2.0 world. Glad you are enjoying your Facebook experience. Things can only get better from here.

Letters from a Small State › A Glutton for Facebo says

February 17, 2009 - 4:19pm

[...] is the answer, right? So I popped over the “Social Signal” blog to find out “how to bring value to my online outreach.”  I mean, that post is written [...]

Mary Jane Evans says

November 14, 2009 - 10:44am

Facebook is awesome! I highly recommend it as a website everyone should join. When I haven't joined Facebook, I thought it was just one of those very boring webpages when you can do a few things. When a friend of mine introduced it to me, I decided to join, and now, after 5 months of Facebook, I'm addicted and wanting more of it. There are an entire world of applications in it, you can connect to your friends and family, and also join groups of certain subjects. I can't think of a single reason why someone wouldn't join Facebook. It's a social network, with everything pooled together inside. Join Facebook, today.

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