The Purpose of Facebook

By Sarah Morse

With a Facebook presence, businesses can access more of their customer bases.
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On the surface, it can seem like businesses do not have a place in the purely social realm of Facebook. It's precisely that social aspect, however, that makes Facebook a great place for businesses to establish a presence. Facebook business pages and, to a lesser extent, Facebook groups are valuable business tools.

Connecting with Customers

A business cannot create a profile on Facebook; instead, a business communicates with the public through a business page, which is typically an offshoot of the personal Timeline of the company's owner or manager. Business pages work a bit differently than profiles. When a customer "Likes" a page, he receives page updates in his news feed, which he can then share with his friends. He can also post on the business page -- if the page administer allows posts -- and send a private message to the administrator. With a presence on Facebook, organizations can connect directly with their customers and answer questions they may have. Facebook's social status may also potentially increase the business's likability factor.

Branding and Marketing

Facebook can reinforce your website and business brand. Just having a Facebook presence and participating in conversations can spread your brand recognition. Post useful or intriguing content on your page -- content that people will share -- for cheap brand marketing. People on networks respond better to this soft sell than to a hard marketing sell.

Businesses with products or services to market can create coupon offers to distribute through their business page's network. Facebook also offers a paid "promotion" option, which positions an update in a prominent position in a follower's news feed for a specific amount of time instead of letting it fade when other news feed updates appear. With Facebook ads, you can specifically target your audience and promote your brand or service.

Networking With Other Businesses

Business pages cannot comment on or interact with personal profiles. They can, however, interact with other pages, which puts them in contact with other businesses. Using this option, you can form mutually beneficial relationships with related businesses all over the country and the world. When you establish a relationship, you can cross-promote one another's services or products and share ideas.

Communication Within an Organization

Depending on the social networking expertise of your employees and the size of your business, Facebook's groups option may provide an effective interface for communication and collaboration within the company. Groups have a message board format conducive to conversations among small groups of people who share a common interest. To participate in a Facebook group, each member must have a personal Facebook profile. The privacy options for groups are different from those for pages. In addition to an open group, which everyone on the Internet can see, you can choose closed and secret groups, which keep conversations hidden and -- in the latter option -- keeps the existence of the group secret.