Why Businesses Can't Ignore Facebook

Last week, the president put Facebook up there with the invention of the airplane and electricity, when he said in his State of the Union that “We are the nation that puts cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living.” At first, the comparison seems extreme. But maybe that’s just because we’re living the transition from a world without Facebook to a world where we are obsessed with it. It’s gradual. We’re not watching the transition from a plane flying 10 feet off the ground to bigger, better planes invented, to multiple passenger planes, to airlines, to the point where people’s lives are changed and it suddenly becomes possible to be across the country in a few hours if you want.

Several years ago I signed up for an account, then let it sit for a few weeks. One of my college friends found me before I had entered any information besides an email address. Months later I had hundreds of friends. A year ago or so, I convinced my mom to sign up, and she wrote me, “What’s a wall? I’m so confused.” Now, she’s liking things, posting things, sharing things, and I’m checking Facebook before I grab my son out of his crib at 7:30AM. And again a few times throughout the day. And again before bed. My son will think I’m so old when I tell him I was graduated from college for a few years before Facebook was invented.

When Zuckerberg invented Facebook, he changed life. And in a bigger way than just allowing people to keep up with friends. He changed our view of ourselves, in terms of others. In the Time “Person of the Year” article, it’s explained beautifully: “Facebook runs on a very stiff, crude model of what people are like. It herds everybody — friends, co-workers, romantic partners, that guy who lived on your block but moved away after fifth grade — into the same big room. It smooshes together your work self and your home self, your past self and your present self, into a single generic extruded product. It suspends the natural process by which old friends fall away over time, allowing them to build up endlessly, producing the social equivalent of liver failure. On Facebook, there is one kind of relationship: friendship, and you have it with everybody. You’re friends with your spouse, and you’re friends with your plumber.”

And if you are in business and don’t understand or “get” the Facebook thing, you can’t ignore it. You are becoming the minority. We are a nation obsessed with Facebook. It only makes sense to get on board, and leverage it in the best way possible. Mashable put together a great Infographic that shows some Facebook stats. A few notables:

  • 48% of 18 to 34 year olds check Facebook right when they wake up (Phew! I don’t feel so alone about the check before getting the baby thing.)
  • The 35+ demographic represents more than 30% of the entire userbase
  • 57% of people talk to people more online than they do in real life.
  • 71.2% of the US web audience is on Facebook.

Businesses should have Pages on Facebook. It can’t be ignored. You’ve got to get your supporters to Like you, and then you’ve got to treat them with respect and kindness, and be helpful. After all, they are letting you into a part of their life, and you don’t want to annoy them there. If you aren’t sure how to do this, let us help you.

I’ll close with a clip of Zuckerberg’s cameo on Saturday Night Live this weekend. I have to say, I like this guy. For all his strangeness, as portrayed in the Social Network and described in the Time article, he seems very decent, interesting, and I’m not afraid to admit that his big idea changed my life in what I consider a good way. And like he said on SNL, he invented poking. You’ve gotta like the nerd who invented poking.