A recent Techmeme has it that “Facebook’s closed platform and data lock-in” make it “NOT for Business.”
Please. Of COURSE Facebook is for business.
Any place that has 35 million people spending an average of 20 minutes a day absolutely has business uses.
If Facebook isn’t for business, then neither is eBay. Except of course now everyone knows people have made hugely profitable businesses solely on eBay. Many businesses found eBay valuable as a means of finding and selling to broadly dispersed customers. Even for business-to-business sales.
Now, doesn’t eBay have exactly the kind of “walled garden” characteristics that so many find it fashionable to revile in Facebook? How does it differ?
Facebook is, as Mark Zuckerberg says, a social utility. Utilities are like heating and electricity. They do things, or empower you to do things. Right off the bat there are lots of ways businesses can use Facebook to accomplish their goals. I’ve outlined a few Facebook business uses here. But beyond that, Facebook is infinitely extensible. If it doesn’t do what you want it to do, you can wait for someone to develop the application you need, or you can contract to develop the application yourself.
And unlike heat and lights — or eBay for that matter — you can use Facebook for free.
The problem isn’t with Facebook. It’s a lack of imagination in how to use it. Facebook, Twitter and all the other web 2.0 tools are just that: tools.
They aren’t the only tools for business; but web-wise MacGyvers will find creative ways to use them – not necessarily exactly according to the user manual (oh yeah, there is no user manual) – to accomplish their organizations’ goals.
For those concerned about mixing their personal and professional selves, I offer this: You can have lots of interaction with people with common interests in Facebook without becoming their Friend. You can just belong to the same groups. And for non-family members, you can use the limited profile to avoid divulging an information about yourself that you think others might find controversial. More on that in a future post.
Technorati: Facebook, eBay, business, marketing, PR, Twitter, MacGyver, walled gardens, social networks, social utility