online marketing – facebook

Though I’m not a professional in the field of online marketing I am always exploring, trying out and using new technologies out in the field. These are just some pointers and things that I have personally experienced or tried out on facebook. 

Getting started

On facebook first of all you will need to create yourself a personal account and look for people you know to add them as friends. It is not meant as a marketing tool but a social networking environment. Basically it helps you keep in touch with people that you know, new people that you meet and people with similar interests that you could find through facebook interest groups. 

Facebook groups

If you have an organisation, company, interest or volunteer group you can create a group on facebook, to which you can invite the people that would be interested in being associated with this group. This is one of the ways you could use as a marketing tool. It is something that will naturally grow – that is if you make it interesting enough for your friends, clients and other interested people to join. The people who join the group can also invite their friends etc. to join and that’s how your group can grow. In the description of the group you can post an address and an external weblink as well. 

Once you have a group in place, you can encourage the members of the group to upload photos, videos related to the group or start a discussion thread to get feedback and ideas. You can create a newsletter and send a message to all group members if you want to keep them updated on what’s happening. Another way is to create events and invite the group members to the event. Members invited can RSVP (all build-in to the tool) to state that they (1) are attending, (2) maybe attending, and (3) not attending. If they don’t RSVP they are listed at the event page as “awaiting reply”. This is a very good way if let’s say you are organising a  weekend trip to somewhere or even just a talk about a topic, and they say that their friends are attending, it might encourage them to attend too. At the same time if any of their friends is sending a RSVP to an event it will be shown on the news feed of their home page.  Members invited to an event can on their turn also invite others to attend the event.

Fan-page

Another avenue on facebook is creating a fan-page – similarly with groups you can invite people to join the fan-page of your organisation. Members can upload photos and videos and write on the “wall”. You can’t create events and such, but the good part of having a fan-page is that your fan-page will occassionally be featured on the side bar of your members’ friends. So for instance, I would sometimes see for example “Mozart – A great music composer for classical music” – one friend is a fan (see who). I can then click on the link to see whom of my friends is a fan of Mozart and/or click on the link to get to the fan page. For me it has worked a few times that I saw something in which I’m also interested, whether it’s a scuba diving organisation or a musician that I like too – it could bring me over to become a fan too.  

Causes

If you have a cause for which you want to create awareness or even collect funding, you can create a cause on Facebook. To this cause you can invite your friends to join, who if they join, most likely will invite some of their friends to join as well. 

Facebook ads

This is where you can sign up to create an advertisement that will be displayed on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/advertising/

The great thing about this is that the advertisement can be targeted to certain age groups, locations, even gender if you like. That means your ad will only be displayed at the sidebar of facebook users who fall within your target audience. You can pay per click – which would be only if people are interested in your ad and click on it to find out more. 

The personal drawback I found with the advertisements is that sometimes I see something interesting on my sidebar, but I only notice it in the corner of my eye when I’m already clicking on something else. That means the facebook page is reloading and I will get 3 new ads in the side bar. The good thing is that usually the same ad will appear again another time and I can click on it then (they rotate and some ads will come back). 

I have not tried advertising anything myself, so I’m not sure how well the statistics will turn out, but facebook does provide statistics to see the details of users who have clicked on your ad. 

Some final comments

As with anything online in social media – it is mainly self-regulated and it works negatively to push things. What does work is to have interesting updates, organise events, send news letters, and inspire the members to contribute. If it works out well, you don’t even have to spend a lot of time yourself. Word of mouth is very powerful online!

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Facebook in the classroom?

Came across this blog post: http://scottishwebfolk.wordpress.com/2007/07/29/teaching-learning-with-facebook-group/ which refers to a facebook group on “Teaching and learning with Facebook”.

Another site http://blog.larkin.net.au/2008/01/17/social-network-sites-in-the-classroom/ is discussing the use of social network sites in the classroom, citing MySpace and Facebook.

It would be interesting to see how Facebook could be used in education, but I feel that at this moment, it is difficult to shield of private life and classroom life on such social networking sites. They are not really meant to use for teaching purposes. Of course you could set up a group that doesn’t appear in people’s profiles, and have discussions within that group. Events can be created etc. But then what is the difference with setting up a normal discussion forum?

I believe that blogs and group blogs would be great to use in classrooms for reflection / group reflection, discussion forums, knowledge forums, wikispaces etc, but not really a social networking site. However, this could change in the future, as the technology evolves! I have signed up for the group anyway and hope to see if there are some interesting ideas there…