Want to know at a glance if your company needs a Facebook page?


In a 2006 survey of college students conducted by Student Monitor, Facebook was named the second most popular thing on the planet. It tied with beer and was beaten by the iPod. In August this year research firm comScore officially declared Facebook the worlds most popular social networking site, with a monthly unique visitor count of 132 million, versus MySpaces 117 million. Official figures claim more than 110 million active users.

Stats like that make marketers go weak at the knees, and when the cost of inserting a brand into the throng is zero dollars ($0.00), its tempting to jump on the b(r)andwagon. Facebook fan pages and groups work well for some businesses and are disastrous for others. Heres a few things you should consider before diving in.

If you didnt create a Facebook page for your business, is it likely that someone else would?

Social networks exist to facilitate dialogue between passionate people. Their passion might be for a particular product, a cause, a celebrity or a football team, but theyre all in it together and they want to find other like-minded people to share their feelings with.

If your business isnt the kind of organisation that people are passionate (or at least mildy enthused) about, creating a social network around yourself will only serve to highlight that fact. At best, youll get a few staff members and cousins join, at worst, youll quickly find out no-one actually cares, which can end up looking rather embarrasing. If you honestly cant envisage your clients or customers starting a Facebook group for your brand all by themselves, you probably shouldnt have one.

On the flip side, people also become excited about things they hate. If your brand is something people are passionate about for all the wrong reasons, theyve probably already setup a Facebook page about you. If thats the case, Facebook is the least of your worries — you need to develop a comprehensive social media marketing strategy that engages your detractors, lets them know youre listening, makes them realise you care (presuming you care) and tells them what youre doing to solve the problems theyre talking about.

Have you got the time and resources to make it work?

If you think your brand is something that people are passionate about (or will be passionate about), then you should definitely think about setting up a Facebook fan page or group. Go back and look at the stats at the start of this article again — Facebook is huge. Keep in mind though, Facebook is like a puppy — if you treat it nicely, feed it regularly and give it lots of love, youll be rewarded with a friend for life; neglect it and it will come back to bite you.

If you do have active and passionate fans and you make the committment to setup a presence on Facebook to interact with them, theyll expect you to engage. If you set it up and then dont actively communicate with anyone youll just disappoint the people who love you most, and thats not a way to win more friends.

On the flip side, dont try and setup a Facebook page because you dont have other more efficient web resources in place — its not a substitute for an email newsletter, a professional website, a blog, a suggestion box or a help centre. If you use your Facebook page or group because you cant be arsed setting these things up properly, youll start annoying people.

People will want to engage with you on Facebook like they would any other friend — theyll want to see your photos every now and then, theyll want to find out what youre up to, but if they want to sign up to your email newsletter theyll sign up to your email newsletter. Dont presume just because theyre your Facebook friend they want to hear from you every day.

Are you afraid of losing control or looking lame?

ProtestorsFacebook is a public forum. Anything and everything you do will be stored forever for all the world to see and everything anyone else says about you will be duly noted. People who like you will let you know, but people who dont like you wont be shy either.

Even highly-reputable organisations like the RSPCA cop flack on their Facebook pages and its not uncommon for critics to use them as a forum for complaint. If youre afraid of letting that happen, setting up a public forum on Facebook might not be the best idea.

In fact, if youre afraid of what people might say about you, you might want to just stay away from Facebook altogether because even creating a closed group can make you look like you have something to hide — use your organisations intranet to engage your community, dont do it in public.

Facebook is incredibly popular amongst popular people because it tells the world just how popular they are. People love feeling loved and if youve got 400 friends on Facebook (or even 100), its a good feeling. However, if youre a corporation, chances are youre going to look pretty lame if you havent got many friends. If youre worried about looking lame, dont join Facebook.

Examples of organisations with excellent Facebook pages

  • Triple J — Nice interaction with fans, constant updates, lots of photos
  • Big Cat Reality — Small business page built around a genuine community of interest (Scuba Diving)
  • The RSPCA — Regular updates and real engagement from the UK organisation
  • Fuck off Japan, Leave the Whales Alone — This highly active group is doing a great job of independently fostering discussion for their area of interest.

Examples of organisations who probably shouldnt have a Facebook page

  • Facebook — Youd think they could do better, but their own official page is actually pretty lame; no interaction with fans.
  • B105 — Theyre apparently the #2 radio station in Brisbane, but in Septmeber 2008, only 44 people wanted to be their Facebook friend… Ouch.
  • Sprite — Their page was clearly whipped up because their work experience kid had nothing better to do. It does nothing, goes nowhere and adds absolutely no value whatsoever to the brand.

Further reading

What do you think?

  • Do you know any organisations that are making the most out of Facebook pages (as opposed to Facebook applications)? What about companies that are making a complete crock of it? Id love to hear your opinions.