Why should Facebook be your business?

Traditional business practice was based on the principle of developing a great product or service and then finding customers who would buy it. Then came marketing and promotion so that many people knew about your product or service through advertising, promotion, stores, etc.

The same type of principles have been applied to online business. The Internet and marketing strategies like Google become vehicles to get your products in front of potential customers. Now Facebook is being seen as a business marketing strategy. With more than 80 million active users, it is the sixth most trafficked website in the world and the second most popular social networking site globally, just behind MySpace’s more than 100 million users.

Ean Jackson, college professor and angel investor and president of Analytics Marketing, believes the Facebook profile is shifting from younger social communicators to older people and businesses that are eager to use Facebook to generate business.

So what can Facebook offer businesses? Mainly an opportunity to communicate directly with a pre-selected target audience and use tools such as banners, apps, quizzes, photos, discussion groups, social ads. Facebook has become very effective in promoting events, product launches, special promotions, and news announcements. And there are now more than 20,000 Facebook apps, with more than 400,000 developers and entrepreneurs.

The International Internet Marketing Association (IIMA) held an event on Facebook for business last May, and another this coming October, and has published a guide on how to use Facebook for business. Some of the tips in the guide include the following:

* Use Facebook for a soft sell, not a hard sell

* Connect Facebook with your blog or contests

* Offer something of value and don’t expect anything in return

* Use Facebook to build your brand

* Make your Facebook the focus of the human side of your business

The ultimate business strategy for Facebook may be to creatively and skillfully develop a community of fans and followers who will act as viral agents to promote and support your business.

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