What's the real value in Facebook presence?

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The gloves are off
The gloves are off

Facebook is exploding and not just for individuals but companies as well. But how exactly to leverage it — and other emerging social media — is still up in the air. Our experts debate

CONTENDER
Chris Johnson
Founder/managing partner, Terralever
More than 10 years experience in marketing

If you're still debating whether or not your brand should have a Facebook presence, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Facebook pages provide a relatively low-risk option to get your brand involved in social media. A Facebook page allows fans of your brand to engage both with the brand and with others who share the brand love.

While it's a great opportunity for you to distribute your content to the community, it's an even better environment for your brand fanatics to share their thoughts, engaging at a deeper level with the brand.

Facebook gets it, too. The recently imple­mented redesign of the Web site shows just how seriously the network is responding to its growing business audience. Facebook is not just a teenager's network; in fact, the professional segment is its fastest growing user group.

In another shift, Facebook pages used to have a slightly more static feel to them than typical personal profiles. The recent changes, however, allow companies to get more creative and personal.

In addition, Facebook provides a fairly unique view into the demographics of your fans and allows you to communicate directly with them within the Facebook environ­ment. The more engaged your fans are, the more social stories they will generate, and the more traffic your Facebook page will get.

A final point to consider: If you don't cre­ate the “official” presence for your brand on Facebook, someone else probably will.


CONTENDER
Aviva Cuyler
Founder/CEO, JD Supra
13 years of business/marketing strategy experience

Having a Facebook page for your brand should be a no-brainer when it comes to your online presence, but not for reasons that you may think. The key is to make your brand's Facebook page one of just many high-profile “presence outposts” on the Web, and plant your flag in many places.

At a minimum, you should have a compa­ny blog, a company Twitter and a Facebook page. Other ways to increase your digital footprint include Flickr pages, a specifically focused professional LinkedIn group, and even creating a YouTube channel with inter­esting video content. Keeping these outposts fresh with not only company news, but with industry discussion will equate to a strong social Web presence that engages and adds to your own brand's visibility.

For Facebook in particular, recent changes to its site are great news for businesses. You now can engage with followers via status updates. What's more: Facebook's “pages” don't live behind the walled garden of Face­book profiles — they're indexed by Google, so regardless of whether or not you are counting on Facebook's 175 million users to buy your product, a page can make a difference to your organic search results.

Start your Facebook page now, but in conjunction with an overall social media plan. Generate buzz, create brand awareness and connect with customers. Participating in small conversations with relevant content is what matters in today's marketing. Your primary job is to engage your constitu­ents in meaningful ways, and the Facebook community is only one of many


DMNews' DECISION

Johnson argues that Facebook not only gets your brand involved in social media but allows fans to engage with the brand. Cuyler contends Facebook should be part of an overall brand strategy that includes other social media as well. As Cuyler states best: Plant your flag in many places.

HAVE YOUR SAY E-mail your topic to nancy.kearney@dmnews.com

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