Why you need more Facebook-time in 2011

Facebook continues its upward trajectory, so follow these rules of engagement to get the most out of ‘Face-time’.

The Google giant is being toppled: in 2010, Facebook beat Google search engines as the most-visited site in the US according to Hitwise, with Facebook’s US traffic increasing 55 per cent. On a per capital basis, Australia has one of the highest uptakes of social media in the world, with 9.5 million active Facebook users of which 3.4 million access Facebook via mobiles.

Facebook has even managed to dent Google’s reign in search. Like Google, Facebook has a massive database of each users’ personal preferences which it uses to continually launch new features to further enhance and entrench users’ experience. Facebook ads are challenging Google’s major revenue-raiser, AdWords, and Facebook’s increasingly popular ‘Like’ Button, which allows people to show interest in particular web pages, is helping connect businesses with new prospects.

Jump on in 
While naysayers may write-off Facebook as a passing fad, numbers over time indicate otherwise. In an attempt to better understand and integrate the ‘share’ phenomenon that Facebook does so well, Google has been buying a bunch of social/share sites. Half of Facebook’s 500 million-plus active users login every day and too many people and businesses have invested too much into Facebook to stop or move to an alternate. Facebook is here to stay.

The rules of engagement
Yes, Facebook is a time-sink and it takes a strong mind to resist the many temptations that lead to you viewing your best friend from primary school’s photos of their recent Hawaiian family holiday. Keep focused on these rules of engagement:

  • Regularity – Facebook thrives on content (more than 30 billion pieces of content are shared each month), so you need to post regularly. How often is regularly? At least three times a week.
  • Engagement – social media is all about being social. If someone talks to you at a party, you wouldn’t ignore them. The same goes for Facebook. No matter how trivial a question or remark, it’s always better to respond.
  • Commitment – related to the above, you need to commit to develop a relationship. Consider scheduling content in advance using a tool such as Tweetdeck.
  • Intimacy vs discretion – it’s a skilled balancing act between intimacy, essential for engagement and relationship-building, and restraint, to avoid causing offense or overdoing it with too many comments.
  • Measure – like all marketing efforts, you need to make sure that the effort you’re putting in pays off. While initial targets may include increasing your number of fans (or ‘likes’), after a target has been met (Social Media expert Mari Smith says 500-1000 is a critical mass that will start paying dividends), you need to concentrate on how to turn those fans into paying customers.

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