I am generally in favor of Facebook business pages as long as the business has a reasonably interesting content strategy, the willingness to committ sustained time and energy to it, and the willingness to cross-promote it in througout their marketing efforts. However, there is one thing thaty bugs me about Facebook relative to some of the other popular social sites such as Twitter and YouTube. On Facebook there is no way to search for and engage potential new fans without using Facebook advertising to get to them. I know Facebook does not want to commit the same sins as MySpace and create a platform for spammers but I have to believe that there can be a way to implement fan site invitations that would not be intrusive.
For instance, on Twitter and YouTube there are some interesting ways that you can build out your networks. On Twitter you can:
- search for posts containing certain criteria and follow, @reply, or message the Tweeter
- retweet relevant posts from others and they may follow you in return
- search the followers of those who you already follow or who follow you
On YouTube you can:
- search for videos contains certain criteria and message the poster or post a video reply in the comments
- check to see where related videos are being embedded and introduce your content to them
- subscribe to relevant videos and submit friend requests to develop a relationship with the poster
Facebook unfortunately does not allow the business page owner to engage in outreach like this. Granted you can create useful content for the Facebook community like an app or game, you can advertise, and you can create content that takes advantage of the viral networking of facebook to find new audiences. This is why we like business pages. But, I still think the platform could be improved by giving the business user some social networking outreach tools. In fact, I can imagine some businesses or organizations who should focus first on the other sites I mentioned before investing time and energy in Facebook. If your goal is to build a network adn your brand does not have much magnetism on its own, Facebook may be much slower going for you than Twitter or YouTube. I look forward to hearing other people’s thoughts on this.