Facebook at seven: The business case

Facebook has turned seven, but has it developed into a great place to support outside businesses' needs?

ANALYSIS Over the last seven years, Facebook has undergone practically incalculable changes.

It was recently valued at a whopping $50 billion (31 billion), so Mark Zuckerberg must be doing a lot right.

But to make a profitable business, you need other firms to get involved and that's exactly what has happened.

So in what ways can businesses use Facebook? And what are the risks involved?

Getting in touch

The key area businesses should be looking to leverage Facebook in all its glory is through customer interaction.

There are a plethora of ways companies can use the service to drive sales. Firms could use a page to spread brand awareness, for example, or put out some targeted ads to interact with people.

"On Facebook the benefit is the scale and the relevance of those ads," a Facebook spokesperson told IT PRO.

"Ads and content can be tailored quite specifically, targeting people in certain locations, or making sure an ad is relevant according to their likes and interests."

Businesses can choose to use a page, ads, apps, or implement Facebook's open graph API or social plugins on their own websites, such as letting people like' certain content.

Approximately 50 million likes' are put out every day, indicating the power of such a little feature.

Facebook also recently launched its Deals service, letting firms market to consumers using socially and geographically relevant offers that can drive foot traffic to businesses.

"The web is being rebuilt around people and we are witnessing the evolution from the information web to the social web," the Facebook spokesperson added.

"Today there are more than 500 million Facebook profiles worldwide, more than the number of web pages on the whole of the internet, so marketing needs to reflect this shift and put people at the centre of their marketing."

Cluley liking Facebook?

Even Graham Cluley, Sophos senior technology consultant and regular scruntiniser of Facebook, said companies simply could not afford to turn their backs on the social network.

"The fact is that Facebook is an unstoppable force and becoming an essential part of the internet," Cluley told IT PRO.

"If your company stays away from Facebook then you're giving your competitors who are on the site a competitive advantage."

He said Facebook offered businesses the chance to get closer to customers without shelling out much money.

"For more and more young people Facebook is the internet, and their primary method of communication," Cluley added.

"So you need to be part of the social networking conversation, and should have a presence on the sites to engage with you audience."

Cluley barely even mentioned any security threats facing the service - something he is fairly keen on.

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