I can guarantee you that this won’t be as useful as How to Manage Twitter, but then, I’m telling you so that you have an understanding of what I’m doing with my personal time on Facebook. I’ll admit right up front that I was quite a Facebook hater for many years, but that I turned around in the last few months, due to two changes: the improvement of fan pages, and my personal discovery of lists. If I didn’t have these two things, I’d not be able to function.
I should also state that I don’t use very many tools. I know that Tweetdeck and Seesmic Desktop allow for FB updates, and I’ve sent one or two from there, but that’s not where I think the meat of Facebook is, and so I don’t use those tools in that way.
How I Manage Facebook
First, I should apologize. I probably can’t friend you in Facebook. I’m right up at the 5000 people limit (I removed about 600 and so I’m hovering around 4751). It’s not you, it’s Facebook. I’m sure you’re wonderful and I like you just as much, even though we can’t be friends. Now, on to the info.
I have three main areas I sit on, and I keep them open in 3 browser tabs. The first is my list called “Short List.”
This is approximately 185 people and it’s only for people I know personally and that I want to stay closely updated on. I read that voraciously. If I run out of updates, I drop into the general population and see what’s going on there. It’s changed how I see the world and what I know about people who matter to me. (It’s probably closer to how you use your Facebook).
From a “push” perspective, I update Facebook separately than Twitter. I talk much more personally on Facebook, and I’m not out to win any friends. I just say what’s on my mind there. My blog also imports there, as do my photos, as do my Google Reader Shared Items, as do my FriendFeed actions, and a few other things. I use Facebook to collect a lot of info from a lot of places, so you get a fuller view of me.
The second place I camp is on my own Profile, to chat with people in the comment stream:
I have enjoyed chatting with folks in the comments section, though again, it’s not in any kind of business perspective. It’s just me being people. What I feel is that Facebook is like the afterparty from the big performance, and I’m just chilling backstage.
The third place I camp is on the Trust Agents community, which is a Facebook fan page.
As of this writing, we have 2190 people, of which about 30 or 40 are actively talking about Trust Agents and ideas around the book. That’s been the most rewarding. You might recall that I deleted my fan page a while back. I still stand by that. But the passion of talking about ideas instead of “having fans,” is a really good thing.
I also love the birthdays feature. My secret is that I don’t wish people happy birthday in Facebook. I send a personal email and/or a tweet. It makes it more lovely, in my eyes.
What It All Means to Me
I don’t use Facebook for business. I tried buying a Facebook ad to test out how well it would convert new people to the Trust Agents community. I spent $500 and got hundreds of thousands of impressions and only a handful of new members. I tweeted once and got another hundred. In fact, I wouldn’t think of Facebook much for business, except that Louise Rasho of Microsoft Office Live showed me some great examples of fan pages that do seem effective and useful. Beyond that, I haven’t seen tons of great success on Facebook as a direct business conversion tool.
Where it shines, however, is as a relationship tool for business people in two areas: sales and customer service. In sales, it’s a relationship tool, not a marketing funnel driver. You use it to get to know more about your prospects, and to keep your customers warm. As service, it’s another outpost to talk with your customer base, and a place to share some extra information, should that be useful.
On sum, I use it mostly for personal, and it’s worked out well as a great augmentation to my LinkedIn presence. You might see it differently. I’d love to know.
How are YOU using Facebook? What do you like about it? What’s not so useful? What would you change, if you had the ear of the team?