Facebook for a Business Mind

I read many times that Facebook helps getting new customers but I never understood whats does it mean and how to do so. The most articles I read didn't explained the Facebook potential as it should be or it was done in very technical terms, that a common citizen can't understand. Earlier, my understanding was, as Facebook allows to display ads, so people display ads and get new customers (as done on TV, Newspapers, Google ads, etc. - no big deal). After all, if its about sending a new product brochures to friends, then how its different to email. But now I understand what the Social Media is all about!

First I will explain in-brief the 'science' behind social media, then we will see how a business mind can use it to get some benefit.

Human Behaviour - The Science Behind Social Media

You must understand what is psychology behind Social Media, to get some business benefit. The primary reason of Social Media success is not technical, it about human behaviour and psychology. After all, why so over whelming number of people spend millions of hours at social media websites, it can be summarized into following:
  1. People have core desire to express who they are.
  2. Human is by nature curious and social, so want to know what their friends, relatives, colleagues are busy-in, what they Like, Comment, or Shared and when.
When I Share something about Alice, it is displayed at my profile and activity wall. If Bob is my friend, he may also Share it. So if I shared something really remarkable and interesting, it can spread to many people in very short time. So Social Media is viral by nature. If you look Facebook from these dimensions, all old and new features will start making sense and you will understand why users spent so much time.

What Facebook (or Social Media sites) need is the user's time. Contents shared by users i.e. images, profile information, pictures, videos, events, tweets or status updates, etc are not the primary objective but a mean to get users' time. And time is a limited resource, so to get more time, Facebook must come up with more new features, that fulfil (or even create) social needs.
This much basics of Social Media is good enough. So the key is, Social Media is about human behaviour and viral by nature. 

How Its Good for Business?

Once a product or service is ready, one of the primary activity to reach target consumers is marketing. At mainstream media, when you post an ad, it reach people who read or watched it (e.g. Newspaper classified, or a TV ads). It rarely happen that the reader call a friend for sharing your product or a service, and sharing cost is very high in terms of time and money. Most products are average, so they are ignored. And those who are really great, spread to few people and their very selected contacts (for example, to only best friend or a colleague), because of higher cost of spreading.

While in Social Media, when you share something (say a newly launched product), all you need to do is Like, Share or Tweet it. Its cost is negligible. But from business perspective, its something WOW! specifically when product is really remarkable, it will spread like virus.

Though it looks a great marketing strategy, it also introduces some big challenges. Remember, people are not fool. You can request only your mom (or a few friends) to 'Like' your product (no matter how it is). To really attract more 'Likes' and 'Shares', what you need is a really remarkable product. Real people will not 'Like' if it didn't attracted them. So you must devise your social media marketing strategy very intelligently e.g. target users, gender, area, age group - if you really want to get most from your marketing campaign (remember, a great product is prerequisite).

'Social media is viral by nature' should not be misunderstood. A product or service message get only viral when its remarkable. If its not, its better to select other mediums (newspapers, TV etc.). Seth Godin, author of multiple best-sellers explains in Purple Cow - in new economy and social media, its required to come up with remarkable product, its not an option. In case of TV or newspapers, media force user to watch ads i.e. between news, movies, etc. On social media, users chooses to see, Like, Share thing, so its an Inbound Marketing.

The things user share on their profile are personal and read by all who visit his profile. If you ask a person to put your marketing message on his profile, definitely he would deny and it makes his profile looks unprofessional. But did you ever noticed, when we like something, it becomes part of our profile. Whenever someone visit our profile, Facebook display what products are liked by the user. So in other way, you are marketing that product, company or service by putting their link on your profile. You are not marketing, but endorsing it to users who are your friends, as they love to visit places or buy some thing you have liked, because they trust you. On my website page, I got 750 likes without investing a single penny on marketing.