Hey Businesses, You’re Using Facebook Wrong

You're doing it wrongRobert Scoble just finished a great blog post on why he thinks Twitter is worth much more than people give it credit for.  He cites its ease of use for businesses and open nature as an easy way for businesses to target customers.  He and I had a conversation about this on FriendFeed, and while I still feel Facebook has the upper-hand here, it definitely has to open up a little more in order to be completely on par with Twitter.  However, there is a side of Facebook businesses aren’t yet fully utilizing and they need to start – it’s a wealth of information and user connections at their hands if they just embrace it.  The part of Facebook businesses are completely missing is Facebook Connect.

In my conversation with Robert we were discussing whether Facebook or Twitter had a better UI.  I think our conversation may have been moot, since in the end the part of Twitter most people see is via a desktop client of some sort.  Many of us are seeing trends via TweetDeck, or friend lists via Seesmic and similar.  Or perhaps we’re searching via PeopleBrowsr. There is a majority group of people out there that simply aren’t aware of the basic UI Twitter has on its own Twitter.com website.  Yet at the same time I don’t think developers are coming anywhere near close enough to what they could be embracing with the Facebook API for desktop clients – there is so much developers are missing when it comes to Facebook!

Regardless, even if you take the plain-Jane websites and compare them with each other, Twitter, while much more open and easier to find archives than Facebook out of the box, pales in comparison to Facebook when you compare UIs.  Facebook has threaded conversations.  Facebook has friend lists, and you can sort your feeds by friend lists.  You can completely control who sees what you post on Facebook.  You can’t do any of that with Twitter.  Facebook has likes.  While Twitter has favorites, I can always do the same on Facebook and “share” a link or similar to my profile and anyone can always reference it later under my links.  I can separate my links, videos, and photos (which appear in-line, not via 3rd-party service) from my main status update stream if I want to.  You can view just my links, just my videos, or just my photos, and for links even download the stream as RSS.  You can do real groups in Facebook – on Twitter you have to hack it with hashtags.  You can organize true events in Facebook, and store a full profile about yourself or even your business.  Keep in mind that most of this is also available to your business as well.  It seems to me that the ONLY thing Facebook lacks is a decent way to search (while they do have that too, it’s still limited), and a fully open version of the site that businesses can easily embrace like they do Twitter. It would seem Twitter still has a lot to catch up to.  Yes, that’s a big thing, but much more simple to put in place than all the other things I mentioned above.

Now, back to my original point about Facebook Connect.  On FriendFeed Robert said to me, “I’ve talked with dozens of businesses and they all say Facebook isn’t working as well for them.”  I believe he’s seeing that.  I think the majority of businesses are using Facebook wrong though.  Even though I say that I also know, consult, and talk to dozens of businesses in which Facebook is working for them.  Some businesses are using it right.  Ask Digg how they’ve done since integrating Facebook.  Ask Huffington Post how well they’re doing now that they’ve integrated Facebook.  What about FriendFeed’s integration?  Heck, even my SocialToo saw a huge spike since we integrated SocialToo Status into our product line, utilizing Facebook.  Or what about Geni, or iLike, or Flixter?  All these businesses were still businesses before Facebook.  Facebook is what has given them an incredible boost since their integration though.

Businesses aren’t integrating Facebook Connect as they should.  Here’s what Facebook Connect is – with just about 3 lines of HTML-like code (it’s called XFBML in Facebook terms) and a small snippet of Javascript that you can basically just copy and paste, you can have your site’s users logging into your website (didn’t have a log in before?  Well now you do, along with your very own social network of 300 million people.) with hardly any effort whatsoever.

Now, let’s get a little deeper.  Facebook Connect, with the help and just a few hours time of one of your own coders, can take your existing database of users and find out how many of them are already Facebook users.  My bet is most of them are (remember, there are near 300 million Facebook users on the planet!).  Now you can prompt those users to begin telling their friends about your brand to their closest friends and relatives, using just the tools Facebook provides, ALL ON YOUR OWN WEBSITE. Oh, and even better – unlike Twitter, your users never, ever, leave your website when authenticating with Facebook. You simply won’t get that intimacy between your brand and customers on Twitter.

Have social features already on your website?  Look at what Digg is doing with Facebook Connect.  Every single user that joins Digg through Facebook Connect, or associates their account with a Facebook account for the first time through Facebook Connect, AUTOMATICALLY has their Facebook Friends who have also done the same added as friends on Digg.com as well.  Automatically, with no work on your users’ part, you can associate your users with their already existing social graph on Facebook, let them communicate, send stuff to their wall, their friends’ walls, and more, all simply via the Facebook API, ON YOUR OWN WEBSITE.

Twitter pales in comparison to what Facebook can do for businesses. The majority of businesses are just using Facebook wrong.  If you manage a business’s marketing or brand management campaign and only have a Facebook Page, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.  The power of Facebook isn’t about Facebook itself, but about the vast set of APIs Facebook is providing to you and your business to get your brand into the most valuable place of all – that intimate setting between a customer and their close friends and family.  You can’t do that with Twitter.  You can with Facebook.  This is why if Twitter is worth $5 billion, Facebook is worth at least 2 or 3 or more times that. Your business needs to get in and use Facebook right if you’re going to stay ahead of the game.

Robert Scoble is giving Mark Zuckerberg free consulting (his points of which I agree with) – I hope this bit of free consulting for your business was helpful too.  If your business is to see even more value than they are on Twitter, you MUST be using Facebook Connect. That is the way you embrace Facebook as a business.  Contact me if you need any more help than this. As a software developer on both networks, this is why I got into Facebook – it’s why I’m still bullish about the network.

Now to get back to coding…

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40 thoughts on “Hey Businesses, You’re Using Facebook Wrong

  1. Jesse,

    I completely agree with this post (I have developed a Facebook Connect site, Facebook Pages, and most recently a Facebook app for MARS Candies that is launching any day now. So I do speak from some experience).

    I also believe most businesses are using Twitter wrong, too. So…

    Like

  2. I couldn't agree with this less… sure Facebook has all those features, and you know what they equate to? CLUTTER!

    The reason why Twitter works so well is because it doesn't TRY to give user a million +1 features to use or figure out. It's simple, it's easy to use, and it works. I don't want photos integrated with facebook, and I don't want hundreds of groups to sort my followers into with different permissions for each of them. Facebook has always had Twitter's primary feature (status updates), yet Twitter still managed to come out of nowhere and become huge, there's a reason for that.

    In terms of businesses and marketing – I don't have a single person on Facebook who I don't know personally, and I don't use facebook to connect with or follow any businesses. Additionally, I don't want people who I don't know to connect with ME on facebook. It's fine for my friends and family to see personal photographs of me and me communication with childhood friends but that's not something I want to open up to the public.
    On the flip side of that, I don't know anyone on Twitter personally. It's a place to connect with NEW people who share similar interests to me. On Twitter I follow multiple business profiles for companies who's products or services I use, because that's what I want from Twitter.

    To make a blunt comparison, Twitter is for local town meeting, and Facebook is just for my birthday party.

    Will Facebook lead Twitter over 3rd party website integration? I don't think so. My Twitter friends CARE when I post a comment debating the finer points of IE6 support, or vote on a Digg story on the same subject, because I'm a web designer, and my Twitter followers are web designers. My Facebook friends on the other hand, are family, people who I grew up with, and friends from “real life” – they don't know or care about IE6 in the slightest.

    Twitter is for people who share common interests, Facebook is for people who know share a common bond outside of their own interests.

    For these reasons, Twitter wins for business.

    Like

  3. John, Businesses don't care about clutter. They care about what makes them
    money. The fact is the intimate connections Facebook Connect fosters when
    compared to Twitters are a far cry from the connections that can be
    facilitated through Twitter. If you know how to hit that sweet spot through
    Facebook, you'll make much more than you do on Twitter. I speak through
    experience, with proven results. Twitter has its place, but as far as
    revenue goes, you'll have far greater success on Facebook for pure revenue,
    so long as you do it the right way, which includes a proper utilization of
    Facebook Connect.

    Like

  4. I second John on this. I'm very careful with authenticating with Facebook Connect, because it reveals my Facebook to everybody and people I don't know can connect to me through Facebook, which I use strictly as a communication tool with real-life friends and family.

    Like

  5. Oliver I'm afraid you're in the minority from a user perspective, my friend.
    Most users are not as skeptical when logging in (nor should they be
    completely, as you, the user have full control over what your friends can
    and cannot see), and will have no problem logging in via Facebook. It is one
    environment they are familiar with, and if it means not having to enter
    their credentials over and over to register, it's a simple decision.

    Like

  6. Jesse, I'm sure you're right. Still, I think most people just playing around with what's out there in social media and it's not decided at all which site will serve which purpose in the end. Facebook for sure wants to become an universal communication platform where users maintain all their social connections, but that's not what I it them to be.

    Like

  7. Jesse, wow that's a whole LOAD of sweeping statements right there with (as far as I can see) nothing to back it up?

    Sure businesses care about money – but that's not the point I made is it? At the beginning of the article you did not discuss which service made money, you discussed the features of both services, implying that Facebook is better due to a wider range of features. The first paragraph of my comment was contesting that point, and that point alone.

    “If you know how to hit that sweet spot through Facebook, you'll make much more than you do on Twitter.”

    I'm sorry but this is the biggest load of nonsense I've ever heard. Unless you've consulted for at LEAST 100 companies and run both Twitter and Facebook campaigns for all of them, tracking the ROI in DETAIL – then you're basing this statement on absolutely nothing. Just because you've had more success with Facebook than Twitter doesn't mean that everyone will – I mean let's be honest; the case for YOU may be “Twitter: You're doing it wrong”. How do you know that's not the case?

    You also fail to address the points which I made with regard to legitimate user concerns about privacy, and the two services being suited to different purposes, different audiences, and different interests.

    “you'll have far greater success on Facebook for pure revenue, so long as you do it the right way, which includes a proper utilization of Facebook Connect.”

    Again, a wildly sweeping statement, but I'll let that slide. Facebook Connect isn't relevant to all business models, not by a long shot, whereas Twitter (arguably) is.

    Finally – I want to make reference to your blogging style. No offense, but you come across as very patronising. Telling Oliver (below) that he's “in the minority from a user perspective, my friend.” – unless you're going to post a some detailed user survey results to back up your point, then it doesn't even come across as credible.
    By all means, make suggestions and give opinions, but don't write in a way that implies that what you're saying is FACT, when it's all very much speculation. The whole Twitter/Facebook debate is wide open, and could go absolutely anywhere in the next few years depending on what direction both services decide to head in. No one can definitively say right now that one is better than the other.

    Like

  8. Hi, first post nerves! And some very interesting comments here. What I have found most interesting about this line of discussion recently is the way people react to the question of which network they prefer and why. It is indicative of human psychology with regard to brand loyalty when people defend their favourite brand, debate seems to come second place to argument. Sure, Twitter is a lightweight website with syndicative posting that is useful for exchanging thoughts and ideas much like SMS text messages or IMS as a whole, though with broadcast as a default, rather than 1 to 1, if the analogy is fully compared. As an indepoendant application developer for Facebook, I have found the new elements such as Groups, Pages, and Apps to be very interesting. A Group is technically something that crosses the border of 'relationships' by extending family and friends to the work place. This is exactly where Facebook succeeds, andthings don't have to be so black and white. Maybe, just maybe, both sites will survive and thrive; after all I, unlike so many people, never saw Twitter as a rip off but instead as a something extra, new, and really fun to work with in its own right. That is why I am learning OAuth too. I am open minded enough to appreciate both platforms.

    Like

  9. Hi, first post nerves! And some very interesting comments here. What I have found most interesting about this line of discussion recently is the way people react to the question of which network they prefer and why. It is indicative of human psychology with regard to brand loyalty when people defend their favourite brand, debate seems to come second place to argument. Both sites can survive, so can text messaging and email, as an analogy!

    Like

  10. Social events are commercial nowadays by default. There aren't enough parks to play ball, or practise rooms to play piano for the worlds increasing population. Not anymore. W expect to pay a few bucks for a social event of any kind in the modern day. Facebook merely offers more possibilities about what activities we do decide to get involved in. I don't resent the commercial nature of the goups at all, in fact, since I'm going to spend and invest money on my interests anyway, I feel that I'm getting more value for money in the end, as I'm spending money on things exactly suited to my requirements, rather than spending it on activities that are the closest to what I really want to do.

    So I am saving time AND money through Facebook's Groups, by finding exactly what I want, and in much less time, much like with Amazon or Wikipedia.

    Like

  11. Well said, Barnaby. And to be clear I'm not saying one network will survive
    and one will not. As I said towards the end, both sites have their
    purposes. However I don't think people are right when they say Facebook is
    worse for businesses than Twitter is. If they think so I think they need to
    re-evaluate their strategy.

    Like

  12. John, you're making quite a few sweeping statements yourself, too. You don't
    know my background, nor are you providing much to back up your claims – it
    would seem we're on common ground when it comes to writing style. This is
    my blog, so I'll write as I please – if you don't like it I suggest
    unsubscribing or not commenting. My points are to show that people are wrong
    when they say Facebook isn't as good for business as Twitter is. I provided
    exact examples, including my own. It would be ridiculous to think I need to
    prove my background here. Regardless if I have or not I don't need to
    manage their campaigns to have them tell me Facebook has been a success for
    them. My point was that there are lots of companies currently having
    success on Facebook. The fact that those companies are seeing this means
    there is something businesses are doing right on the platform. Sure, maybe I
    got off on a tangent at the beginning of the post with mentions of UI, but
    my whole point is that if you're claiming no success on Facebook and you
    haven't yet tried Facebook Connect yet, you're doing it wrong. I'm sorry if
    that offends you.
    Of course, if you think I'm wrong, you should write a blog post of your own,
    with concrete stats since you say they're necessary, to prove it. That is
    what the blogosphere is made for – I'm only one voice of many. I'd
    absolutely love to see you prove me wrong with the evidence you say I need
    to be providing. I like it when people prove I'm wrong – like most bloggers,
    I often am. Please prove me wrong – I'd love to see your experience and
    facts to prove it. I may even write about it. Until then, give my advice a
    try – you might even like it.

    Like

  13. I'm not sure why you think I'd be interesting in putting in the time and effort to prove you wrong, when you have yet to prove yourself right? Prove your points with hard evidence, and I'll be happy to take you up on your challenge 🙂

    Like

  14. As I said here http://bit.ly/iqugL in response to Scoble’s post, it's not that Twitter is the be-all-end-all tool. It's just that if it is used properly it can become the constantly in motion “front line” where your business (or your individual) interests can connect with other relevant people in the world who you are not yet connected to. That’s a powerful value.

    We have found then that it needs to be integrated with a deeper web presence (like what we’re attempting to do with http://www.cloudprofile.com) that blends Twitter with other forms of content and engagement tools that can flow across the web for other forms of interaction (Facebook, e-commerce, etc.). Twitter and open, publicly available micro-blogging is becoming and will remain an important part of the equation.

    As for user engagement, I've got to say that I agree with Jesse on this front. We see it with our customers regularly – they identify and form new relationships with Twitter, but often those relationship flow through to their CloudProfile and then end up with deeper engagement occurring on one or more Facebook Pages. See http://fourfirkins.cloudprofile.com for a case in point. Use the Follow button on the upper left to see the posts flowing through to Twitter and look for very basic engagement there. Then look at the very same posts flowing through to their Facebook Page – lots of engagement with Fans on almost every post that is flowing through.

    Like

  15. gentlemen, gentlemen…this is a great debate and both of you bring up great points. there's no need to degenerate into a pissing contest. the fact is, you're both right.

    and you're both wrong.

    facebook has established itself as a place where people stay for more extended periods of time. they hang out, find out what their friends are doing, read some stuff. along the way, facebook has accumulated loads of data about what people like and dislike. this is facebook's biggest weapon, its most valuable asset.

    think about this for a second — google has created an algorithm to try to correctly identify what people are really interested in based on what they search for. in short, google has gotten really good at *guessing* what you'll want. facebook doesn't need to guess. facebook already has that data.

    this should be huge for businesses — you can tap directly into the markets that would be most interested in your product or service. as a facebook user, i've been really impressed by the accuracy of the sidebar ads — it really is stuff i'm interested in (i haven't actually *purchased* something from one of those ads, but that's a different subject…).

    on the other hand, adding facebook connect to my business' website — which is a web design business — would not, in my opinion, add any value. what would that enable that i don't have already? i have links to our fan page, i have share this on facebook bookmarklets, the only thing i can see that facebook connect would add is an alternate login for commenting. i'm not seeing the value there. it's one thing to say that Digg has benefitted — of course they have. it suits their business and what they are doing. i don't think it's the best tool for everyone.

    that said, i believe facebook could be much more useful in generating business for us than twitter. because of the community of sharing and passing things along and also, the fact that facebook is a network of friends of friends of friends. so and so saw something cool and their friend showed it to their other friend who, let's say, had a design project and sought us out. maybe people get business like that on twitter. i haven't.

    twitter is a culture of snippets, of sound bytes, and of passing along interesting links. twitter is an excellent marketing tool when you want to drive traffic to a particular link or network of links. yes, you can do this on facebook, but with twitter, you can build a larger following of people who are specifically interested in what you are doing. twitter gives businesses a unique opportunity to find their niche, build a following of people interested in said niche, and feed them exactly what they are interested in, thus resulting in traffic to their site and, possibly, sales.

    john, i think you're wrong when you say that “Facebook is for people who know share a common bond outside of their own interests.” i was actually reading in Wired last month that it has been found that you are more likely to find good job opportunities, interesting pieces of information, new stuff that you would like not from your closest friends, but from your 2nd and 3rd degree friends — the people you kind of know but don't hang out with. that friend of a friend you met once at a party. facebook is build from these loose connections, but it's these loose connections that can add real value. because you and your friends already share all that stuff, but someone you don't interact with as much might have something that would lead to a better job or a valuable investment.

    this is all theory, of course, you can smite me for my sweeping comments.

    the point is they both work, for different reasons, for different people, in different ways, and for different markets. both are still growing. this argument will go back and forth for a long time without any clear winner. in the meantime we can agree on one thing: myspace sucks.

    Like

  16. I think a simple point to add is Twitter is much easier for a newbie to marketing, its a no brainer. Those already in Marketing know the value of people so will get into conversations, on any platform integration & conversation get credibility.

    Like

  17. The way I see it is pretty much on par with John O'Nolan. The fact is that the two websites as businesses cannot be compared as they tend to be utilised by their respective user bases differently. For example I, along with John and probably many others, keep Facebook strictly to “proper” (for want of a better word) friends – people I've met and meet regularly in real life, College friends, people at the Badminton club who I know, those kind of people (along with my family of course).
    In contrast, Twitter is completely different and is being used more and more as a way to connect to people with the same interests as me – I think I've met in real life 3 of the people I follow on Twitter, and 2 of those I've met only the once, and they other guy I've met 3-4 times. None of the other 400+ who follow me or the 400+ I follow I've ever met. But we have the same interests and generally I enjoy reading their “tweets” and (hopefully) vice-versa.

    So overall, I don't think is applicable to compare these two sites, as in my opinions they have a different model, different methods of following (my Mum/Dad/Brother/etc do not Twitter but they Facebook, whereas I follow John O'Nolan on Twitter, but he is not my friend on Facebook) and therefore probably have completely different ambitions.

    Like

  18. Sorry people, I have to disagree here. I think that the people who only use Facebook for personal friends and family either have something to hide, or if not they would be better off getting together as a family/friend group outside of Facebook and mpass the photo album around. In honesty, I think you people are missing the treasure chest of opportunity that is Facebook. It's interesting Jack that you start by saying tyhat the 2 sites cannot be compared, and then duly sing the praises of Twitter only. It is obvious from my unvuased perspective that you rate Twitter higher. I don't, trust me; Facebook is the originator. Some of the points made above in defense of Twitter are so oppositley biased that I feel I won't stoop to challenge.

    Like

  19. Since I am a new poster here here is some info: I don't own or run a well known website myself, nor am I primarily preoccupied with the perks of opting for one platform or another. I have been programming for 20 years. I studied computer science in Manchester University (Oxford Road, UK) between 1997 and 2000. The reason I mention that is that I amvery prooud that my department invented the worlds first computer (electrical engineers and mathematicians joined up for the first time) as a response to the Enigma codes of the 2nd world war in 1950.

    So I feel that I am entitled to my opinion on the most dominant new Web paradigm (Social Networdks).

    In my humble, but well qualified opinion, Facebook is the start of an internet revolution. Twitter, although lightweight and as a result more compatible for Mobiles (thats what you're really thinking all you Twitter elitisits), does frankly NOT have the depth of Facebook.

    From a developers point of view I can understand if you cannot handle the scope and complexity of mastering the Facebook API, but to all those non-developers above who have slated Facebook, I think maybe you are scared of what you feel unable to appreciate.

    Like

  20. Once again I feel, pigeonholing both platforms capabilities; and under emphasis on Facebook. The pattern to this kind of black and white statement is now clear and predictable to me, and I don't think the issue here is as simple as you portray it.

    So, you aren't a member of any groups, based on say, your interests, in Facebook?

    I hardly believe that.

    Like

  21. You are also implying from your brief overview that your Friends/Family don't fall into the category of 'like minded'. Somewhat of a contradiction, or rather a nonsense, in my humble opinion.

    Like

  22. You are also implying from your brief overview that your Friends/Family don't fall into the category of 'like minded'. Somewhat of a contradiction, or rather a nonsense, in my humble opinion.

    Like

  23. Once again I feel, pigeonholing both platforms capabilities; and under emphasis on Facebook. The pattern to this kind of black and white statement is now clear and predictable to me, and I don't think the issue here is as simple as you portray it.

    So, you aren't a member of any groups, based on say, your interests, in Facebook?

    I hardly believe that.

    Like

  24. gentlemen, gentlemen…this is a great debate and both of you bring up great points. there's no need to degenerate into a pissing contest. the fact is, you're both right.

    and you're both wrong.

    facebook has established itself as a place where people stay for more extended periods of time. they hang out, find out what their friends are doing, read some stuff. along the way, facebook has accumulated loads of data about what people like and dislike. this is facebook's biggest weapon, its most valuable asset.

    think about this for a second — google has created an algorithm to try to correctly identify what people are really interested in based on what they search for. in short, google has gotten really good at *guessing* what you'll want. facebook doesn't need to guess. facebook already has that data.

    this should be huge for businesses — you can tap directly into the markets that would be most interested in your product or service. as a facebook user, i've been really impressed by the accuracy of the sidebar ads — it really is stuff i'm interested in (i haven't actually *purchased* something from one of those ads, but that's a different subject…).

    on the other hand, adding facebook connect to my business' website — which is a web design business — would not, in my opinion, add any value. what would that enable that i don't have already? i have links to our fan page, i have share this on facebook bookmarklets, the only thing i can see that facebook connect would add is an alternate login for commenting. i'm not seeing the value there. it's one thing to say that Digg has benefitted — of course they have. it suits their business and what they are doing. i don't think it's the best tool for everyone.

    that said, i believe facebook could be much more useful in generating business for us than twitter. because of the community of sharing and passing things along and also, the fact that facebook is a network of friends of friends of friends. so and so saw something cool and their friend showed it to their other friend who, let's say, had a design project and sought us out. maybe people get business like that on twitter. i haven't.

    twitter is a culture of snippets, of sound bytes, and of passing along interesting links. twitter is an excellent marketing tool when you want to drive traffic to a particular link or network of links. yes, you can do this on facebook, but with twitter, you can build a larger following of people who are specifically interested in what you are doing. twitter gives businesses a unique opportunity to find their niche, build a following of people interested in said niche, and feed them exactly what they are interested in, thus resulting in traffic to their site and, possibly, sales.

    john, i think you're wrong when you say that “Facebook is for people who know share a common bond outside of their own interests.” i was actually reading in Wired last month that it has been found that you are more likely to find good job opportunities, interesting pieces of information, new stuff that you would like not from your closest friends, but from your 2nd and 3rd degree friends — the people you kind of know but don't hang out with. that friend of a friend you met once at a party. facebook is build from these loose connections, but it's these loose connections that can add real value. because you and your friends already share all that stuff, but someone you don't interact with as much might have something that would lead to a better job or a valuable investment.

    this is all theory, of course, you can smite me for my sweeping comments.

    the point is they both work, for different reasons, for different people, in different ways, and for different markets. both are still growing. this argument will go back and forth for a long time without any clear winner. in the meantime we can agree on one thing: myspace sucks.

    Like

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