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Facebook? Are you serious?

By: Kunwar Masroor

Facebook and its users have been best friends for a long time. Well, maybe not that long, but with the technology galloping into a new direction with each passing day, every new fad seems like a childhood memory. I don’t even remember when I set up my account on this social network. In fact, mention the floppy disk to a 10-year-old and his reaction is bound to be, “Whatever grandpa!”

Coming back to Facebook, when we first started using the new flanged website, it was all fun. Setting up an account before our friends do, tracing a long lost acquaintance, finding new ones, chatting, poking, liking, playing games, creating one’s own network, sharing pictures, movies etc., it was indeed a happy place to be.

But not for everyone any longer, it seems. The face of Facebook may have remained the same, but it has created a new industry and new headaches for a lot of people. Let’s face it: the internet was never a private domain. Some wonder if it ever will be. With over 500 million users, it’s a tough job just trying to avoid someone. Especially bosses. Yes, a lot of people have discovered through experience that bosses too are keeping a tab on your activities using Facebook. You may have skipped a day at work and gone on to party. But who can resist the temptation of posting the pictures on your last evening’s escapade? And who is better to catch you through those pictures than your boss?

But it’s not just about bosses. It’s about employers as well. Be a little tough on an employee, and he or she might just end up telling tales about it on their wall to the whole world to read. The supervisor just might end up looking like Dracula’s nearest relative!

Companies at large have discovered the pitfalls of the online world—thanks to social networking websites. Be rude to a customer and the entire tale becomes a storybook courtesy a new account. People start reading it, start posting their views, lambasting the poor supervisor for being unkind to the old lady who was messing up the display and wasting the time of the salesman with too many questions.

Customer service used to be such an easy game to play when disgruntled customers would simply drop a letter in the complaint box. If you had the time, you would read it and perhaps do something about it. The customer would grumble once, maybe thrice. But then the whole thing would take a backseat. But now, thanks to Facebook, it stays alive till eternity, it seems.

On the upside, Facebook has energised a whole new ballgame of social networking. It’s an important part of marketing and public relations strategies now. A PR plan without an ad on Facebook is incomplete. Companies know that their client is hooked to such sites, so why not drive the message across for less than a dime? No additional advertising is needed, and no separate branding game required.

All they need is the web administrator to monitor/post the latest and in five minutes, and the new message reaches across to thousands. A number of businesses have, in fact, launched themselves through Facebook, with no need for billboards or print ads.

Of course, where there’s the need for a social networking strategy, there are bound to be experts and consultants who can help you time your message to be delivered at the right time. Social networking consultants are making big bucks now. Hire one now and he/she might even tell you that Facebook is old age. How about initiating a marketing strategy via tweeting now?

The Queen of England has recently started her own Facebook page and already has 200,000 likes. Wonder if she’s online right now, posting the latest on the royal family!

As one can see, fun and games have now become serious money.

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