Monday, April 13, 2009

Web Secret #47 : Facebook

In my always popular workshop "Web Secrets for Mental Health Professionals," I have a PowerPoint slide that kind of says it all:
"Facebook - not just for teens anymore".
Don't believe me? Facebook signed up its 100 millionth member in August 2008. When will it register its 200 millionth user? It already did - the week of March 30, 2009! That's called doubling your size in just eight months — suggesting Facebook is rapidly becoming the Web’s dominant social ecosystem and an essential business networking tool in much of the wired world.

Wait - there's more. Facebook is signing up nearly a million new members a day, and now more than 70 percent of the service’s members live overseas. The site has been translated into 40 languages. And the fastest growing member demographic? People over the age of 35!

All of this is good news for professionals trying to market their services, or organizations trying to reach new members. For inspiration, go onto the Facebook website, open up an account, (you can open up an account without creating a Facebook page in a matter of seconds), then type in the name of your favorite organization, company or association in the search window. Chances are, they have a Facebook page, and you should too.

Now I have to tell you that whenever I talk about Facebook, at least one person in the audience raises concerns about Facebook's confidentiality. The truth of the matter is that your information is as confidential as you want it to be. You just need to use your privacy settings to manage your network. It's easy to do. On your Facebook page, click on "Settings", then "Privacy Settings". Now you can control:
  • who can see your profile and personal information
  • who can search for you, and how you can be contacted
  • what recent activity is visible on your profile and in your friends' home pages
  • what information is available to applications you use on Facebook
Be a pioneer! Most Facebook users don't take advantage of the privacy settings; the company estimates that only 20 percent of its members use them.

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