By Felicia Cravens
Facebook may have hundreds of millions of users, but to some it still has the reputation for being dominated by students and young people. Users sometimes seem more interested in games and embarrassing pictures than actual networking. But like any other technology, people find new ways to use Facebook every day. With new features and applications available all the time, Facebook has evolved into a platform you can tailor to your interests, whether personal, business, or political. If you’re one of those who haven’t taken the social media plunge, Facebook can be a good place to begin.
Facebook is Easy – If you can find your way around a search engine like Google or navigate web links, you can use Facebook. Chances are, you can do all the basics – adding friends, putting up a picture of yourself, filling out your profile, searching for groups and people – within minutes of signing up. Additionally, Facebook makes it simple to share pictures, links and ideas to all your friends, and allows those friends to share to their networks, so you can spread ideas well beyond your initial sphere of influence.
Facebook is Social – People you know at work, in the neighborhood, from past jobs, from your high school graduating class and in your family all have Facebook accounts. When you connect with them online, you begin to see more about their lives. You can watch your niece’s dance recital videos, see pictures of your cousin’s vacation, and discover what your neighbor thinks of the new city ordinance. Even businesses can use Facebook to improve communication with customers, and personalize that interaction. In an increasingly self-isolating culture, Facebook provides a quick way to restore some connectivity into your life.
Facebook is Flexible – People who want to keep Facebook for family and friends can do that easily just by limiting the people they add as friends. Those who prefer to use Facebook to connect with others who share interests can quickly find groups in which to participate, and thus expand their network. Those who are focused on promoting a new business venture can set up a page that links to their website and vice versa, allowing more people to find them and providing more options for interaction. Facebook also provides tools for promoting a business or a group, with a polling feature and affordable advertising among others.
What continues to surprise about Facebook is the sheer power of the medium. A quick look at some Facebook statistics reveals quite a few amazing facts:
The 35+ demographic represents more than 30% of all users
48% of young Americans say they find out about news through Facebook
About 1 in 13 people WORLDWIDE are on Facebook, and about half those are logged in on any given day.
If you’re a parent, your junior-high-or-older child is likely using Facebook. Parents with concerns about their children’s online connections can learn what they are seeing, to whom they are talking, and what they’re talking about.
If you’re in business, customers of every age can be found on Facebook. Skeptical? Check out the statistics on THIS infographic. The vast majority of Facebook users are beyond college age, and almost 20% are 45 and older.
For political advisers and activists, Facebook is a crucial place to talk to voters. Barack Obama’s Facebook page has connections to over 22 MILLION users, and Sarah Palin’s page posts updates to over 3 MILLION users. And it isn’t just politicians making use of this platform. FreedomWorks has more than 900,000 “likes” on their page, while MoveOn.Org’s page has over 160,000. That’s a huge megaphone, no matter where you are on the political spectrum.
The influence Facebook wields on the culture is inescapable. It’s a useful tool, and it’s very simple. So if you’re ready to take the plunge, here are some good starting places:
Ben Parr Reviews Recent Security Changes to Facebook
And if it doesn’t work out… How to Delete Your Facebook Account
Next Week – Google+
Felicia Cravens walked away from her accounting degree over a decade ago to become a stay-at-home mom. Since then, she has filled her “spare time” teaching drama in an after-school program and working in conservative politics. She founded the Houston Tea Party Society in 2009, serves as a frequent media contact, and trains and equips people new to the political process. She can be found on Facebook and Google+, and on Twitter as @somethingfishie