(Note from Tamela) When I spoke to the Carolina Professional Saleswomen & Entrepreneurs in June, I promised a follow-up on their questions about Facebook.  I turned to my good friend and social media genius, Andy Ciordia, who built and maintains my wonderful blogsite,  for a guest column on the subject.

Andy Ciordia speaks

Facebook, Facebook, Facebook.. Unless you’re under a rock someone has talked about it and usually I hear this:

“An old highschool friend [who I may or may not desire to find me] has found me on facebook. I’ve connected with everyone I used to know.”

along side,

“I am losing at least a few hours a day just flipping through Facebook. I can’t believe how easy it is to just get lost in.”

Do I need Facebook?

With every new technology there are those who are already there, those who are in transition, and those who are defiant to it.  Unfortunately time is not on your side, the new usually always beats out the old and even the most stoic convert eventually.  Remember cell phones?

But do you need Facebook?  No, of course not.  It’s an application, a medium of communication.  You’ll never find yourself in a desert and think, “If only I had Facebook”, haha!  However, as a medium it courses with information.  Information that can allow us to grow, to understand, and at times get lost in.  Like any technology there can be abuse, but that’s not the question at hand.

While you may not desire Facebook and the level of transparency you can gate a large percentage of that through their options.  In the budding age of social networks I recommend people getting online, checking out the tools, and share only what is comfortable to them and lock out the rest until they find a purpose to it.  At the core of the thought is that you should be aware of what is going on in the internet space and this is where a lot of growth is coming from.  If you miss this age you might be even further out when the next layers come down.

What does Facebook mean to business?

A good question and one central to anyone in modern business.  You used to be able to not be online.  Remember that?  Oh I don’t need a website. My how times have changed.  If you are not online you can hear a collective consumer sigh as they switch gears and Google your competition.  Now we’re entering the social media age, which was really there all along but it’s never been so easy to tap into. Before this was mainly limited to the relationships fostered by brick and mortar establishments.  Now the power of the individual business through social networking can establish healthy relationships with people from around the world!

While social media is undoubtedly something you will want to integrate into your marketing portfolio the uses of it and Facebook is a bit more unclear. Some markets it is required for, national brands, local outposts, grass root campaigns, and many others. However it’s not always critical to the success of you or your brand.

Facebook works best for the personal or group mentalities. After watching many come to Facebook with the expectation of huge sales and followers only to be hit on the head after hard sales approach many can walk away dejected due to the misunderstanding of the media. Facebook requires you to culture more of who you are, show it, relate with others, while developing and fostering relationships.

Social media takes time

These medias which unite us together and create a stronger representation of self, what you stand for, and your business are fantastic but it comes at a cost. Your time.

In the old sales channels how often were you out beating the street and meeting others. Knocking on doors, or picking up the handset? Quite frequently if you want to keep your business up. A relationship is a relationship. You’re still going to have to build and maintain it. What happens differently in this medium is there are elements of entertainment. Well we are really good at being entertained and all of a sudden your day is done but how many new people did you meet, how many people did you really interact with, and did any of your goals from the onset get met? You have to be careful.

One step at a time

I challenge you to get involved by taking small steps. Like Tamela often asks me, ‘Which part of the elephant are we eating today?’ The domain of all of this knowledge is large, the nuances subtle, but the payoffs can be large for you personally or for your business.  Enter the arena slowly, watchfully, and aware of what you are exposing.  Be honest and share what you can with who you want and evolve the relationships naturally.

Andy CiordiaAndy Ciordia works for Nuance Labs Consulting helping small businesses to establish their brands, identities, and strategies online with a hands-on personal approach. You can find Andy on LinkedIn and Twitter helping others in the community. Feel free to reach out and connect with Andy for the beginning of a great relationship.