Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, owned and operated by Facebook, Inc.   As of May 2012, Facebook has over 900 million active users,   more than half of them using mobile devices, such as cell phone, hand held computer, iPads or notebooks.  Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as friends,  and exchange messages, including automatic notifications when they update their profile. Additionally, users may join common-interest user groups, organized by workplace, school or college, or other characteristics, and categorize their friends into lists such as “People From Work” or “Close Friends”. Facebook allows any users who declare themselves to be at least 13 years old to become registered users of the site.

User Profile

  • Users can create profiles with photos, lists of personal interests, contact information, and other personal information. Users can communicate with friends and other users through private or public messages and a chat feature. They can also create and join interest groups and “like pages” called “fan pages”,  some of which are maintained by organizations as a means of advertising.  A 2012 Pew Internet and American Life study identified that between 20–30% of Facebook users are “power users” who frequently link, poke, post and tag themselves and others.

Privacy Settings

  • Facebook enables users to choose their own privacy settings and choose who can see specific parts of their profile.  The website is free to users, and generates revenue from advertising, such as banner ads.  Facebook requires a user’s name and profile picture (if applicable) to be accessible by everyone. Users can control who sees other information they have shared, as well as who can find them in searches, through their privacy settings.
  • Facebook business pages are a category of Facebook fan page, so they are not distinctly different things. All Facebook business pages are fan pages, but fan pages include pages for non-business entities as well as some individuals, too. Fan pages have the name because Facebook individual profile users can choose to be fans of the pages, meaning the users will view updates to the fan pages in their feeds.

Other Fan Pages

  • In addition to the fan pages that promote businesses, other fan pages are based around topics, community groups, nonprofit organizations, specific causes, artists or bands, ideas and public figures such as politicians, celebrities and athletes. When someone launches a new fan page — whether a business page or a non-business page — they must agree to Facebook pages policies. If the page is an official page for an entity, the page administrator must be an authorized representative of the entity.

Community User-Generated Pages

  • Some Facebook community pages, which are a kind of fan page, can be confused with Facebook business pages. Facebook business pages are official pages that a business manages. Community pages, however, are pages that users themselves create around an idea or a topic, and are unofficial pages. Community pages are sometimes built around a business or brand, and some can be mistaken for official outlets by some Facebook users who visit the pages.

Brand Management

  • Facebook offers businesses a useful way to establish a social-media home and to interact with customers. Facebook business pages are managed by businesses with a focus on their brands, so the content that the administrator posts on the pages is geared toward supporting that brand. Content that might hurt the brand or that doesn’t align with the company’s messages can be kept off the page. Community pages, in contrast, are outside the control of the businesses that are their topics. A business might have multiple fan pages that do not support the brand and that might, in fact, have negative content about the business.

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