In the past year I have come to really see the benefits of Twitter and how it can help to keep me updated about events, as well as to use it to start conversations with interesting people. I enjoy the simplicity of the 140 character limit, the ability to share links quickly with others and to start talking to new people. However, I don’t find the situation as clear-cut with Facebook.
I understand the basics of how Facebook works, and how it can connect like-minded people as well as open up new avenues to develop local information sharing. Indeed, I have used it myself to link to friends particularly ones that are involved in horses or competing in dressage. It is what it seems to be best suited to – providing a way to connect to people you may already be friendly with. I did manage to use my horse’s Facebook page to launch a competition to get people to post photographs of grey horses. It was incredibly successful photographs were posted from around the world and more than a hundred came in. Despite that positive response I still struggle as I try to see the opportunities it may provide to any organisation or business.
During the disorder the Greater Manchester Police Facebook page was an asset. It provided an easy way for people to be able to upload photographs and video which could then be reviewed by the investigation team. However, the issue is how in the daily life it can it become useful and support the organisational objectives. One of the benefits from Facebook is how people can post on your wall but then this needs to be supportive of the organisation and not just random messages.
I know that some people want to get their updates from organisations through Facebook but it is clear businesses have to invest time to see where it fits with the organisational strategy. There is little point posting information in that arena unless you understand how your customers or potential friends are using it. My concern remains that it is a network that truly has an emphasis on the social.
There are some organisations that have understood how it can work for them and they are using it to full advantage. I am still waiting to clearly define that sphere beyond supporting specific operations, initiatives or investigations. But I know it is there I just need to keep looking until I can find where my face fits.