Why Does Facebook Work? It's the Truest Face We've Got.

by Nancy Rathbun Scott

Websites are the corporate/institutional face. Websites tell our story as we wish it to be told. The content, the presentation, the story, the wording -- on a website all these are the creation of the creator.

Blogs take a small step away, but these mini-articles still tell the corporate story, in the corporate words. The point of view, the topics chosen, the spin, the selection of imagery -- like websites, all these speak in the corporate voice -- except for the comments, of course: occasionally, the comments argue or contend. And yet, we moderate comments, so we retain the final say.

Twitter is pretty much in our institutional control, too. We tweet and the world's only real option is to repeat what we've said, or ignore us.

But Facebook. Ah... now that's a bit different.

With Facebook, we put it "up there" and they "come" (or not). On our Facebook page, "they" comment (or not). They complain, provoke, endorse, applaud and "like" (or not). Our primary responsibility in the Facebook world is to be present. We're not the coach and we're not the referee either. We're more like the fans in the stand, believing in our team and hoping for the outcome we want. But the game can go either way.

That's why recent research suggests that our customers -- the public, in general, if you will -- enjoy Facebook
above all other corporate/institutional presentations

Our customers are allowed to chime in, if they care enough, taking conversations in any direction they choose. This is fun for visitors. This "platform we give them" is empowering. At last, they can circumvent the telephone experience (which is increasingly impossible) and publish their disgruntled or laudatory stories right there for all the
other "fans" to see.

Obviously, this Facebook proposition is a risky business for us. (Have you ever wondered what would happen if Facebook had a "hate" button? Because -- for every ardent fan -- there's probably a hater out there?) Despite the hazards, most companies seem to think -- so far -- that the benefits outweigh the risks. They like us, they like us.

But it's tenuous.

Let just one explosion shatter our corporate walls on Facebook -- with genuine marketplace consequences -- and then we'll see how much corporate America really, truly wants "them" to be part of "our" conversation.