Facebook – Can Local Business Florish in Social Networking?

Social Flowers
Recently launched is Social Flowers – sending flowers though social networks. Well, one social network for now – Facebook. This is the start of a trend as we will see in the next 12-months many of the leading online retailers – building applications specifically to sell products through Social Networking – at lease that is my predication. If you want to read more about how the Social Flowers application works – please visit Social Flowers – Send Flowers Through Social Networks – this is an article written by Pete Cashmore.

On a more local level (here in Toronto) – a recent article on the Globe and Mail from July 5, 2007 written by DAVID GEORGE-COSH discusses one Yoga teacher whose class size has doubled since posting in the Facebook Marketplace –

Jane Clapp takes a moment between teaching fitness classes in Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park to reflect on her unexpected windfall. In the span of a month, her class size has doubled to 15 participants, amounting to about $3,200 in new revenue.

Even more surprising is the source of Ms. Clapp’s good fortune – Facebook. Using a new feature on the popular social-networking website called Marketplace, Ms. Clapp promoted her classes and almost immediately former clients and old friends on her contact list noticed. A month later, business is booming.

“I love it,” said Ms. Clapp, whose ad has been viewed about 127 times. “I’m completely fascinated with how I can create an online business without any overhead at all.”

Click here to read the rest of the article.

This article also provided us with some interesting numbers regarding Facebook in Toronto.

By the numbers

7,715,040 – Users who have added the Top Friends application, the most-added application on Facebook

680,729 – Number of users on the Toronto network, the largest regional network on Facebook

15,714 – Total ad postings on the Toronto Marketplace network

My Thoughts:

To answer the question can local business florish in Social Networking – the answer is absolutely. However, the challenge for is the time and expertise required. Most small and medium sized business owners are very time starved and if they have the time, they may not have the technical expertise.

However, as a starting point, I would encourage any small business owner to build their profile on Facebook.com – just to start their understanding of what Social Networking is all about. Then invite your best customers to join and have them talk about their experiences with your business. In fact, if you have a unique product or service, build a group and really generate the buzz around it – one very interesting aspect of Social Networking is that people want to hear what other people have to say. Just ensure that you do it in a manner that is consistent with the forum that you are in.

Here are the top 5 Social Networking sites in Canada as reported by ComScore MediaMetrix – May 2007 – the numbers represent millions of users.

1) Facebook.com – 10,501
2) Windows Live Spaces – 7,481
3) Blogger – 6,720
4) MySpace.com – 5,200
5) Yahoo GeoCities – 3,986

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