The next time you're watching your favorite show on DVR or Tivo, instead of fast-forwarding through the commercials, keep tabs on the number of those advertisements displaying either the Facebook badge (that's the blue block with the "f" on it for non-facebookers) or have "or find us on Facebook" as the voice over trails off? As much as you might try to avoid it, everyone except you and your dog have a Facebook account...and the dog is considering it now that security has been tightened on friends of friends.
So is Facebook just another mindless tool for college kids or can it really be a viable business tool?
Just to set the record straight, I have been about as anti-Facebook as one can get. In fact, you couldn't even browse Facebook on my wireless network because I blocked it...just like MySpace.com and a few bandwidth-sucking games. I blocked it because I have children who have access to that network and it gave me an excuse when one of my friends said, "I can't believe YOUR not on Facebook!"
But real success in Social Media is more to do with your audience and the amount of time you can dedicate to it.
If your business markets to "general consumers", then tools like Facebook and Twitter may be of value to you. It is, for all intents and purposes, word of mouth. If you market to other businesses, Linked:In may have some potential, but our experience is that these leads tend to be weak (i.e., significantly lower closure rate that other means).
The other thing is that social media is tough to "stick your toe in". Having an unattended Facebook page can even be detrimental to your business if negative posts have been made that go unanswered...or even positive posts and questions. If you have a hard time coming up with simple content, you should consider providing social media updates from your web site, such as your blog posts.
Although the social media experts don't agree with automated content, it certainly beats no content at all. Use it until you get the hang of things or to augment your tweets or status updates on Facebook and Linked:In. All you need is an RSS Feed for your site and an account on a tool like TwitterFeed.
You can also use your SmartPhone to keep track of Facebook, Linked:In, and Twitter. If you can spend just a few moments to keep them at bay throughout the day, you'll find it much less taxing.
Like all other things marketing, be sure you can measure the effectiveness of these methods. And that measurement should be in sales and profit, not "likes" or "followers!
A tip: many of the feed burner or aggregator tools will not post to your Facebook Page (formerly Fan Page)...only to an account. The links below will work for pages.