This is a guest blog entry from Karin Gerber.

Facebook is up there as one of the largest socializing networks on the Internet, but can it actually help increase your business?  Would you use it to advertise?  To socialize?  To communicate with your clients and customers?  What is the best strategy to use Facebook in your favor?

Facebook brings millions of people together from all generations, from all over the world.  It’s currently a global goldmine in the world of networking and socializing, which is great for keeping up with friends or reading the latest gossip about someone, but… can it be good for business?

Well, that depends on how your business will use Facebook.  If it’s used for updating your customers with any latest information, then it’s a great free resource to work with.  If you’re looking to utilize Facebook to advertise your products and/or services with ads, maybe you should think about it further.  In a timeframe where the economy is in some pretty bad shape, if you do intend on spending money towards your business, you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

Why is spending advertising money on Facebook a concern to look out for?  According to a poll by Reuters/Ipsos, it seems less people are using Facebook now than they were in the past.  The poll also shows the majority of Facebook users don’t buy products and/or services advertised on Facebook.

“Four out of five Facebook Inc users have never bought a product or service as a result of advertising or comments on the social network site, a Reuters/Ipsos poll shows… While the survey did not ask how other forms of advertising affected purchasing behavior, a February [2012] study by research firm eMarketer suggested Facebook fared worse than email or direct-mail marketing in terms of influencing consumers’ decisions… The online poll also found that 34 percent of Facebook users surveyed were spending less time on the website.” (Reuters)

If you want to use Facebook as a way to communicate with your customers, then it can work in your favor.  Facebook is a great way to socialize and get to know your customers thoughts and opinions instead of paying for focus groups for every decision.  Facebook allows you to share with your clients and customers any important company news and information, or current promotions going on.  Using Facebook for these features is a great way to help you keep in touch with your customer-based audience.

So what is the best strategy to use Facebook in your favor?  Keep your money to yourself and stay social, my friends.