Face it

In an effort to keep up with the real-time tagging capability of Twitter, Facebook added a new status mention feature to its interface this week.

To use it, Facebook members simply type the “@” symbol into the status bar to view a drop-down menu of friends, brands and events. After clicking “share,” the name mentioned becomes a live link, minus the @ symbol. Event, fan and friend pages can all be tagged and linked from one profile to other pages with more information. Whoever is mentioned will also receive a notification on their wall, creating more connection and interactivity between users.

Beyond the use of tagging friends, this new tool confirms that the future of marketing lies in increased interactivity. Though this is a relatively a small change in the Facebook interface, it is evidence of an advancement in the use of social networks for marketing and brand awareness.

Many brands and companies are understandably afraid to be a part of such an unpredictable forum. The truth is that Facebook isn’t just for college coeds anymore. According to a recent study from Anderson Analytics, 52% of social network users have become a fan or followed a brand or company online. Also, 46% have said something positive about a brand (twice as much as those who have said something negative). If you’ve been compiling a “pro” and “con” list for your company’s use of Facebook, I think that would tip it to the “do it” side.

Part of a company that’s not on Facebook? That’s okay, but here are a few things to consider. It recently hit a milestone of 340 million unique visitors globally, trailing only Yahoo, Google and Microsoft in terms of most trafficked sites on the Internet. It averages 800,000 new users each day, with 70% of users living outside of the U.S. Don’t think of it like it’s the only voice for your company. Think of it as your chance to speak up in a lively debate or conversation about your brand or maybe your competition’s brand.

Not sure if your audience members are Facebook users? Here’s some of the latest research:
http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007281

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